Defining The Will of the People

In the ongoing debate over what the role of superdelegates should be in the nominating process, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has come in on the "will of the people" side but in the process raises more questions than answers. From SFGate's Politics Blog:

"I think there is a concern when the public speaks and there is a counter-decision made to that," she said, adding quickly, "I don't think that will happen."

She said the governors, lawmakers, DNC members and others picked as super delegates are chosen through a grassroots process and are accountable to the party's voters.

"I do think that they have a respect -- it's not just following the returns, it's also having a respect for what has been said by the people," Pelosi said. "It would be a problem for the party if the verdict would be something different than the public has decided."

One important question her statement begs, and one I didn't raise in my post about the DFA and MoveOn campaigns, is how exactly one defines, as Pelosi puts it, "what has been said by the people." For example, what would Pelosi say was said by the people of Nevada who gave Hillary Clinton a popular vote margin over Barack Obama but gave Obama one more pledged delegate than Clinton thanks to the delegate allocation system in place? One can make a technical case, as the Obama campaign did, that winning one more pledged delegate than Clinton in NV constituted "winning" but if you're talking about making a more theoretical "will of the people" argument, arguing that a pledged delegate win is somehow more reflective of popular sentiment than a popular vote win is an uphill battle to be sure.

Yet the implication of Pelosi's remarks, and that of both the MoveOn and DFA campaigns (although only DFA makes it explicit,) is that the vaunted will of the people should be determined simply by who has more pledged delegates when, as we see once again in Burnt Orange Report's analysis of how Texas may go on March 4th, pledged delegates are often not reflective of the will of the people at all. In fact, in advance of the California primary, Senator Barbara Boxer made it clear that she intended to cast her superdelegate vote for the "winner" of California's primary; since it appeared we could have been in store for another popular vote/delegate split decision here in CA, she subsequently clarified that she intended to vote for the popular vote winner of California, a fairly unambiguous measure of the popular will.

Offering somewhat of a dissenting view from those that argue that superdelegates should represent the will of the people, whether nationally or at the state or district level, Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina rejected the concept altogether.

While Clyburn said he'd prefer superdelegates not announce their support until much later in the nominating process, he said he also doesn't agree with superdelegates shifting support from one candidate to another based on how their constituents vote in a primary or caucus. [...]

Clyburn said superdelegates are not in place simply to mirror the popular vote. "I don't think people are really thinking through what they're saying," he said.

What he didn't say was exactly what measure the superdelegates should use when making their decision about whom to support, which this year, Clyburn expects will make all the difference in who wins the nomination.

It takes 2,025 to clinch the nomination - a number Clyburn said Friday he didn't think either candidate will be able to reach before the convention. The August convention in Denver is where the superdelegates will have their say, he said.

"Nobody is going to have 2,000 votes when this is over," Clyburn said. "The superdelegates are there to provide the rest of those votes. That's why we were supposed to be unpledged."

Both campaigns certainly appear to be counting on such an outcome as they are both waging superdelegate persuasion campaigns, but right now, since Obama looks likely to have the pledged delegate lead even after March 4th, Clinton's Texas and Ohio strategy may be more about going for a popular vote lead rather than a pledged delegate lead so that once all states have voted and neither has the required number of delegates, claim it's a draw and hence that superdelegates should be free to support whomever they please. It's hard to imagine how, in the event that this does happen, how anyone could credibly argue that the pledged delegate number is somehow a better gauge of the people's will than the popular vote. Seems to me this is the only way Clinton wins the superdelegate battle and, if superdelegates do ultimately break her way, the nomination.

Update [2008-2-16 0:4:50 by Todd Beeton]:NBC's First Read has the current popular vote totals, which Obama currently leads by several points.

Obama 9,373,334 50%
Clinton 8,674,779 46%
Others 726,095 4%

Tags: 2008 Presidential election, Barack Obama, Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton, James Clyburn, Nancy Pelosi, superdelegates (all tags)

Comments

80 Comments

Re: Defining The Will of the People

The "popular vote" is even less meaningful than the pledged delegates because so many states used caucuses. Deciding this based on the popular vote would give a huge boost in influence to those states that used primaries instead of caucuses.

by dmc2 2008-02-15 05:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

EXACTAMUNDO!

by Zeitgeist9000 2008-02-15 05:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

Aren't there rough vote totals for at least most caucus states?  It's not like the delegates were allocated on a strictly proportional basis across states.

by rfahey22 2008-02-15 05:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

Not sure, but the bottom line is that the number of people who will participate in a caucus is far less than will cast a vote in a primary. So the no matter how you cut it, the vote totals will be lower than if there had been a primary.

by dmc2 2008-02-15 06:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

So now caucuses are bad?

by Zeitgeist9000 2008-02-15 06:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People
Well, caucuses *are* bad. (And I say that as an Obama supporter.) I just went through my first one, having just moved to a caucus state (Colorado.)

