Irony: 666 Is Huckabee's Magic Number To Deadlock Convention

[Republished from]

During an interview on a Texas radio station, Mike Huckabee outlined his strategy for winning the Republican nomination:

"If we win Texas, I think it changes the dynamics of this race.  It could well go all the way to the convention.If the convention delegates pick the president, chances are they would pick the most conservative.  I would be the one they would end up picking, if that's the criteria."

There are a total of 898 remaining Republican delegates (523 pledged and 375 unpledged).  In order for Huckabee's strategy to work, he would need to win 74% (666) of these remaining delegates.  Yes, that's right, the magic number in Huckabee's winning strategy is 666.  Oh sweet irony.

Quite simply, Huckabee's strategy simply is not plausible.  And he recognizes it as such when he compared the continuation of his presidential race to the Battle of the Alamo, adding:

"You don't engage in battles only because you anticipate you're going to win them.  You engage in your battles because you believe that they're right."

This isn't exactly a fair analogy to the brave soldiers at the Alamo, nor does a presidential campaign want to analogize his campaign to a battle that resulted in the brutal slaying of the remaining soldiers.  Huckabee might seem a lot more sincere about his incredibly unrealistic intentions, if he wasn't performing paid speeches.  He gave one last weekend in the Cayman Islands and gave another today in Colorado.  The paid speech issue is a bit more complicated and I'll post on it in the coming days, so stay tuned.

If you're curious about the math, you can check it out here.

There's more...'s Presidential Election Podcast (02/21/08)

This podcast covers (1) the CNN debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in Texas; (2) John McCain's lobby friend that the New York times decided to write about; (3) and more...

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Feel free to email us questions/suggestions for next week's podcast (you can also email an audio file of your question and we'll include it in the podcast).

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McCain: The Worst Panderer?

     I recently read a piece by the NY Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof about the pandering abilities of John McCain. The soft-sell and false narrative of John McCain continues to be pursued by writers and pundits and pushed out to unsuspecting readers and listeners. According to Mr. Kristof, because John McCain has so much integrity and honesty he is incapable of pandering with any degree of dexterity in comparison to other politicians. It seems the Straight-Talk- Express has run over another pedestrian on the road to the White House. The truth is that Senator McCain has spoken against his Party on some issues, but let's not get carried away these were not issues of visionary proportions. Let's examine the issues that Mr. Kristof believes Senator McCain deserves special merit for disagreeing with his Party for.

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The Annotated Chuck Todd

[Republished From]

I've been meaning to do  this for a while, but this week Chuck Todd was on Meet the Press went on and on and ... well, let's just say that I need to comment.  His comments, followed by mine. I'll include Russert's questions, but the first question is just a list of the post - Feb. 5 states and the results.

MR. CHUCK TODD:  OK.  I've got all this blue right here.  Here you go.  It's, it's a remarkable fight.  I mean, everything--it, it is a delegate by delegate fight.  You know, yesterday the Clinton campaign knew they weren't going to win any of those three states.  Maybe they thought they could--but they were figuring out how to get a few extra delegates in Louisiana.  They threw in a few more people in Nebraska because, as one Clinton person said to me, "We don't want another Idaho situation." What does that mean?  Well, in Idaho they almost didn't make threshold.  They almost didn't get a single delegate out of Idaho and those caucuses.  So they are trying to improve their numbers in some of these caucuses.  I think they realize now, looking back, this Obama strategy of getting delegates everywhere he can--I mean, look, he got three delegates out of the Virgin Islands, you know, instead of two--one, you know, you see the 8 percent.  Well, if she could have just done up to seven, she could have snagged a delegate, you know, gotten to that 15 percent threshold.

Chuck Todd, political director at NBC News, has no idea why people caucus; it's apparently just a function of reality that Obama is strong in Republican states he mentioned. The Clinton campaign has to spend resources to keep it merely embarrassingly bad instead of tragically bad. Why do people in Nebraska, Kansas, and Idaho love Obama? Beats him. That's not his job, he's just the political director at NBC. The Clinton campaign, meanwhile, dismisses these wins as irrelevant since Democrats cannot compete there in the fall. So there you have it: Democrats in dark red states, you're irrelevant. Pack it in, move along, hope to see you in a couple decades.

