Counting On the "Popular Will"

Few Buzz terms get thrown about so often or so wildly during this primary season than that noble sounding very democratic phrase; "the popular will". Mostly its use is coupled with demands that it be honored, and dire warnings about the ruin that lies in store for the Democratic Party if "the Popular Will" is "overturned" by Super Delegates at the 2008 Democratic Convention.

When rhetoric is removed from substance however, what remains is a simple assertion, namely a claim that whichever Democratic candidate enters the 2008 Democratic Convention holding a lead in pledged delegates embodies "the popular will", and with that an inherent implicit democratic right to become the 2008 Democratic presidential nominee. Flowing from that assumption come dark warnings voiced by some about efforts to "steal" the nomination from its otherwise rightful heir through some sort of Super Delegate engineered "coup".  

To face this assertion at the most basic level; "the popular will" is not referred to anywhere in the Democratic National Committee rules governing the 2008 Democratic Party Convention, nor is it a term with any formal standing in any of the previously agreed upon delegate selection and certification rules governing the current contest. It is an ideal, a noble ideal yes, but not one defined in the rules of the Democratic Party. The criterion for winning the Democratic nomination however is clearly defined, and that involves gaining the support of the majority of the delegates credentialed to vote at the Democratic Convention.  People certainly can and do make claims about who possesses "the popular will", but that is subject to debate. It does not automatically equate with a lead in pledged delegates. It is something far less tangible.

The rules of the Democratic National Party, in some regard similar to the United States Constitution, do not provide for our leader to be chosen by a strict one person/one vote criteria. Thanks to the Electoral College (and the Supreme Court) George W. Bush is currently President of the United States, not Al Gore, although no one disputes that more Americans voted for Al Gore than voted for George W. Bush. In turning to the Democratic Party nominating process, Texas is a good case in point. More Texans voted for Hillary Clinton than voted for Barack Obama, but more delegates emerged from Texas pledged to Barack Obama than pledged to Hillary Clinton. What was "the popular will" of America in November 2000? What was "the popular will" of Texan Democrats in March 2008?

Winning the Democratic nomination for President means winning the majority of credentialed delegates to the Democratic Convention. Winning a majority of pledged delegates to that Convention means winning a debate point useful to winning over non pledged delegates toward your side. What it does NOT mean is "winning the popular will".  A quantifiable case could be made for determining the "popular will" by adding up all the votes actually cast during the nominating process, if we could ever agree on what votes should be counted, and what to do about caucuses. Leading in "popular votes" of course is another valuable talking point. Though it has no official standing toward determining who wins the Democratic presidential nomination NEITHER DOES LEADERSHIP IN PLEDGED DELEGATES.

There are numerous quirks in how the final pool of pledged national convention delegates gets determined, starting with the horse trading at early caucuses where candidate viability thresholds lend themselves to wheeling and dealing, with some attendees lining up behind candidates who they don't actually support due to tactical considerations. The weight assigned to the votes of caucus goers in some states varies within those states also, with each vote NOT getting counted equally. That is done for any number of supposedly worthwhile reasons, such as encouraging rural participation in the process. That is how Obama got more delegates from Nevada this year than Clinton did although Clinton got more literal votes in Nevada.

Then there are the delegates for the National convention who get chosen by State Democratic Party Convention attendees, sometimes because of the power base and popularity of those individuals, and not necessarily because of the popularity of the candidate that they chose to stand for. All of this is fair and proper, all in accordance with the rules. Even primary votes are not always straight forward, if one is searching for the "popular will" of that state, when a delegate gets assigned for winning a political district by a squeaker in one case and by a mile in another. There is no internal consistency, winner take all can be rejected at the state level but embraced at the district level. And there are also States like Washington where delegates were proportionally allotted by caucuses; though a State wide primary vote with much greater overall participation reflected a dramatically different reading of Democratic voter preferences.

The net result of the myriad of means by which pledged delegates are selected for the Democratic National Convention is the bottom line math indicating who leads in pledged delegates entering that Convention. If the nomination contest isn't close the candidate ahead in pledged delegates will also have the nomination clinched, and will lead in "popular votes" by any criteria chosen to count them. He or she could then claim the moral mandate of "the popular will" and it is unlikely anyone would argue against that.

The purpose of the Obama campaign's claim that a pledged delegate lead equates "the popular will" is to influence undecided Super Delegates. The same purpose holds for claiming to win the popular vote tally once the primaries end. Both claims are talking points, nothing more nothing less. If a candidate can persuasively argue that he or she holds the popular vote lead, it will help that candidate proclaim that his or her candidacy represents "the popular will", as unofficial a standing as that actually is.

But the fact remains; there are no official criteria for claiming "the popular will", and no delegates are awarded for winning it even if we could agree on what it actually is and/or who possesses it. If someone insists on trying to use it for a talking point, I personally think a popular vote count comes closest to reflecting our elusive collective popular will. Neither the popular vote nor the popular will is anything official, which to my mind gives the pairing a certain curious logic on top of the apparent one.

There were political as well as principled considerations at work in both the Clinton and Obama campaigns regarding revotes for Florida and Michigan, both sides pondered the politics, no doubt about it.  This is a political contest after all.  Without revotes happening Hillary Clinton will make her case that she won the only popular votes that actually were cast in both those states, Obama of course will make a counter case.  Both cases are debate points deployed toward winning that elusive mantle called "the popular will", which in turn will be deployed toward winning the very real but also elusive votes of undeclared Super Delegates.