They problem is that they disenfranchise lots and lots of people, including single parents, those who happen to work on a Tuesday evening, the elderly, etc.

I think the super delegates will end up ratifying whomever is ahead in the delegate race. If they don't there'll be hell to pay, both for the superdelegates personally, and for the party in November.

I hope it doesn't come to that.

by PhilFR 2008-02-15 06:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

Oh my goodness an Obama supporter admits the truth re: caucuses! You are going to be thrown out of the cult. Go into witness protection immediately because they will find you.

I'm kidding. But not about the fact that you are admitting the inherent unfairness of caucuses to working and middle-class people. Another Obama supporter cursed me out this morning over my argument. And at Open Left one guy said I was offending his 33 years of caucus organizing.

But this is my point: delegate allocation rules vary by state and are inherently un-uniform. The same thing happened in FL in 2000 where different counties had different rules for interpreting punched ballots. In my opinion, the popular vote is the purest way of indicating the will of the people. Isn't that why people want to abandon the electoral college?

If you look at Nevada, Clinton won the popular vote but byzantine rules for delegate allocation prevented her from winning the delegate count in that state.

by Zeitgeist9000 2008-02-15 06:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

The anti caucus argument is a bit silly. Hillary had massive institutional advantages going in to this race. A caucus should have been a slam dunk for her team. But they didn't prepare for the reality before them.

As a Hillary supporter, you have to be pissed at their campaign team for screwing these caucuses up. I would be furious at them for blowing so many opportunities.

The argument that Obama has an advantage because his supporters are more motivated is a lazy argument.  Don't even get me started. The AFT is in Hillary's camp. There are thousands of supporters who are capable of working for her to organize in those caucus states.

They got beat because they were fighting the last war.  Obama's team saw the rules as they were and played by them.  No excuses.

by swarty 2008-02-15 06:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People
Exactly true. Caucuses are a silly way to select delegates, but good organizing can overcome that. I'm convinced that Obama's background as an organizer is what's led to his ability to capitalize on caucuses. (Just as Hillary's advantage as the 'establishment candidate' has allowed her to capitalize elsewhere.)
by PhilFR 2008-02-15 06:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

Caucuses are organized by activists. Not many working- and middle-class people have time for activism.

And no, I would never be pissed at Hillary, sorry.

Finally, I made a class-based argument that caucuses favor Obama's supporters. And I stand by that argument. It would be easier to debate you if you didn't speak in absolutes.

by Zeitgeist9000 2008-02-15 07:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

Speaking of absolutes, how can you so assume that Hillary's supporters are unable to organize for her.  You have infantalized them all.  She has millions of people voting for her. Surely some of them are capable of lending a hand.

Your argument is a nonstarter.  

by swarty 2008-02-15 08:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

I don't know what "nonstarter" means.

If you want to debate, use actual words.

by Zeitgeist9000 2008-02-15 08:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

That is the best you can come up with?  You don't know the definition to an actual word?

Look it up.
Goodnight.

by swarty 2008-02-15 08:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

Making an argument about cacuses testing organization is a red herring and non responsive to the argument that caucuses are undemocratic. You know what else tests campaign organization, the credentials committee vote at the convention. Doesn't mean that's a great way to solve it.the bottom line is that no amount of organization can get someone off of work.

by world dictator 2008-02-16 04:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

You are absolutely right. The only thing that really does the trick is to have a primary that lasts for a week or so, so that people can pick times that work for them to vote.

That's how it is done in Arkansas. We had from Jan. 29th to Feb. 5 to vote, all day long. I bet the voting was far more representative of our population.

by splashy 2008-02-17 08:08AM | 0 recs
You mean speak in absolutes...

...like calling all the followers of one candidate a "cult"?

by thurst 2008-02-16 12:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

You guys just need to move to a better state.  Here in MN you are given time off to vote and caucus and lots of mother's brought their kids.

