The Caucuses

With yesterday's Idaho primary, won by Barack Obama, we now have four states which have conducted both a primary and a caucus in this election season - Washington, Texas, Nebraska and Idaho.  In all four cases, more people participated in the primary than in the caucus.  Also in each case, Hillary Clinton performed better and Barack Obama worse in the primary than in the caucus.  What is amazing is how regular the trend is:

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The figure above plots Hillary's (blue) and Obama's (red) perfomance in the primary in each of those four states (y-axis) vs. their performance in the caucus in each of those four states (x-axis).  A linear fit for each of Hillary's and Obama's data is generated (whose equation is given), each of which have a very high R-squared value, indicating a clear correlation.

(NB - The labels for TX and ID are reversed for Hillary's results)

So based on the linear fits above, I've taken the liberty to perform interpolations to recalculate what a primary result would have looked like in each of the other caucus states (except Iowa - Edwards' presence kind of screws things up)

Caucus result: Obama 75-25
Primary result: Obama 56-44

Caucus result: Obama 67-32
Primary result: Obama 52-48

Caucus result: Obama 76-24
Primary result: Obama 56-44

Caucus result: Obama 74-26
Primary result: Obama 55-45

Caucus result: Obama 59-40
Primary result: Clinton 51-49

Caucus result: Obama 66-32
Primary result: Obama 52-48

Caucus result: Clinton 51-45
Primary result: Clinton 57-43

North Dakota
Caucus result: Obama 61-37
Primary result: TIE 50-50

Caucus result: Obama 61-38
Primary result: TIE 50-50

Using the fit from the known data in ID,WA,TX and NE, we can project that Maine would have flipped from Obama to Hillary and North Dakota and Wyoming would have been essentially a dead heat.

Next comes the projections for pledged delegates.

Texas allocatd 67 delegates based on its caucus, which have gone 37-30 for Obama.  Had these delegates been awarded on the basis of the primary result, we can approximate a 35-32 breakdown in favor of Hillary.

In the below table, I've reallocated pledged delegates based on either the known primary result or on my interpolation based on the linear fits.  I've not tried to break things down by CD, but am just using a straight-up formula, proportionally breaking down pledged delegates according to the actual or interpolated primary result.

PDel = Pledged Delegates Total
A-HC = Actual HRC PDs won
A-BO = Actual BO PDs won
B-HC = PDs to HRC based on primary reallocation
B-BO = PDs to BO based on primary reallocation

State       PDel A-HC A-BO  B-HC B-BO
Alaska       13    3   10     6    7
Colorado     55   19   36    26   29
Hawaii       20    6   14     9   11
Idaho        18    3   15     7   11
Kansas       31    9   23    14   17
Maine        24    9   15    12   12
Minnesota    72   24   48    34   38
Nebraska     24    8   16    12   12
Nevada       25   11   14    14   11
N.Dakota     13    5    8     7    6
Texas        67   30   37    35   32
Washington   78   26   52    37   41
Wyoming      12    5    7     6    6

Based on the caucus results in the above states, Barack Obama gained 295 pledged delegates to Hillary Clinton's 158, a net advantage of 137 pledged delegates.  Reallocating delegates based on the primary results or an interpolation based on the WA-TX-NE-ID data, Barack Obama would have won 233 to Hillary Clinton's 219, a net advantage of 14.

The use of low-turnout caucuses rather than higher-participation primaries is directly responsible for a net margin of 123 pledged delegates in Barack Obama's favor.

Tags: Caucuses, delegates, Primaries (all tags)



Re: The Caucuses

It shows that Obama has a great GOTV effort for contests that go to picking pledged delegates.  I am excited to see this GOTV effort bring us victory in the fall.

by mefeck 2008-05-28 05:29PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

Which further illustrates why the MI and FL votes were fatally flawed.  Like every other sanctioned and proper election, the GOTV effort is a main component in any campaign.

by mefeck 2008-05-28 05:30PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

You have got to be kidding.  The Florida primary had record turn out.  For crissake, Hillary got 200k votes more than McCain in a hotly contested republican primary.  Both candidates ran agressive campaigns with plenty of GOTV through surrogates.  Don't kid yourself.

by masslib1 2008-05-28 07:09PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

The only two states where turnout was lower than the 2004 presidential election were........Florida and Michigan.

Also, how can you compare turnout when few previous primaries in Florida even mattered?

by mefeck 2008-05-28 07:11PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

What a lie.  See: California, New York, New Jersey.  

by BPK80 2008-05-28 07:25PM | 0 recs

See 1972.

by anna belle 2008-05-28 07:28PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

Also the only two states with a PVI of less than R+10 where GOP turnout exceeded Democratic turnout.

by X Stryker 2008-05-28 08:09PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

absolutely clueless conclusion. What this shows has nothing to do with GOTV. Afterall more people voted in the primaries than caucuses in all cases and hence the primary results are much more indicative of voter preference with larger sample sizes than the caucus results.

What this actually shows is that 1) caucuses have much lower participation and has more inaccuracies in the final result of voter preference due to a much smaller sample size 2) caucus participation is not possible for many key demographics like elderly, people with multiple jobs, people with one job but cant take off work and do 3 hours of caucusing, people with kids who cant sit at caucuses for multiple hours and stand outside in lines for hours to get in etc etc, essentially eliminating key demographics for certain candidates, while students, single folks, people with no kids, people with flexible jobs etc can participate and much of that latter category favoring one candidate over others

by pdxarch 2008-05-29 10:41AM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

Umm, until this year, caucus participation was DOMINATED by the elderly. Specifically, the 65+ voters who were retired and mobile. The type of elderly voter who participates in EVERY election, from local councilman to President.

Until the Iowa caucus, it was assumed that Hillary would dominate the caucus system. Her supporters were the old-hat, been there before caucusers, and they were the most likely to show up.

A LOT of people need to check their facts before parroting campaign talking points.

I really hate a lot of the arguments against caucuses. One, MANY caucuses allow for a form of absentee balloting, two, it's three hours every four years. You'd think that someone serious about participating in our democracy could take two to three hours out of their lives to participate.

The question then becomes, would we rather have our candidate selected by people who are dedicated to the process and have bothered to read and research the positions, or should it be decided by those who listen to five minutes of their nightly news and make their decision based on that?

I'm not saying caucuses are necessarily superior to primaries, but I also don't believe that a larger sample size is more desirable than a smaller, but better informed, electorate.

by EvilAsh 2008-06-02 12:57AM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

Nah, you dont have a clue on facts and havent put up any in your response either. Go read the participation stats in this years caucuses. The 65 year olds werent even in the majority to be dominating. If you have info otherwise, pls quote the numbers either from this year or other previous presidential primary caucus years. dont just spout out nonsense. Anynumber of news outlets have reported on the fact that many groups including seniors, people with multiple jobs, people with kids etc couldnt be in the caucuses this year by the same numbers as the other groups. Also you are making bogus claims on absentee voting in caucuses. Pls show me how many caucus states allow for absentee voting.

You really dont even need evidence for this. ALl you have to do is to 1) know some basic statistics 2) look at the results from TX, WA and NV caucus, primaries.

Neither do you have a clue on statistics and democracy. Larger sample size isnt better? smaller better informed electorate is better for democracy? learn something, anything at all. The idea of one man one vote and representative democracy is that we dont want an "elite/better informed" section of the population to be the only one having a say in the representation. Then why shouldnt some section of the population (say nobel laureates) claim they are better informed than they are. Heck I am better informed than you are. You shouldnt vote by that standard. Who decides who is better informed. You for everyone else? Jeez, you are not too bright are you?

In any statistical system that decides representation, a larger sample size is always better than a smaller one. your high school stat teacher might help you here. Talk about getting better informed!

by pdxarch 2008-06-17 02:53PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

I like this election, I viewed Caucuses before as an instrument of the establishment.

This season obama turned that upside down for me.

With the right activists and the right message he owned every single caucus.

I think the caucus system works as long as we don't have the DLC mentality running it (ie we need a safe boring uninspiring candidate, we dont want to scare the rednecks and such)

by CrushTheGOP2008 2008-05-28 05:32PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

Well, all but one. Remember, Nevada was a win for Hillary, even though Obama got more delegates out of it.

Does anyone remember when Hillary was supposed to OWN the caucuses? Because the only people who caucus are the 65+ crowd and retirees who don't have anything better to do?

by EvilAsh 2008-05-28 05:39PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

Well thats how you define Win.

We do proportional delegates by districts.  

According to the media and HRC that night, she won because she had popular vote.

SAME thing happened in Texas, Bill Clinton guaranteed it was over if they didn't win Texas AND Ohio and they lost texas.

The media can't convey things a 5 year old won't understand, so the Texas win was hidden under the rug, or as Bill said over the weekend "covered up"

by CrushTheGOP2008 2008-05-28 05:46PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses
True enough, but I've got to cut the media a little slack on this one. They had to announce a winner and the delegate count takes a LONG time. Popular vote is easier and quicker to tally.
I've been really impressed by how Obama has managed to win this contest under the radar, while Clinton and the MSM have been in lockstep on the big, flashy, 'important' wins. While Clinton and the MSM were trumpeting her win in California (the ONLY Super Tuesday state anybody seemed to care about) Obama took a significant lead by grinding it out in all those other states.
It seems to be the theme of this campaign. Obama's rhetoric is lofty and full of hope while his campaign grinds out the wins on the ground, and Clinton speaks constantly about realism but centers her campaign around big symbolic victories.
by EvilAsh 2008-05-28 05:57PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

Beautifully stated.

You get virtual hand clap.....

by CrushTheGOP2008 2008-05-28 05:59PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

No one thought Clinton was going to own caucuses. From the very beginning, her support was always highest among women, single women, single mothers and older women - all people who are unlikely to attend caucuses. The weather makes getting older women out difficult. The time of day makes getting single mothers out difficult. The limited time makes getting anyone who works non 9-5 hours, difficult.