Arguments over the popular vote in Florida and Michigan are related to but also separate from legal issues about the actual seating of those state's delegates. It's no wonder to me that the Obama camp was warmer to considering a new caucus than a new primary for Michigan or that the Clinton camp was firm on seeking a new primary. It is harder to rack up popular votes in a caucus than in a primary, and Obama benefits by the status quo math if Michigan isn't included.

Jay Cost over at Real Clear Politics put together a great interactive spread sheet to spec out which Democratic candidate will be in a better position to claim "winning the popular vote" under a multitude of scenarios. Note that under various plausible and arguably logical ways of approaching it, either Obama or Clinton could come out on top:

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/horsera ceblog/chooseyourown.html

We have a system for electing the President of the United States of America and it is not directly based on determining the "popular will". We also have a system for nominating the Democratic candidate for President and it too is not based on mathematically determining "the popular will".  Who the hell knows now what the overall Democratic "popular will" would actually reflect in June if it could then magically be measured, factoring in whatever unknowable unknown revelations may yet await us about our candidates and their campaigns?

The bottom line though is simple. If a Democratic candidate for president can marshal enough support during the primary season to win a majority of ALL Democratic delegates, we know our nominee ahead of time.  That is what happens in all but our tightest races. The fact that we may not know that this time just indicates that this time we have one of our tightest races.  Rules have been established to determine our nominee, and they remain in effect. There will be no coups, just potentially a lot more politics.

Tags: 2008, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Presidential Race, Super Delegates (all tags)

Comments

57 Comments

Re: Counting On the "Popular Will"

Serious question: why do both parties hold electoral contests at all?

by Mostly 2008-04-11 05:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Counting On the "Popular Will"

If you want a serious answer you have to be open about your view point. What is your point?

by Tom Rinaldo 2008-04-11 05:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Counting On the "Popular Will"

Obama has been trying to frame this race in a way to discourage Hillary's supporters and get us to demand she give up and end the pain. It's not working, but I think he doesn't have a Plan B.  He's long been making the claim, bolstered by insider DNC types like Donna 'thumb on the scale' Brazile, and Howie "I'm in charge around here" Dean.  It's more than silly to pretend any delegates equal the will of the people. The closest you can come to that is popular vote and that's why he's using Donna to keep out Florida, seems to me.  it's his last ditch, since even with a lot of old white guys on his side, it isn't selling.  Hillary is out there working, I think Obama might think to follow her lead instead of trying his ways to make her give up, plan B may be do your own homework?  Jon Stewart's joke, Obama has a clear shot to the nomination ... if Hillary gives up, comes to mind.  

by anna shane 2008-04-11 12:29PM | 0 recs
that is not a question

that is a statement.  Why not just make it honestly?

by TeresaINPennsylvania 2008-04-11 05:32AM | 0 recs
Ugh.

Clinton supporters at some point need to clarify their message. Either votes don't mean a thing, which is technically accurate (and politically suicidal), or, they can insist that the elections in Michigan and Florida need to count (though they don't meet the criteria of, say, U.N. election observers).

They cannot have it both ways. Otherwise, disinterested observers might come to the conclusion that their arguments are driven solely by necessity, not principle.

by MBNYC 2008-04-11 05:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Ugh.

What's to clarify? Votes were cast in Michigan and Florida and they were counted. The results are on record. Popular vote tallies are not an official means of winning the nomination but it can be argued that popular votes reflect "the popular will". "Pledged delegates" is another term that has a clear definition but no official meaning. Winning the popular vote, entering the convention with more pledged delegates, claiming to represent "the popular will" none of it determines who becomes the nominee. A majority of all delegates determines who becomes the nominee.

Meanwhile the DNC has rules. Primaries and caucuses are in the rules. Super Delegates are in the rules. Sancitions and a process to appeal those sacnctions are in the rules. We play by the rules and make whatever appeals to the conscience of voters and Super Delegates that make sense to each of us to make.

by Tom Rinaldo 2008-04-11 05:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Ugh.

The Popular vote is a meaningless term in that it doesn't take into account the caucuses

by feliks 2008-04-11 05:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Ugh.

"The popular will" is a meaningless term because the process by which we select our delegates does not automatically establish what the popular will actualy is. That is the point of my Diary. Neither the popular vote nor the popular will count for anything officially. They are both impossible to pin down in a close race and only function as talking points to convince whoever; voters in upcoming primaries, the media, Super Delegates, that one candidate deserves the nomination and the other doesn't.

I don't dispute the legitimacy of the process used by the DNC to pick a nominee. Those who insist that a candiate has to be given the nomination without having secured a majority of the delegates are the ones disputing the process.

by Tom Rinaldo 2008-04-11 05:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Ugh.

Exactly. For example, The popular will of Nevada was to select Clinton by a small, by fairly solid margin. Yet Obama seems to have won one more delegate. In Missiouri, the "popular will" as expressed by voters was to give Obama a slight edge. Yet they tied in delegates. The best way of measuring the popular will is seeing in     raw totals, how people actually voted.

by Mayor McCheese 2008-04-11 06:28AM | 0 recs
That makes sense

only in a laboratory situation of sorts where factors like legitimacy or psychology play no role. It's technically entirely accurate that voters were not voting for a candidate, but for a delegate. It's also accurate that elected and unelected delegates to the convention have the same voting power on an individual basis.