I love the caucuses and go to them every two years.  I also enjoy getting to meet my neighbors and other democrats in the area.

So basically, there is nothing wrong with caucuses, just states that suck and don't do everything possible to encourage people to vote.

by kasjogren 2008-02-16 12:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

Precisely.  In addition, with some largely open caucuses, the will of certain Independents and Republicans is factored in there, too.  I don't mind the candidate being decided by the will of the Democratic voters.  But that isn't what is happening here.

by Montague 2008-02-15 07:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

There are 2 schools of thought on allowing crossovers to vote in a democratic primary.

A closed primary tends to reward the establishment candidate who has the base covered. Clearly rank and file dems vote in these races and will reward them accordingly.  

An open primary or caucus allows independents (and in some cases Repubs) to participate in the selection of the Dem. candidate.  While this might seem strange on the surface, it can also point to a stronger general election candidate by allowing those independents to get their voices heard at this stage of the process. They will be heard later, so perhaps if we have candidates who appeal to them then this is a way to get them to our candidate.

The former is a more "pure" selection process, but it could have then effect of limiting our appeal in the general election.

by swarty 2008-02-15 07:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

I would say, that if a candidate can't convince Democrats of his or her candidacy, then they're doomed anyway.

--sam

by samizdat 2008-02-15 08:28PM | 0 recs
Option 2...

also leaves us open to the will of voters who will later leave us in droves in the general election.  I am very hesitant to think that letting non-Democrats into our primary process helps us in the general.  Clinton got our nomination and he was centrist.  We're quite capable of picking winners for the general election.

by Montague 2008-02-16 06:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

Yes, it would give more weight to states were more people are allowed to vote. That's bad because...

by world dictator 2008-02-16 04:53AM | 0 recs
Good Analysis

Of the pledged delegate count vs. total popular vote

I for one have a problem with counting pledged delegates because it seems that two good organizations can have two different counts of the total pledged delegates for a candidate. And the problem is compounded when you consider Florida and Michigan. I had assumed that the Clinton campaign would may an argument that because they've won most of the largest states, that they should be awarded superdelegates votes. But this kinda makes the superdelegates' decision more transparent.

by Zeitgeist9000 2008-02-15 05:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

My bet is that after the primaries and caucuses are finished, one of the nominees is going to lead in both popular vote and pledged delegates, and that will be the end of it.  I cannot imagine a scenario where the superdelegates vote otherwise.  It would be the end of the Democratic Party as we know it.

by global yokel 2008-02-15 05:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

I agree.  I don't see how a candidate could appear legitimate if that candidate was behind in both.

by rfahey22 2008-02-15 05:49PM | 0 recs
Competing Arguments

Both sides are presenting trial balloons to the public.

Obama's is the pledged delegate lead at the end of this race.
Hillary's is the popular vote lead.

At this moment, Obama's position is on the firmest ground.He has the pledged lead and looks likely to keep it.  But if Hillary wins all of her firewalls, she will be able to make her case much easier.
Expect to see new versions of these arguments by surrogates and interested parties in the coming days and weeks.

As an Obama supporter, I can be accused of having a blinkered view.  But the road to the nomination seems to be smoother for Obama than it is for Clinton at this moment in time.  The longer this race goes on, the slower the perception changes.  A sudden switch like we saw in New Hampshire becomes less likely the more the voters see of the candidates.

by swarty 2008-02-15 06:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

You've expended many words, but have said very little.  I still have no idea what you're arguing about, other than that you think the superdelegates will behave in an unpredictable manner to annoint the Democratic nominee.  If you think that they should follow some guidelines for casting their votes, please enlighten the rest of us.  Or, if you think we should instead have the nomination decided by a completely random and arbitrary process, I think we would all love to hear why that is preferable.  

by rfahey22 2008-02-15 06:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

Could you at least attempt to have an honest conversation about the state of the campaign for once, you blowhard?

Your superiority complex is tiresome.

by swarty 2008-02-15 06:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

Stop insulting people who disagree with you.

by Zeitgeist9000 2008-02-15 07:31PM | 0 recs
Uhh, No

"The bottom line is this: The way in which BHO and his supporters define 'the will of the people' is a selective, contrived concept. That is the easiest way to say it."
-------------------------

Disagreeing is fine, but without providing anything but one's own hot air is tiresome.

by swarty 2008-02-15 07:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

We are the Democratic Party, the democratic process is by popular decision, by the people, by the vote. Now, I could see arguing at the state level, for the superdelegates, or by the national popular vote, but to argue that the pledged delegates trump both the popular vote and the state vote... that's just not democratic-- wrong party of ideas.

by Jerome Armstrong 2008-02-15 06:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

By you logic the US is not a democratic country. See  2000 election when Gore defeated Bush in the "popular vote"

by poserM 2008-02-15 06:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

Gore won the other way too... but it was stolen.

