Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

February 10, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

OBAMA AND CAUCUSES....So why is Barack Obama so awesome in caucus states? Except for Nevada, he's won every single one going away. Here are some speculations from the comment thread to last night's post:

  • PTS: I think the best explanation is a combination of a) Obama's team put a lot of resources into organizing the caucuses and b) Clinton's people decided not to contest them. You can't organize in a week.

  • ikl: A couple of things: (1) Obama tends to be more popular in the great plains and interior west which account for most caucuses (he won pretty big in the Utah primary, for example), (2) Obama voters are more enthusiastic in most states, (3) Obama voters are more likely to be high information voters, (4) in most caucus states, Obama voters are less likely to work odd shifts or have childcare obligations that they can't get out of....

  • BRM: A larger subset of Obama voters are very committed to him, and thus more likely to go to the trouble of caucusing. I think a larger subset of Clinton's supporters are more passive. There are some passionate Clinton supporters, but they are rarer.

    I causused today in Washington, and it takes a lot of planning, research into finding your site, and commitment to go. If I wasn't very strongly supporting Obama, I just wouldn't have committed three hours on a Saturday to go sit in an elementary school gym.

  • Nate: The press surely isn't talking about it, but caucuses seriously disenfranchise working class and older voters. I know personally that in Iowa, near half of Hillary's supporters were older women who could not make it to the caucus for fear of the drive, the weather, etc. Working class people often can't or won't show up to a caucus if it requires getting a babysitter or missing a night shift.

  • BombIranforChrist: Primaries are private, caucuses are public. People seem to have an easier time voting for Obama in public than voting for Hillary in public. Hillary is not really that well liked, not even by some of her supporters. Fairly or unfairly, a lot of people, including some of her supporters, are not totally enamored by her and in a caucus, people have to stand up and say, "Yup, I support this person who a lot of us don't really even like. Yay me!"

  • BDB: Caucuses tend to be dominated by democratic party elites and activists, Obama's base.

  • Callimaco: Everyone knew Clinton was going to run a big state, traditional Democratic campaign....[Obama] used a two prong strategy to build a stalemate through Super Tuesday: 1) remain close enough in the big state, 2) trounce Clinton in the small states.

    Given that strategy, and give the clear fact that he intended that strategy from the start, it makes sense to invest very, very heavily in caucus states because those are the elections over which a campaign can exercise the most control. More, organizing takes time and people and those are things Obama had in abundance. Those are also the states in which Clinton was investing the least resources because they seemed almost irrelevant to her campaign strategy.

  • Mnemosyne: Given the demographics of the voters for each candidate, it makes perfect sense that Obama is doing better in the caucuses than Clinton. Obama's voters tend to be young and middle-class; Hillary's voters tend to be older and working-class. Which of those two groups has a lot of time and energy to spend at a caucus?

  • Monica: We live in SW Washington, not too far from Vancouver (WA) and Portland (Ore). The site for the caucus this afternoon was a local grade school. Inside the cafeteria where everyone first assembled there were Obama buttons available, piles of Obama flyers and some Obama posters on the precinct tables. There was no evidence that the Clinton campaign had sent anything at all over. Talking to some friends who gathered at other sites, it was much the same story. Obama literature and signs scattered around, nothing much, if anything at all from the Clinton side.

To summarize: Caucuses require organization and Obama was better organized. They require enthusiasm and he has more enthusiastic supporters. They require time, and his demographic has more free time. They're mostly in small states, and Obama targeted small states. They're dominated by activists, and activists tend to support Obama.

Interesting stuff. Some of it (for example, that women, the elderly, and working class voters are underrepresented at caucuses) can be tested by looking at exit poll data, and maybe I'll do that later. The other stuff is harder to get a handle on. But worth thinking about anyway.

Kevin Drum 2:06 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (178)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

Caucuses suck (and I say this as someone who wants Obama to win).

The question is: who will do best in OH, FL, WI, PA, IA, MO, CO, and NM?

I fear that Huck on the ticket could "carry" [sic] Ohio, and you know FL is a lost cause in terms of the "official" outcome.

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on February 10, 2008 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

What's the difference between a caucus and a primary, frankly?

I mean, let's look at the bottom line. Obama has gotten the same 20+ point spread in both Primary and Caucus states.

Just yesterday, he won two caucuses, with 67 and 68%, and one primary, with 68%.-- having private votes instead of public votes ended up in a literal tie!

So, at the end of the day, semantics about public vs. private voting aside, is there really a big difference in the outcome? And, if we can't demonstrate a significant difference in the outcome, is either forum more or less valid than the other?

Posted by: Castor Troy on February 10, 2008 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on February 10, 2008 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with all the summary conclusions except the notion that Obama's supporters have more free time, in general.

First of all, free time is basically something you make, not something you have. So in a sense this just reduces to enthusiasm: enthusiam creates free time.

Second, Hillary's bulwark consists of voters 65+. Are you trying to tell me that Obama voters have anything like the amount of free time that retirees do?

I think that pretty well demolishes that argument.

Posted by: lampwick on February 10, 2008 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Only thing that seems ridiculous to me in all the answers is the notion that caucuses are dominated by Democratic party elite and that somehow favors Obama.
Hum ... what ?
Yeah, activists favor Obama. But the elite of the party ? Come on now. And let me tell you this. Even if it was true (it was not), if after being the head of the party for fifteen years, the Clintons still could not get the party elite behind them, that should tell you something.
Just sayin'

Posted by: Benjamin on February 10, 2008 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

I live in Washington State. I voted in the primary, early and by mail. I did not go to my local caucus because the person who organized it is a very pushy person - who is a life long republican currently pushing Obama because she wants a political appointment. There was no way I was going to be able to shout her down.

Obama's kids were out canvasing. On Thursday night I got a phone call from a very breathy sounding female highschooler - who told me my vote in the primary would not count, so I needed to go to the caucus to vote for Obama.

On Saturday morning a teenager came by to campaign for Obama. She definitely was not old enough to vote. Interesting, she was being driven around by her mother.

So Obama has republicans looking for political appointments and teenagers who can't vote. The sure gets this lifelong dem inspired.

Posted by: optical weenie on February 10, 2008 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

These explanations are simply descriptive, explaining how it is that Obama might have won.

But isn't the serious question a very different, normative one? Namely, is it right that caucuses might determine our next nominee, given the way they skew results away from what is apparently the true sentiment of the people? Are we not capable of addressing that question?

Most of these explanations come up with underlying features of the Obama base vs the Clinton base that shows that Obama's base are far more willing and able to go to caucuses. If this were an ordinary election, that would be regarded as nothing more than a clear form of voter suppression.

Why might it be OK for the Democratic nominee to be chosen primarily based on results from a process that might be accurately described as implementing voter suppression? How is that process any great improvement on making nomination decisions on the basis of back room deals, which certainly we have rejected?

In the end, what's at stake is the perception in the average voter of whether the chosen nominee is legitimate or not. If the process does not confer legitimacy on the nominee, how can it be defended?

Posted by: frankly0 on February 10, 2008 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

My incontinence is due to the evil Clintons, thank Billary because of you I cannot leave the house without double Depends!

Posted by: egbert on February 10, 2008 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Why say "Except for Nevada?" Didn't Hon. Sen. Obama came away with more delegates?


Posted by: jhm on February 10, 2008 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Couldn't it just be because Obama's a better candidate? As people get to know Obama better, they are more likely to vote for him. That's no doubt part of the reason why he does better in those smaller states where caucuses are held. Those voters are more likely to see Obama up close and feel his inspiration up close. This make them more impervious to the Clinton's manipulating them into voting for her.
Most likely, Obama would even get more votes than the polls show he would get in beating McCain because as the voters see him more, they are more likely to see the light and become true believers in Obama. The early voting which helped Clinton in primary states can't help her in caucus states because people who change their mind in the last minutes of the voting are more likely to support Obama.

Posted by: Al on February 10, 2008 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

The fact high schoolers got so enthused about a POLITICAL campaign they are taking their weekend to canvass does not inspire you ? The fact Republicans are willing to vote for a strongly liberal candidate does not inspire you ?


Posted by: Benjamin on February 10, 2008 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

We've heard plenty of these "caucuses disenfranchise the working class" excuses since Obama started winning caucus after caucus, but I have an extremely hard time believing that that issue can come close to explaining the twenty-five to thirty-five percent wins that Obama keeps posting in caucus after caucus.

Me, I'd stump for the "Clinton didn't bother to organize--or even contest 'em" explanation. My experience in my North Minneapolis precinct (in which working-class voters came out in droves, by the way) was very similar to Monica's in southwest Washington state. The Obama campaign--to some degree in the person of yours truly--invested lots of time and organization in our precinct, whereas the Clinton campaign made no sign that it had any interest in our votes. Result: Obama, 67%-30%.

I'd also call attention to the district results in Minnesota: though he picked up one or more net delegates in every single district, Obama's two biggest delegate wins were in the Fourth and (my) Fifth Congressional Districts, which just so happen to be the two most heavily working-class districts in the state. Funny, working class folks didn't seem to have trouble caucusing around here....

Posted by: Rieux on February 10, 2008 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

consider also that obama actually put some effort into broad-based grassroots organizing. so his campaign, despite the clinton campaign's protestations, didn't actually have to do that much in those states relative to the size of the victories. the organic, self-organized nature of obama's campaign played a role here too.

Posted by: joe on February 10, 2008 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

optical weenie,

Really, that's interesting. You really think Obama supporters in Wshington state are pimping their daughters so they can get political appointments.
You really think this?
The audacity of stupid will not be denied.

Posted by: blindjoedeath on February 10, 2008 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

I tend to favor the enthusiasm/ organization argument. While I received several Clinton robocalls, only the Obama team sent a canvasser to my door. After I had indicated my support for Obama, she gave me detailed instructions about how to vote in the caucus. And it worked. I was planning on skipping the caucus, but the canvasser made me feel guilty about it. So Obama got my vote. Clinton's robocalls didn't help at all. And I don't think Clinton has made her supporters enthusiastic enough to volunteer to canvass neighborhoods. Obama's supporters seem happy to do so.

Posted by: fostert on February 10, 2008 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

Joel Hanes had the money comment of the entire Dead Man Walking Thread. Sen. Clinton is running a very skillful model-1990 campaign. Sen. Obama is running a masterful model-2008 campaign.

His observation is that Clinton's campaign crew learned their chops in the 1990s before the serious rise of the internet and all of its interactivity. The old 1990s media was top down. They are running the very best top down campaign possible. That style campaign just isn't up to the task in the new media age. Obama's people have a better understanding of the new interactive media than Hillary's. They are using that understanding masterfully. Obama's supporters are the better educated, high information people. Guess what those are the people most tuned into the new media. The new media based campaigns beat the old media based campaigns every time people are getting the bulk of their information from the new media.

Posted by: Corpus Juris on February 10, 2008 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

"Obama's supporters have more free time"... Huh?

Here's one thought: Obama's central argument is that change comes from the ground up. It's a community organizer's perspective, and it's a call to action. This call is something most pundits miss - Obama is looking to re-activate the citizenry in a way that goes well beyond "give me money, give me votes." This call would naturally speak more powerfully to people who are willing to do the work of caucusing.

Recent articles by George Lakoff (re:Issues)and Mark Schmitt (Theories of Change)show that at least two guys get what's up with Obama. Also, check out Wikipedia's Saul Alinsky entry...go to the bottom for an interesting (accurate?)comparison of Obama and Clinton regarding the whole "ground up" thing.