However, the people voting for Joe Schmoe, the Obama delegate, didn't do so because they were enthralled with Joe Schmoe himself. They want to vote for Obama. It's disingenuous to suggest otherwise - Schmoe's name isn't on the lawn signs, Obama's is.

Convention superdelegates are entirely free to overturn the results of the electoral part of the process. If they want to expose the fiction that voters decide the outcome, they can do that.

But if they do so, they will rip the party asunder.

by MBNYC 2008-04-11 06:17AM | 0 recs
Re: That makes sense

But sometimes in delegate selecting conventions some people do vote for Joe Schmoe because of who Joe Schmoe is and who Joe Schmoe has watching you to see how you line up. Or sometimes people really really like and respect Joe Schmoe for all the work he has done for their Party and they don't care that much more about their candidate so they select Joe Schmoe because they think Joe deserves to go to Denver.

That happens also, and this was just one of a number of factors I ran down that show that pledged delegate dispersal can not automatically be claimed to represent the popular will in a very tight contest. How was the popular will of Texans, or Nevadans respected by Obama getting more delegates from those states than Clinton?

My position on this is simple. The people who argue that the party will be ripped asunder by following our rules in Denver are the ones who contributing to ripping our party asunder. This in my opinion is one of the most dangerous and self centered talking points to emerge from the Obama camp.

by Tom Rinaldo 2008-04-11 06:33AM | 0 recs
What a crock.

Or sometimes people really really like and respect Joe Schmoe for all the work he has done for their Party and they don't care that much more about their candidate so they select Joe Schmoe because they think Joe deserves to go to Denver.

Yes, that's the 19th Century model of democracy. There is not, however, any empirical evidence that I'm familiar with demonstrating that any significant number of voters cast their ballot based on who delegates are. This is paternalistic thinking at its worst.

As to Texas and Nevada, that's a debatable point, but you can't really blame Obama for running in the way that the rules in force at the time dictated. And those rules specified that the goal was securing pledged delegates.

As to dangers to the party, I'd suggest this: the goal of a political party is to win elections. There is little I can think of more destructive of that systemic goal than sending someone into an election as a result of a process that overturns an election. Talking about it does not create this danger; contemplating it, as you do, does.

I have to say that your thought process here is deeply disturbing. I don't think I've ever seen such deep and obvious contempt of voters and democracy on a Democratic web site.

by MBNYC 2008-04-11 07:16AM | 0 recs
Re: What a crock.

It didn't take you long to turn to making personal attacks. And your extreme hyperbole is characteristic of exactly what my Diary exposes; morphing my comments above into "a contempt of voters and Democracy" is intellectually consistent with claiming that failing to nominate, using the long established rules of the Democratic Party, whichever candidate ends the primary season ahead in pledged delegates is overthrowing the will of the people.

I don't blame Obama at all for competing for the nomination using the rules in play regarding those particular caucuses. And I don't blame either Clinton or Obama for making appeals for the support of Super Delegates. I don't claim that the Governor and Senators from Massachusetes have to vote for Clinton as Super Delegates either, just because Massachusetes voted overwhelmingly for Clinton.

But since you are claiming to put pure Democracy above all things why aren't you outraged that Obama did not insist on appointing delegates in Texas that reflected the will of the people of Texas? There is nothing in the rules that prevented him from doing so in the conventions that followed. But I didn't see Clinton supporters threatening riots in Texas over this.

Regarding poor Joe Schmoe his example comes up mostly at delegate selecting conventions, not so much on primary ballots. Look, because I do respect the legitimacy of the Democratic Party rules in play I did not use this Diary to attack the validity of Caucuses in general. I actually stayed away from that, only intellectually challenging them in instances where the results coming out of them directly contradicted actual votes of people in those states.

But caucuses are a HUGE can of worms if you insist on arguing that the current rusults of this exteremely close race for the Democratic nomination not only are legally valid, but also reflect the "will of the people".  They are certainly legally valid, but there are a dozen good arguments for why caucuses are a poor way of determining the "will of the people" starting with the usual negation of that most basic of fundemental democratic principles; the secret ballot, moving on to the barriers caucuses create to broad based participation.  

by Tom Rinaldo 2008-04-11 07:59AM | 0 recs
No, not really.

I find your arguments appalling. But that doesn't mean I think or have implied that you are a bad person, which would be the definition of a personal attack.

As to extreme hyperbole, no, what your diary exposes, or if you prefer, betrays, is your contemptuous view of voters. It's difficult to not come to that conclusion after you've argued that some voters supposedly abdicated their own voice in the election to a delegate based on who that delegate is. That is precisely the idea behind the electoral college, for example, not exactly a democratic institution.

Your Texas example, meanwhile, is specious. There were two rounds of voting in Texas, one a primary, the other a caucus. Obama finished ahead by 100,000 votes or so in that process. This is the process, whatever one may think of it, chosen by the Texas Democrats, and you don't get to pick and choose which of the two parts of it is valid.

As to caucuses themselves, whatever else one may say about them, they were chosen by the state parties, which under law are entitled to make that choice. It's interesting to me that, while you yourself argue for treating the DNCC as a representative assembly with representatives empowered to vote as they wish without reference to the popular will, you insist that the process for selecting them be far more democratic than the convention itself. There's an essential disconnect in your argument that you're probably unaware of. This also demonstrates that utility, not principle, is the thread that ties your argument together.