--sam

by samizdat 2008-02-15 08:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

Jerome,

Both sides are presenting their arguments. In the court of public opinion, his argument is gaining traction because it is more logical to more voters.

The only way Hillary can get traction with her argument on its logical merits is by winning the popular vote by the end of the race.

People will not buy the caucuses are undemocratic spin. That is for obsessives like us to haggle over.  They will look at the obvious markers and figure out which one has more merit.

Your argument assumes that Hillary will win the popular vote. While that is still a possibility,  that position is the more precarious one as it is unlikely he will lose the delegate (pledged) lead. So her road is tougher, that's all.

by swarty 2008-02-15 06:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

I agree with Jerome. The delegate issue favors Obama and Nevada is an excellent example where Clinton won the popular vote in the state but Obama squeezed out a delegate win due to arcane and byzantine rules of delegate awarding due to state rules. So one could make the argument that the rules of awarding delegates are not uniform across the United States. Texas will be another good example, where delegates are awarded according to state senate district.

The popular vote total would be the best indication of the will of the people because it indicates, um, egads, gasp, overall popularity.

by Zeitgeist9000 2008-02-15 06:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

If that is what you are banking on, you better start getting out the vote for Hillary in a hurry.  She is down in that count too, and Obama's position is on rock solid ground re: the pledged delegates.

I don't mean to sound snarky, but her road to nirvana is harder than his, vis a vis the current arguments.

by swarty 2008-02-15 06:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

Not if you count MI and FL. Then she takes both leads!

by Zeitgeist9000 2008-02-15 06:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

Counting on MI & FL to get you to the nomination is no way to win the Presidency. But it is a way to lose it.

Those delegates will eventually be seated, but not in their current state.

Seating them by breaking the pledge will be seen for what it is.

When Clinton starts winning again, she has a chance to change the storyline.

by swarty 2008-02-15 06:51PM | 0 recs
The point, which I hope you are

conceding, is that Michican and Florida voters did indeed vote, and absent any discussion of whether the delegates from those states will or will not be seated, Hillary is ahead in delegate counts and popular vote counts with these states factored in.

Again... popular will of the voters.

by Montague 2008-02-15 07:28PM | 0 recs
Re: The point, which I hope you are

The people kinda voted in MI, but seating the delegates as if every thing is normal would be problematic for the following reasons:  

-Voters were told the delegates would not be seated. So many did not come out (especially if their districts didn't have any other initiatives or elections).

-Many Dems voted in the Rep Primary, since they were told they wouldn't have a voice in the Dem decision.

-Obama was not on the ballot. Should he get "Uncommitted"?

-Hillary barely won even as the only top-tier candidate.

God willing it won't come down to whether MI and FL are seated because the Party really screwed up and there is no way to get it right now.

by nintendofanboy 2008-02-16 07:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

Yeah counting votes, what a real shitty way of winning the presidency.

by world dictator 2008-02-16 05:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

Well, According to RealClearPolitics, Obama leads there too. I'm sure you're getting your numbers elsewhere though.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/ 2008/president/democratic_vote_count.htm l

by poserM 2008-02-15 06:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

If you count Michigan and Florida, Obama is still ahead in both the popular vote and the pledged delegates.  Nice try, though...

by Onward Virginia Democrats 2008-02-15 06:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

The delegate counter on the My DD home page disagrees with you.

by Zeitgeist9000 2008-02-15 07:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

My DD is the only place on the internet that actually has Hillary leading delegate counts.  Sorry but you are the odd one out.

by matchles 2008-02-16 01:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

I am not really concerned with whether the mydd.com Clinton spin machine "agrees" with me about basic mathematics.  Counting pledged delegates is as straightforward as you can get -- you allocate delegates proportionally by the vote totals in each Congressional district for each candidate over the 15% threshold in that district, and do the same statewide for At Large and Pledged Party Leaders and Elected Officials.    

Check any reputable news source out there (AP, MSNBC, CNN), and you'll find Obama with a very similar margin in pledged delegates.