MR. RUSSERT:  They asked Willie Sutton why he robbed banks, he said, "That's where the money is."

MR. TODD:  Right.  And so why do you participate in caucuses?  Because that's where you can continue to win delegates.

But let me throw in one big monkey wrench in all this, about these caucuses. When--there are delegates that are allocated to Obama that he's winning.  All of these caucuses still have to go through state conventions and district conventions.  And that's where--for instance, in '84, that's where Walter Mondale cleaned up and stole delegates, basically, from Gary Hart.  Gary Hart would win in places, and they would go to the state conventions and somehow outmaneuver them.  The Clinton folks could still end up figuring out how to nab extra delegates in here.  So this caucus thing, it looks good right now in the totals, but that's--you want one of the monkey wrenches we could throw into this?  That's one of them.

Chuck Todd, conspiracy theorist, is insinuating the Clinton campaign will cheat the caucus goers of those states out of their support. This is just ludicrous and somewhat insulting. Moreover, the hart campaign lost when Mondale took superdelegates. I'd be more than happy to ask Mr. Vice President how he feels about cheating regional caucuses out of delegates the next time I see him. Moreover, it betrays an awful level of ignorance to estimate that the Clinton campaign with stalk these regional conventions while the Obama campaign does nothing.

Also, let's point out that Chuck Todd in succession suggested that you go to a caucus to win delegates and that you don't win delegates at caucuses. His first point is more apt than his second: delegate totals can certainly be estimated from the vote total.

MR. RUSSERT:  All right.  Before I go around the table, let me just show you two new Mason-Dixon polls.  Tuesday is the Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia.  Here's Maryland:  Obama, 53; Clinton, 35.  And in Virginia:  Obama, 53; Clinton, 37.  It shows the undecideds still 20, still high.  Only a snapshot, things could change.  But if Obama did sweep D.C., Virginia, Maryland, would he then be ahead in total delegates--elected delegates and superdelegates?

MR. TODD:  It's a--it would have to be an emphatic sweep.  He needs to win D.C. with that, you know, 70, 75 percent of the vote.  He would have to win in Virginia and Maryland getting close to 60 percent, because the way Virginia and Maryland are, there's some--some of Obama's vote is packed into certain congressional districts, the way the delegate split works.  But if he got--if he starts approaching 60 percent in both of those, Maryland and Virginia, approaching 75, he could net 25 delegates.  There is a path for him to net 25, in our estimate, that would bring him even.

Chuck Todd, mathematical genius, has a projection but doesn't really stand behind it. CBS already has him ahead. Most (all?) others do not. Does he acknowledge the uncertainly? Not a chance!
MR. TODD:  Let me, let me also--there's going to be a weird role the Internet will play here.  They will get their hands on this list, on the superdelegate list.  And you watch, there will be people in the DNC that have never gotten e-mail campaigns before against them, and they will get deluged.  It will start--you will start seeing crazy campaigns being organized by supporters of both Clinton and Obama that will just bombard these DNC members.  And I think they're going to get overwhelmed, and a lot of them are going to be, like Donna Brazile, "Stop.  I don't want to be a part of this."

Chuck Todd, humanitarian, is concerned about email deluges against superdelegates. Also, it's strange that he refers to the Internet like it's an incompetent Bond villain or something. "We're going to send them emails, Mr. Bond. Many, many emails."
MR. RUSSERT:  But how do you let their votes count if, in fact, the elections, when they were held, were under the agreement that they wouldn't count?

MR. TODD:  Two scenarios I've heard.  One is that Michigan--if any of them are going to hold a revote, Michigan seems more likely than not because of labor--those guys are afraid of not getting their place--seats at the table. Florida is going to press this all the way to the credentials committee, and one scenario laid out to me was, well, they may--because the credentials committee's going to be controlled 50/50 by Clinton and Obama.  And the compromise might be "OK, we'll seat a Florida delegation, but it's going to be made up of whatever the popular vote is nationally, whatever that is." And we just showed it, basically 48-48.  And that that's what the Florida delegation will be able to say, 48 percent Obama, 48 percent Clinton.  So they'll be able to say, "OK, Florida, you get your seats," but they won't have an effect on the, on the...