As far as I'm concerned, whoever emerges as the winner of the pledged delegate count has earned the nomination. Note that this leaves open a bare window of opportunity for my candidate to lose. You, by contrast, have arranged your argument in a way that does not allow for that possibility.

Coincidentally, here are the Democratic popular vote calculations. As you can see, Obama is ahead by every measure, and given the lay of the land going forward, I do not expect that to change. I know Clinton supporters believe that she is somehow in line or entitled to the nomination, but the question here is not by how much Obama must beat her to be able to overthrow her claim.

The question is, rather, whether or not he beats her, period. And I am confident that he will.

by MBNYC 2008-04-11 08:55AM | 0 recs
Re: No, not really.

We can quibble over words but in my opinion claiming that a poster on a Democratic message board is anti-Democratic  and contemptious of voters is a personal attack.

And your spin isn't even subtle. The fact that I can accurately point out that some established Party figures routinely get awarded delegate slots at Party conventions factoring in who they are as well as who they support does not indicate that I believe some or all voters abdicaet their responsibility. Any voter so chosing does so based on their own internal ranking of reasons to consider regarding who to send to Denver. I know it happens sometimes and you are pretending you don't. I didn't even pass judgment on it but you assert that factual observation was a center piece to all all of my arguments, which is laughable.

My point about Texas, unlike Washington State for example, is that the Texas caucus participants were a literal sub-set of the Primary voters. They were not distinctly seperate events. It was against Party rules for anyone to participate in the Texas causus unless they could prove that they had voalready ted in the Texas Primary. So if the rules were followed every single Texas causus vote was a second vote by that same person, only the pool of primary voters was much larger, much more inclusive, and thereby more representitive of the popular will of Texas Democrats than the caucus.

You talk above about a "representative assembly with representatives empowered to vote as they wish without reference to the popular will" like I am advocating for the Soviet Politiburo. First off you start of claiming certainty about "the popular will" as your foundation when in fact I reject your basis for certainty in determining what "the popular will is".

Your argunment is circular. You claim the Democratic Convnetion must ratify the popular will (which is an abstract construct not defined in any party rules), you claim that a lead in pledged delegates is proof of the popular will, so you claim that the convention must nominate whoever is ahead in pledged delegates. Skipping past the part that you don't have a legal leg to stand on, I don't accept your assertion about how the popular will can be determined. We have what is called a disagreement on that it seems. But it is wrong based on that disagreement to claim that I have disrespect for the popular will. That is another false circular argument. You don't get to arbitrate definitions of the concepts used for both of us. I understand where you are coming from and I don't insult you because of it. Clearly you think whoever is ahead in pledged delegates has the popular will behind them, and I don't find that at all obvious in this instance.

I do not challenge the selection of a single delegate chosen by the approved DNC methods this year, not in Nevada, not in Texas, not anywhere, no matter how inherently undemocratic that process may have been in my opinion. The Democratic Party process also calls for a small minority of Super Delegates to play a preciously designated role in the nomination process. I don't challenge that either this year. We can argue about the pros and cons for all kinds of possible changes in future years, but neither caucuses or Super Delegates were exacly a surpise sprung on candiates last Novemeber.

You throw out slurs left and right but you don't know me. I never have nor will I ever believe that any candidate for any office is automatically in line for and entitled to any office.

I am not using this Diary to debate who is the more likely Democatic Party nominee for President but I have no problem agreeing with you that Obama is more likely than Clinton to win the nomination.

by Tom Rinaldo 2008-04-11 09:39AM | 0 recs
Again...

...if you insist on treating a critique of your argument as a personal attack, I can't stop you. But  it's not intended as such.

Without bothering to comment on everything you say here, I'll note this:

The fact that I can accurately point out that some established Party figures routinely get awarded delegate slots at Party conventions factoring in who they are as well as who they support does not indicate that I believe some or all voters abdicaet their responsibility.

You're confusing pledged delegates and super-delegates. And yes, your point was exactly as I described it.

Your argunment is circular. You claim the Democratic Convnetion must ratify the popular will (which is an abstract construct not defined in any party rules), you claim that a lead in pledged delegates is proof of the popular will, so you claim that the convention must nominate whoever is ahead in pledged delegates. Skipping past the part that you don't have a legal leg to stand on, I don't accept your assertion about how the popular will can be determined.

No, I don't claim that the convention "must" nominate whomever is ahead by the metric of my choice. There is no such compulsion, as you correctly point out. I say that there is no other politically or morally justifiable course for them to take.

As to the popular will, sure, we can go in circles all day and all night as to what that means. But if someone is ahead in the number of votes cast in DNC-sanctioned elections and the pledged delegates resulting therefrom, it's hard to argue that he is not therefore ahead by that measure. There are only so many ways to measure the popular will, after all.

So if the rules were followed every single Texas causus vote was a second vote by that same person, only the pool of primary voters was much larger, much more inclusive, and thereby more representitive of the popular will of Texas Democrats than the caucus.

That really doesn't matter, given that Texas set its system up in the way it saw fit, as it is empowered to do. Obama got more delegates and more votes under the rules laid out in advance, and had the rules been otherwise, he would have campaigned differently. As it is, however, caucus votes from Texas are not counted in the tabulation I cited above.