The irony is that even the Clinton campaign itself shows deficit in the pledged delegates, a deficit even greater than some of these news sources show.  Her campaign at least has some standards of credibility in what it tells the media -- this site doesn't even follow those most basic of standards.

by Onward Virginia Democrats 2008-02-16 02:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

here's another way to look at Obama v. Clinton.

recall 2000. Gore v. Bush
Gore had the "Will of the people": 50,996,116 versus 50,456,169

But Bush ALSO had the "Will of the people": 271 vs. 266

Guess who really won?

by poserM 2008-02-15 06:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

First is votes, second electoral votes

by poserM 2008-02-15 06:18PM | 0 recs
Race vs. gender

One can make a technical case, as the Obama campaign did, that winning one more pledged delegate than Clinton in NV constituted "winning" but if you're talking about making a more theoretical "will of the people" argument, arguing that a pledged delegate win is somehow more reflective of popular sentiment than a popular vote win is an uphill battle to be sure.

If Clinton "won" Nevada based on the popular vote, instead of the Chris Bowers' spin that Obama won based on the pledged delegates, Clinton would have maintained her momentum and would be the frontrunner now. You can look at January 19-21 OpenLeft diaries in which he unequivocably stated Obama won Nevada based on his belief pledged delegates were a more democratic measure due to district representation. This is based on his personal bias towards Obama.

Clinton would have had the nomination after Super Tuesday if not for his personal bias.

by nonwhiteperson 2008-02-15 06:25PM | 0 recs
Pledged delegates vs. Popular vote

His belief that pledged delegates are a more democratic measure than popular votes due to district representation killed her momentum after Nevada which she may have rightfully earned.

The responsible things for bloggers to do is somehow make up to Clinton what personal blogger biases gave to Obama.

by nonwhiteperson 2008-02-15 06:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

Admittedly, I'm biased towards Clinton, but I do have a problem with the "pledged delegates as will of the people argument". Take Texas, for example: because of the state's convoluted delegate allocation system, it is entirely possible that Obama will win a good share of the pledged delegate even if he loses, for example, by 10 percentage points. This is because of how districts are drawn up. Because of gerrymandering, African Americans are concentrated in certain districts. This will hurt democrats during the GE but it will help Obama in the primary. This is because it allows him to rack up delegates in these districts that are heavily populated by African Americans (and as we all know he's been winning the African American vote by margins of 3-1).

Does this strike anyone as fair? Gerrymandering is completely undemocratic and antithetical to the "will of the people" and yet how these districts are drawn up can determine how pledged delegates are allocated.

by katrinareyes 2008-02-15 06:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

As far as I'm concerned, this should be determined by who won the popular vote. Delegates are not allocated uniformly or fairly.

by MOBlue 2008-02-15 06:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

So if Obama wins the total popular vote by even one vote, you will support him?

by swarty 2008-02-15 06:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

If Clinton pulls out a pledged delegate lead will you support her?  ;)

--sam

by samizdat 2008-02-15 08:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

YES.

by swarty 2008-02-15 08:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

Well, since I don't know you... I'll have to believe it when/if I see it.  Most folks I've met (perhaps not you) say a lot of nice things based on "principles" only to find ways to get out of them through arcane rationalizations.

But thanks for responding.  I, for one, will support whomever the Dem nominee ends up being.  My primary vote has already been cast so at this point it's just about sitting in front of the computer screen and watching the mouth frothers attack each other.  It's entertaining and disheartening at the same time.  Go figure.

--sam

by samizdat 2008-02-16 06:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

What's the point of the delegate system if the "popular vote" is a better measure? We have delegates at both the nomination and general election level. Is it time we got rid of it?

by poserM 2008-02-15 06:57PM | 0 recs
Of course it's time we got rid of it

Let it be popular vote.

by Montague 2008-02-15 07:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Of course it's time we got rid of it

Yes. I totally agree. One nationwide vote, all on the same day.  Count the votes and you have your nominee.

by nintendofanboy 2008-02-16 07:22AM | 0 recs
Works for me

by Montague 2008-02-16 11:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Of course it's time we got rid of it

This would be retarded, the person who had institutional support would always be the nominee (for example Bill CLinton would never have been president under this system).

by Socraticsilence 2008-02-16 12:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Of course it's time we got rid of it

I'm not so sure, now that the campaign season starts so friggin' early. Obama for instance had a nationwide campaign going before the Iowa caucuses.  