Posted by: Victoria on February 10, 2008 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

I live in Bellevue, WA, in Dave Reichert's congressional district. The 8th District has a very high education level and it is quite affluent. The caucus I attended had a festival atmosphere. The elementary school gym was packed (I was a afraid the fire department might step in and stop the show!). Both candidates had lots of signs and buttons.

For the most part, there was an atmosphere of mutual respect among the two camps of supporters. My precinct chose Obama by a 21-4 margin, and I think that breakdown was fairly typical. I voted for Obama. I know the Clinton supporters were a little crestfallen, but I honestly do not think there is any bad blood among 8th District Democrats. I would be very surprised if ordinary Democrats refused to vote because the other candidate got the nomination.

Posted by: daveb99 on February 10, 2008 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Another point about caucuses.

If there were just a very few of them, I don't think that people would have a large problem with their being employed. Likewise, if the various candidates more or less traded caucuses, one winning in some states, some in others, it would not be a big deal. And if the results from the caucuses weren't much at variance from the results of elections, I don't think it would be a very big deal.

But none of these is true in this primary process. There are, in fact, a great number of caucuses, and the total of delegates they assign might easily be decisive. Obama is systematically winning the caucuses. Moreover, he is doing so with numbers that clearly well exceed the level of support that he has in the underlying voting population (I mean - he wins 2 to 1 in case after case? Who believes that that would ever prove to be true in an election?).

You put it all together and you can easily get an illegitimate result, one in which the will of the people has not been properly reflected, and which represents a miscarriage of democracy. THAT is the real problem we are starting to see develop here.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 10, 2008 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

About 3 or 4 weeks ago I went to the grand opening of the local Obama office here in Huntsville, Alabama and I can attest to both the organizational skills and the excitement. His campaign certainly has some dedicated and excited grass roots organizers!

Posted by: tommy harper on February 10, 2008 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

I want to see Obama win, but I don't care for caucuses. They have historically been dominated by local activist groups and labor unions. Here in Michigan, the United Auto Workers used to dominate all local and statewide meetings and conventions. The state officials liked the caucus system because it could be controlled by insiders. I'm sure that party elders and the Clintons never imagined an insurgency campaign aimed at exploiting the caucuses. Bill Clinton had at least 8 years to change the rules for the party nomination but declined. To see him whining now about Hillary's nurses not being able to attend some caucus is really pathetic.

Posted by: MarvyT on February 10, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

I am ROTFLMAO after reading FranklyO and tommy harper back to back. Apparently a campaign that engages in grassroots organization, and builds genuine enthusiasm among its candidates supporters is undemocratic. FranklyO even you have to see the irony in your position.

Me thinks, your arguments amount to a lot of sour grapes. You are getting your ass kicked by somebody who is outworking you and energizing the Democratic base. In short where Hillary is getting beat she is getting beat fair and square. That, by the way, is why so few Democrats are holding grudges this primary season.

Posted by: Corpus Jurs on February 10, 2008 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Probably the right answer is some combination of the above, but I don't think it has much to do with secret/public ballots. In Minnesota, where it was a secret ballot caucus, Obama did just as well. I don't know which other states had secret ballot caucuses, but there at least it didn't seem to make much of a difference.

I tend to think that secret ballot caucuses, a la Minnesota, are the right way to run the nomination process. The Democratic Party should be in charge of choosing the nominee of the Democratic Party, not the various Secretaries of State who run primaries. It's true that the Democratic Party could, and should, do a better job of making its caucuses more, well, democratic, but the political parties should be in charge of their own affairs.

Posted by: Brian Weatherson on February 10, 2008 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

Bill Clinton had at least 8 years to change the rules for the party nomination but declined. To see him whining now about Hillary's nurses not being able to attend some caucus is really pathetic.

The reality is that both sides are going to spin this as they can.

But that doesn't the problem of what really represents the will of the people and what doesn't -- or indeed whether the will of the people should really be the overarching concern here.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 10, 2008 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Have there been any other elections in the past few decades where caucus results in both parties have so dramatically differed from primary results? Keep in mind that McCain has been getting clobbered in the caucuses. I can't think of any offhand - maybe because so few elections have been so wide open?

Posted by: PaulB on February 10, 2008 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Corpus,

As I said, caucuses are effectively a voter suppression technique. I don't think it takes a lot of insight that people who lead rather burdened, difficult lives are less likely to turn up than those who have plenty of leisure time. I don't know why it should not be obvious that that can easily skew the results very much in favor of one set of voters over another.

Can you admit this? I don't think so.

Yet, of course, I'm with the huge bias here, right?

Posted by: frankly0 on February 10, 2008 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know if anyone mentioned this, but Clinton is running her campaign much the way mainline Dem strategists have recommended running in the general election, which is to say, go to where you are already strong. Increasingly, this seems to me to be a really questionable strategy, and insofar as the primary is a harbinger of things to come, it seems like Obama will be able to better hit the ground running in places like Colorado or Missouri or Iowa -- the places where Dems might be able to pull out a win but often don't. Why do Clinton supporters so frequently forget that the strategy that got Bill into the WH would clearly not have worked but for the fact that Ross Perot was running as a third party candidate?

And as for all those high information voters that make up the caucuses that seems to be a good strategy as well -- those are the people most likely to show up and work to get the vote out among low information voters. Having a lot of them vested in the outcome of the general election is a good thing.

Posted by: Barbara on February 10, 2008 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Uh also many caucuses, for example ND and MN, have paper ballots. 1 round, you write/check the name of the person you want on your ballot and drop it in a ballot box. No one has to see it if you don't want them too--and for MN at least YOU CAN LEAVE RIGHT AWAY AFTER THAT.

SO! Caucus where you don't have to be there any longer than it takes to vote in a primary (with comparable lines etc.) and you can use a secret ballot if you wish. And yet Obama damn near annihilated Clinton in the MN caucuses.

I would also like to point out to HRC supporters: You're going to need a rather large chunk of Obama voters in the general, do you REALLY want to be telling them that they suck, don't work enough and aren't for lack of a better term, as "nobly poor" as Clinton's people?

Posted by: MNPundit on February 10, 2008 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

"But isn't the serious question a very different, normative one?"

No.

"Namely, is it right that caucuses might determine our next nominee, given the way they skew results away from what is apparently the true sentiment of the people?"

You are assuming facts not in evidence; your "given" is not, in fact, a "given".

"Are we not capable of addressing that question?"

Not until you can come up with something that makes sense and that you can actually support, instead of indulging in overheated and false rhetoric.

"If this were an ordinary election, that would be regarded as nothing more than a clear form of voter suppression."

ROFL.... Well, sure, if you're a moron.

"Why might it be OK for the Democratic nominee to be chosen primarily based on results from a process that might be accurately described as implementing voter suppression?"

Mostly because a) that is not even remotely an "accurate" description, and b) everyone knew about the process well before this campaign started. This ain't exactly new and it ain't exactly rocket science.

"How is that process any great improvement on making nomination decisions on the basis of back room deals, which certainly we have rejected?"

Um, because it is open to anyone who cares to participate, unlike "back room deals?"

"In the end, what's at stake is the perception in the average voter of whether the chosen nominee is legitimate or not."

So you've said before. Since you never bothered to support the assertion, forgive me if I ignore it as the silly, meaningless rhetoric that it is.

Posted by: PaulB on February 10, 2008 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

"As I said, caucuses are effectively a voter suppression technique."

Yes you did. Since it was a pretty silly thing to say, it seems pretty idiotic to keep asserting it.

"Yet, of course, I'm with the huge bias here, right?"

Yup. We get it, frankly0; you hate Obama. Give it a rest.

Posted by: PaulB on February 10, 2008 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Just another point in response to Corpus.

If you want to make the argument that caucuses are OK because, say, they reflect the "enthusiasm" of one side as opposed to another, and that that enthusiasm is more important the sentiments of the voting public more broadly speaking, then you can and should do so.

But what's obvious is that defenders of caucuses really do have to make out that argument. They can't simply pretend that caucuses represent the will of the people when it's obvious in the extreme that it is not so. Again, who honestly thinks that Obama would win election after election by a factor of 2-1 or even greater, as he has done in caucus after caucus?

Posted by: frankly0 on February 10, 2008 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

I can't swear to this, but I don't think Sen. Clinton's campaign really expected to have to worry about party caucuses in Kansas and Washington.

Her campaign expected (as did most people) a short contest lasting from the Iowa caucuses to Super Tuesday, and a long general election campaign against the Republicans. Her organization was built for that, figuring it was her best chance to win. Obama's campaign doesn't seem to have thought he could win a short campaign -- and a longer one required preparation for caucuses and primaries in the later states. That preparation is paying off.

I don't mean to imply omniscience to Obama's campaign; from one point of view the idea that he could only win a campaign that stretched beyond Super Tuesday is no more than common sense. And Obama's people may not have realized beforehand a very valuable side-effect of his wins in post-Super Tuesday caucuses and primaries -- they allow him to capture news cycle after news cycle, giving him lots of free media as we move through the electoral calendar toward the remaining big-state primaries, where Clinton has been thought to have an advantage. She still may, but it is bound to be less the more exposure Obama gets.

Posted by: Zathras on February 10, 2008 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

"But what's obvious is that defenders of caucuses really do have to make out that argument."

No. You are the one howling about "voter suppression" and "the will of the people" and all the other nonsense you've been spewing. It behooves you to back up these assertions or admit that you've been basically just pulling stuff out of your ass. The information is out there, if you really did care to investigate it. The fact that you don't tells us all we need to know about your diatribes on this subject.

"They can't simply pretend that caucuses represent the will of the people when it's obvious in the extreme that it is not so."

Since it isn't even remotely "obviously" and since you've never bothered to even try to defend this assertion, forgive us if we don't take this bit of hyperbole any more seriously than the rest of the dreck you've been spewing.

Posted by: PaulB on February 10, 2008 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Caucuses are the best forum for the parties. The votes are actually accurate. And people have to stand on principle. I think that is why Obama is so effective. I would skip work and crawl to his caucus. Not sure too many Hillary supporters feel the same way. I am looking for leadership and someone to undo the damage of Clinton and Bush.
I blame the Clintons for the Bush DEBACLE. They set the stage for this with their trade policies, media consolidations, and the whole Lewinski set-up. I defended him for that national humiliation, but did not sufficiently understand how vulnerable it made the country to a law and order brown-shirt nightmare we have barely endured these last 8-years.

Posted by: Sparko on February 10, 2008 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

PaulB,

More of your usual dumb, irrelevant, snarky drivel.

Whatever. You're never worth the keystrokes to respond to.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 10, 2008 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Caucuses suck! Who wants to sit there standing for ours and getting harrassed for coting one way - it is intimidating and a stupid process. It also disenfranchises far too many of the real Americans that want to vote and hate that process. Primaries are private and should be what everyone does - then you get the real thinking of the people not some lame hoohaas all in a room.

Posted by: abc55 on February 10, 2008 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, frankly0, I've been having trouble finding all of your posts about caucuses, "voter suppression" and the like prior to Obama winning all of the caucuses. Help me out, won't you?

Posted by: PaulB on February 10, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

I look at the list of the caucuses (and some primaries) where Obama has won big, and it looks like a long list of states where neither he nor Clinton will win against any Republican in November. A shallow analysis (all I'm capable of with what I know) suggests a significant Republican cross-over vote.

Not to suggest that racism is at play, but Idaho, Kansas, Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, North Dakota, Utah, Alabama, and now Louisiana and Nebraska. His biggest wins are in states where its unlikely or impossible that a black man (or a white woman for that matter) are going to beat the white male Republican in November.