You talk above about a "representative assembly with representatives empowered to vote as they wish without reference to the popular will" like I am advocating for the Soviet Politiburo.

Not really, no, in part because that's not the way either the Politburo or the Supreme Soviet, which is what you meant to reference, operated. Rather, my point was and is that you question the legitimacy of delegate elections while saying that delegates should be unbound by the will of the voters that elected a majority of their elected number. Based on that, I think your arguments are fungible, not based on principle.

Your point that the popular will is an undefined criterion is well taken. But your mistake is thinking that "undefined" is equivalent to "meaningless". It is not.

by MBNYC 2008-04-11 11:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Again...

I wasn't confusing Super Delegates and pledged delegates. SD's are predetermined by a set of guidelines before the contests begin, but enough on that for now.

I never suggested that the popular will being "undefined" is equivalent to it being "meaningless". Let me put it to you this way. If Obama came out of the primaries needing a few dozen SD's to put him over the top. If he beats Clinton soundly in OR and NC and if the national polls consistently show him running as strong or stronger than Clinton, I would join with protesters in the streets if it appeared that SD's attempted to give the nomination to Clinton over Obama. Under that scenario I think the "popular will" would be clear enough to act on, on its face.

Until such time, since the popular will is not a DNC sanctioned bench mark for anything it can be argued in the media, to voters in upcoming primaries, and to Super Delegates that the State santioned vote held in Florida for instance is indicitive of the popular will in Florida - that has nothing to do with whether delegates get formally seated from that vote.

There was nothing in the DNC sanctions against the Florida Democratic Party that demanded people not speculate on the popular will of Florida Democrats by whatever tools are available to shed light on that, including but not limited to the popular results of the Florida Primary. Since we are not here arguing over which delegates should get seated, there is no reason to penelize Democrats who live in Florida by not caring about what they actually think. Floridians are as much a component of the intangible "will of the people" as Democrats living anywhere else.

In addition to the results of the Florida primary there is polling data available to shed light on Florida Democrats preferences for the Democratic nominee. It can also be argued that the composit national polling standings of Clinton vs Obama after primary season ends would be indicitive of the popular will of Democratic voters at that time.

My point in this Diary, and it was an intentionally narrow one, is that I do not mechanically accept that under all possible plausible circumstances that a candidate who ends the primaries with a lead in pledged delegates against a close rival can automatically be said to represent the will of the people heading into the convention.

by Tom Rinaldo 2008-04-11 11:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Again...

P.S.

While I did say that the "popular will was a meaningless term" I did not by that mean that I thought the popular will itself is a meaningless reality.  I meant two things by that. 1) That the Democratic Party has no accepted definition of that concept in the nominating process and 2) that attempts to cite it as evidence for supporting a candidate are empty without some agreed upon basis for defining who has the popular will behind him or her.

We have explored some of our differences regarding the latter. I will just add that I think the concept itself is hollow in a situation where loyalties are divided 51% to 49%. The one with a tad more support measured at a given moment of time in such a case may well be declared the legitimate clear winner, if that measurement was reached through a final vote, but to me the concept of the popular will is a broader and stronger mandate than simply edging out an essentially equally popular opponent on a given day. In such cases the popular will is unsettled and divided, though victors must still be determined even in cases like that, and having a majority of valid votes works for me.

by Tom Rinaldo 2008-04-11 12:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Counting On the "Popular Will"

wow......that was a long explanation.....But trust me, If Obama goes into the convention with the most "pledged delegates" and does NOT come away with the nomination......I predict pandemonium in the democratic party. is that what you want?

by feliks 2008-04-11 05:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Counting On the "Popular Will"

Your post disregards all the points I made in a long explanation and went directly to threats of intimidation. Should our nomination by determined by who can threaten to get angriest if the rules aren't bent to their own liking?

by Tom Rinaldo 2008-04-11 05:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Counting On the "Popular Will"

That wasn't a threat.......it was a prediction.....How do you think the public will react if the person with the most pledged delegates, popular vote, and states won does NOT come away with the nomination......what would be YOUR predicition?

by feliks 2008-04-11 05:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Counting On the "Popular Will"

First: If Gore had won 21 States to Bush's 29 States in 2000, Gore would have become President. If Kerry had won 20 States to Bush's 30 States in 2004, Kerry would have become President. No one would have rioted claiming the election got stolen from Bush under either scenario because Bush won more states than his Democratic opponent and didn't still didn't win the election.

There is no more foolish argument being made by Obama supporters than the one that says "he won more states". Especially since it is Obama supporters up in arms about the need to respect "the popular will."  Ever hear about "one man, one vote"? What about that quaint old premise of democracy? If one candidate wins North Dakota, Utah, and Alaska, and the other wins California and New York, does that make the former the democratic choice because he or she is racking up victories in 3 states for every two that his or her opponent wins?

If you actually take my OP seriously, and go to the link I provided, you will find that it is far from clear who will end up in a stronger position to argue that he or she won the popular vote, for whatever that is worth.

My prediction is that if Obama is the first front runner Democratic candidate in decades who can not rack up enough delegates from primary and caucus victories to win an outright majority of delegates, that we hve an extremely tight race, and that is obvious to all but the most partisan observers. My prediction is that most people can understand a rule book and don't expect that rule book to get thrown out the window in mid stream to favor the ambitions of one of the competitors.