Alternatively I've thought about the "pick two from the list" approach which might balance things in favor of non-institutional candidates.

OK. I haven't figured it all out yet.  I am however certain the Super Delegate situation is elitist and "retarded" in your words, and that the voters should decide.

BTW, I don't like caucuses either.  The "pick two" gives some of the caucus dynamic w/o favoring people with no lives:-)  

by nintendofanboy 2008-02-16 06:00PM | 0 recs
Caucuses are very bad for working people

That can't take off all at the same time to caucus. They favor the 9 to 5ers that have evenings and Saturdays off.

They should all be primaries, lasting a week or so, so people that work at other hours have a chance to be heard.

Caucuses are elitist, against blue collar workers.

by splashy 2008-02-17 01:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

It doesn't make sense to talk about what possible measure we can use to measure "the will of the people." Our entire nominating process is f*cking stupid, but it is democratic (both big D and small d) because that is how we've decided to do it.

There are many different ways to decide the will of the people, just as there are many different ways to decide which baseball team played better in a given game. A team might rack up more hits, more strikeouts, and fewer errors but in the end the winner is decided by the number of runs -- because those are the rules and that's the goal both teams used when devising their strategy.

The objective of a primary campaign is amassing the most delegates. Not winning the total popular vote, not winning the most states, not carrying the most congressional districts or state legislative districts, not winning the "significant" states or the big states or the red states or anything else.  The goal is getting the most delegates. There is no other legitimate way to determine the winner than by measuring who wont the most delegates.  Period.

Of course, getting the most delegates means getting the superdelegates, as well. Both campaigns are free to cajole as best they can, but any SD who claims to be following the will of the people can only follow the total number of pledged delegates. Any other basis for deciding is fine -- they can do what they want -- but they're picking their own criteria and shouldn't pretend they are following what the primary voters wanted, even if they ultimately go for the right candidate.

by alvernon 2008-02-15 06:59PM | 0 recs
The Will of the People

An observation--

I hear Hillary supporters talking a lot about the delegate situation and the mechanics of how she might theoretically win the nomination at the convention.  Seems to me they have basically conceded that this thing has turned against them and they are fishing desperately for an alternative scenario that offers some hope of a win.  I'm not hearing any of this kind of talk from the Obama people-- they are simply planning to go out and win this contest outright, without all sorts of contingency plans.  

I don't mean to suggest that Obama's strategy team hasn't invested some effort at anticipating the various tactics that might serve them well at the convention--  but it sure doesn't seem like winning that way is their game plan.

by global yokel 2008-02-15 07:25PM | 0 recs
NBC numbers ignore Florida?

Once again these NBC popular vote totals are favorable to Barack Obama because they seem to excluse both Florida and Michigan.  But especially Florida.  No excuse there for not recognizing at least the vote totals. (delegates are another matter)

And once again NBC seems to be the exclusive source being used Todd Beeton on the front page.

Look, whether to seat the Florida delegates is one thing, but at the very least those raw vote totals WILL NOT be ignored.  To completely pretend that those 1 million+ Democrats who went out and voted on Jan 29th mean nothin is pretty insulting.

Right now Hillary Clinton is a good position all things considered.  But don't let that get in the way of the NBC spin.

by diplomatic 2008-02-15 08:02PM | 0 recs
Re: NBC numbers ignore Florida?

Add in Michigan and Florida and Obama still leads the popular vote by 90k votes.  But Iowa, Nevada, Washington and Maine haven't sent out their official vote count so those haven't been factored in.

If you consider that Obama's three wins that haven't been tallied were by an average of over 20 points and Hillary's win in Nevada was a squeaker by less than 1%, it is safe to say that Obama's vote lead is much larger than the 90k we get after factoring Michigan and Florida in.  

by matchles 2008-02-16 01:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

Look, the bottom line is that if this mess ends up with Obama in the lead in delegates, Hillary in the lead in popular vote, and FL & MI still unresolved, then Hillary, Obama, and Dean better get together in a room and figure out which of the two of them is going to be President and which is going to be Vice President in a way that is accepted by both and put the whole mess behind them.  If this becomes a vicious fight at the convention, too, with each candidate having a legitimate claim to the nomination, there is no way it won't damage the general election.  It absolutely cannot come to that.

by NJIndependent 2008-02-15 08:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

Todd-do those NBC vote counts include MI and FL?

by tdraicer 2008-02-15 08:25PM | 0 recs
"The Party", not "the People"

Back to basics:  "the people" vote in the general election.  The primary is about "the party" choosing a nominee to offer up to "the people".