MR. RUSSERT:  On the outcome.

MR. TODD:  ...outcome.  And who knows.

Chuck Todd, the Perez Hilton of politics, gives the real story on Michigan and Florida. And notice that he spends all this time on one scenario "laid out to him" but he does not say how likely that scenario is or even who told him that. Was it Dean? Al Gore? Or anyone else, who is essentially unqualified? And at the end, he admits he has no idea what will happen. So if he has no idea, why spend all that time sharing gossip from some Democratic friend? Off the record, on the QT, and very hush-hush, I suppose.
MR. RUSSERT:  Yeah, yeah.  I just quoting--I'm just quoting the man.  Now, you heard Tom DeLay say on "Hardball" that he wasn't sure that he would endorse or support John McCain.  Laura Ingraham said, "It's one thing to say you're a foot soldier for Ronald Reagan, but what have you done for conservatism lately?" And if you look at the vote count thus far in these primaries, here it is:  Republicans have gotten 12.9 million votes, Democrats have gotten 19.2 votes.

It shows a little more intensity and enthusiasm for one party over another, Chuck Todd.

MR. TODD:  It's a huge problem for the Republicans.  I mean, they look at these numbers, and they're very, very nervous.  But I'll say this for McCain. I feel like I've seen a weak nominee like this, you know, where you feel like that he has a weak support.  Bill Clinton at about this point in 1992, he had the nomination.

MS. IFILL:  True.

MR. TODD:  And he had this thorn in his side in Jerry Brown.  Well, John McCain has this thorn in his side in Mike Huckabee.  And Jerry Brown started winning a few primaries, and suddenly you heard some senior guys--I remember, Willie Brown was the one that stuck out, where he was thinking about, out of California then, he was the speaker, "Well, maybe we should hand the nomination over to Ross Perot." This was when, when Perot was rising up.  And you just wonder, I mean, this is the danger John McCain is in.  Yes, mathematically--I mean, literally he could--he could fall on--he could have a macaca moment and still probably get the 1191.  But he can't be losing primaries.  You know, he can do what happened yesterday.  But if he loses Virginia, Texas is not a great state for him.  We've seen that Huckabee does, does well in some of these Southern states.  Then suddenly those whispers.  It won't be just talk radio.  It, it will be some serious senior guys will sit there and say, "You know, do we have a problem here?" And that was, you know, it almost doomed Bill Clinton.  It almost cost him the nomination and the presidency.

Chuck Todd, historian, apparently spent 1992 in a coma or desperately celebrating just getting a job at The Hotline. Jerry Brown was a minor inconvenience for Bill Clinton. He won Colorado and Connecticut, and that's about it. Mike Huckabee is a minor inconvenience for John McCain. The real opponent for Clinton was Tsongas, and the real opponent for McCain was Romney. Bill Clinton was not doomed, or almost doomed. John McCain is not doomed right now. Comparing Brown to Huckabee made my head hurt. Brown was a backlash candidate against Bill Clinton; Huckabee is someone who appeals to a particular demographic.

Also, let's note that McCain's supporters are more likely to stay home than caucus for 3 hours now that his lead is so formidable. Anyone mention that on what is routinely called the premier political show on TV? Not a chance. Occam's Razor doesn't apply to Chuck Todd.

MR. RUSSERT:  It's clear Huckabee wants to stay in until McCain mathematically reaches the 1191 he needs, which could be at least another month.


MR. TODD:  It actually could be two months.  Could be Pennsylvania.

Chuck Todd, calendar expert, points out that the Pennsylvania primary is in two months but does not indicate the bizarre things that would have to happen for this scenario to arise.
MR. RUSSERT:  We have 10 seconds.  Will electability influence Democratic voters in the remaining...

MR. TODD:  I think it'll influence superdelegates.  I think they read national polls.  It's in--Obama has to keep those lead in the national polls. If he wins the pledge and he's up 8-to-10 on McCain, superdelegates will listen.

Chuck Todd, fortune teller, does not resolve the conflict of Obama being down in national polls (on average) and being up significantly in every head to head poll with McCain vis-a-vis Clinton. But one of those is important. Which one, well, I'm sure he'll claim credit later on for whatever he is right on. Also, he needs to be more clear about his language; he meant winning the pledged delegates, not just 'winning a pledge.' Because I like Chuck as a person, I'm going to assume this is a careless error of an overworked transcriber, not him.

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2008 Campaign Weekly Roundup (February 4-8, 2008)

[Republished from]

A roundup for February 3-8 on the Democratic side...

  • Super Tuesday Results:
    • Hillary Clinton won Arizona, Arkansas, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma and Tennessee.
    • Barack Obama won Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota and Utah.
    • The winner of New Mexico is yet to be determined, but with 99% of precincts reporting Hillary Clinton is currently ahead by 1,123 votes.
  • Delegate Standings Projections (including superdelegates):
    • Hillary Clinton: 1076
    • Barack Obama: 1006
  • The Obama campaign has stepped up its argument that if Hillary Clinton is the nominee elected Democratic officials in conservative areas may suffer from a backlash by sending out a mailer that blames the Clintons for Democratic losses between during the 90's and the 2000 election.
  • The Clinton campaign clashes with MSNBC and just two days after TPM asks"Is Obama Being Hurt By MSNBC And His Other Media Worshippers?"
  • Debatarama: Hillary Clinton challenges Obama to a debate a week (including one on Fox News) between now and March 4.  After some back forth, the campaigns eventually agreed to hold two debates - one in Ohio and one in Texas.
  • Obama campaign pushes for the release of Hillary Clinton's tax returns.  When pressed on this issue during a press conference call, Clinton Communications Director obfuscated by asking "When will Senator Obama release the complete details of his relationship with Tony Rezko?"
  • Barack Obama picks up Washington's Governor Chris Gregoire; Clinton gets Rep. Norm Dicks.
  • Fund Race: Following reports that Hillary Clinton loaned her campaign $5 million dollars, the Obama campaign used this information to kick off a fundraising blitz, which the Clinton campaign countered.  Now that the dust has cleared, the totals so far since Super Tuesday show Obama with an edge, but Hillary Clinton isn't getting blown away:
    • Barack Obama: Over $7.5 million (figures disclosed yesterday, so this number is sure to be higher now)
    • Hillary Clinton: About $8 million; 75,000 new donors (figures disclosed today)
  • Bill Clinton promises to be nice going forward, clarifies his role in a Hillary Clinton administration; JW criticizes.

A roundup for February 3-8 on the Republican side...

  • Super Tuesday Results:
    • John McCain won Arizona, California, Connecticu, Delaware, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New York and Oklahoma.
    • Mitt Romney won Alaska, Colorad, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and Utah.
    • Mike Huckabee won Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee and West Virginia.
  • Delegate Standing Projections:
    • John McCain: 724
    • Mitt Romney: 281
    • Mike Huckabee: 196
    • Ron Paul: 14
  • Mitt Romney suspended his presidential campaign on February 6 and noted that he was motivated in part out of concern that continuing his quest would help get Obama or Clinton elected, which would mean surrender to terrorists (Romney's argument).
  • Fred Thompson endorsed John McCain and called on the rest of the party to get behind McCain.
  • Mike Huckabee promises to carry on with his campaign and demonstrated his commitment to the trail by appearing as a guest on the Tyra Banks Show (you have respect anyone that wants something so bad that they're willing to sit across from Tyra for an hour...shudder).
  • James Dobson backed Mike Huckabee; Huckabee's connection to televangelist Kenneth Copeland are likely to be the subject of a Senate investigation into Copeland's ministry (we blogged about Huckabee's connection to Copeland in late January).
  • Ron Paul's blimp was grounded after being vandalized.
  • Question: Ron Paul making a third party run?  Answer: No.
  • Cindy McCain taken to task on her "grudge list" among other things.

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