Caucuses were always an uphill battle for Clinton and everyone even remotely associated with the Clinton camp or the Clinton blogosphere knew that.

by glitterannebegay 2008-05-28 09:42PM | 0 recs
you need to look back...

to the press regarding Iowa and the word that Clinton was backed by experienced, reliable caucusgoers. Obama's strength was concentrated in organizing a new activist base for the purpose... though he's also grabbed his fair share of practiced activists now.

by Casuist 2008-05-28 10:47PM | 0 recs
I always find the single-mother stuff hard to


Weren't most caucuses providing childcare? (or rather the campaigns running in the caucus?)

Seriously, couldn't they have hired about ten 17-year-olds to babysit the legion of kids?

I understand this might not work so hot in the middle of nowhere... ;-)

by BlogSurrogate57 2008-05-29 06:14AM | 0 recs
Re: I always find the single-mother stuff hard to

Plus many offered absentee ballots.

by interestedbystander 2008-05-29 08:16AM | 0 recs
What you don't seem to understand

is that there are two of those rednecks for every one of you.

by lombard 2008-05-28 07:54PM | 0 recs
Re: What you don't seem to understand

And they can smell dishonesty and misrepresentation as well as the rest of us, as well as respectfully disagreeing with someone they respect otherwise on a (small) number of issues.

Maybe you weren't saying otherwise, but that old style of Democrat, the one who isn't comfortable being his or herself because deep down they think the country is against them, is gone, and rightfully so.

by leftneck 2008-05-29 04:18AM | 0 recs
And a good deal of them have less patience

;-) being bitter and all that.

by BlogSurrogate57 2008-05-29 06:16AM | 0 recs
Well, that's one interpretation

Here's another.  That type of old Democrat might prefer the redneck population to latte liberal left netroots population.  

by lombard 2008-05-29 09:22AM | 0 recs
what nonsense

a system you thought was bad before based on good reasons is now great because it resulted in the candidate you wanted to win!!!!

What intellectual dishonesty.

by debcoop 2008-05-28 09:21PM | 0 recs
I'm not so sure about that...

If you think that a system is bad because it hinders people-powered movements, and then your logic is utterly upended by a people-powered movement, you are not being dishonest.

Also, you're verging on a troll rating. Try making the hostility a little less obvious next time? [nb not to say that you can't say you think something is intellectually dishonest. but... with a little more subtlety and less finger pointing, please!]

by BlogSurrogate57 2008-05-29 06:18AM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

You don't get it. Obama IS the establishment candidate.

by cal1942 2008-05-29 04:00PM | 0 recs
So, you think this directly translates to GE, huh?

Look, the reason why Obama did so well in caucuses is because they were stuffed with college kids and goo-goo eyed white liberals. The smashing victories had more to do with self-selection than anything else.  Now, I'm not saying there is anything wrong with being one of them, but only about 20% (or less) of the population identifies as liberal.  As Jay Cost noted, in many parts of the country, Obama's base is quite narrow (deep but narrow).  

I don't think there is a huge GE expansion potential for a number of his key groups (that would include African American, too).  I'm sorry, having a coalition of narrow but impassioned groups is not a winning GE strategy.  

by lombard 2008-05-28 07:35PM | 0 recs
Re: So, you think this directly translates to GE,

You forgot independents and westerners.

by X Stryker 2008-05-28 08:11PM | 0 recs
OK, I'll address those

His margins with independents against Clinton have declined as the campaign has progressed.  I don't expect him to have much of a margin with them at all when he goes against McCain in the general.

Westerners.  Let's forget about Oregon, Washington (hell, even Dukakis took those), and California.  We could reasonably expect either Democrat to take those with a decent campaign effort even if poll numbers show Obama's numbers better in at least the first two.

As far as the other Western states, maybe he would do better in Colorado than Clinton and probably about the same in New Mexico.  Neither has a chance of taking Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, or Arizona.  

Meanwhile, he does worse than her in almost every other potential Democratic voting (but not very sure thing) state with the possible exceptions of Iowa and Virginia.

So, let's see, noticeable edge Obama: IA, CO, VA

Noticeable edge for Clinton: OH, PA, FL, MO, WV, AR.  We could also mention states like IN, KY, and maybe TN where she is close but he is not.

by lombard 2008-05-28 08:59PM | 0 recs
WI, MN...

and NC is debateable.

by Casuist 2008-05-28 09:13PM | 0 recs
Re: OK, I'll address those

Actually, he is, in fact, close in IN. There's also ND.

by X Stryker 2008-05-29 07:16AM | 0 recs
ND is 3 electoral votes

And, since it hasn't voted for a Democrat presidential candidate since 1964, I'll believe that when I see it.

by lombard 2008-05-29 09:14AM | 0 recs
Re: ND is 3 electoral votes

Feel free to hold your hands over your ears and say "No, no, no!"

by X Stryker 2008-05-29 11:52AM | 0 recs
Re: So, you think this directly translates to GE,

Maine has the lowest college rate in New England and is not particularly liberal, even in the Democratic party -- and Obama got 59% of the delegates in the Maine caucuses.

by politicsmatters 2008-05-29 04:12AM | 0 recs
and the whitest state in the union!

by BlogSurrogate57 2008-05-29 06:20AM | 0 recs
And that refutes my point how?

He received an even bigger caucus win in Idaho?  How?  Because a large percentage of the extremely small percentage of Idahoans who identify as liberals attended the caucus.  When the other 85% of Idaho voters show up in November, his numbers won't look so impressive.

by lombard 2008-05-29 09:29AM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

If his GOTV effort is so good, why couldn't he pull it out in primaries, as opposed to caucuses?

There aren't any caucuses in November.

Carolyn Kay

by Caro 2008-05-29 12:51AM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

You're so right.  he hasn't been able to win a single primary.  We must be nuts to nominate him...

Bangs head against wall...again...

by oliver cromwell 2008-05-29 05:36AM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

And yet you don't control for the fact that in three of those cases, the caucus preceded the primary.  One would think that that would be an important factor to consider.

by rfahey22 2008-05-28 05:30PM | 0 recs
Also doesn't account for the primaries

basically being straw polls with no delegates at stake.

by 79blondini 2008-05-28 08:17PM | 0 recs
False, asked & answered repeatedly. RTBT.

by RonK Seattle 2008-05-29 06:59AM | 0 recs
Good point.

wonder how many came after school was out? ;-)

by BlogSurrogate57 2008-05-29 06:20AM | 0 recs
Looks like another plus for Obama's campaign.

Seeing as both campaigns knew there'd be both caucuses and primaries, and Barack's campaign made better use of GOTV to GOTD than Hillary's, it makes sense he'd come out on top. I like that forward thinking in a nominee.

by Firewall 2008-05-28 05:31PM | 0 recs
Yeah, except in the GE...

there is more expansion potential among moderate and conservative whites, asians, and hispanics than there are white liberals of various ages and African Americans.  The Obama campaign did a great job of getting supporters to caucuses.  The interesting question is how many more additional supporters from his groups are left for the GOTV efforts in the GE.  We'll see soon enough.

by lombard 2008-05-28 07:43PM | 0 recs
Do I need to post the pew study again?

Obama has a very large base in the independents based on his Hope schpiel.

We're talking the upbeats deologies_in_the_United_States

Combine those with the rest of the democrats, and you get 51%.  This isn't even counting any disaffected Enterprisers or ProGov't conservatives.

by BlogSurrogate57 2008-05-29 06:24AM | 0 recs
I understand the Pew study

I just disagree with some of your interpretations over the remifications of it for this election.

by lombard 2008-05-29 09:24AM | 0 recs
Then we can agree to disagree! *nods*

And i'll probably continue to post the same schpiel over and over ;0)

For people on both sides, "you just gotta believe"

by BlogSurrogate57 2008-05-29 09:39AM | 0 recs
played a poor hand well

but his coalition is narrow and it may have hit a wall in terms of expansion...indeed as th eprimaries have gone he is doing worse in those groups and McCain is not the generic Republican to the general electorate and his coaliton of Indies, and moderate republicans can not expand.

Face it we are chooosing the weaker nominee.

He's a wine track candidate .  thay alwsys lose becasue of their limited coaliton...working class voters, black and white have not voted for wine track candidiates before...but Obama has benefitted from 90% of the black vote.

by debcoop 2008-05-28 09:43PM | 0 recs
RFK's coalition lives again!

by BlogSurrogate57 2008-05-29 06:39AM | 0 recs
Re: RFK's coalition lives again!

Unlike Obama, JFK toured Appalachia extensively and really connected with the people there:

While the Tet Offensive raged in Vietnam in February 1968, Robert F. Kennedy was on the mountain roads of southeastern Kentucky, shaking hands and setting fire to hearts from Vortex to Prestonsburg. Conducted as part of a Senate Subcommittee on Manpower, Employment and Poverty examination of War on Poverty practices, RFK's Appalachian tour occurred one week before he announced his candidacy for President. A few months later he would be dead. But his visit touched off what the mountain people still call "a ripple of hope" that empowered them to take their future into their own hands. /archivefiles/2004/08/ p

by Inky 2008-05-29 10:06AM | 0 recs
there you go proving me wrong again!
(seriously, thanks for the CITOKATE)
by BlogSurrogate57 2008-05-29 10:22AM | 0 recs
Actually, Texas is the only meaningful one.

Because the others, you know, didn't count and so only old people who vote in every single election by and large turned out for those.

And not coincidentally, the marginal difference is by far the smallest in Texas.

55-45 Obama in caucus, 51-48 Hillary in primary (+13 difference for Obama)

by bobdoleisevil 2008-05-28 05:31PM | 0 recs
That's it, though. I'm doing my own

"What if the rules were different" thing.

by bobdoleisevil 2008-05-28 05:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Actually, Texas is the only meaningful one.