But mostly my prediction is that Obama will get enough Super Delegate support to win the nomination even if he doesn't win enough pledged delegates for that alone to put him over the top UNLESS the remaining period of this contest demonstrates that Hillary Clinton would be the strongest candidate for Democrats to run against McCain. Even if that is a close call to determin, Obama will get the support he needs to win. It will take a good reason to deny Obama the nomination, but ending the primary season with a lead in pledged delegates insufficient to overall win, for all the reasons I stated, is not a valid reason to hand him the nomination on a silver platter if common sense at that point dictates that Clinton makes more sense AND if Clinton is then more popular.

by Tom Rinaldo 2008-04-11 06:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Counting On the "Popular Will"

She's under by 8 points in the current national poll...

I know that number of states doesn't officially matter. Having the most pledged delegates also just means that: having the most pledged delegates. With the superdelegates involved, it is impossible for either candidate to reach a majority of delegates. The popular vote also doesn't mean squat.

Take caucuses for example... how do you determine the popular vote for caucuses? You can't. How valid were Michigan and Florida's primaries? They weren't. The primaries were basically state-wide polls. And one of those polls had no candidate but Hillary Clinton. People that wanted their votes counted voted in the Republican primaries, or didn't vote at all. Some probably voted for Hillary because she was the only person on the ballot, or they knew nothing of other candidate due to the lack of campaigning.

It's a messy situation... what it boils down to in the end is this: Will superdelegates choose the candidate that has the most pledged delegates, the highest popular vote and the highest head-to-head polling, or will they choose the candidate that came in second?

by dantes 2008-04-11 07:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Counting On the "Popular Will"

You lumped a bunch of variables together that may not be lumped together at the end of primary season. Based on where we sit now, it's a forgone conclusion. By that I mean if Obama continues to be leading National polls by 8 points Obama will be our certain nominee.

I won't take the time here, because it is a tangent from your major point which for the most part I don't disagree with, to dispute your description of the Florida Primary in particular where 1.7 million Democrats who don't live in caves and already knew a few things about our leading candidates voted.

It is a messy situation, and it is a messy situation precisely because this is an extremely close contest, much closer than anything the Democratic Party has seen in decades. This Diary dealt with the concept of "the popular will" and attempts to equate that term with a lead in pledged delegates insufficent to secure the nomination. I reject that the latter establishs the popular will for the reasons that I wrote about.

However in the future scenario you describe I would be willing to agree that the unofficial popular will predominantly backed Obama using your variables. But if the popular vote lead is murky due to the nature of the beast and various ways of projecting it, or is simply too close either to call or too close for the difference in totals to be meaningful, and if the national polls swung to supporting Clinton over Obama by 8 points in head to head match ups for example, then the Super Delegates will be looking at a very different picture than the one we see before us today.

by Tom Rinaldo 2008-04-11 08:26AM | 0 recs
we Hillary supporters

are shaking in our orthopedic shoes, believe me.

by TeresaINPennsylvania 2008-04-11 05:48AM | 0 recs
Re: we Hillary supporters

So TeresaINPennsylvania, what do you think will happen if the candidate with the most pledged delegates, popular vote, and states won does NOT come away with the nomination? What do you tink would happen? How would it affect the Democratic party?

by feliks 2008-04-11 05:54AM | 0 recs
I do not accept your premise
so I won't answer your silly question.  But I will tell you that a lot of twenty somethings with blackberries are not as intimidating as you might hope.
We already played that with Delays gang in Broward in 2000.  Obama is NOT the popular favorite with democrats and he can not win in November.  If you weren't so afraid of the truth of that argument you wouldn't be so frantic to shut down the election process.
by TeresaINPennsylvania 2008-04-11 06:57AM | 0 recs
So much anger

so few facts...

by MBNYC 2008-04-11 07:18AM | 0 recs
Re: I do not accept your premise

In what measure is Obama not the most popular? There seems to be some fact-ignoring going on here...

by dantes 2008-04-11 07:19AM | 0 recs
Re: I do not accept your premise

Start with the fact that the primaries aren't over yet. Factor in that you again are using a word that has no actual standing in the nomination process; "popular". By all indications were there to be an official popular vote count it would be very close if we could count the voters in every state. George W. Bush was "more popular" in Novemeber 2004 than he was in May 2005. Our Democratic Convention is held in August 2008. Given his current standing in the race, I have no doubt that if Barack Obama is "more popular" than Hillary Clinton at that point he will be our nominee.

by Tom Rinaldo 2008-04-11 08:05AM | 0 recs
Re: I do not accept your premise

Not a premise.....just the facts as they currently exist......Let's flip it hypothetically. Say Hillary went into the convention leading in pledged delegates,popular vote, and states won and the SD's awarded the nomination to Obama. What would happen then. As far as Hillary being more popular with democrats, I don't accept your assertation. Do you have any objective proof of that?? And btw....if either of the Dems is going to be elected in the GE, they are going to need NON Democratic voters, can you say "Independents"? and who polls better with the indies?

by feliks 2008-04-11 07:57AM | 0 recs
Re: I do not accept your premise

I answered this hypothetical below, but the bottom line is remains, the primaries aren't over, campaigning hasn't stopped, the media hasn't stopped covering what the candidates are syaing and what they candidates have done in the past. New data, new talking points, new realities remain possible. As things stand Obama will be our nominee, but we are now standing here in April, not in June or August.