I don't know who counts as a member of the party.  Is it anyone and everyone who attended a caucus or cast a ballot?  Maybe.  But lots of people have declared they'll vote Republican unless the party nominates their preferred candidate.  Since both some Barack backers and some Hillary supporters have said that, what's an actual Democrat to do?  

An "actual Democrat" is someone (like me) who will vote for the Democrat in November, period.  I have already cast my vote in the primaries, so I do have a preferred candidate. I don't think my preferred candidate can win in November if too many of the other candidate's supporters bolt.  As an "actual Democrat", I'd be willing to let that other candidate's supporters have their way -- except I doubt their candidate can beat McCain if too many of my candidate's supporters get pissed off.

My only hope is that the "Barack or McCain" crowd and the "Hillary or McCain" crowd are both small in number.  They may be a vocal fraction of "the people", but it's "actual Democrats" who ought to decide the Democratic nominee.

The very least that can be said about the "superdelegates" is that they are "actual Democrats".  If picking our nominee comes down to them, I hope they will NOT slavishly obey "the people" but weigh, as best they can, the will of "actual Democrats".  Maybe they can figure out what that will is by looking at pledged delegates, maybe by looking at total votes, maybe with and without MI and FL.  If all those auspices point the same way, they will have an easy decision.  If not, we're screwed.

And by "we" I mean us "actual Democrats".  The Obamaniacs and the Hillarybots will be happy as pigs in shit, for at least they will get their second choice -- McCain -- as President.

-- TP

 

by Rethymniotis 2008-02-15 08:32PM | 0 recs
YAY!

Make this a diary so I can recommend it!

Srsly, guys, I got a strong pref as well, but I'm marking the Democratic box in November no matter who is in it.

by Trowaman 2008-02-16 02:09AM | 0 recs
The Party, not the People

Well, as for "actual democrats" in Florida and Michigan, who voted, these people's loyalties could understandably lie with themselves--come November--if the Democratic National Committee shuts them out during the Primaries. So, I'll say to the DNC,"Go ahead with your strict, constructionists rules, but do not be surprised if Michigan and Florida voters decide to take the same attitude later."

by Check077 2008-02-16 11:43AM | 0 recs
Re: The Party, not the People


I was careful to define "actual Democrats".  If there are people in Florida and Michigan who are only Democrats for purposes of the primary, but are willing to elect McCain come November if they don't like what "the party" ends up doing, they are not actual Democrats any more than "independents" are.

I live in MA.  My state voted for Clinton.  My Senators endorsed Obama before our primary.  As superdelegates, they are free to vote for either candidate.  I hope and expect that they will end up voting in the best interest of the party, because they, at least, are ACTUAL DEMOCRATS.

-- TP

by Rethymniotis 2008-02-16 12:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

Not sure why you wouldn't include the whole chart from First Read on Popular vote counts.  It seems to me that while the DNC is doing its best to invalidate the delegate counts from FL and MI, the electorate actually did vote in those states and ought to be counted in the popular vote.

                Total Vote        %
Obama            9,373,334       50%
Clinton          8,674,779       46%
Others           726,095          4%

With Florida and Michigan
                 Total Vote         %
Obama            9,942,375         47%
Clinton          9,860,138         47%
Others           1,249,922          6%

by Sabrina Duncan 2008-02-16 05:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

"It seems to me that while the DNC is doing its best to invalidate the delegate counts from FL and MI..."

For something to be "invalidated", it would have had to been "valid" to begin with, which it wasn't.

I think the correct term would be "upholding the judgment made way before anyone ever cast a vote in either MI or FL"

by John in Chicago 2008-02-16 08:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

I sure would like to know how many Republicans and Independents have taken part in OUR PARTY's determination of OUR nominee.  I just wonder who they voted for...

by Sabrina Duncan 2008-02-16 05:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

Just so you know, you can vote for any candidate in the general election.  Sometimes people from one party actually get people from the other party to vote for them.  I have even heard that once in a while an independent votes for either of the two major party candidates. ;)

Man, I really don't think we would want just US choosing the nominee.  We would totally pick our liberal wet dream candidate and then only carry MN in the general election :D

by kasjogren 2008-02-16 12:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

Also this whole tirade (including comments and actions by DFA, MoveOn, Pat Buchanan, and Donna Brazile) against super delegates seems self serving for OB supporters for a variety of reasons:

- Caucuses are not representative of the voters (perhaps between 1% to 10% of registered Democrats vote, where is a primary this year it could be 25% to 40%) and dominated by insiders and activists.  