Conversely, Clinton's big wins were in states Democrats will carry: New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and California; even Arkansas, Tennessee, Arizona, and New Mexico may well go for the Democratic candidate in November.

(I know it's wrong to mention it, but it's so obvious it would be ridiculous to ignore it.)

Posted by: NealB on February 10, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

"More of your usual dumb, irrelevant, snarky drivel."

ROFL... Dear heart, have you, perchance, read your own posts in this thread? Is there anything you've written here that is not "dumb, irrelevant, snarky drivel?"

As usual, you cannot support your own arguments and instead of trying, you issue the usual lame ad hominem attacks. We get it, frankly0; you hate Obama with a passion. Now give it a rest.

Posted by: PaulB on February 10, 2008 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

The caucuses are by definition elitist, so they attract exactly the kind of upper-middle-class self-congratulatory voters Obama attracts. They are essentially undemocratic cliques. Look at the numbers the caucuses draw versus the primaries. The difference is astonishing. If you work two jobs/have lots of responsibilities/are older and frankly tired at the end of the day/are disabled in any way your chances of being able to make it to one of these types of wine-and-cheese cliques are pretty much slim and none. If these groups of elitists decide the nomination, it pretty much gives the finger to everything the Democrats claim to stand for.

"Enthusiasm" has frankly NOTHING to do with it. If you can't get to a caucus because you work nights, work two jobs, etc., it makes no difference how enthusiastic you are. Your will not get to vote, and the brie-eaters will make all the decisions.

Posted by: sullijan on February 10, 2008 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

I'm an Obama supporter and caucuses do indeed suck. So do super-delegates.....and so do regular delegates frankly. Look at Nevada, Obama came away with more delegates despite Hillary winning the state. There's something fundamentally wrong there.

It's the same with the electoral college. Why does a vote from Idaho or Wyoming count more than a vote from California or Texas?

We definitely need to reform this whole process.

Posted by: Joe on February 10, 2008 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, PaulB,

How about the idea of your just ignoring my posts? You know, except for your repeated attacks on me, I have exactly zero interest in what you have to say. It's always deeply lacking in analytical content.

As it is, you're like a cyberstalker. Have you noticed that I never start attacking anything you say, but that you always initiate some attack? You can't seem to stop yourself from trying to settle scores with me. Maybe your therapist can explain to you why you do this.

As I said, I have no inherent interest in you, or anything you have to say. For me, ignoring you is easy -- except for your obsessive attacks. Why can't you do me the same favor?

Posted by: frankly0 on February 10, 2008 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

I find it fascinating that there there is so much interesting in figuring out why Obama is winning at all in general and in caucuses in particular. The reasons keep changing from time to time. Not gonna win, not experienced enough, no policy wonkishness, no black population, red state, he is black, too young, as so on and so forth.

Yet in one victory or the other, be it a caucus or a primary, he has nullified some or all of these arguments. I'm sure there are more to come. For what it's worth, these types of anaylses have kept this race interesting for someone like me.

Posted by: GOD on February 10, 2008 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

"How about the idea of your just ignoring my posts?"

I've got a better idea: how about you posting something that isn't wholly unsupported drivel?

"You know, except for your repeated attacks on me, I have exactly zero interest in what you have to say. It's always deeply lacking in analytical content."

ROFL.... Oh, the irony. The reason I'm having so much fun with you is precisely because your posts are "always deeply lacking in analytical content." You've completely gone batshit insane on the subject of Obama and you appear to be wholly unaware of it. How can I not be amused?

"As it is, you're like a cyberstalker."

ROFL.... Well, sure, if you're a moron who doesn't know the meaning of that term. Dear heart, I'm anti-stupid. Post something not-stupid and I assure you I won't mock you.

"Have you noticed that I never start attacking anything you say, but that you always initiate some attack?"

See above.

"You can't seem to stop yourself from trying to settle scores with me."

ROFLMAO... Dear heart, you give yourself far too much credit. I could care less about you. I'm simply having fun at your expense and you keep playing right into my hands by obsessively posting really stupid crap because you absolutely hate Obama. Maybe your therapist can explain to you why you do this.

Posted by: PaulB on February 10, 2008 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

Frankly0

I have participated in primaries and caucuses. From the stand point of the party, caucuses are superior to primaries because they energize the activists. They bring party members together to meet and greet face to face. They are not anti-democratic, nor are they intended to suppress voter turnout. To the contrary they are designed to help increase voter turn out in the general by activating the party faithful. They really help candidates with good ground games (grass roots organizations.) Primaries, on the other hand, are really good television events. I have never found anything particularly democratic by campaigns that rely exclusively on television ads. Broadcasters love them though.

Posted by: Corpus Juris on February 10, 2008 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Where does this idea come from that Clinton has the support of the "working-class" while Obama has the support of the "elite"??

No exit polls I've seen even asks that of voters.

Obama wins the black vote overwhelmingly, and I doubt anyone considers black voters in Louisiana or Alabama (or anywhere really) the "elite" and not "working-class".

Obama also does well with young voters, are these the "elite"?

Looking at California county by county, it was Clinton, not Obama, who took places like Orange county...aren't these the "elite"?

Posted by: Joe on February 10, 2008 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

I've heard the narrative, Obama was a community organizer before he was a politician.

Looks like that back ground came in handy.

Posted by: Tim on February 10, 2008 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

"Conversely, Clinton's big wins were in states Democrats will carry: New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and California; even Arkansas, Tennessee, Arizona, and New Mexico may well go for the Democratic candidate in November."

And so, Iowa, Minnesota, Washington, Missouri, and Colorado are . . . what exactly? They are "in play states" that would be really helpful for winning the general election. Why don't they count for anything? Does anyone think Mass. will go for McCain should Obama win the nomination? And if you think AR and TN are more in play than MO and IO, I don't know what to say to you. How about: Think again.

Posted by: Barbara on February 10, 2008 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

frankly:
I for one am happy to say I like having at least some caucuses precisely because they reflect the ability to build the army of dedicated supporters needed for the general election. Now I wish I were in a state that had had a caucus, instead of a primary. It would have been an interesting night, and I suspect I would have made some interesting neighborhood contacts with people who think similarly to myself. Seems like if the system is used properly, it could be used to build some real bottom up grasroots support for the party.

Posted by: bigTom on February 10, 2008 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Joe: Amen. As cogent of a posting as there has been on the subject. I knwo a lot of Obama supporters. Not a one is "elite." Just informed. and energized.

Posted by: Sparko on February 10, 2008 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Here's one thought: Obama's central argument is that change comes from the ground up. It's a community organizer's perspective, and it's a call to action.

I think Victoria's right, and her point kind of echoes something that a commentor noted on another thread. He was responding to Kevin's theory that Obama's fund-raising advantage stems from the relative affluence & internets-savvy & of his supporters. The former may be the case, but it doesn't speak to the fact that the bulk of Obama's donations in 2008 have been $100 or less. The latter seems based on the mistaken (and kind of patronizing) assumption that the Clinton base isn't exactly familiar or comfortable with internet technology. More likely, as Elrod pointed out on that thread,

It's just that the culture of the Clinton campaign is so top down that they wouldn't even think of doing it this way.

This seems to be what's happening with the caucuses. I'm actually not persuaded that Obama supporters outnumber Clinton supporters by the 2:1 & 3:1 ratios we're seeing in these results, but the Clinton campaign -- for whatever reasons -- doesn't seem capable of, or interested in, fostering greater participation among its supporters.

Maybe she can ignore these smaller affairs & put this thing to bed in delegate rich states like Texas & Ohio, but that strategy didn't seem to work so well for another New Yorker who's got a lot of time on his hands right now.

Posted by: junebug on February 10, 2008 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

"Conversely, Clinton's big wins were in states Democrats will carry: New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and California; even Arkansas, Tennessee, Arizona, and New Mexico may well go for the Democratic candidate in November."

I've seen this argument(?) made a lot. Isn't Obama going to win those big democratic states anyway versus any republican? Arguably Obama will be much more competitive in some of those red states and may win some of them with the independent votes.

Posted by: chew2 on February 10, 2008 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

I'm curious how those who consider caucuses to be undemocratic feel about super-delegates.

Right now, Obama is leading in elected (pledged) delegates by 918 - 885. Counting super-delegates tough, Hillary is leading 1108 - 1049.

Posted by: JS on February 10, 2008 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

Rieux -

I'm with you here, and for the same reason - I drove from WI to work with the Obama HQ in St. Paul for the final GOTC push and Super Tuesday. It was all about organization, organization, organization. I can't tell you how many times people told me how impressed (or maybe overwhelmed - lol) they were with our effort.

I havent seen the inside of the "Clinton machine", so y'all can take this for what its worth, but the Obama campaign really, seriously worked an extensive list of potential supporters in the run-up to the caucus. We had a ton of volunteers (from all over the country!)out canvassing and phonebanking all day every day - I would guess most of the people on our list probably heard from us at least 3 times. We provided everyone with their caucus location and information on how the presidential preference section of the caucus worked so no one would be confused.

On the morning of the caucus, we called nearly all of our confirmed supporters to remind them of where and when to caucus and to offer rides if necessary. Volunteers were sent to nearly every precinct site (and preferably several volunteers - I worked a precinct that caucused on the U of Minnesota campus and I had two volunteers there to meet and greet while I held down the registration table) with plenty of signs, stickers and material. They made sure the campaign was visible as you entered the caucus site, answered questions from voters and made sure the process went smoothly.

I dont remember seeing anything similar from the Clinton camp. At my caucus site there was one person affiliated with the Clinton campaign, and she wasnt even wearing anything advertising her candidate, let alone handing out materials. I'm not sure she even spoke to anyone. People I called told me that they had heard from so many people from our campaign that week, yet had recieved nothing but robocalls from Hillary. The signage wasnt there, the visibility wasnt there ... I just genuinely believe that the effort was not made. And that effort paid off big time fo Obama in MN - and probably in the other "small" states as well.

P.S. - Also, I'd like to note for those of you who have been chalking all the caucus wins up to peer pressure or the unwillingness of many to spend 4 hours caucusing - don't include Minnesota on that list. The presidential preference vote in that state is cast seperately on a private paper ballot - the traditional caucus handles state and local party business only, and you can vote in the presidential preference portion without participating in the caucus. So once you get through the line you can cast your ballot and go home. Just FYI. :)

Posted by: Karli on February 10, 2008 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

The conventional wisdom about caucuses until this year was that they favored democratic old-timers who actually knew how they worked & were reliable party members, not young whippersnappers such as the 2004 Deaniacs. Obama is better than Clinton about *creating* an organization from scratch, so caucus + weak democratic machine = good results for him, I think.

Plus, they've targeted them for a long time, because if you're trying to come from behind, persuading one person to caucus for you does more for your delegate count than persuading one person to vote for you.

Posted by: Katherine on February 10, 2008 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Has it occurred to anybody, that the reason that Obama is doing better than Hillary has nothing to do with the voting methodology (primary vs. caucus) and has a lot more to do with the candidates messages?

Hillary's message is basically "vote for me because I'm an experienced woman".

Obama's message is "vote for me because I'm going to change things".

Which message do you think people find more inspiring?

Posted by: mfw13 on February 10, 2008 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

I've been looking at MSNBC's exit polls. Hillary Clinton won almost all of the states where there was significantly higher female voter turnout, unless those states also had a significant black voter turnout, in which case Obama won. Obama pretty consistently won or tied the male vote, including the white male vote.

What I found most interesting in the exit polls is the percentage of women who are voting. In damn near every primary, they pretty well blow away the male vote. I wonder if the difference between the caucus wins and the primary wins has anything to do with male vs. female participation?