Shhh!  The diarist is trying to make a very important point based on faulty assumptions.

by rfahey22 2008-05-28 05:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Actually, Texas is the only meaningful one.

And as far as I can tell, faulty data. Did anyone else notice that Idaho primary results total to 108%? Or am I reading that wrong?

by Okamifujutsu 2008-05-29 12:19AM | 0 recs
Not so fast., bucko!

TX counts because it counted for delegate selection.

NE and ID count because contested down-ballot primary races were decided in the same contests, bringing out meaningful representation of active Democrats statewide.

You can quibble with the WA results, but they were only 10 days distant from the caucuses and both major campaigns urged their followers to go to the polls and show the flag ... and nearly 700,000 citizens voted the D ballot (another 530,000 voting the R ballot, which did count for delegate selection on their side).

by RonK Seattle 2008-05-28 06:33PM | 0 recs
I said Texas counts. NE, ID, WA


by bobdoleisevil 2008-05-28 06:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Not so fast., bucko!

NE and ID count because contested down-ballot primary races were decided in the same contests, bringing out meaningful representation of active Democrats statewide.

...but not necessarily the electorate that would turn out for the presidential nomination.

both major campaigns urged their followers to go to the polls and show the flag

Evidence? Besides that, Obama's supporters-having accomplished the victory they desired, had very little incentive to take part in the primary simply to manipulate a meaningless result.

I'd like to see anyone claim, with a straight face, that Obama would only manage 53% in Washington while taking 59% in a closed Oregon primary.

by Casuist 2008-05-28 06:41PM | 0 recs
Mmm, quibbles. (Gummy ones, not the crunchy kind)

That's an easy claim for WA v OR, two very different states.

I was here, I am here, I know what the local camps did.

If your want to make a case that the NE and ID primary brought out substantially different crowds for consequential House/Senate primaries with a presidential "beauty contest" kicker than for a consequential House/Senate/Presidential priamry, be my guest.

by RonK Seattle 2008-05-28 07:11PM | 0 recs
and very similar...

in other ways. Methinks the burden of proof is on those who suggest that Obama's massive margin of victory in the caucus would be whittled down to nothing. Having friends and family in the state and having lived there myself, I don't find that particularly likely. The primary is not a valid piece of evidence on the matter. It was a straw poll.

by Casuist 2008-05-28 07:19PM | 0 recs
How about SUSA poll,s?

SUSA polled Feb 2-3, days before the caucus, screening and tabulating likely primary voters AND likely caucus attendees separately.

Obama outpolled Hillary 54-39 among Primary LV's, 59-37 among Caucus LV's.

By caucus eve (SUSA Feb 7-8), this narrows to 51-45 Primary (on the button!) and widened to 63-33 caucus (pretty darn close!).

Over to you.

by RonK Seattle 2008-05-28 07:39PM | 0 recs
Re: How about SUSA poll,s?

On caucus eve most Obama voters had decided that once he won the caucus they wouldn't need to bother with the primary.

by edg1 2008-05-28 08:10PM | 0 recs
Re: How about SUSA poll,s?

Got data?

by daria g 2008-05-28 08:58PM | 0 recs
the data's below you...

Obama had a healthy 14 point margin by SurveyUSA among voters who didn't intend to participate in the primary.

by Casuist 2008-05-28 09:15PM | 0 recs
Re: How about SUSA poll,s?

1) SurveyUSA was a bit off on Oregon, underestimating Obama's margin (granted, only PPP did well).

2) In the second SurveyUSA poll, Obama led 51-37 in voters who intended to NOT vote in the primary (vs. 47-44 in the earlier poll).

3) 51-45 projects to 53-47.

by Casuist 2008-05-28 08:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Mmm, quibbles. (Gummy ones, not the crunchy ki

That's an easy claim for WA v OR, two very different states.

True. And Washington is demographically MORE friendly to Obama than Oregon is. More AAs, higher per-capita income and more people with college degrees. More of the "creative class" voters that the Hillary supporters like to badmouth.

Obama would have won a meaningful Washington primary by at least 20 points. Probably much more if it were an open primary.

by Angry White Democrat 2008-05-28 07:27PM | 0 recs
WA's 1.7% more AA's + 3% more BA's ...

... would have made all that difference?

OR and WA politics are distinct, and the comparative results are unremarkable.

by RonK Seattle 2008-05-28 07:50PM | 0 recs
Re: WA's 1.7% more AA's + 3% more BA's ...

18% to 20% is "all that difference?"

by Angry White Democrat 2008-05-28 07:53PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

What a great analysis, The R^2 is very high.


by Jaz 2008-05-28 05:32PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

It's actually too high, which is an indicator of trouble.  Diarist has got four dyadic pairs to work with, and is creating two "best fit" lines for them.  Granted, that's all the data that exists, but extrapolating a dozen data points (actually two dozen, since there's two extrapolations for each pair) from so few is tenuous at best.

Just off the top of my head, I'd say you need intervening variables of primary-caucus order, region, and stage of the national campaign.  Most election scholars would probably also expect a term that captures campaign momentum, possibly using a measure of media coverage over the preceding campaign interval.

That, of course, can't be done because that's more variables than data points.  So we're left with two "best fit" lines.  I think it's an interesting extrapolation, but you've got to downgrade your pronouncements like crazy.  You have a high R-squared value because your working from such a tiny data set.  We can only draw the most limited of conclusions from that data set, because it's impossible to test for (and therefore rule out) competing explanations.

Still, nice diary.  More substantive than most of the campaign diaries these days...

by sierradave 2008-05-29 05:32AM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

 Caucuses are not just an alternative way to gather popular votes. You know that, right?

by xdem 2008-05-28 05:36PM | 0 recs
Washington + Nebraska Fake Primaries - Meaningless

Many registered Democrats I know here in Washington didn't vote because they knew their vote wouldn't count. I expect the same is true in Nebraska, Florida, and Michigan.

by Lefty Coaster 2008-05-28 05:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Washington + Nebraska Fake Primaries - Meaning

Um, more voted in the primary than in the caucus.

by hornplayer 2008-05-28 06:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Washington + Nebraska Fake Primaries - Meaning

Not counting distorted the primary's turnout. I even knew a few Democrats who attended the caucus who said they didn't intend to vote in the primary.

It was a Fake Primary with Fake Results.

by Lefty Coaster 2008-05-28 07:08PM | 0 recs
except that...

three of those, being non-contested straw polls, constitute bad data unrepresentative of any serious primary contest. Moreover, your interpolation generates questionable results (e.g. a 4% margin of victory in Minnesota, when neighbor Wisconsin's primary went steeply for Obama).

Nice attempt, but in terms of projections it's about as meaningful as using the results of an online poll.

by Casuist 2008-05-28 05:37PM | 0 recs
Re: except that...

The projection is useless, but clearly when more people are voted - The margin decreases.

Which means that caucuses are NOT representative of what the people think.

And the data IS SIGNIFICANT!

This is not an analysis on the rules or anything, just a simple analysis of the difference between caucus and primary.

by Jaz 2008-05-28 05:44PM | 0 recs

and when primaries are open rather than closed the numbers change as well. In fact, if there were one ideal way to choose the nominee, beyond argument, our system would be absolute crap. Unfortunately (or fortunately), the question is a bit less straightforward and states are given license to choose the format that suits them. There's a lot of room for speculation as to how great the margin would have been had the caucuses been primaries... but it's rather clear Obama would have still been victorious in those states. His delegate margin likely would have been somewhat less, and yet Clinton would be deprived of her BS argument regarding the "popular vote."

As it happens, though, we select our nominee by a hybrid system... including the caucuses.

by Casuist 2008-05-28 05:50PM | 0 recs

Oddly, Obama's popular vote margin has been SMALLER in the primary in each state.

Washington - estimated 90,000 (caucus) vs 40,000 (primary)
Nebraska - 12,000 (caucus) vs 2,5000 (primary)
Idaho - 13,000 (caucus) vs 7,500 (primary)
Texas - win (caucus) vs loss (primary)

If each state had held a primary, Hillary's popular vote lead would INCREASE, not decrease.

by DaveOinSF 2008-05-28 05:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Oddly...

Nebraska primary spread was 2,500.  Typo above.

by DaveOinSF 2008-05-28 05:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Oddly...

If each state had held a primary instead of a caucus, Obama's ground troops would've been working their GOTV effort instead of relishing a job well done.

This kind of speculation is kinda silly. It reasons that if the election was held in a totally different format then everyone would have done exactly what they did in exactly the same way.

But don't get me wrong, I've got no problem with silly speculation. I do it all the time. (What would have happened if Gore would have run against Obama and Clinton?) But it's not really something to get worked up over.

by EvilAsh 2008-05-28 06:02PM | 0 recs
just FYI....

1) Hillary Clinton is behind in the popular vote in primaries (NOT straw polls)

2) Election in which the voters are informed the vote is irrelevant are not an accurate representation of the popular will.

3) Your "adjustments" of Washington and Minnesota result in primary tallies that are grossly out of keeping with regional trends (Oregon and Wisconsin).

4) If the caucuses were primaries, Obama is due about half a million additional votes, conservatively speaking.

by Casuist 2008-05-28 06:03PM | 0 recs

I hate using terms like "popular will" when not appropriate.

Elections which are explicitly stated to be irrelevant are not representative of the Democratic primary electorate.

by Casuist 2008-05-28 06:08PM | 0 recs
Re: just FYI....

No, Hillary is NOT behind in votes when considering only primaries. I don't know how you can come to that conclusion except by excluding both MI AND FL from the calculation.

And the link you have to your own diary that projects an increase in the popular vote for Obama if primaries had been conducted rather than caucuses is based on the delusional notion that Obama would have maintained the same winning margins even in primaries.

As this current diary shows, that could not be a more obviously false assumption.

