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.

Tags: Barack Obama, Democratic Candidates, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Republican Candidates (all tags)



Re: The Annotated Chuck Todd

I could see the Clintons trying to steal delegates at the state conventions.

You'll have to pry this nomination from their cold, dead hands.

by DoubleDs 2008-02-12 12:58PM | 0 recs
you bet your ass!

God Luv Em!

by Seymour Glass 2008-02-12 01:05PM | 0 recs
Chuck Todd

spent much of 1992 working Harkin's campaign.

His wife was Webb's communication director.

He's a good fella, its just he now works for GE, so...he' contractually bound to do what he can to hurt the Clintons.

"the horror,the horror"

by Seymour Glass 2008-02-12 01:13PM | 0 recs
Re: The Annotated Chuck Todd

"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."

Todd's not trying to resolve any such "conflict."  (Not that it matters much anyway -- right now the average of the national polling puts Obama and Clinton within about 1 pt of each other).

He's clearly saying that if Obama stays up in the national polls versus McCain and he keeps his pledged delegate lead, the superdelegates will be listening.  Lots of folks have voiced the sentiment that, if Obama is winning the elected delegates and he looks good at the top of the ticket in November vs. McCain, the supers would be very likely to support him -- probably because there's a good argument that supporting the pledged delegate leader is fair, and when combined with political self-interest becomes a juggernaut.  (Obama polling well against McCain not only looks good for the country and the party as a whole, but also for down-ticket superdelegates who are themselves running in 2008 and beyond.)

He's not talking about polling of Obama vs. Clinton.  In the scenario Todd is describing, the national votes are in (or almost all in) and polls of Obama vs. Clinton will be irrelevant, superseded by the delegates they've earned.  

by Bluebeard 2008-02-12 01:31PM | 0 recs


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