Posted by: PaulB on February 10, 2008 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

Equally interesting to me are those states where the above rules don't apply. Why, for example, did Obama beat Hillary for the female vote in Utah? And lose the male vote to her in Tennessee?

Posted by: PaulB on February 10, 2008 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

"Where does this idea come from that Clinton has the support of the 'working-class' while Obama has the support of the 'elite'?"

Well, in California, Clinton won all of the lower income brackets and Obama won all of the higher-income brackets. I haven't seen any real correlation in looking at the overall exit polls, though. The income distribution is usually outweighed by the other factors -- i.e., one of the candidates won big enough that all of the income brackets went their way.

Posted by: PaulB on February 10, 2008 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

I found this analysis by author David Sirota to be very interesting so I will be so rude as to post it in its entirety with hopes that the moderators will not delete it. According to Sirota, as usual in American electoral politics, working class voters are being manipulated into voting against their own best interests:

The Democrats' Class War
By David Sirota
Creators Syndicate
Thursday 07 February 2008

For all the hype about generational and gender wars in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, we have a class war on our hands. And incredibly, corporate America's preferred candidate is winning the poorer "us" versus the wealthier "them" - a potentially decisive trend with the contest now moving to working-class bastions like Ohio and Pennsylvania.

In most states, polls show Hillary Clinton is beating Barack Obama among voters making $50,000 a year or less - many of whom say the economy is their top concern. Yes, the New York senator who appeared on the cover of Fortune magazine as Big Business's candidate is winning economically insecure, lower-income communities over the Illinois senator who grew up as an organizer helping those communities combat unemployment. This absurd phenomenon is a product of both message and bias.

Obama has let Clinton characterize the 1990s as a nirvana, rather than a time that sowed the seeds of our current troubles. He barely criticizes the Clinton administration for championing job-killing trade agreements. He does not question that same administration's role in deregulating the financial industry and thereby intensifying today's boom-bust catastrophes. And he rarely points out what McClatchy Newspapers reported this week: that Clinton spent most of her career at a law firm "where she represented big companies and served on corporate boards," including Wal-Mart's.

Obama hasn't touched any of this for two reasons.

First, his campaign relies on corporate donations. Though Obama certainly is less industry-owned than Clinton, the Washington Post noted last spring that he was the top recipient of Wall Street contributions. That cash is hush money, contingent on candidates silencing their populist rhetoric.

But while this pressure to keep quiet affects all politicians, it is especially intense against black leaders.

"If Obama started talking like John Edwards and tapped into working-class, blue-collar proletarian rage, suddenly all of those white voters who are viewing him within the lens of transcendence would start seeing him differently," says Charles Ellison of the University of Denver's Center for African American Policy.

That's because once Obama parroted Edwards' attacks on greed and inequality, he would "be stigmatized as a candidate mobilizing race," says Manning Marable, a Columbia University history professor.

That is, the media would immediately portray him as another Jesse Jackson - a figure whose progressivism has been (unfairly) depicted as racial politics anathema to white swing voters.

Remember, this is always how power-challenging African-Americans are marginalized. The establishment cites a black leader's race- and class-unifying populism as supposed proof of his or her radical, race-centric views. An extreme example of this came from the FBI, which labeled Martin Luther King Jr. "the most dangerous man in America" for talking about poverty. More typical is the attitude exemplified by Joe Klein's 2006 Time magazine column. He called progressive Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., "an African American of a certain age and ideology, easily stereotyped" and "one of the ancient band of left-liberals who grew up in the angry hothouse of inner-city, racial-preference politics."

The Clintons are only too happy to navigate this ugly cultural topography. After a rare Obama attack on Hillary Clinton for supporting policies that eliminated jobs, Bill Clinton quickly likened Obama's campaign to Jackson's, and the Clinton campaign told the Associated Press Obama was "the black candidate." These were deliberate statements telling Obama that if he talks about class, they'll talk about race.

And so, as Marable says, Obama's pitch includes "no mention of the class struggle or class conflict." It is "hope" instead of an economic case, bromide instead of critique. The result is an oxymoronic dynamic.

Obama, the person who fought blue-collar joblessness in the shadows of shuttered factories, is winning wealthy enclaves. But Clinton, the person whose globalization policies helped shutter those factories, is winning blue-collar strongholds.

Obama, who was schooled by the same organizing networks as Cesar Chavez, is being endorsed by hedge fund managers. But Clinton, business's favorite, is being endorsed by the United Farm Workers - the union that Chavez created.

Obama, the candidate from Chicago's impoverished South Side, is finding support on Connecticut's gilded south coast. But Hillary Clinton, the candidate representing Big Money, is finding support from those with relatively little money.

As the campaign heads to the struggling Rust Belt under banners promising "change," this bizarre class war may end up guaranteeing no real transformation at all.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 10, 2008 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

mfw13-
That was a rather sexist statement, don't ya think?
I think she's saying "vote for me because I'm experienced".
I'm sure you didn't intend the sexism. But you should really be aware of the underlying sexism in your comparison.

Posted by: todd on February 10, 2008 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

Barack does a better job of organizing activists to be responsible to each other thru his Camp Obamas. Thus the "we" in yes we can. It's harder to blow off a Saturday canvassing when you've got 6 other friends you're beholden to rather than a candidate who is presently 4 states away you may never meet. It's particularly impressive to folks who have never had a Dem knock on their door before in red or swing states. That's what building a movement is all about.

Posted by: markg8 on February 10, 2008 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

I caucused yesterday in WA. The turnout in my affluent, very white suburb in Redmond was quite large for a caucus, but considerably lower than a primary. Obama support was overwhelming in the 8 precincts at my caucus site. I didn't see a lot of evidence of superior organization on part of either campaign. I received one robocall about the caucus, from the governor less than an hour before the caucus time. Nobody canvassed my neighborhood, which is an area which always gets heavily canvassed in local elections.

So, my guess is that Obama's dominance is a mix of his being very inspiring and the demographics of my neighborhood. There were a lot of people at the caucus who are not generally politically active, don't make political donations, have never been to a caucus before but who do vote in every election, and they were almost all Obama supporters.

Posted by: Sherri on February 10, 2008 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

Re: David Sirota -- clearly, Obama is quite aware that he has to avoid the "angry black man" stereotype that the press (and apparently the Clintons) will attach to him if his rhetoric is anything but kisses, roses and sunshine. I have thought this for some time. It's one of the things that lets me give him a pass on the complaints that he's not angry or partisan enough. And the fact that he's savvy enough to know that makes me respect him even more.

Posted by: Barbara on February 10, 2008 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

@todd

Give it up. The mau-mauing doesn't work any more.

Not when Hillary's supporters are explicitly asking people to vote for her because of her gender.

Posted by: Adam on February 10, 2008 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

It's a little ironic that the grizzled veteran with 35 years of executive experience gets caught flat-footed by the ingenue in the race, then whines about it. If she can't run a campaign how is she going to run the WH staff? Seriously, though, I think one aspect Kevin overlooks is that Hillary's strongest asset was her inevitablity, and like Rumsfeld she thought putting energy into organizing caucus states would require her to compete in those states, rather than be a strategic contingency.

Posted by: loki on February 10, 2008 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

I question the demographic explanation. We live in a primary state (Oregon, sometime in the distant future). However, if we were a caucus state, my daughter, a serious Obama enthusiast with a strong distaste for Clinton, would very likely be unable to attend since she regularly works all day on both Saturday and Sunday. Her demographic, twenty-something, half-to-full time student, half-to-full job, is very pro-Obama, and is seriously disadvantaged in attending caucuses. All college students are not full time teenagers in Ivy League schools.

Posted by: Gene O'Grady on February 10, 2008 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

Uh, I think the folks that have the most free time are the retirees, who overwhelmingly support Hillary, so that part makes no sense.

Posted by: RollaMO on February 10, 2008 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

Quiet Gene! You'll undermine the Clintonista Narrative!

Posted by: MNPundit on February 10, 2008 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

I haven't read thru all the comments but this notion that Obama is winning caucuses because his supporters are all a bunch of rich elitist college students with time to burn is bullshit.
I just don't buy that there are enough of them out there (in Idaho?) for him to be winning like this--they may very well make up the base of his organization, but there are a whole lot more people voting for him, including "working class" people and elderly widows.

Posted by: Ringo on February 10, 2008 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Worth noting that Obama has been clobbering Clinton in the weekend caucuses as well, when the working class folks who supposedly support HRC would be able to attend....

Posted by: cosmo on February 10, 2008 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

I causused today in Washington, and it takes a lot of planning, research into finding your site, and commitment to go

Sorry, have to strongly disagree here. It takes all of 5 minutes to locate your caucus site (on the Internet). Once you get to the caucus site, the minimum requirement is that you sign in and state your preference at the time of sign in and then you can leave. You can hang out if have time, but that isn't necessary.

Obama's volunteers made two phone calls in the two days before the caucus and told me where my caucus site is. Didn't hear from Clinton's volunteers.

Unless someone is working and can't take an hour away from work at the time of the caucus, attending one is no harder than stopping by to vote in a primary.

Posted by: rational on February 10, 2008 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

Barbara:

I think Arkansas and Tennessee are more in play for Clinton because, well, she's a Clinton. Doubt it that Obama would win either place. But your point is, generally, correct.

As for Obama in Iowa, Minnesota, Colorado, and/or Missouri, not very likely I think. And even Washington (where I lived for several years not too far back) should have been an easy win for Al Gore and Joe Lieberman in 2000, but it wasn't. It's hard to see why it would be easier for Obama now.

There are a lot of "purple" states that Obama won't win. It doesn't matter how much he believes in purple. It's going to come down to how much they believe in black. Any truly, many, many of the states Obama's winning in the primaries will be out of reach for him down the road. It's a hard fact for me to swallow too, but racism's force in a Republican southern/south-western/midwestern strategy will be tough to impossible to beat.

Hillary's going to have it very-to-impossibly tough too.

Posted by: NealB on February 10, 2008 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

Obama wins the black vote overwhelmingly, and I doubt anyone considers black voters in Louisiana or Alabama (or anywhere really) the "elite" and not "working-class".

Good point.

Posted by: Ringo on February 10, 2008 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

You know, I've been wondering why the Obama campaign sent out those mailers listing the number of Congressional seats Democrats lost during the Clinton administration. After all, that loss doesn't seem to have as much resonance with people as the prosperity of the Clinton years (not counting political junkies). Why, for example, didn't the campaign stress NAFTA instead?

I've also been struck by the irony of the "latte-sipping elite" meme, considering Obama's efforts on behalf of the poor and working class. Indeed Obama's experience as a community organizer was one of the reasons I was drawn to his candidacy.

Doh! Doh! Doh! After reading that Sirota piece, it all clicks.

Thank you for posting it, Secular Animist.

Posted by: Lucy on February 10, 2008 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Caucas or primary, you're not going to win without popular support (see Rudy). Obama is showing the popular support, the organization, the fund raising ability to put together a winning campaign.

Coming up with excuses like "my people don't have as much free time" and "my people don't want to go out in the cold" are some of the lamest excuses ever.

Note to Hillary supporters: If you don't want to make the effort to get to a caucas, don't whine when you lose.

Posted by: tomeck on February 10, 2008 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

My initial impression was that caucuses suppress the vote by disenfranchising the working and immobile. The numbers suggest this is true, but to a far less extent than I thought.

At my Democratic caucus yesterday in Seattle, 170 people participated (137 for Obama); 13 Republicans participated in theirs, but they also get a binding primary for half their delegates. I could not find numbers for 2004 caucuses, but my memory is that about 90 showed up then. Interestingly, the Republicans have I think a better formula: half through the caucus and half through the primary.