In fact, it seems very reasonable to believe the exact opposite: if primaries had been held instead of caucuses, Obama's popular vote total would only have gone down -- which is certainly true, and dramatically so, for all 4 cases of states that held both primaries and caucuses. If it's true even for Idaho -- where Obama's winning margin in the caucuses was pretty stupendous, and should be the best case where his popular vote margin should go up instead of down -- it's certainly reasonable to expect it would be true everywhere else.

What this means is that if Clinton's campaign includes the popular vote from caucuses in the popular vote tally unadjusted, as it has been doing so far as I know, then it is only being overgenerous to Obama. If, in fact, all of the caucuses had been turned into the obviously fairer and more democratic primaries, Obama would by any reasonable reckoning have lost in the popular vote count.

by frankly0 2008-05-29 05:07AM | 0 recs
Re: just FYI....

I don't know how you can come to that conclusion except by excluding both MI AND FL from the calculation.

Note above where "straw polls" are explicitly excluded. Telling voters ahead of time that a vote does not count invalidates an election.

And the link you have to your own diary that projects an increase in the popular vote for Obama if primaries had been conducted rather than caucuses is based on the delusional notion that Obama would have maintained the same winning margins even in primaries.

You read the diary very poorly then, as I included a calculation based upon adjusting the margin of victory based on Texas. I won't accuse you of delusion... but inadequate reading comprehension and rudeness? Yes.

In fact, it seems very reasonable to believe the exact opposite: if primaries had been held instead of caucuses, Obama's popular vote total would only have gone down -- which is certainly true, and dramatically so, for all 4 cases of states that held both primaries and caucuses.

Based upon a nonsensical adjustment of margin of victory... Texas is the only valid comparison (see straw poll comment above).

What this means is that if Clinton's campaign includes the popular vote from caucuses in the popular vote tally unadjusted, as it has been doing so far as I know, then it is only being overgenerous to Obama. If, in fact, all of the caucuses had been turned into the obviously fairer and more democratic primaries, Obama would by any reasonable reckoning have lost in the popular vote count.

You think 13 states where Obama averaged 66.83% of the vote, magnified 5x (at minimum) in turnout, would have generated a less-than 280,000 vote margin in Obama's favor.

You think that Minnesota and Washington would have been essentially tied, despite 18% margins of victories in primaries in neighboring states. and 36% margins of victory in the caucus.

You base this thought on "primaries" where the electorate was specifically informed the vote was irrelevant (if this was done in a real election, it would be a criminal act of vote suppression).

Those "thoughts," my friend, are "delusional."

by Casuist 2008-05-29 06:54AM | 0 recs
Also Oddly...

If the contests had been primaries instead of caucuses Obama would have used a different strategy.  That's why Obama is the likely nominee.  He adapted his strategy to the situation at hand.  Clinton did not.

by edg1 2008-05-28 08:17PM | 0 recs
2 of your 3 were contested downballot

... bringing representative samples to vote. The third was contested by both camps.

MN at 4%, btw, would have been been much more consistent with contemporaneous polling. And by your argument, MN's 34% caucus margin is more of an implausible outlier (vs WI 17% comparable) than Dave's 4% estimate.

by RonK Seattle 2008-05-28 06:46PM | 0 recs
Re: 2 of your 3 were contested downballot

I don't agree with the statement that downballot measures provide a representative sample.

There wasn't much polling in Minnesota to justify any particular margin of victory... and demographic voting trends have been remarkably consistent over the course of the primary. I'd be far more inclined to project a comparable margin to Wisconsin... and certainly not a 14% difference.

by Casuist 2008-05-28 06:58PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

You can question the value of "beauty contest" primaries, but kudos for injecting some actual data into this debate.

Oh, and nice axes!

by guazatragicness 2008-05-28 05:40PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

Caucuses shouldn't count.  The rules should be ignored and we should count these primary tallies of the diarists.

Excellent diary

by HillsMyGirl 2008-05-28 05:42PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

Now I know you're not a serious Hillary Clinton supporter.

by mefeck 2008-05-28 05:44PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

It's sort of like one of those theme parks where the employees have to stay in character at all times.

by rfahey22 2008-05-28 05:53PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

I gave you mojo because I thought your snark was excellent - I apologize.

by xdem 2008-05-28 05:52PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

It's funny.  Call it overconfidence.  Call it incompetence.  Call it whatever you want.  Obama knew the rules.  Clinton knew the rules.  Excuse me, the former First Lady, who's been through this process before knew the rules.

Why didn't Clinton put more resources into the caucus states?  Why did she only make one appearance in my home state Minnesota, on Superbowl Sunday?  

I'm not a huge fan of caucuses, however, both candidates knew the rules.  Both candidates had a strategy based on those rules.  One strategy worked and the other didn't.

Hillary's lack of effort in the caucus states is one of the biggest reason, she lost the nomination.

by chewie5656 2008-05-28 05:55PM | 0 recs
Ickes and Penn thought it would be over Feb.5th

They had no Plan B in case the campaign continued on after Feb. 5th.

by Lefty Coaster 2008-05-28 06:07PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses
Personally, I kind of like caucuses. I've seen one (couldn't participate, wasn't from the state) and I like the idea of standing up and declaring your preference and why.
I like the idea that it takes a little more time and effort to participate in democracy. I would have preferred to spend a few hours arguing and cajoling  other supporters to the three minutes it took me to place my primary ballot.
Of course, that isn't something that could be brought to the general election. But I think it's a perfectly reasonable way to produce a candidate.
by EvilAsh 2008-05-28 06:08PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

Caucuses are great, if done correctly.  I've been to two.  One, during the Kerry-Edwards.  It was great, lots of great discussion.  Lots of support for all candidates.  Great resolutions, etc.

This last caucus though, was a joke.  It wasn't ran very well, mainly because of the huge crowds.  The guy that ran it, spent half of the time reading the rules and electing two associate delegates.  Total waste of time.

So, caucuses can be good, if done correctly.

by chewie5656 2008-05-28 06:52PM | 0 recs
Well, congratulations

You're probably one of the 10% or so of Americans that would prefer to do that rather than just go into a voting booth for a couple of minutes.  Personally, I'd prefer the technique that results in larger participation.


by lombard 2008-05-28 08:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Well, congratulations

And you'll have your preference honored when Obama wins the election in November.

by edg1 2008-05-28 08:20PM | 0 recs
I'll believe that when I see it.

My own guess is that you will be the more disappointed one of the two of us.

by lombard 2008-05-28 09:13PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

Having more people in a group does not make it more representative.

The Literary Digest poll of 1936 had HUGE numbers of respondents and it predicted that Franklin Roosevelt would lose in a landslide. Then his opponent won just two states. Why? Because the people who responded were not representative of the population.

by politicsmatters 2008-05-28 05:59PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

I don't see how that compares to voters who obviously do represent voters who vote in the primaries.  We are not talking about polls matching outcomes we are talking about people who vote.  You are talking about a survey, not even a poll, and then not actual people who made it to the voting place.

by Scotch 2008-05-28 06:08PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

And you're talking about primaries where zero delegates were at stake, which the candidates did not bother campaigning for, nor did they bother working GOTV for. If you're trying to prove that Obama does better when he has GOTV and campaigning in a state, well, that's why I think he'll be fine in Michigan and Florida come November.

by X Stryker 2008-05-28 08:16PM | 0 recs
This is a new low

in your logic.

by catfish2 2008-05-28 06:17PM | 0 recs
Ever hear of the law of large numbers?

If not, look it up in a statistics book.  Of course, self selection plays a part but there is more self selection in caucuses than primaries.

by lombard 2008-05-28 08:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Ever hear of the law of large numbers?

I teach statistics now and then.

Large numbers don't mean anything unless you are comparing a large, representative sample to a small, representative sample.

Lots of respondents can be less good at showing what the population thinks than fewer.  See Gallup vs. Literary Digest, 1936.

by politicsmatters 2008-05-29 04:16AM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

Regardless of the winner of caucuses this time, and with the realization that someone I support the next time might have an easier time winning caucuses, the process should be changed for the future.  Caucuses obviously keeps whole groups out of the process, doesn't allow for absentee ballots, and discourages ordinary voters from actively participating unless they are obsessed activists who have time to devote hours of their time to politics.  Older people, and people with disabilities depend on absentee ballots to participate in the voting process.  Caucuses are held for only a couple of hours eliminating people who work that shift, can't get or pay for babysitters, and a whole lot of other situations.  Primaries usually go for at least 10 hours offering an opportunity for people in all situations a chance to participate.

by Scotch 2008-05-28 06:05PM | 0 recs
Not to mention

Not to mention the babysitters themselves....

by DaveOinSF 2008-05-28 06:10PM | 0 recs
several caucus formats...

DO allow absentee voting (e.g. Minnesota).

by Casuist 2008-05-28 06:11PM | 0 recs
error.... mea culpa

I'm sorry... there are some that I'm fairly certain do allow for a preference to be stated in absentia, but Minnesota is not an example. Minnesota, however, does allow for someone to arrive, cast a preference ballot and then leave.

by Casuist 2008-05-28 06:17PM | 0 recs
Re: error.... mea culpa

But they are still limited to a specific couple of hours to do that, are they not?

by Scotch 2008-05-28 06:40PM | 0 recs
yes, 6:30-8:00 (nt)

by Casuist 2008-05-28 06:44PM | 0 recs
here's my mixup

Maine allows absentee caucus participation.

by Casuist 2008-05-28 06:20PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

You make a lot of good points, specifically regarding absentee ballots. However, does 'more' necessarily mean 'better'?
There is certainly an argument to be made that there should be more to a participatory democracy than simply punching a ballot on your lunch hour.  

Maybe we shouldn't try so hard to make voting easy. Simple, yes. But not easy. People have died for this right, maybe it should take a little effort on our part to exercise it.