Here is another basic truth that gets overlooked. Any Super Delegate who remains unpledged by now is not in any machine's pocket, and is not beholden to return any outstanding political IOU's, or they long since would have been cashed in. There is not some big overpowering Democratic Party machine about to lean on any Super Delegates for Clinton. If Nancy Pelosi cracks her whip it will be on behalf of Obama, not Clinton.

For Hillary Clinton to now win the 60+% of remaining Super Delegates over to her side before the Democratic Convention, she is going to need some pretty persuasive arguments - more persuasive than any that she has now or she already would have won them over to her.

I do not say it is premature to declare who is the clear favorite front runner for the Democratic nomination, that is clearly Obama. It is simply premature to declare the race over, and it is presumptious and wrong to claim that there are no circumstances that can happen between now and the convention that could justify unpledged Super Delegates turning to Hillary Clinton as our nominee if Obama ended up the primary contests holding a slim lead in pledged delegates.

by Tom Rinaldo 2008-04-11 08:37AM | 0 recs
Re: I do not accept your premise

Quick correction. It seems I earlier answered your hypothetical in a post above, not below this one.

by Tom Rinaldo 2008-04-11 08:49AM | 0 recs
It looks like the only

means by which Clinton can catch up in the popular vote (If she wins PA be 10 or less) is to count Michigan as if nobody in the state supported Obama.  That may not even work for her if you include the caucus estimates.

by CardBoard 2008-04-11 05:46AM | 0 recs
way to totally miss Tom's point

by TeresaINPennsylvania 2008-04-11 05:49AM | 0 recs
ps
several caucus states have not even released their popular vote numbers, so how can you even make the point you did?
No one in MI voted for Obama because he chose not to run there.  Too bad for him.
by TeresaINPennsylvania 2008-04-11 05:50AM | 0 recs
Re: It looks like the only

Speaking personally, earlier I was willing to throw the Michingan popular vote tallies out the window, even though I believe Obama made a calculated political ploy in pulling his name from Michigan's ballot (Chris Dodd also felt that technically remaining on the ballot was the honorable - as in non pandering -  position) And it should be noted that although Clinton did not campaign in Michigan there was an active campaign in Michingan mounted by Obama supporters to ask Michingan voters to select uncommitted delegates in the primary.

But after Hillary Clinton's campaign and DNC representitives agreed on a formular for a revote in Michingan that Obama refused to sign on to, my feelings have changed. Granted all to this talk about the popular vote is unofficial anyway, but the tallies seem to be extremely close and in my opinion Obama did not want a revote in Michigan.

by Tom Rinaldo 2008-04-11 06:51AM | 0 recs
Re: It looks like the only

Would you expect him to agree a revote plan that prevented many of his supporters from taking part?  Why would anyone agree to a plan that specifically disadvantages them?

by interestedbystander 2008-04-11 06:55AM | 0 recs
Re: It looks like the only

He was pushing a revote alternative of a caucus instead, and caucuses make it impossible for many people to attend, such as U.S. service men and women who are on duty, but also lots of working people and others who can't make it to a caucus site at a narrowly prescribed time.

Who is looking out for the popular will by arguing for the most restrictive form of voting when broad based participation is possible?

I suppose you mean all those mostly Republican voters who it is argued would have voted for Obama in the Democratic Primary instead of voting in the Republican one, except that the origninal Democratic primary didn't seem like it would count. By having voted in the Republican Primary they would have been excluded from voting again in the Democratic one. I make that assumption about "Obama Republicans" because if you simply mean all voters who voted in the Republican Primary since that was the only one that mattered, it would be a more random cross section that included potential Clinton voters also.

Here is the irony I noticed during over the controversy over the Michigan revote plans that few picked up on. At the exact same time that the Obama camp was arguing how unfair it was to exclude Republicans who voted in the Republican Primary (who would rather have voted for him back then) from participating in a Democratic revote, the Obama campaign was also stirring up lots of much about Limbaugh Republicans being recruited to vote for Hillary Clinton by Limbaugh. Well guess what? Under the plan agreed to by the DNC and the Clinton campaign that terrible onslaught of Republicans being sent into a Democratic polling booth to boost Clinton would have been prevented.

by Tom Rinaldo 2008-04-11 07:09AM | 0 recs
Re: It looks like the only

I mean, as you well know, the Kos fans amongst others that voted for Romney.  It's reasonable to assume there were many more Obama fans than Clinton fans that voted in the Republican primary.  

by interestedbystander 2008-04-11 07:23AM | 0 recs
Re: It looks like the only

There were a lot of Dems that voted in the Republican primary too... the thought at the time was that by voting for Romney, the Repub race would last longer and the Repubs would be spending money tearing themselves apart.

The reason those Dems voted in the Repub primary was that the Dem primary wasn't going to count for anything. There were no consequences of the vote; nothing would happen. It was basically a big poll.

Under Clinton's revote plan, only those dems that originally voted for her, along with those that turned up to vote against her, could vote. Those that supported candidates that weren't on the ballot, and didn't show up to vote uncommitted, didn't count.

by dantes 2008-04-11 07:26AM | 0 recs
Re: It looks like the only

I don't believe that is accurate. From what I recall, anyone who did not actually vote in the Republican Primary could have potentially voted in the revote caucus.