Compare these to other recent numbers for my precinct in the major elections: in 2006, 191 of 232 voted for Cantwell in the Senatorial primary and 408 of 472 for her in November Senate election; 504 of 592 total voted for Kerry in November 2004; 299 of 400 for Gore in 2000.

Posted by: dave on February 10, 2008 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

"As for Obama in Iowa, Minnesota, Colorado, and/or Missouri, not very likely I think."

Why? Based on turnout thus far, the Democratic base is energized far more than is the Republican base. Why would this not have an impact on the election results?

"And even Washington (where I lived for several years not too far back) should have been an easy win for Al Gore and Joe Lieberman in 2000, but it wasn't. It's hard to see why it would be easier for Obama now."

Easier than what? There's little doubt that Washington will go for the Democratic candidate. I'm hard-pressed to think of a single state that Kerry won that will not.

"There are a lot of 'purple' states that Obama won't win."

And, again, why?

"Hillary's going to have it very-to-impossibly tough too."

And, again, why? All of the early indicators are that the Democratic candidate will have an easier time of it in this election than in the past half dozen elections or so. Why do you think otherwise?

Posted by: PaulB on February 10, 2008 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

All of the early indicators are that the Democratic candidate will have an easier time of it in this election than in the past half dozen elections or so.

Yes, just look at the turnout in Dem v. Repub primaries/caucuses. Democrats are turning out in far larger numbers, and there's no reason why that shouldn't carry over to a general election, especially considering the apathy or dislike of so many Republicans toward McCain.
I see no reason why Obama won't win all the blue states from 2000 and 2004, plus some others such as Virginia--which already elected a black Democrat as governor at least 20 years ago. So the latent racism argument doesn't float with that one.

Posted by: Ringo on February 10, 2008 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure the presumptive demographics of caucus-goers is so easy to know. Yesterday at my caucus in Vancouver, Washington we had 27 participants: 17 women and 10 men. Of the women, 14 were 45-65 years old; of the men, 6 were of that same age group. This was not a group of young professionals. About half were retired. Most of the rest would be described as middle class/working class. There were three present under 30. We had a lively debate about the candidates. Our precintc went 22 for Obama, 5 for Hillary. Go figure.

Posted by: Gregg on February 10, 2008 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

I hope I'm not jinxing him, but it looks like another big win for Obama in Maine....

I know, I know, it's a caucus so it doesn't matter...

Or there were either too many black voters or too few...

I mean there's got to be some way to diminish this one, right?

Posted by: Joe on February 10, 2008 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

I just returned from one of the Maine caucuses. Obama won with nine delegates to HRC's seven delegates, Kucinich 1 delegate. About 150 showed up. This is massive for our little republican town.

This was only my second caucus, but I have noted a pattern when I go to them. The last one, in 2004 had a turnout of approximately 60 people, the largest to that date. In 2004, people enthusiastically made speeches for Wes Clark, Dean, Edwards, and Kucinich, but no one spoke on behalf of John Kerry. When the vote was counted, Kerry had the most votes. I thought it odd then that the Kerry supporters did not talk to anyone or say anything. They were just a quiet group who kept to themselves.

Today, many people spoke on behalf of Obama, but people had to be encouraged to speak for Clinton. I was surprised when the tally was taken that Clinton got as many votes as she did because again, her people were reluctant to speak up.

My question again is, who are these silent people, and I think I have figured it out. They are the party faithful who come to put in a vote for the establishment candidate. And, they are dwindling in proportion to other newer, more enthusiastic voters.

Posted by: cyn2 on February 10, 2008 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

Mnemosyne: Given the demographics of the voters for each candidate, it makes perfect sense that Obama is doing better in the caucuses than Clinton. Obama's voters tend to be young and middle-class; Hillary's voters tend to be older and working-class. Which of those two groups has a lot of time and energy to spend at a caucus?

* * *

Actually, I think older, working-class people have more time to spend at a caucus. I just don't think they're as interested as their younger, higher-income compatriots.

Posted by: Angela on February 10, 2008 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0: The Maine caucuses are an abomination upon democracy!!

Posted by: Lucy on February 10, 2008 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

Attendance at caucuses in MN about 4X higher than in 2004. Obama's big rally a few days before helped with turnout, but otherwise there was little very little GOTV activity in my district. Obama voters are more motiviated to attend and vote at a caucus. Primary results probably would have been closer than Obama's 67-32 caucus victory, but I think he still would have won.

Posted by: noexpert on February 10, 2008 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

I don't give much weight to the Obama supporters having all this free time. Aren't the unions supporting Hillary in greater numbers? They have squadrons of paid and volunteer workers who could have organized for the caucuses. Hillary just got outflanked and out "personed."

Posted by: digitusmedius on February 10, 2008 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

KS is a Republican voting state. My caucus on Tues night was awesome. Over 2000 people showed up with the weather @ 34 degrees with mist and rain. The place only accommodated 500 so they had to call the rabbi at the synagogue across the street to open up his facility to get people in out of the cold. I waited in line over two hrs. to get a chance to vote for Obama and I am 66 yrs old. There was no evidence of elitism with a very wide range of ages and sexes attending. I received a robocall from Hillary and 5 minutes later another Hillary call from a supporter. My county voted 3:1 in favor of Obama. I heard no complaints that night about the wait, the parking zoo or the overcrowded conditions. They were truly excited to be a part of something "big" going on in this country as we celebrate the END of this destructive administration.

Posted by: kraftysue on February 10, 2008 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

Obama is projected to win Maine, of course. No surprise there. What will be interesting is to hear what the national media will say about "momentum". Realistically, they should say very little, since none of these results are a surprise and these results aren't yielding significant delegates.

By the way, this was absolutely the wrong time for Clinton to replace her campaign manager, just as it was the wrong time earlier in the week to reveal that she had loaned her campaign $5 million. What the hell is going on there? Is she trying to get negative press? Couldn't she have waited until next week to announce this?

Posted by: PaulB on February 10, 2008 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think middle-aged people with kids and jobs have more free time than students. And even though the elderly might be retired, if they aren't wealthy they still might have more trouble getting there due to illness and frailty.

As for all this upproar about superdelegates, you do realise that in nearly all other democracies it is ONLY the party active who decides on the candidates. In US anyone, even independents (and sometimes republicans!) can vote. It makes sense that the superdelegates are there to tip the scales - after all they are the ones going to be out there, promoting the candidate during the elections.

Posted by: B on February 10, 2008 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

Obama is projected to win Maine, of course. No surprise there. What will be interesting is to hear what the national media will say about "momentum". Realistically, they should say very little, since none of these results are a surprise and these results aren't yielding significant delegates.

Actually, I'm surprised -- especially at the margin thus far (15% spread with 59% counted). After NH & MA, and a focus on favorable demographics for Clinton, I thought this would be a chance for her to come away with at least something this weekend.

By the way, this was absolutely the wrong time for Clinton to replace her campaign manager, just as it was the wrong time earlier in the week to reveal that she had loaned her campaign $5 million.

Couldn't agree more. To go from the news of her increased funding & (justifiably, IMO) beating MSNBC like a redheaded stepchild for its boorishness to a series of stinging losses & a big campaign shakeup doesn't do much to inspire confidence in a candidate.

Posted by: junebug on February 10, 2008 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

PaulB:

Obama is projected to win Maine, of course. No surprise there. What will be interesting is to hear what the national media will say about "momentum". Realistically, they should say very little, since none of these results are a surprise and these results aren't yielding significant delegates.

You sure about that not being a surprise? Maine was Hillary's best hope until March 4th. It's a North-East state and she won New Hampshire and Massachusetts. She evidently thought she would be competitive because she was campaigning heavily there recently.

For Obama to come out of this weekend with a clean sweep 4 out of 4 (or 5 out of 5 if you count the Virgin Islands) is huge. If he wins Virginia, Maryland, and DC on Tuesday, that'd be quite the roll going into Hawaii, and Wisconsin.

Hillary's strategy seems to be to hope to rebound big in Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, and Vermont on March 4th...I'm not sure how comfortable I'd be with that strategy if I was a Hillary supporter, but then again, I don't think she has much of a choice.

Posted by: Joe on February 10, 2008 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

I have to laugh at the idea that caucuses are complicated, especially if you are in a two-person race. Basically in WA you went and signed in with your preference and sat. Or stood around, 'cause the chairs ran out. If you chose to sign in as uncommitted, then you had to muster enough cognitive capacities to reconsider your choice in round two, but you could stay proudly uncommitted if you wanted. That's really it.

The only difficulties stemmed from the fact that turnout where I was quadrupled the previous record, the place was jammed, and it got hard to hear.

And I'm tired of hearing that 1PM on a sunny Saturday disenfranchises retirees and the whole working class.

Incidentally the only union presence I saw in Seattle was SEIU, for Obama.

.

I see with 70% of the ME vote in we're looking at a 58/42 split which, pardon me, is way better than what anyone expected. But I'll know the victory is official when I see the usual folks explaining why it doesn't matter. And I really love the argument that the higher the Obama vote and the bigger the turnout, the less legitimate it is!

Posted by: Colin on February 10, 2008 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

What is it about New Yorkers and firewalls?

Unless she is planning to use the money she just raised to pay herself back she ought to be working hard to at least close the gap someplace between now and March 4. Letting Obama win big for a month could just about sink Hillary. She needs to get up to Milwaukee and work her tail off.

Posted by: Corpus Juris on February 10, 2008 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

Heh, it's like people are waking up from their zombie-like state from the politics of yesteryear and actively see an opportunity with Barack Obama. Do not underestimate the subconscious desire for renewal and optimism (other words for change an hope), whether fruitful or not.

Posted by: Boorring on February 10, 2008 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

I didn't see Maine coming, and I must say looking ahead, I'm beginning to feel audacious about Obama's chances.

Posted by: Lucy on February 10, 2008 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

PaulB at 6:28, I took your 1st graph to be ironic?

Posted by: Lucy on February 10, 2008 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

You forgot the most important thing: Obama is the new messiah. See here for proof: http://obamamessiah.blogspot.com/

Posted by: Anon on February 10, 2008 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

gObama!

FranklyO must be desperately looking for black voters in Maine. No, no. It must be the latte sipping elite in Maine. There you go.

Posted by: Manfred on February 10, 2008 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK
You forgot the most important thing: Obama is the new messiah. See here for proof: http://obamamessiah.blogspot.com/

Oh boy, somebody's working really hard to play up the "Obama is a cult leader" angle. It's ridiculous, but hey, times are desperate, throw it at the wall and see if it sticks....

I wonder if the more internet-savy among us kind find out who created that site...

Posted by: Joe on February 10, 2008 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

"So why is Barack Obama so awesome in caucus states?"

Cynic's answer... because they don't use voting machines?

Posted by: Buford on February 10, 2008 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

For the record--on a thread with lotsa new monikers popping up-- abc55 and I are not remotely related.

Posted by: paxr55 on February 10, 2008 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

Obama's voters tend to be young and middle-class; Hillary's voters tend to be older and working-class. Which of those two groups has a lot of time and energy to spend at a caucus?

Older people, because they're probably retired or semi-retired...and middle-class people, because they also have more free time than working-class people. It's a tie.

Posted by: Cryptic Ned on February 10, 2008 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

I like Obama and think he has an edge in the GE for, guess what, likability factor. However, I just saw one of his commercials and it worries me a bit. It was a little grandiose with the slightly messianic buzzwords, I think I even say literally "We can save the world." He is supposed to be reasonably humble, but it comes across a bit like a idealist personality cult. No big deal considering how pitches go, but worth a little Hmmm factor?