Isn't democracy worth two hours of our time once every four years? Is that really too much to ask?

by EvilAsh 2008-05-28 06:21PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

The people who want to can participate in campaigning all they would like leading up to the primary and there is huge participation in primaries with the actual voting the final part, but a lot of people do not have the luxury of being a certain place for two hours at the site of the vote.  It is my belief that people should have more choices rather than less of how they want to participate in a democracy.  For instance maybe the people who were in wars for years on end have already done their part in democracy, and don't need to do more to place a vote.  My mother was a nurse in World War II and was forced to stay in the army throughout the war until it was finished.  When she got out and when she got older, why would she have to go to a site for two hours to again prove her involvement in a democracy.   People participate in many different ways.

by Scotch 2008-05-28 06:32PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

I don't believe it's about 'proving' your involvement in a democracy. And I agree that there should certainly be a provision for absentee balloting (such as exist in quite a few states) specifically for the elderly.

But I would think someone like your mother would be proud to stand up and declare her beliefs. Participating in democracy isn't a burden or a chore, it's our RIGHT as Americans.

There have been so many people who have risked their lives and livelihoods just for the CHANCE to cast a ballot. In many ways, I believe in the age of convenience we have forgotten how much of an honor it is to stand up and be a part of the shaping of this country.

Sure, people can participate in a campaign. They can phone bank, they can go door-to-door, they can go to rallies. But that isn't the same as coming together as a community to make your voice heard.

If I had my way, the day of the caucus would be a state-wide holiday. A day where we celebrate our right to go with our friends and neighbors to stand up and declare what we believe. I think it should be an Event, with a capital 'E'.  

by EvilAsh 2008-05-28 07:28PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

For one, my mother is a nurse, and if our state (Maryland) held a caucus and she was scheduled to work that weekend, she would not be able to participate.  The same is true for many people who work shifts and can't change their schedule.  It doesn't matter how proud they are, if they don't show up, they lose their job.

Even if the day were a state-wide holiday, it would not matter because whatever two hour window you chose for the caucus, essential staff would not be able to participate.  Nurses, doctors, police, security, fire department would be disenfranchised.  People who are in the hospital or house bound would not be able to participate.  They can mail in absentee ballots if there is a regular vote.  

by daria g 2008-05-28 09:05PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

Which is why, as I said before, there should certainly be a provision for absentee balloting.

by EvilAsh 2008-05-28 09:22PM | 0 recs
Wow, talk about elitist!!!

Let's have a system where only the most impassioned people with lots of available time to obsess about politics get to pick the nominee.  That was we can get a slew of far right and far left candidates.    

by lombard 2008-05-28 08:13PM | 0 recs

which is why now Hillary Clinton is at risk of losing the primary to Kucinich ;)

In all seriousness, Obama didn't win the caucuses because he was far, far to the left of Clinton. Compass-wise they are very close. He won them because of the campaign's early focus and strength in ground organization. Shouldn't that sort of effort be rewarded?

Wouldn't holding only primaries skew the contest further in favor of the most wealthy and most universally recognized candidate? Is that what we want?

by Casuist 2008-05-28 08:23PM | 0 recs
OK, the Kucinich remark was warranted

(parenthetically, a good friend of mine who is a zealous Obama supporter does admit that he loves Kucinich the best but knows he isn't electible.)

Look, Casuist, I respect your views but I live in a caucus state that that gave about 65% or more of the county votes to Obama.  I don't believe there is any  way he would have gotten those kinds of numbers in a much larger primary.

by lombard 2008-05-28 08:42PM | 0 recs
i respect that as well...

but I'm honestly torn as to whether the maximum possible vote is the ideal we're looking for here. That said- the best possible candidate is one who wins by every reasonable metric... and we're far enough afield now that what we're really talking about is how to fix the system for 2016 (please)... if only to never have to deal with this sort of rhetoric again.

Let's all hear it for a new and improved Democratic primary.

by Casuist 2008-05-28 09:20PM | 0 recs

by lombard 2008-05-28 09:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Wow, talk about elitist!!!

Yeah. That's what I meant.

For Christ's sake, I'm talking about loving this country and holding the right to vote up as a right and a privilege that I would be HONORED to spend two hours declaring my support and supporting our democracy.
I'm talking about something IMPORTANT. Something that you can change your work schedule for.

But no. Call my no-health-care-having, ramen noodle-eating, landlord-dodging ass an elitist. It's so much easier that way, isn't it?

by EvilAsh 2008-05-28 08:27PM | 0 recs
Well, saying elitist....

was easier than saying "no-health-care-having, ramen noodle-eating, landlord-dodging ass.."

by lombard 2008-05-28 08:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Well, saying elitist....

Okay, that was funny.

by EvilAsh 2008-06-02 12:45AM | 0 recs
You really don't get it

Do you. Things like intimidation because the ballots aren't secret, just being too busy with either work or family, or being disabled so can't get out after dark, cuts out a lot of people. Maybe they have researched it for hours, but just can't make it during THOSE hours to caucus. For instance, I have to be available to clients in the evenings most of the time, but have spent many hours researching the candidates.

Should they not count? Why shouldn't democracy work for THOSE people too? Why do people have to fit in the square hole of a caucus if they are round?

Reminds me of how schools are run. Make everyone get up at the same time and do the same things, regardless of their circadian rhythms or how they feel physically. Make them hop to, regardless of whether they are absorbed in learning something and don't want to quit. It's more important for them to follow everyone ELSE and what they are doing, even if they are BORED out of their minds and could be far more productive doing something else.

I like the voting here in Arkansas. You have a week, all day long, to come in and early vote. No intimidation, no lines, you can pick a great day weather-wise or to fit YOUR schedule. It's great!

by splashy 2008-05-29 12:58AM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

And are you going to provide the money for all these new primaries you want to see happen? You realize that many states that hold caucuses do so because they can't afford primaries - that's why they're so common in smaller states.

by Angry White Democrat 2008-05-28 07:29PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

Not so in states that have absentee ballots for caucuses.

by politicsmatters 2008-05-29 04:17AM | 0 recs
I think this explains a lot

and I appreciate the clear-headed straight statistical analysis.  We all know it is a very close election, and that the party is pretty evenly divided between Obama and Clinton.  This analysis not only confirms this, but illustrates an essential difficulty with the caucus system actually representing the voter's choice.  Texas is one of the clearest examples.

Not only do the supers need to see this, but this forms a good basis for restructuring the nomination process.

Excellent work, reccommended.

by 4justice 2008-05-28 06:06PM | 0 recs
Re: I think this explains a lot

"Not only do the supers need to see this...."

The supers have seen "this" and that is why they've been consistently endorsing Obama and given him the SD lead over Clinton.

The supers who didn't see "this" were the one who endorsed Clinton prior to any votes anywhere, & gave her a 100 SD lead initially.

Claiming that Bill Clinton & Hillary Clinton didn't understand how a caucus works is...well...absurd.

She won't get the nomination, not because of you or I, but because math is math.

Going on to the convention only hurts her, Obama, & this country.

by catilinus 2008-05-28 06:59PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

If these Primaries had counted, would Obama not be in the lead in the popular vote no matter what?  Even with less delegates?

by Bobby Obama 2008-05-28 06:15PM | 0 recs
yep (nt)

by Casuist 2008-05-28 06:23PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

Actually no.

In each state, Obama's popular vote margin in the higher-turnout primary has been SMALLER (in absolute votes) than his popular vote margin in the caucus.

Nebraska - 12,000 vote margin in the caucus, 2,500 in the primary
Idaho - 13,000 becomes 7,500

I would expect this trend to hold.  The reduced margin vs. Hillary more than compensates for teh increased number of participants.

by DaveOinSF 2008-05-28 06:30PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

I think this analysis vastly over estimates the narrowing of the margin.  The demographic voting trends have been the best predictor of results after the first few contests.  Those demographics suggest that the margins in a state like Minnesota would be fairly close to the margin in Wisconsin.  Obama didn't do well in a lot of these states just because they were caucuses, they were also good states for him.  Conversely Clinton doesn't have some magical allergy to caucuses, she after all won the popular vote in Nevada.

The most likely result of having no Caucuses would be a smaller delegate lead for Obama, but a much larger lead in popular vote.

by fangthang 2008-05-28 09:02PM | 0 recs
Well we need to reform this, good diary

thank you for compiling this.

by catfish2 2008-05-28 06:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Well we need to reform this, good diary

Now THAT is a fair statement... talking about reform for next time...2016.

by yitbos96bb 2008-05-28 08:26PM | 0 recs
It is ridiculous to compare

a caucus held in February, which had incredible turnout and which was determined the state's delegates, with a non-binding, meaningless "primary" vote in May.

Yes, there was a state and local election in May, which also included a presidential non-binding "primary" which everyone, even in Nebraska, understood was a beauty contest.

So as soon as I read the sentence," In all four cases, more people participated in the primary than in the caucus.  Also in each case, Hillary Clinton performed better and Barack Obama worse in the primary than in the caucus" I immediately thought, "Who in the world could possible care how many people participated in a non-binding primary months after a state's delegates were allocated by a caucus?"

Even in the state of Nebraska, where I live, and which Mark Penn has dismissed as small and insignificant, we understood that the race for the nomination is about delegates, and we were excited to be able to participate, for the first time, in the primary process with our caucus back in February. As a result, Nebraska's delegates were allocated 16 to Obama and 8 to Clinton.

Progressive roots run deep in Nebraska, and the war is a big issue here. Senator Clinton was not as successful in appealing to Nebraska values, Thus, Obama gained more delegates than Clinton in Nebraska.

Who cares what the results of the May vote were? Or that Clinton lost again?

This "trend" and "reallocation" is baseless and insulting to the voters of Nebraska.

by cultural worker 2008-05-28 06:18PM | 0 recs

Well, for all those progressive roots, Nebraskans haven't been too oriented toward electing liberals, have they?