- Winner of most states is irrelevant, as a caucus in Idaho with a few thousand voters is not equivalent to a primary in CA with maybe 3 million    - voters.

- Florida (1.5 million voters) and Michigan are not being counted because a few insiders in the DNC decided that the state legislators cannot decide the date of their primaries (in itself anti-democratic). OB and other candidates worked hard for primary holders in Michigan to vote for "no one", as HC was the only one on the ballot - as she worked to do this.  

- Disenfranchising 1.5 million FL voters, which has a history of voter will being denied (Gore in 2000, butterfly ballot in 2000, Tilden in 1876, laws prohibiting felons from voting disenfranchising hundreds of thousands, etc) is a moral dilemma and potential a public relations nightmare.  To me it is hypocritical to say we must play by the rules regarding MI and FL, but super delegates cannot exercise their allowed discretion.

- Super delegates are elected representative, either by virtue of a current or prominent past office, elected to a county or state party position, or elected to DNC (which I am not sure how this is done).  If we believe in representative government, such as we practice at the local, state, and federal level, this is legitimate.  These folks would only make a difference if there is a virtual tie (say that there is less than 100 pledged delegates difference between HC and OB) and each of them have a vested interest in picking the strongest candidate \ executive with proper consideration to their state's interest.

- The will of the people is debatable  Is it the national, state, or congressional level? Does Ted Kennedy have to vote for HC as Mass went for HC decisively?

- OB is right to argue to his favor, as he is a competitor.  However, his campaign would be making a difference case if: 1) OB lost the delegates, but won the vote count, 2) Puerto Rico, which is the last caucus and has 56 votes and winner take all, swings the majority to HC.  It would be something for those who can't vote in the national election to be the final determinate of the Dem nomination.  It is a real wild card, maybe up there with the Nader candidacy in 2000 in being a factor electing Bush or 3) Florida went for OB instead of HC.

by edonyoung 2008-02-16 08:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

Exactly. There is an assumption in so many of these arguments that super delegates do not represent the will of the people. In the first place, none of these events - primaries, caucuses, or supers are meant to represent the will of all the people; this is not a general election, it is a process meant to lead to the choice of the Democratic candidate at a convention, even though it is confused by some States allowing non-Democrats to participate due to past politically-motivated manipulation of the rules. The supers are simply chosen in a different way through a method established by the people, i.e. party members. It would be difficult to argue that the super selection process is any less representative than caucuses, for the reasons noted in earlier comments. It also doesn't make sense to argue that supers are being undemocratic if they vote for the person they deem most qualified; that is a reversal of the concept of democracy. Voting their conscience is their responsibility as delegates. The supers are leaders of the party, elected Democrats and grassroots party activists. The supers in my State include my governor, congressman, and senator, all elected Democrats. Those who cry out for following party rules in MI and FL need to accept the rules regarding the purpose of super delegates too. They are not there to simply rubber stamp the primaries and caucuses; they are there to vote as unpledged delegates. Inventing a new rule for supers mid-game to favor one candidate is understandable but not supportable.

by DeanOR 2008-02-16 09:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Defining The Will of the People

Okay, while there are pros and cons to most of these points and those ones are certainly valid depending on your POV these two are funny.

- Caucuses are not representative of the voters (perhaps between 1% to 10% of registered Democrats vote, where is a primary this year it could be 25% to 40%) and dominated by insiders and activists.  

- Super delegates are elected representative, either by virtue of a current or prominent past office, elected to a county or state party position, or elected to DNC (which I am not sure how this is done).  If we believe in representative government, such as we practice at the local, state, and federal level, this is legitimate.  These folks would only make a difference if there is a virtual tie (say that there is less than 100 pledged delegates difference between HC and OB) and each of them have a vested interest in picking the strongest candidate \ executive with proper consideration to their state's interest.

You really shouldn't say that caucuses should not count cause it is filled with insiders and activists and then say you should totally count super delegates cause they are the party insiders and activists that represent us.

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin' ;)

by kasjogren 2008-02-16 12:12PM | 0 recs

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