Posted by: Neil B. on February 10, 2008 at 8:08 PM | PERMALINK

At least in my caucus in Washington, people were either strongly for their candidate (more of these for Obama) or undecided. The undecideds all went for Obama in the end. My impression was that the Obama folks were a bit more passionate and had clearer reasons for supporting him. There were stickers for Obama and none for Clinton, but I really doubt it convinced anyone whatsover. My one year old son thought the sticker was pretty cool, though. One more vote for "O-mama". That's what he calls him. :o)

Posted by: Jefe Le Gran on February 10, 2008 at 8:10 PM | PERMALINK

Clinton is no longer gaining supporters, she only losing them. All of her recent wins have come as a result of flipping former JE supporters. I have to think that that population of potential converts is just about dried up now. And with it, her chances of a rebound.

Posted by: lampwick on February 10, 2008 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

Obama is projected to win Maine, of course. No surprise there. What will be interesting is to hear what the national media will say about "momentum". Realistically, they should say very little, since none of these results are a surprise and these results aren't yielding significant delegates.

Um.

Everything I saw and read said this was a chance for Hillary to snag a win prior to Texas/Ohio. Lots of women voters. Northeast advantage.

Posted by: Quinn on February 10, 2008 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

By winning the Maine Caucuses today, Obama now is ahead of Clinton in total (both pledged and super) delegates.

I wonder if this starts to change the psychology of the race. As soon as the delegate race started to be posted, Clinton has always been ahead in the total due to her early lead among super delegates. Now that Obama is slightly ahead in the total, I think the idea that somehow she is going to find a way to win might start to lose its hold.

Obama has more pledged delegates, more total delegates, and more total primary votes. You can say it's tied, but you can't say right now that Clinton is ahead.

Posted by: PE on February 10, 2008 at 8:32 PM | PERMALINK

Momentum is always a great thing, and I'm really excited to see the possibility of an Obama administration steadily coming to realization, but I am not going to underestimate Hillary Clinton. The upcoming contests in Texas, among others, as well as her probable edge with super-delegates has me "vigilant". Also, one shouldn't give her campaign the benefit of the doubt, she can be as cunning and ruthless as the best of them. All in all, a great practice for Obama before the McCain "lion".

Aside from the upcoming contests, the only thing that I see as a problem would be the upcoming Rezko trial. Though it is speculation how the outcome will be, my personal opinion is that he will get past that with slight faults, chalked up to a beginner's unfortunate association in a pretty tough political climate (Chicago). Still, we'll see

Posted by: Boorring on February 10, 2008 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK

My take from SW Washington was a little different. The Clinton campaign had training sessions for caucuses in the WEEKS before the date (featured in the local paper). I think they were really trying to organize. Signage.....all Clinton on the way in the door. And I mean ALL Clinton (and Ron Paul). So, I don't think it was for lack of organization.
Second, I need a re-tool on the Obama message. I've been a supporter for over a year, but I need to hear it re-phrased, upgraded, or modified. I'm getting Obama-speech fatigue.

Posted by: re-tool on February 10, 2008 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

Obama looked very tired in VA last night. He must be running on fumes. So maybe it's not the moment to rework the stump speech.

Anyway, that speech works. It's quite long but people listen to it, and many people have never heard it before.

But I know what you mean.

Posted by: Lucy on February 10, 2008 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

Ha, you guys noticed it also? Obama sounded like he was fighting sleep, and his lines were poorly delivered. Unfortunately the only channel I had at this house I was at was Fox (sigh), and aside from Geraldo's mustache trying to make this a Latino/African American divide, Gavin Newsom's wife was saying his speech was great. They must have been passing some hits during the break, because the guy looked tired. Oh well, you're right in that people that haven't heard it before might have been more receptive, but I would have thought a clean sweep would have bolstered up the energy.

Posted by: Boorring on February 10, 2008 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

I am a person that believes that Hillary, warts and all will be the ready to assume the presidency, from day one.

That being said, I am completely at a loss at how she has ran her campaign. It is as if she is completely divorced from reality or she thinks she has a secret weapon. I think that she never thought that she was going to have to RUN for president. She has been out hustled by Obama's people this weekend. I know her people think that seating FL and MI will give her 200 delegates, and I know they presume that they will get the a majority of the uncommitted super-delegates, but it seems like they have forgotten how to organize and run a campaign.

They should put someone in place to get serious, and run hard.
If they cannot get their act together, and win WI,OH and TX with a followup in PA they will be out of this.....................

Posted by: james b on February 10, 2008 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

By passing hits, I meant the Fox News team, not...yeah, you get it.

Posted by: Boorring on February 10, 2008 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK

Here are the demographics on my Lincoln, Nebraska district:

63 total
ethnicity: caucasian 100%
sex: 34 female/29 male
age: based on my own observations & conversations, we had 5 under 30, the majority were over 50 and 8 were weelll over 50.

final vote: 42 Obama/21 Clinton/1 Undecided

Our district looked to be very representative of the precinct as a whole. We had about 500 people.

I don't know what this tells you. I do know that I got 4 calls from Obama in the last 24 hours and I never got a single Clinton call.

Posted by: Baseballgirl on February 10, 2008 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

aside from Geraldo's mustache trying to make this a Latino/African American divide

Ha!

Posted by: Lucy on February 10, 2008 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

Lucy, it wouldn't stop making that insinuation. So much so that I was hoping somebody would shave it off or something. I'm thinking Barack's election will signify something holy, like many other Hillary supporter's here like to mention, and his hand on the Bible this November will cinge the mustache off of Geraldo's face forever, and he can finally be free.

Posted by: Boorring on February 10, 2008 at 8:55 PM | PERMALINK

James B. I am extremely happy Clinton has cleaned house with her campaign. She has work to do, and needs to leave the Hallmark moments to the GOP. I am not sure if I am angrier at Hillary's handlers or her message. But man, I have been spitting fire lately. I am a solid democrat who has been pissed at Hillary since New Hampshire. She has to be real. She needs to be off-script. But I have shifted to Obama, and believe she is too plugged in. Her adherents here have pissed me off too. She has won the smug, patronizing class.

Posted by: Sparko on February 10, 2008 at 9:03 PM | PERMALINK

Boorring: But isn't Geraldo 100 years old and that mustache the linchpin to his mortal coil.

Now I will not be able to not think of Geraldo's deliverance from the Latino/African American divide when Obama takes the oath.

I guess I should thank you for that!


Posted by: Lucy on February 10, 2008 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

Sparko, I hope she can do it, even if she has to steal Carville for a few weeks........She does have to get some spark......running a government, and country, comes AFTER WINNING a run for the postion....you gotta do one, real good, to get to do the other......

Posted by: james b on February 10, 2008 at 9:23 PM | PERMALINK

James B: I am as mainstream a democrat as can be. But man, I am so put off by Hillary that some of her base here are accusing me of GOP talking point recitation. So, she needs a real change of direction. I have even been reevaluating the Bill Clinton years, for God's sake. Man, she has campaigned badly. I liked Kucinich to start with, so maybe I am further left than her targeted audience. I really like Obama's positive message though. I think that is why I am unglued by the mean snark by the Hillary supporters. I genuinely like Obama. Hillary has some real damage control to do with her own party if she did win. Her new direction is a positive start. Hell I began posting about a third party Obama campaign (should he lose) this morning I was so pissed off.

Posted by: Sparko on February 10, 2008 at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK

I feel you...............I just get this feeling that she can't comprehend that she has to audition for the job, they aren't gonna just give it to her. I still think she would be the best at it, but that just isn't enough..................

Posted by: james b on February 10, 2008 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

I'll be interested to see how she gets out from under pushing Shuster off the air... seems like she's taking lessons from Mr. Putin IMO.

Posted by: leo on February 10, 2008 at 9:56 PM | PERMALINK

I'm getting really irritated by the way the superdelegate endorsements are going. You can see the daily additions for Clinton or Obama on:

Democratic Convention Watch

Every single day Clinton gains about 4 to Obama's 1. Yesterday, after New Mexico's primary came out 50-50, 3 NM superdelegates endorsed Clinton, 0 NM superdelegates for Obama. Clinton's list of superdelegates takes up two long columns compared to Obama's one. You can really see how at least at this point the Clintons have the superdelegates wrapped up with a bow on top.

Posted by: nepeta on February 10, 2008 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

"I'll be interested to see how she gets out from under pushing Shuster off the air... "

Leo,

So far she's gotten her 'biography' on MSNBC last night. (See Josh Marshall for more info). It's too bad David Schuster ended up being the fall guy. He has always seemed totally nonpartisan to me. I didn't hear the 'pimping' remark, but I've said it here on Kevin's site. It certainly has a more generalized usage (i.e.,STRONGLY SUPPORTING) than that of 20 or 30 years ago. You know, Clinton actually has asked that Schuster be fired, although I've read that she's backing down from that request.

Posted by: nepeta on February 10, 2008 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

Not sure who has the most accurate count, but www.realclearpolitics.com has a significantly different count than Democratic Convention watch.

Posted by: PE on February 10, 2008 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

PE,

I was just there! I didn't see a superdelegate count. I'll go look again.

Posted by: nepeta on February 10, 2008 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

"'I'll be interested to see how she gets out from under pushing Shuster off the air... '

...

'You know, Clinton actually has asked that Schuster be fired, although I've read that she's backing down from that request.'"


Well, that's a step toward getting out from under utter stupidity.

Posted by: leo on February 10, 2008 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK

Trust might have something to do with it:

http://acropolisreview.com/2008/02/lorna-brett-howard-barack-obama-loyalty.html

Posted by: Carlos on February 10, 2008 at 10:22 PM | PERMALINK

nepata, I'm surprised to hear that you didn't think Shuster's remark was too bad. I thought it beyond the pale and didn't blame Hillary for going ballistic (at first). Hillary overplayed it eventually, however.

TV is just unbelievably shitty.

Posted by: Lucy on February 10, 2008 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

AWECOME OBAMA VIDEO!!!

DipDive

Posted by: nepeta on February 10, 2008 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

Super-delegates from Washington who have declared their support for Hillary need to be challenged on that decision, now that the decision is so clearly out of line with the wishes of the Democratic voters they represent. Here's one list:

http://my.barackobama.com/page/event/detail/organizing/4rb9b

I'm going to contact all of them. I hope others will too. I haven't written an actual paper letter to a congress person since I was in grade school many decades ago. But in case an actual paper letter might carry more weight than an e-mail, I'm going to do that for at least the ones who might be wanting my vote in the future. If they're not willing to represent my wishes and the overwhelming wishes of Democratic voters in this state on something as important as this, why should I give them my support?

Posted by: bobb on February 10, 2008 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

Lucy,

I know that I seem to have a different opinion from 99% of the commenters here. I think it's just because I really have disassociated it in my mind over the last several years from its original meaning. I can see how other people could have a different view. Does the consternation come from Chelsea being a young woman rather than a young man? Or is it just the word itself? I interpret it these days, as I said above, as 'sending Chelsea out to strongly support her mom with the superdelegates.' I would have preferred he didn't use the word in this context on national TV since it's obvious lots of people don't give it the interpretation I do.