Look, you can say that the fact the vote didn't matter suppressed the latter primary vote, but, in all cases of the states having both, the primary vote exceeded the caucus vote and often by considerable margins.

by lombard 2008-05-28 08:17PM | 0 recs
Let's see, Democratic

senators, governors, representatives, mayors in Nebraska.

And, if you've been reading outside the echo chamber, you'll know that it's very possible one or two of Nebraska's five electoral votes will go to Obama (yes, we're the only state besides Maine that allocates proportionately to congressional districts, instead of winner take all.)

Of course, Nebraska, with five electoral votes, doesn't count anyway remember? We've already been characterized as insignificant and meaningless, so I don't know why you're even trifling with us.

Although West Virginia DOES count, and it has, how many? Oh yes, five electoral votes as well. I have never understood the Clinton math.

But back to your "argument" which is the equivalent of "If I had ham and if I had eggs, I would have ham and eggs."

We had our primary in Nebraska back in February. It was even reported on the big networks!

And your candidate won 8 electoral votes, and Mark Penn dismissed us, and we have all moved on. I suggest you do so as well.

There is no useful, or logical, data which can be derived by looking at a May beauty contest and trying to make inferences about a fantasy race which never was run.

by cultural worker 2008-05-28 09:57PM | 0 recs
Obviously, you're quite smitten with your own

rhetoric.  All of that for the observations that 1) Nebraska's "progressive roots" don't produce big Democratic votes for national offices and 2) primaries have larger turnout than caucuses.

Was that a standard stump speech of yours for multiple purposes or was that actually an attempt to be responsive to my comments?

by lombard 2008-05-28 10:26PM | 0 recs
You'll be "arguing" with yourself.

But enjoy your non-eggs and non-ham!

by cultural worker 2008-05-29 04:36AM | 0 recs

look at Idaho and New Jersey.

In Idaho, about 21,000 Democrats gathered for caucuses. Obama won in a blowout by a margin of 13,000 votes. For that, he won 15 delegates to three for Clinton -- a net gain of 12 delegates.

In New Jersey, Clinton won by a margin of 110,000 votes out of more than 1 million cast. For that, she won 59 delegates to Obama's 48 -- a net gain of 11 delegates. emocrats-dilem.html

fair system, huh?

by canadian gal 2008-05-28 06:22PM | 0 recs
Re: ahem.

Was the Clinton campaign unaware of the number of delegates allocated to Idaho?

by PantherDem 2008-05-28 06:23PM | 0 recs
im guessing she was...

but that does not change the fact that caucuses, or the allocation of delegates for said is not an accurate measure of the will of the people.

by canadian gal 2008-05-28 06:27PM | 0 recs
Re: im guessing she was...

That's debatable. When you go down the turnout road, you tend to stop at a convenient road instead of folowing it to its end, which is that any turnout short of 100% is, by definition, unrepresentative of the will of the people.

by PantherDem 2008-05-28 06:29PM | 0 recs
And you win tonight's sophistry award


by lombard 2008-05-28 08:19PM | 0 recs
your statement is not a fact...

The primary vote is not that of the public at large, but rather the will of those who turn up at the polls. This demographic may vary substantially from state to state based upon an open or closed primary. If the primary is closed, the electorate may depend upon the amount of time available, as well, to register with the party in order to be eligible for voting in the primary...

...all of which neglects the fact that the primary system has not been designed to maximize the nationwide popular vote, and arranging the primary in such a manner (open primaries in every state) would not necessarily result in the "best" nomination process.

by Casuist 2008-05-28 06:34PM | 0 recs
Re: your statement is not a fact...

i agree with everything you said save the last part.  

it kind of reminds me of the new rules today in the schoolyard.  everyone is awarded merit badges no matter how well or poor they performed.  which leads me to ask, how in any way does having a nomination process that does not mirror the GE methodology help democrats win?  

winner take alls may be harsh, but hey - so is life.

by canadian gal 2008-05-28 06:40PM | 0 recs

Because the candidate list does not mirror the GE... and therefore the demographic and political divides may result in someone who matches up poorly against the other party's nominee (say, if we had a national open primary and Lieberman was allowed to run... if the Republicans had a thin race that might allow enough crossovers for that to be problematic - particularly back before he showed his true colors).

Winner takes all in the primary would be completely nonsensical... that far out from the general a margin of victory such as that we saw in, say, Missouri, would be not be indicative of greater competitiveness in the GE for either candidate.  

by Casuist 2008-05-28 06:50PM | 0 recs
Re: your statement is not a fact...

If you're going to make the "unrepresentative of the will of the people" argument, winner-take-all is off the table. You can't have it both ways.

by PantherDem 2008-05-28 06:57PM | 0 recs
Re: your statement is not a fact...

Winner take all is problematic in a nominating contest because there is almost always more then one candidate, especially early on.  It means you can end up giving all of the delegates to a candidate the majority of the voters do not want, for example:

Candidate A, B, and C are all running in a winner take all primary.  Candidates A and B are both liberals, with positions basically in line with norm of our party.  Candidate C is a conservative democrat.  Candidate C is pro Iraq war and wants to stay for ever, candidate C is pro-life, pro-guns, anti-gay marriage and gay rights.  The primary happens and the vote breaks down like this:
A 39%
B 21%
C 40%

So while it's pretty clear that the majority of the voters would not vote for candidate C, C got a plurality, and so gets all of the delegates.  If candidate B drops out after the first primary or two, then A can probably rally the rest of the party to beat C, but if B hangs around long enough then C is going to win against the wishes of the vast majority of the party.  A scenario that is likely if A and B keep trading back in forth who does better, and each win a few states.

Winner takes all works best when there are only two candidates, kind of like in the general election.  One of the benefits of the Electoral College is that it magnifies the margin of victory in what other wise would be a very close election every cycle.  This magnifying affect helps lend legitimacy to the winner and helps the loser recognize when the have lost.  If not for the EC you could have Florida style recounts in every state every cycle.  

by fangthang 2008-05-28 09:28PM | 0 recs
fair, yes...

as in, New Jersey is free to hold a caucus if it desires. Hillary Clinton was free to attempt to close the margin in Idaho. Both states were apportioned delegates irrespective of their election formats.

by Casuist 2008-05-28 06:25PM | 0 recs
In 1996

I had a calculus final (in college) and on the same day (actually, 30 minutes after the final was over) I was leaving town on vacation with my girlfriend. As soon as I got the final exam questions I walked up to the professor and asked "Out of these 11 problems, how many do I have to solve to keep my A for this course?"

"Five" He said.

I did six in 30 minutes. Handed it in. Made it to the airport on time. And got my A.

The 5 problems I didn't solve? Well, those represent the people that didn't vote in the primaries in states where caucuses were already held and determined the delegate distribution.

by lizardbox 2008-05-28 06:23PM | 0 recs
Thanks. That was heart warming

Not relevant, perhaps egocentric, but heart warming nevertheless.

by lombard 2008-05-28 08:21PM | 0 recs
No, this is silly

You've constructed a model where it's impossible for Obama to win states by margins of more than a few points, when he won similar states which used the primary system by margins of 20 points or more (eg. Wisconsin, Utah, Vermont, Oregon).  If a ND primary would have broken 50/50, then why is Clinton behind in SD right now by approx. 12-14 points?  Your suggestion that Obama isn't strong in the upper Midwest and "Rockylachia" isn't corroborated by other polls.  Watch what happens in SD and MT on June 3 (both primary states).

by IncognitoErgoSum 2008-05-28 06:23PM | 0 recs
e.g. WI, UT, OR??? No.

He won VT by 20.7% though. Nice try.

by RonK Seattle 2008-05-28 06:53PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

The use of low-turnout caucuses rather than higher-participation primaries is directly responsible for a net margin of 123 pledged delegates in Barack Obama's favor.
Sorry, but you are erroneously confusing the cause with the effect.  It is the Obama campaign's strategy of concentrating efforts and resources appropriately to the low-turnout contests that is directly responsible for the net margin.  

The low turnout didn't cause the margin.  

by rb608 2008-05-28 06:24PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

PROVING that caucuses should be thrown OUT. If I was Hillary's lawyer - I would sue to have ALL caucuses thrown out.

by nikkid 2008-05-28 06:30PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

And you would likely face sanctions for filing a ridiculous law suit.

by mnl1012 2008-05-28 06:36PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

Then it's a good thing you're not Hillary's lawyer.  I oppose her candidacy, but she deserves much better representation than you can apparently provide.

by mistersite 2008-05-28 06:46PM | 0 recs
That's not possible

Any efforts must be directed to the future.

by lombard 2008-05-28 08:23PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

And you would effectively destroy her career by making her a laughing stock.  Great legal advice there.  And as any intelligent lawyer would know, there is NO legal ground upon which that argument would work.  

A BETTER thing would be to have advised her to actually work harder in organizing the caucuses such as Nevada was which would have meant she did better on FEB 5 and probably would have taken the nomination.  

by yitbos96bb 2008-05-28 08:26PM | 0 recs
I tell you what...

...if you can explain to me why this is a problem, without mentioning "obama" or "clinton" then I'll listen.

But people who argue caucuses are bad, argue it for no other reason than BECAUSE Obama does better in them.  But that's a biased point of view.  Obama people don't rail about how horrible Primaries are.  

Explain to me why, and you can even reference PREVIOUS elections, caucuses are bad. But don't argue it based on who does better or worse in them in THIS election because it just comes across sounding like sour grapes.

by DawnG 2008-05-28 06:41PM | 0 recs

Caucuses are not nearly as effective as primaries to gauge the popular will. A point that has been made, I might add, for years. This is just the first year that we've had a race this close and primary turnout this high. It magnifies the effect.

by anna belle 2008-05-28 07:40PM | 0 recs
okay... can you tell me why we have caucuses at all?  Anywhere?

by DawnG 2008-05-29 06:35PM | 0 recs
I don't like a venue offering disproportionate

representation to leftists and utopian uber-libs.  When they lead the Democrats, we lose elections and credibility.  The same thing happens when wingnuts lead the Republican party.