Regarding those who would have been eliminated from revoting because they already voted in the previous Republican Primary, a good case could be made that it would have hurt Clinton more than Obama. Polling consistently indicates that more people who want to vote for Clinton defect to McCain if Obama becomes the nominee than the other way around. So it is logical to think that more Clinton voters chose to vote for McCain in a primary that counted than Obama voters did.

by Tom Rinaldo 2008-04-11 08:12AM | 0 recs
Re: It looks like the only

Er, no.  Clinton voters voted for her, or stayed home.  Obama and Edwards voters voted in the GOP primary, voted uncommitted or stayed home.  You won't convince anyone that more Clinton than obama voters missed the Dem primary - patently ridiculous.

Please cite evidence that everyone could vote in the caucus.

by interestedbystander 2008-04-11 09:28AM | 0 recs
Re: It looks like the only

In case I didn't make it clear, if everyone could vote in the caucus, then Obama's suggestion would have been the fairest would it not?  

by interestedbystander 2008-04-11 09:30AM | 0 recs
Re: It looks like the only

This speaks to the heart of the comparison between caucuses and primaries. Almost without fail, about ten times as many people participate in primaries than in caucuses across the board. Caucus inherently make it more difficult for everyone to participate and the statistics support that overwhelmingly.

by Tom Rinaldo 2008-04-11 09:52AM | 0 recs
Re: It looks like the only

They don't disenfranchise many at all - they test the committment of voters, but that's not the same thing.

by interestedbystander 2008-04-11 10:23AM | 0 recs
Re: It looks like the only

If this Diary was primarily about the Michigan primary revote proposal I would feel obligated to start a complex Google search to find all of the proposed language for it. It isn't though and you are the one who made a specific claim about the proposed provisions, not me.

My memory is clear that one outstanding issue between Obama and the DNC and Clinton camp representatives regarding it was the matter of disqualifying anyone from participating who had voted in the earlier Republican caucus, not automatically disqualifying anyone who did not vote in the Democratic primary the first time.

Not only is my memory clear but it defies common sense to believe that the DNC would have insisted on disenfranchising registered Democrats from the revote primary because they for some reason missed voting in the first one. The DNC has no motivation to anger the majority of Demcratic voters in Michigan who did not vote in the first primary by disenfranchising them from a second one. If you have evidence that shows otherwise, kindly produce it.

by Tom Rinaldo 2008-04-11 09:50AM | 0 recs
Re: It looks like the only

What are you on about?  I only mentioned those that voted in the GOP primary not being able to revote - no idea where you got the other stuff from.

by interestedbystander 2008-04-11 10:25AM | 0 recs
Re: It looks like the only

OK, thanks for setting the record straight on that. It's not worth trying to reconsruct why I misunderstood what you wrote, I'll just say I'm glad to stand corrected

by Tom Rinaldo 2008-04-11 10:40AM | 0 recs
Re: It looks like the only

You're welcome.

by interestedbystander 2008-04-11 11:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Counting On the "Popular Will"

They're just trying to change the rules Tom.  :)

Great diary - highly rec'd!

by alegre 2008-04-11 05:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Counting On the "Popular Will"

Not only are they trying to change the rules, but they are making false arguments about the morality of their position which does not hold up upon examination - which is why I took the trouble of writing such a detailed diary.

by Tom Rinaldo 2008-04-11 06:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Counting On the "Popular Will"

Well done Tom.

by durendal 2008-04-11 06:52AM | 0 recs
I appreciate the time you take to explain....

this subject instead of just reducing it to a popular talking point.

I am so tired of having the same simplistic banter thrown around here when the system is much more complex and deserving than a one-line discussion.

by Shazone 2008-04-11 07:01AM | 0 recs
How can one count

"The Popular will" until   everyone has been given an opportunity to vote?

by Mayor McCheese 2008-04-11 07:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Counting On the "Popular Will"
Great diary - and also some great responses to comments that have been used to stifle other discussions. The most important contribution of this thread is the "calling out" of certain mindsets about role of "popular vote", smoke-filled backrooms, and even the use for fear as motivator that many readers of this diary have a hard time believing ARE NOT TRUE pictures of reality.
The "reality" of the matter is that neither Clinton nor Obama are in a position TODAY to have enough pledged (non-super) delegates to win the nomination outright. "Popular Will" will play a role, but will not be the determining factor in the final choice of Presidential Candidate.
Thank you for helping all readers get a better understanding of the role of language in molding our thinking.
by pan230oh 2008-04-11 08:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Counting On the "Popular Will"

nicely done.
Your arguement about the popular vote is great.

About caucuses:

I have ALWAYS felt that caucuses have been excluding to the cornerstone of the democratic party: the working class.

In Texas, I vounteered for my city's democratic party by calling voters to remind them to go out and caucus. The most frequent answer i received was: I cant. I got to go to work.

Those who work two jobs, single parents, disabled, service men and women, elderly, and poverty stricken are less likely to attend caucuses. Its ironic that we put this system into place to end up being our demise as a party. one person=one vote. yet thats note what happened in texas. your vote = 2/3. and your caucus vote = 1/3. It could be argued that caucuses actually disenfranchise some voters as well as turn people away from participating.

You think we would learn from the bush/gore mess, to stop with this delegate mess. I dont dispute the rules in place, I only feel they are useless and only cause frustration among the masses.

question:

how do the caucuses translate into a raw vote form? is that possible to obtain?

by amde 2008-04-11 09:28AM | 0 recs

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