Posted by: nepeta on February 10, 2008 at 10:33 PM | PERMALINK

Lucy: the "pimping" comment did not phase me at all. My college-age son and his contemporaries use that word so frequently I am immune to it. It is a South Park idiom. Like douche, gay, and a thousand other South Parkisms, I think Schuster was just trying to rep his youth fan base. And that was probably the silliest part of the comment. It's not like Schuster has a lot of street cred. I like Schuster. I hope he is back soon. This kind of "outrage" thing makes a real reporter into a tenuous, fawning hack. It fulfills that "PC" GOP claptrap--democrats are too PC to care about real issues--that kind of crap.


Posted by: Sparko on February 10, 2008 at 10:36 PM | PERMALINK

Obama people, watch the video I linked to at 10:25 PM. Just downright amazing.

Posted by: nepeta on February 10, 2008 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

nepata, I associate "pimping" with Jodi Foster's loathsome bossman in "Taxi Driver".

Maybe the world has passed me by on this one, because I was genuinely shocked. And you know, I'm not exactly dainty with English.

OK, now I've read Sparko's explanation about how this is a South Park thing the kids are atuned to. Thanks for clueing me in.

Posted by: Lucy on February 10, 2008 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone else find Kevin's silence on the Maine caucus a little odd? I've visited a number of other blogs, and most, including some right-wing blogs, have a couple of posts on the subject, but nothing from Kevin yet....in fact, he's been pretty quiet all weekend considering we've had 4 state contests decided, what gives? This should be the story of the day for us Democrats.

I expect we'll see a post by tomorrow morning, but still, seems a little odd.

Posted by: Joe on February 10, 2008 at 11:01 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for the pointer to the list, Bobb. I respect their choices, but I see no harm in letting them know that their constituents are paying real close attention to those choices!

Posted by: Colin on February 10, 2008 at 11:11 PM | PERMALINK

In regard to the complaints about caucuses: Why didn't we hear them before Clinton started losing? If caucuses are so undemocratic, unfair, elitist, etc., why didn't the Clinton people object to them at the beginning of the process?

Posted by: Brooklynite on February 10, 2008 at 11:13 PM | PERMALINK

james b:"I know her people think that seating FL and MI will give her 200 delegates, and I know they presume that they will get the a majority of the uncommitted super-delegates, but it seems like they have forgotten how to organize and run a campaign."

Personally, I think that organizing and running a campaign is one of the few glimpses we have into the knowledge, skill and ability of potential candidates.

So what would it say about Clinton if she were to get the nomination after running a sloppy campaign and losing the popular vote only because she plays hardball with the MI and FL delegates and has the super-delegate advantage. Do the Clintons really think the Democratic party will survive their jockeying for power? Or do they not care, as long as they retake the WH?

Posted by: PTate in MN on February 10, 2008 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

I can't believe you Obama fans aren't saying anything about the video that I linked to at 10:25. Or does it just not impress you? It brought a tear to my eye.

Posted by: nepeta on February 10, 2008 at 11:21 PM | PERMALINK

I just watched Obama at Alexandria today and it is not mystery why he wins these caususes. He is absolutely terrific in the forum of being in a gym with a couple thousand people. Most everyone present would almost certainly storm to a caucus to support him. About the only criticism I could make of him is that on television he sometimes comes across as too cool and might turn off some people (but probably not in person). Once he starts talking, he is terrific (not a lot of substance, but still terrific)-- smart, peronable, inspiring, etc.

Posted by: brian on February 10, 2008 at 11:21 PM | PERMALINK

nepeta,

You got me to watch the video. The women were georgeous. The production was slick, and I accept that it would have emotional appeal to those persons subject to that kind of appeal. But to me, it was empty in terms of giving a reason for voting for Obama for president. It tended to re-enforce the most valid criticism of his speeched, that there is no substance to his pitch.

Posted by: brian on February 10, 2008 at 11:32 PM | PERMALINK

nepeta,

And why can't people spell your name correctly?

It's a lovely song, and very moving.

Posted by: paxr55 on February 10, 2008 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

"I can't believe you Obama fans aren't saying anything about the video that I linked to at 10:25."

oh, nepeta, I wish I loved it! Andrew Sullivan loves it, too, but I've tried to watch it three times and each time I got restless at after 1.5 minutes. I can see that it could be very powerful for its target audience, but I am personally untouched. But I've never been one for flashy editing, group sing-alongs and celebrity endorsements.

But thank you for posting it. I hope others are more hip than me.

Posted by: PTate in MN on February 10, 2008 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

In regard to the complaints about caucuses: Why didn't we hear them before Clinton started losing? If caucuses are so undemocratic, unfair, elitist, etc., why didn't the Clinton people object to them at the beginning of the process?

Posted by: Brooklynite

that's a damn good question.

Posted by: klyde on February 10, 2008 at 11:48 PM | PERMALINK

It tended to re-enforce the most valid criticism of his speeched, that there is no substance to his pitch

Brian, people who want to tell you that there's no substance to Obama will point you to inspiring speeches like this and try to convince you that inspiring speeches are a bad thing.

But they're doing so by pretending that there's no substance to go along with the inspiration. They know they're wrong about that, but seeing someone like Obama combine substance with inspiration scares them.

If you want substantial information about some particular issue, start with Obama's web site, or just post a question asking. It's not that it's not there, or that it's hard to find. It's just that the supporters of a certain other candidate hope you won't go looking for that substance, and hope you will just take their word for it that it doesn't exist.

And FWIW, there's a good chance that unless you are an unusually hawkish Democrat, when you compare substance to substance you'll find that not only is Obama better at inspiration, the substance says that he's far more likely to handle foreign policy in a sane and sensible fashion. On domestic issues YMMV, but not for lack of substance to find.


And to Nepeta: if I were younger, would I recognize the people in that video? I think I recognized one or two at most. Cool video anyway.


Posted by: bobb on February 10, 2008 at 11:52 PM | PERMALINK

I think Clinton got blindsided and pulled somewhat of a "Rudy" by relying solely on the big blue states and her powerful party connections.

I was absolutely shocked to learn that in my borough of Brooklyn, the primary voters only favored Clinton 51% to 49%!?!? In my district, Obama acutually won. Then I remember that I've been seeing the Obama organizers out on the street for almost a year now nearly every weekend. Clinton's crowd was AWOL -- I suppose they figured they had an easy win (and they did when the whole state is taken into account).

If that's the impact that Obama's ground game had in the most populous borough in NYC, just imagine what impact it would have in all of those caucus states.

Clinton's big advantage is supposed to be her battle tested political skills. Well, she's got quite a battle on her hands now. Let's see how she fares over the next ten weeks. That should be instructive.

Obama supporters don't need to celebrate yet, however. Just look at the come-from-behind performance of McCain. He was also his party's "presumptive" nominee several months ago and he managed to get off the ropes.

Hillary fired her campaign manager. Let's see if she has wits and stamina to change tactics (if not strategy) and beat Obama back. If not, then I'd say she didn't deserve the nomination anyway.

Posted by: lobbygow on February 11, 2008 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks to all of you who watched the video.

Brian, Somehow I thought you might see it as you did. But a song is hardly an easy place to present policy positions. (gr) Yes, it was an emotional appeal.

Pax 55, My sentiments exactly. I'm a pianist and almost any kind of music increases my emotional connection to the subject a hundredfold. Needless to say, I really don't need to be MORE emotional about Obama than I already am! But don't get me wrong. It's not all just emotion but rationality too.

PTate, Hmmm. Your response is curious. Is it the type of music? I'm 61 but I still loved it.
I just wish it had included some older singers, maybe James Taylor or Paul Simon!

Bobb, Good question. I'm going to ask my 22-year old daughter if she knows these people.
Also, Bobb, I don't know if you care or whether you should care, but Obama has asked his supporters not to contact superdelegates. Wonder why? Afraid that a barrage of e-mail and letters would turn them off? I don't know.

Posted by: nepeta on February 11, 2008 at 12:16 AM | PERMALINK

Bobb,

Obviously I was wrong about contacting superdelegates. I just followed your link to Obama's site. Strange. I've heard that or read it several times over the last week but have no memory of where.

Posted by: nepeta on February 11, 2008 at 12:20 AM | PERMALINK

Hillary should make some sort of major announcement along the lines that she will fight for every delegate, but because of her love for the country and party, she will not allow the fight to hurt either of them. That if the delegates select her, she will urge Obama to accept vp slot, but if the delelgates select him, she will campaign her heart out to get him elected and urge him not to select her as vp. She also might apologize if anything she or her campaign has said has caused any division in the party or the country. I think it would all be phony for her, but it would be a good move politically. She needs to shake things up and act contrary to the perception of her as someone willing to do anything and to hurt others to advance herself.

Posted by: brian on February 11, 2008 at 12:22 AM | PERMALINK

I'm not 61!!!! I'm only 60!!!!

Posted by: nepeta on February 11, 2008 at 12:26 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, sheesh, Brian. That would be crazy!!! That would just reinforce the perception of her as someone willing to do anything and if she is 'being phony' people will know it. And what's this with Obama being her VP but urge him not to choose her? The whole statement would be mind-blowing.

Posted by: nepeta on February 11, 2008 at 12:34 AM | PERMALINK

She could even make a "shermanesque" statement about the vp and try to take the high horse. it would not really be substantive, because she really does not want the vp and obama does not want to ask her. the idea is that she could pull off the schtick without coming across as a phony and, potentially, save her nomination. she even could cry again. if it fails, there is nothing lost because it appears right now that she is not going to get the nomination and, if she does, she probably would lose the general election.

Posted by: brian on February 11, 2008 at 1:45 AM | PERMALINK

To whoever the guy who said that Washington isn't a slame dunk? Excuse me? Reagan in '84 was the last GOP winner of Washington. It should have been easy for Gore and it was. Dukakis carried Washington!

I would be shocked if Obama didn't carry Iowa and Minnesota against McCain as well. He'd have a good shot in Colorado too.

I'm starting to wonder if the anti-caucus folks are Hillary supporters or right wing trolls.

Posted by: Topher on February 11, 2008 at 1:51 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin's post got me thinking about the experience meme and wondering if there isn't a deeper lesson here. I wound up writing the following,

http://www.bestoftheblogs.com/2008/02/11/the-experience-meme/

If you have a moment, please have a look.

Posted by: John McCreery on February 11, 2008 at 1:56 AM | PERMALINK

So I'm looking at the upcoming primary schedule and I see that there is a Washington State primary on Feb 19th...but didn't we just have a Washington State caucus this weekend?

After doing some reading, Washington does indeed have both a caucus and a primary. The primary is on Feb 19th, and, as is standard for Washington elections, voters almost exclusively vote-by-mail.

But, on the Democratic side, the caucus alone apportions delegates, so the primary is kind of meaningless.

Just thought I'd share that with everyone...it's like Washington is going out of its way to be confusing.

Posted by: Joe on February 11, 2008 at 2:05 AM | PERMALINK

Should have also mentioned that the Republicans apportion half their delegates in the caucus and half in the primary....bizarre.

Posted by: Joe on February 11, 2008 at 2:12 AM | PERMALINK

Just after Super Tuesday, Senator Clinton's popular vote total was 8,823,097.

Senator Obama's was 8,294,209.

That's according to a CNN table that hasn't been updated...(the facts don't fit the narrative of the moment, so the facts get s**tcanned.)

That's a difference of half a million and then some voting for Clinton over Obama.

He's cut into that lead since, but by how much?

Is she now only ahead by 300,000? 200,000?

What is there about a half-million or a quarter-million voters that doesn't count?

Why is that not significant?

What happened to the old mantra "one person, one vote"?

Democracy anyone? Guy/Girl with the most votes wins?

Jeez, lots of countries in the rest of the world actually elect heads of state by direct popular vote...

What a concept!

If only the United States of America could catch up with Indonesia, India, France...

