Senator Dianne Feinstein, one of Sen. Clinton's closest supporters, kept pushing the false "Clinton won the popular vote" meme today on This Week with George Stephanopoulus:
"Hillary Clinton is well known, certainly she had the popular vote in this election."
Sen. Dianne Feinstein reiterated that Clinton had won the popular vote -- an assertion that is not accepted by Illinois Democrat Sen. Barack Obama's camp and one that, if repeated often, could harm Democratic attempts to unify behind him.
If this meme keeps getting repeated, it will metastasize the (largely justified) disappointment and hurt that Clinton supporters are feeling right now and will solidify for them the notion that Hillary was somehow robbed of the nomination.
[Cross-posted to my blog]
Unlike in the general election where every state has their citizens cast a ballot for President, the democratic primaries involve both primaries
(where each person casts their vote) and caucuses
, where people gather in a room, express their support for their candidate and, from such internal voting, delegates for each caucus are apportioned to the state convention. As a result, the popular vote numbers that you see are not apples-to-apples comparisons
Now add to the mix that Obama was not on the ballot in Michigan (from which state Clinton supporters continue to unfairly insist that Obama got zero votes, even though the DNC Rules & Bylaws Committee reached a compromise and apportioned all of "uncommitted" delegates to Obama). In addition, none of the candidates were allowed to campaign for votes in Florida. Further stir into the Michigan and Florida equation the fact that hundreds of thousands of people did not vote because they were told that their vote would not count at the Convention (as reflected in the fact that both states' voter turnout was far lower than expectations) and you get a highly polluted set of data from which to draw "certain" or "unquestionable" conclusions.
Final data point. In Washington, Iowa, Maine and Nevada, these states did not release an official estimate of voter turnout. However, Clinton supporters like Sen. Feinstein are content to completely disregard any tabulation or estimate of the turnout in such states in order to make the damaging argument that Sen. Clinton somehow "won" the popular vote. Are voters' voices in Washington, Iowa, Maine and Nevada not supposed to be heard?
From the above analysis, I hope most of you will agree that the fairest assessment of the popular vote is to give the "uncommitted" Michigan votes to Obama and give both candidates the estimates of voter turnout in Washington, Iowa, Maine and Nevada.
There are only two conclusions to draw:
- If you tally up the popular vote in the fairest and even-handed way described above, you'll see from RealClearPolitics that Obama is ahead of Clinton by 61,703 votes.
- If you decide to tally up the popular vote in some other skewed and selective manner, the vote tally you come up with is too questionable to be asserted by our nation's respected leaders as unquestionable fact.
Here is where we stand:
Obama is now the presumptive nominee.
Hillary Clinton has suspended her campaign and endorsed Obama with a ringing call for party unity.
In the interest of party unity, as so eloquently expressed by Senator Clinton yesterday, we all need let the whole popular vote argument go. It can only serve to make people angry, prolong the grieving process and hurt the Democrat's chances in the fall against John McCain.