So, it's Obama this time.  Next time it could be somebody even less electible.

by lombard 2008-05-28 08:26PM | 0 recs
why do you argue...

...that caucuses are disproportionately "wingnuts"?  I believe they are open to all voters just like primaries.

Might it be that regular joe voters don't wnat to exert any more effort than filling in a bubble on a ballot?  And what does that say about our country?

by DawnG 2008-05-29 06:37PM | 0 recs
Re: I tell you what...

But people who argue caucuses are bad, argue it for no other reason than BECAUSE Obama does better in them.

That is your opinion.  It's a free country and you are welcome to accuse others of having no values, but maybe it's better to respond to the data presented in the diary instead of posting ad hominems.  Furthermore nowhere in the diary does the diarist state any opinion on whether caucuses are good or bad.

by daria g 2008-05-28 09:13PM | 0 recs

I didn't accuse ANYONE of having "no values".  I would thank you not to presume to speak for me.

I was mearly suggesting that the argument (as I have heard it thus far) is less about the problmes with caucuses themselves and more about how it affects the candidates.  I kind of doubt we'd be having this discussion if Clinton was the one who faired better in caucuses.

by DawnG 2008-05-29 06:39PM | 0 recs
What it shows

is that Clinton voters are more apt to show up to vote when it doesn't matter. We knew this.

by Travis Stark 2008-05-28 06:43PM | 0 recs
Hillary's advantage in beauty contests...

in incontrovertible.  

And no, that is not a gender reference.

by Pragmatic Left 2008-05-28 06:45PM | 0 recs
Hillary's advantage in beauty contests...

is incontrovertible.  

And no, that is not a gender reference.

by Pragmatic Left 2008-05-28 06:45PM | 0 recs

My favorite part of this ridiculous recalculation is that it completely blows Clinton's popular vote argument out of the water. If you really want to go there, Obama would likely be leading by over a million votes, MI and FL straw polls included.

by kyle in philly 2008-05-28 06:50PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses
So since the caucus/primary system is flawed, and I'm pretty sure that this site is called My Direct Democracy, and we are all communicating on these wonderful 'toobs, how about a system that allows and/or requires easier participation via the Internet?  
     But please, let's have them vote without comments.
by haremoor 2008-05-28 06:55PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

you can't tell people
that one election counts
and the other doesn't
and then after the fact
that the beauty contest
is more legitimate.

Texas is the only valid example here.

by really not a troll 2008-05-28 06:56PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

The "what ifs" are going to haunt you, if you let them.

"If only" will torture you as well, because you'll always be able to devise a fantasy scenario in which your candidate wins.

You have to let go at some point, and move on. Creating alternate realities may offer some short-term comfort, but you can't live there. Look at what happened to Bush.

by BobzCat 2008-05-28 06:59PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

The argument that Clinton lost many delegates becuase states used caucuses looked good at the start of the contest but it hasn't worn well.  We know a lot more now about who is supporting which candidate and why.  Obama's strength in the upper Midwest and Rockylachia states is real--it just shows up in too many other polls (eg. this is why Obama is running better than Clinton in head-to-head matchups in places like Minnesota, Alaska, etc.).  Even the situation of a state like Maine is more ambiguous, because we now Obama won Vermont by 20 points.

I'll meet the Clinton folks halfway and suggest the following: if the caucus states had an effect on this race they probably magnified Obama's lead (eg. he might win the SD primary by 14 points, whereas he won the ND caucus by 24 points).  What is the number of delegates probably in play?  Around 40.  To argue that it's higher, one really has to believe that Clinton could have done in Colorado, Minnesota, etc., what she wasn't able to do in Oregon, Wisconsin, etc. (and that's crazy).

What explains the differential between the results of caucuses and primaries in some states?  There are some mundane explanations which deserve consideration.  In a competitive contest many voters will turn out who simply won't show up for a beauty contest (eg. indies).  And while I know it's not the whole explanation, some fraction of Clinton's better showing in the TX primary vs. the caucus comes down to this: there was a group of Republican voters who turned out for her as spoilers (but weren't going to participate in the caucus).  

by IncognitoErgoSum 2008-05-28 07:06PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

40?  It seems like you just pulled a number out of.. thin air.

How do you know GOP voters turned up as spoilers in Texas?  How do you know the voting patterns of independents?  (I have noticed a common theme that when Clinton gets GOP/independent votes they are dismissed as "spoiler" votes, and when Obama gets them, it is amazing post-partisan crossover inspired by him etc.)

by daria g 2008-05-28 09:20PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

I like your diary and have rec'd it.

However, I have some major problems with your conclusion.

1.  WA, NE, and ID primary results were beauty contests, and thus, far from optimal comparisons.  Given the vaunted Obama GOTV operation, there is reason to believe he would have done better in a real primary.  Not coincidentally, the margin of Obama's advantage in Texas, with real primary and caucus on same date, is less than half the Obama advantage in WA, NE, and ID.

2.  ID held its caucus on 2/5 and WA and NE held their caucuses on 2/9.  It has been repeatedly reported and I believe even Clinton campaign officials have admitted that Clinton did not adequately prepare for and campaign in the caucus states, especially those immediately after Super Tuesday.  Thus, Obama's caucus advantage in ID, NE, and WA has two components:  (1) an inherent caucus advantage for whatever reason and (2) a campaign advantage because he allocated more resources to these states.  Even if you believe Obama should not get credit for whatever his inherent caucus advantage is, I do not believe that it is appropriate to give credit to Clinton for her own campaign's failings.  There should be no do-overs in politics.  In further support of this position, see WY which held its caucus in March and where the Clinton campaign did not repeat its prior mistakes.  Clinton was much closer in WY than she was in ID, NE, and WA although the state does not seem any more inherently pro-Clinton than these others.  If Clinton had made the same effort that Obama had in ID, NE, and WA, I have no doubt that she could have greatly cut the margin of her losses.  

by soccerandpolitics 2008-05-28 07:25PM | 0 recs
I like Caucuses I've been going to them for 32 yrs

The interaction with other Democrats in your own precinct is infinitely more illuminating than simply voting, and is very useful for networking.

by Lefty Coaster 2008-05-28 07:25PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

Caucuses are tricky. Honestly they are a disadvantage to less educated voters who dont understand the process or didn't even know that their states hold caucuses.

[I for one, didn't even know Texas held caucuses (then again I have barely been able to vote) but in Texas many citizens had no idea about the system. and I found that the last presidential election, in my precinct, had only two people to show up to caucus.
I credit this year with a much needed political awakening to some people. Because of the significant closeness at the time, there was a big effort by news organizations, campaigns, and my local democratic party (who held caucus trainings) to educate people about the system.]

I believe we should have some kind of reform. And while I think your diary is very good, the analysis of the data is quite advanced compared to some diaries here, I dont think we get anywhere by arguing about the past. to argue over something we cannot change is counter-productive. To argue about the past, re-hashes my irritation towards the 'unfair' process and frankly I just dont want to think about how close and yet so far we came to this nomination.

by alyssa chaos 2008-05-28 07:47PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

has it occurred to you that that is due to two factors:

1) in all but Texas, Obama knew that the caucus counted, and the primary didn't.  Thus, the focus was less on general media blanketing and more on activist GOTV.

2) Clinton voters in primaries vs. caucuses are voting name recognition and the "default" candidate, especially in the early battles.  They are also the voters less likely, by comparison, to turn out in November.  When Obama is the default candidate, these voters will return to him.

by thereisnospoon 2008-05-28 07:51PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

Clinton voters in primaries vs. caucuses are voting name recognition and the "default" candidate, especially in the early battles.  They are also the voters less likely, by comparison, to turn out in November.  When Obama is the default candidate, these voters will return to him.

Totally made up.  Voters are turning out (WV, KY) to vote against the default candidate now.  Also seems a self-defeating argument if you're making a case for Obama's electibility, if Clinton is the one turning out less-likely voters to support her in the primaries, since one would logically conclude these less-likely voters would be less-likely to turn out for Obama, but would turn out again for Clinton.

by daria g 2008-05-28 09:26PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

Actually, according to exit polls, a whole lot of WV and KY voters thought that Clinton could win the nomination.  So they thought they were voting for a potential nominee.

by politicsmatters 2008-05-29 04:19AM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

And yet Clinton voters in the early primaries didn't know that Obama could win the nomination?

Sure thing.

by Inky 2008-05-29 10:20AM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

With 35 years of experience you think she would have learned how a democrat gets nominated by now.

by kasjogren 2008-05-28 08:18PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

So, as has been continuously said, SHE MESSED UP BIG TIME by ignoring caucuses.  That is one of the things that DIRECTLY lead to her defeat.  But those are the rules.  One can not bitch and complain about the rules that everyone is playing by.  Should the rules be changed for next time... there is certainly merit in that... but for now both played the game by the Established rules and Obama was clearly superior at winning based on those rules.  He knew the game and strategized accordingly.  Clinton did not and it cost her the nomination.

by yitbos96bb 2008-05-28 08:23PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

Fun diary, thanks for the effort involved.

I don't necessarily agree with the conclusions but fun to look at.  

I think it is incumbent that during the next election, each candidate sign a statement that they have read the rules, understand the rules and agree to abide by the rules as set forth from Day 1 and anytime a candidate starts spinning so fast it makes everyone within 100 feet feel dizzy, we can just refer back to their signed statement.  

It is fun trying to come up with new angles and new arguments to advocate for our respective candidates, but in the end it will boil down to whether or not the superdelegates uphold or overturn the pledged delegates.  

by Rick in Eugene 2008-05-28 08:39PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

If my aunt had balls, she'd be by uncle.

The rules are what they are. The Clintons have had powerful friends at the DNC for years. If Hillary had wanted the rules to be different, she could have lobbied for changes before the campaign season started.

by chicagovigilante 2008-05-28 08:39PM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses
Excellenet diary, thank you very much! I rec it; I am saying this for since January.
Basically entire Obama's "lead" will disappear if no caucuses.
And we all know that caucuses are fraud and there is no caucuses in November.
Currently, according to this: 2008/president/democratic_delegate_count .html
Obama has 1659 and Hillary has 1499 pledged delegates.
Using your approximation it means that real number closer to 1597 - 1581 delegates, the very small difference which will disappear if you will add results of PR, FL, MI, MT and SD.
And most importantly, Hillary will have a much larger lead in popular vote and supers will have much less reasons to endorse Obama.
by engels 2008-05-28 09:06PM | 0 recs
Um, does anyone else notice that the choice

for having the primaries on the y axis and the caucuses on the x axis is completely subjective?  You can reverse the axes and Obama completely blows her out of the water.  It's too bad we didn't have caucuses in every state.  Based on interpolation, Obama would have won every state!  You know why the previous statement is faulty and your analysis is faulty?  They presume that the candidates would have ran the same campaign under different rules.  Obama didn't run his campaign for primary contests in caucus states.  He ran his campaign to win the caucuses.

by The Distillery 2008-05-28 10:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Um, does anyone else notice that the choice

I went ahead and converted all the post-Edwards primaries into caucuses, using the same formula:

STATES         PDel  A-HC  A-BO  C-HC  C-BO
Alabama         52    25    27    12    40
Arizona         56    31    25    27    29
Arkansas        35    27     8    33     2
California     370   204   166   180   190
Connecticut     48    22    26    16    32
D.C.            15     2    13    -2    17
Delaware        15     6     9     4    11
Georgia         87    27    60     1    86
Illinois       153    49   104     8   145
Indiana         72    38    34    29    43
Kentucky        51    37    14    43     8
Louisiana       56    23    33     7    49
Maryland        70    27    43     9    61
Massachusetts   93    55    38    52    41
Mississippi     33    13    20     4    29
Missouri        72    36    36    26    46
New Jersey     107    59    48    53    54
New Mexico      26    14    12    10    16
New York       232   139    93   136    96
North Carolina 115    48    67    26    89
Ohio           141    74    67    70    71
Oklahoma        38    24    14    29     9
Oregon          52    21    31    10    42
Pennsylvania   158    85    73    78    80
Rhode Island    21    13     8    12     9
Tennessee       68    40    28    37    31
Texas          193    95    98    80   113
Utah            23     9    14     4    19
Vermont         15     6     9     3    12
Virginia        83    29    54     7    76
West Virginia   28    20     8    27     1
Wisconsin       74    32    42    15    59

Total         2652  1330  1322  1046  1606

Yes, she would lose delegates in DC. He won half these states (16 of 32), but would have won three-quarters of them (24 of 32).

He currently leads her in pledged delegates 1660-1500, but he would be leading 1944-1216! That is, instead of a pledged delegate lead of 160, it'd be over 700.

There are only 86 pledged delegates remaining, and he would need 81 of these to reach the magic 2025 number. So even if it were pure caucuses, he'd still need a few dozen superdelegates to put him over the top.

by dogooder 2008-05-28 11:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Um, does anyone else notice that the choice

Holy crap!  Thanks for doing the dirty work (fuzzzzzzy math).

by The Distillery 2008-05-29 12:16AM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

What a shame for Hillary that she and her team didn't figure out the importance of caucus states until it was too late.

Kind of like not figuring out the importance of being against the Iraq War until it was too late.

Not the best judgement, imo.

Congrats, BHO!  Let's go take out McCane!

by NeverNude 2008-05-29 01:28AM | 0 recs

Hillary should have had a strategy for the caucus states.

And perhaps, if the caucus states were primary states, Obama would have put all his efforts into winning primaries and not caucuses.

Your graph is well done, but it doesn't necessarily lead to a favorable conclusion  I don't see much point in disagreeing that Obama does better in caucuses than in primaries, because it's not necessary.  Obama tried to perform better in caucuses because he had to.  The difficulty is if you try to say, from this, that caucuses are necessarily less democratic than primaries, which is a complex argument to make, and even if you succeed in your argument, it still does Hillary no good because Obama's strategy would have been different without the presence of caucuses.

Hillary herself nailed down the reason for the failure of her campaign in that famous fundraiser tape:

"[T]he activist base of the Democratic Party... [T]hey are very driven by their view of our positions, and it's primarily national security and foreign policy that drives them. I don't agree with them. They know I don't agree with them. So they flood into these caucuses and dominate them and really intimidate people who actually show up to support me."

She drove the "activist base" crazy with her national security and foreign policy positions, and that is a fundamental factor that worked against her that has nothing to do with strategy and everything to do with Iraq.  

I tend to take the position that, but for her position on foreign policy, she would have won the nomination handily and people like me would not have opposed her so bitterly.  And from that quoted statement above, she already KNOWS that.  The caucus system only exaggerated the core of her basic problem.  

Unfortunately, I can't draw any graphs to prove this point.  I can only point to the fact that Obama has succeeded, and Hillary has failed, and she failed worse in those states that were the most anti-war, like Iowa.

by Dumbo 2008-05-29 02:07AM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

Blah Blah Blah....diaries about the evil of causcuses are sour grapes. If I'm not mistaken, Senator Clinton knew that caucuses were part of the nominating process and should have planned accordingly.

by feliks 2008-05-29 02:28AM | 0 recs
The Primacaucus...

...has to stop.  The whole point of a caucus is that it is cheaper to administer and it is easier to organize (it's much easier to get caucus chairs than poll workers).  But it strikes me that primacaucuses give you the worst of each system and add confusion to the mix.

by AZphilosopher 2008-05-29 04:14AM | 0 recs

Great diary. Rec'ed. I appreciate your objectivity in presenting the data. This is not a candidate diary. It simply presents the facts of how Obama was able to use caucuses to accumulate more delegates than Clinton.

by Denizen Kristine 2008-05-29 04:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Objectivity

And it makes me confident that he and his team know how to size up a situation and create a strategy to succeed.

by politicsmatters 2008-05-29 04:21AM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

Great analysis and I say that as a Statistician.  Caucuses are not part of a democracy.  It's like the way the Soviet Union used to hold elections.  Our nominating process must reflect the general election.  Using a sports analogy, why would a team practice against defense A (caucus) when it knows it will face defense B (election) in the game?  The result would be a disaster and that's what the democrats are headed towards in the general election if Sen Obama is the nominee.  Sen McCain is already taking him to the cleaners on almost every issue.

by ksherwood 2008-05-29 05:06AM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

You don't sound like a statistician if you can claim that John McCain is taking Obama to the cleaners on almost every issue. It's just not true. You have no data to support it.

BTW, why did you capitalize statistician. That's not the normal thing to do in the field.

by politicsmatters 2008-05-29 06:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Dispositive vs. not dispositive

I think you're comparing apples and oranges when you compare caucuses that are dispositive to its primaries that are not dispositive.  There isn't always ample information when the contest is not dispositive.  That's where I think your analysis falls short.

Also, just as having open primaries and closed primaries (another apples/oranges comparison), caucuses, too, serve a purpose (velvet elvis):

Caucuses are not supposed to reflect the level of support for a candidate in the general population.  It's supposed to measure the level of support among the party activists and volunteers who actually do the majority of the work in a campaign.  Why shouldn't the people who will be doing all the work have more of a say than the people who just vote, put up a sign and donate?

It's long been known that Hillary's grassroots support is weak and that's a huge liability.  Part of the purpose of caucuses and indeed the whole multilayered convention system to prevent the scenario where voters choose a candidate who is unable to attract enough volunteers to successfully mount a campaign. Caucuses are precinct level conventions.

by Brad G 2008-05-29 05:26AM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

Of course the states that had both caucuses and primaries, the caucus was before ot the primary, and therefore the primary was a beauty contest.  

by brettjay 2008-05-29 05:45AM | 0 recs
Your ID Numbers for Primary

Don't seem to add up.

by activatedbybush 2008-05-29 05:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Your ID Numbers for Primary

while there are a lot of problems with the analysis... this isn't really one of them. From the diarist:

(NB - The labels for TX and ID are reversed for Hillary's results)

by Casuist 2008-05-29 07:04AM | 0 recs
Thanks - didn't see their note.

by activatedbybush 2008-05-29 07:43AM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

thanks for this post. I've been trying to say this for a long time. I caucused and voted in WA and I don't even think the caucus votes represent real state voters. I think they were young thugs (in WA they were all white so I'm not saying anything racial here. It's sad that I have to clarify a statement like this, but this is where the cries of racism have taken us.) bussed from state to state. They came in, create chaos, overwhelmed the registrars and tag teamed uncommitted and HIllary supporters. They pretended to be uncommitted and for Hillary so they could make dramatic shows of "defecting" or switching to Obama.

Most of it was legal and reprehensible. Hillary supporters left unable to wait or stand or make it through the chaos. It was not a  great day for Democracy like BO would have everyone believe -- it was awful.

Women are starting a group and we will walk out of the convention if Obama is made the nominee. We will not accept him -- he is so clearly unqualified.

by seattlegonz 2008-05-29 07:19AM | 0 recs
'nobody votes in the primary'? But nonsense!

691K Dem's voted in the primary. That 46% of Kerry's total in 2004, a high-turnout year.

by RonK Seattle 2008-05-29 07:31AM | 0 recs
Re: The Caucuses

Yes...something the MSM SHOULD be talking about...but, gosh, why don't they? Is there a pattern here? Thanks for the research and the post! Nice work!

by susanclare 2008-05-29 03:30PM | 0 recs


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