Posted by: wobbly on February 11, 2008 at 2:35 AM | PERMALINK

"BDB: Caucuses tend to be dominated by democratic party elites and activists, Obama's base."

Oh, really? Because I thought Hillary was the party elite/activists' candidate and that's why she has more superdelegates.

Posted by: Helena Montana on February 11, 2008 at 4:32 AM | PERMALINK

In numbers cited by Meet the Press on Sunday morning, Obama is ahead in total votes cast. Now I'm not sure whether either includes Michigan and Florida. If one does and the other doesn't, that could explain the difference between one count and the other.

Posted by: PE on February 11, 2008 at 7:27 AM | PERMALINK

As far as the Democratic party being undemocratic in its process of picking its candidate, well, first of all, the Supreme Court has decided that it is up to the parties to choose their own method of choosing. Because in theory anyone can go outside the two parties to run for President, the two parties are allowed to set their own rules.

As it stands, Hillary Clinton has benefitted by the fact that there are superdelegates who are not bound by primary/caucus vote and Barack Obama has benefitted by the Caucus system. In any case, much of the current system, including the front loaded primary system was put into place by Terry McCauliffe, the former DNC head who now works for the Clinton campaign.

Posted by: PE on February 11, 2008 at 7:45 AM | PERMALINK

And why can't people spell your name correctly?

Yikes! My apologies, nepeta.

Posted by: Lucy on February 11, 2008 at 7:45 AM | PERMALINK

I'm a bit late to the party, but I just wanna add that the turnout numbers clearly show that caucusses put higher hurdle at participation, and so drive less enthusiastic and time-pressed voter away:

See, Maine and neighboring New Hampshire have an almost equal number of citizen, about 1.3 million. Thx to the Maine Dem Party, we now know that "close to 45,000 Mainers attended the Democratic caucus". However, in the Dem primary in New Hampshire, about 284000 votes were cast!

So, less than 1/6th of voters participate in caucusses than in primaries. This supports the reasoning done by the commenters here.

Posted by: Gray on February 11, 2008 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK

nepeta..

I liked the video too, but I agree with others that it is a celebration of Obama's rhetoric -- which is great but I understand why those who don't support Obama would be unmoved.

Posted by: PE on February 11, 2008 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK

The demographic stuff is all about excuses. After all, we've had caucuses in past primaries, and while there was a certain amount of grousing about how they are "undemocratic" (and they are), they didn't come under much scrutiny until Obama started winning them by huge margins. I suspect that the blue haired infirm women supported Kerry in past caucus states over the Dean-fervor, but Kerry still won those caucuses. It's like Michigan and Florida--you just can't complain about the unfairness of something only at the moment when the unfairness works against you (even if it's truly unfair) without looking (and I daresay being) totally self-interested and *not* really caring about the principle of it.

That said, I think the true answer to this is that nobody has paid much attention to the caucuses (except the Iowa caucus) before Obama. I'm not kidding when I say I think the Clinton's campaign's caucus strategy consisted entirely of winning the "big" states and assuming the little caucus states would fall in line without having to pay them any attention. In the old world, it made perfect sense. After all, states like Kansas and Idaho have made a point of noting that NO major presidential candidate of any party had been having rallies or even visiting since the 40s and 50s--not until Obama. Why all these candidates ignored something that in retrospect seems fairly obvious? (if you are the only one showing up and ask people for votes, they'll vote for you) I don't know why--but that's what used to be considered smart politics.

So Obama's caucus victories can be chalked up to a variety of factors: many were in states where he would have won primaries anyway, and in many he was the only one who bothered to show up in person to campaign, which explains the blow out margins. Nothing mysterious.

So why can't Hillary win primaries? She lost IL, CT, SC, UT, MO, DE, LA, GA, AL. She lost in the east, she lost in the west, she lost in the south, she lost in the midwest, she lost big states, she lost little states, she lost red states and blue states...

aha...see how easy that is?

Posted by: JMS on February 11, 2008 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

Nate's point makes little sense.

older women who could not make it to the caucus for fear of the drive, the weather, etc.
Caucus goers fear the drive? The drive isn't any longer to caucuses than it is to voting booths and since everyone goes at the same time they are more likely to be able to get a ride. As for the working class part has holes too, most any sort of voting works against time constrained people.

I want to defend caucuses. Primaries are terribly susceptible to people going for frontrunners. Caucuses can have that issue, but there is definitely more for secondary voices to state their case.

Posted by: crack on February 11, 2008 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

Lucy,

No apology necessary. I think Scotian got the 'nepata' going about a week ago. (gr)

Posted by: nepeta on February 11, 2008 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, the fact that Obama actually showed up in states like Idaho and Kansas is well taken. Yes, the Democratic candidate is not going to win either state in November, yet still there are Democrats there and I don't blame those Democrats for supporting the candidate who gave them some attention.

While New Jersey is bigger and more important to the Democrats than Idaho, Obama was +12 in Idaho while Clinton was +11 in New Jersey. It seems to me that in some cases the Obama campaign has just been smarter than the Clinton campaign.

Posted by: PE on February 11, 2008 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

The peer pressure to hate Hillary is very strong. Conservative Democrats in Idaho and Nebraska have made it very difficult for their compatriots to support Hillary without derisive comment from their peers. Caucases allow peer pressure to be used to intimidate voters decision making and they allow for discrimination against low information and low income voters. Peer pressure is especially acute in less urban areas, where people generally know each other. I waited in line two hours to vote last Tuesday with the neighbors in my political precinct, and knew none of them. Their opinion of my vote means nothing to me. People in rural districts do not have the safety of anonymity like people in urban districts.

Posted by: Brojo on February 11, 2008 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

"After all, we've had caucuses in past primaries, and while there was a certain amount of grousing about how they are "undemocratic" (and they are), they didn't come under much scrutiny until Obama started winning them by huge margins."
Same as with superdelegates. Too late to compalin about them now?

"It's like Michigan and Florida--you just can't complain about the unfairness of something only at the moment when the unfairness works against you (even if it's truly unfair) without looking (and I daresay being) totally self-interested and *not* really caring about the principle of it."

And while MI and FL delegates shouldn't be seated (as long as they don't repeat the primaries there), how will anyone being able to reasonably complain about the superdelegates giving the victory to Clinton, IF she wins the popular vote, including MI and FL votes? I mean, without lloking "totally self-interested and *not* really caring about the principle of it."???

Posted by: Gray on February 11, 2008 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

About the video nepeta linked, I offer the following thoughts on art, music, emotion, and movements. I have no expertise. I have a background in European history, so forgive ham-handed treatment of both US history and the genesis of the song itself.

The way I understand it, a well-known musician from Black-eyed Peas heard Obama speak.

In this speech (a standard stump speech that evokes a slave chant, "Yes, we can") BO explains the phrase and roots it in American history. Like most slave narratives, the phrase exists mostly as oral history.

The video continues that proud tradition, only capturing it in song and images, with great production values, gorgeous young celebrities, and of course with endless viewings via YouTube brodacast. Cost to the BO campaign? $0.

Anyway, my point is that with naturals like BO, who become megastars, you can't really control the effect they have on artists and musicians. And through artists and musicians (YouTube) you end up with a social and cultural phenomenon not under the control of any campaign or organization. Hence the tut-tutting of those who see the phenom and describe it in fearful or derisive terms.

Posted by: paxr55 on February 11, 2008 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

In the general election or primaries we go into a voting booth. In caucuses we do not. Why?

Posted by: fillphil on February 11, 2008 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

"Why the Crazy Caucus and Primary Rules Are Legal"

In short:

The reason for the different treatment is the hybrid nature of our electoral system. Party primaries and caucuses have elements that are public (the state often pays to run them, and they lead to choices on the public general election ballot) and elements that are private (political parties are not government entities, they are private associations). Private associations have a First Amendment right to exclude those who disagree with them, and to structure their internal affairs as they see fit. Presidential primaries straddle this public-private divide because presidential nominations are ultimately made at party-run conventions.

and this:

. . . As Justice Antonin Scalia recently wrote for a seven-justice Supreme Court majority, "A political party has a First Amendment right to limit is membership as it wishes, and to choose a candidate-selection process that will in its view produce the nominee who best represents its political platform."

Posted by: paxr55 on February 11, 2008 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Nepeta seems to have started a sub-thread here on the "Yes, we can" video. As for me, one of the non-responders, in response to her question, yes, I think it is the type of music. It's also the style of film editing. I don't respond to the editing style that quick cuts from one beautiful person to another. My family background is WASP compounded by living in MN. Our complex, emotional expressions here are so subtle that some people from more visceral environments can't read us at all, and vice-versa, we tune out loud appeals that appeal to others.

I do like the message, though. Yes, we can.

Posted by: PTate in MN on February 11, 2008 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK
AWECOME OBAMA VIDEO!!!....nepeta at 10:25 PM
Oh, puleeze. Here's a McCain parody. Pop sucks and both video's are unwatchable.

....I really have disassociated it in my mind over the last several years from its original meaning.....nepeta at 10:33 PM
So if someone said you were pimping out your daughter, you'd be cool with it?

...Yes, we can. PTate in MN at 2:01 PM

Perhaps, then, you can see why the farm workers and latinos might be insulted by someone co-opting their fighting slogan.
.... I really don't need to be MORE emotional about Obama than I already am!......nepeta at 12:16 AM

No! Why you would have fooled ...... no one.
.....I think that organizing and running a campaign is one of the few glimpses we have into the knowledge, skill and ability of potential candidates.... PTate in MN at 11:14 PM

A campaign is stage show. Does a rock show say anything about the personality of the organizer? The job of voters is to find the persona behind the candidate's actor personality.

Posted by: Mike on February 11, 2008 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

In Washington state for one example, over 770,000 Democrats voted in the gubernatorial primary, under 35,000 in this caucus. That is slightly less than 5%. While that may be the most enthused segment of the electorate, it really doesn't seem overwhelming or convincing of more traditional voting results.

Posted by: Mike on February 11, 2008 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Mike,

To each his own, I guess, regarding the You Tube video.

As for the McCain parodies (there are at least two now), your comment confused me. Did you mean to say that the satirical videos (linked below) somehow countermanded the will.i.am production?

To me, they built on it. The McCain satires reinforced the strength of the original by sending up McCain's core messages of hopelessness, 100 years of war, and "no you can't." Hilarious, watching the musicians and actors do double takes with their lyrics and saying, "No you can't--WTF?" and more.

No You Can't

Now Watch McCain

Posted by: paxr55 on February 11, 2008 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

As of 2/16/08 Obama's wins include:
- 10 of 13 caucuses
- 9 of 9 primaries w/ 19% or higher black population (2K census)
- 4 of 15 in primaries w/ less than 19% black population.
I'm from WA state and attended the caucus. I concur w/ the various reasons Obama is winning in Caucuses including disenfranchisement. A Survey USA poll the day before showed Obama by 5 points (50-45). But the caucus resulted in 37 point win for Obama. The SurveyUSA poll also predicted this. It showed 63 % of Obama's supporters would show up vs. 33% for Clinton. Part of the problem could be that everyone got primary ballots in the mail. Why get a ballot if it does not count. ... The triple whammy against Clinton are the caucus states, blacks voting inordinately 80-20 for Obama and Florida & Michigan excluded delegates. Florida & Michigan are more in Clinton territory (not caucuses and black % is 14% (2K census). Note, you could almost double the black population % to get the estimated % of vote in the democratic primary. I also note that there are no caucuses in states w/ greater than 6% black population.

Posted by: KNK on February 17, 2008 at 4:58 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly