Saturday, February 16, 2008

Feb. 16 Update on Misc. Primary Election Issues

Tying together several different threads, there are some hopeful/interesting developments as of very early today:

- Some Black Congresspeople, who prematurely decided to endorse Hillary Clinton in their capacities as Superdelegates, are reconsidering, especially in light of pressure from their constituents. That's only fair: as Mark Meyers of the Superdelegate Transparency Project points out here, since Superdelegates aren't bound by any rules -- a point Clinton loves to make -- then they're free to put their constituents' concerns before all else, especially a promise they shouldn't have given so soon, in the exercise of a power that shouldn't apply in a two-candidate race where a "tiebreaker" isn't needed.

- Obama -- who managed to beat Clinton's early fundraising lead by using grassroots organizations to win in smaller and "caucus" states where big TV ad buys weren't so important -- is now raising enough money to compete head-to-head with Clinton by buying TV time (also here) in the large states where she previously was dominant. That's important, because Clinton's banking on winning Ohio, Pennsylvania, and/or Texas -- all states where television is key to reaching the huge numbers of voters. Basically, she conceded smaller, caucus states to Obama while she used her large war chest to buy votes in larger, primary states -- an error, because the momentum he gained with his "unimportant" wins brought him enough new contributors to allow him to compete with her on her own turf. As between these two, anyway, this election isn't going to be bought and paid for; it's got to be won.

- As I reported earlier, the fastest-growing union in the country decided yesterday to throw its weight behind Obama, using not only its 1.9 million members, but also its ground-level organizers and its strong relationships with the Latino community and others to try and tip the scales Obama's way. (UPDATE, FEB. 27: It's happening; Clinton's starting to lose her grip on her "firewall" Latino vote.) The story here, which the mainstream press hasn't caught onto yet, is that taking a strong stand against an incumbent or a favorite in a Democratic primary is a new tactic for unions. These aren't Jimmy Hoffa's "scratch my back" insider politics anymore, which again hurt Hillary, who is backed by most of the AFL-CIO unions and was counting on Hoffa-style favor-trading to tilt labor her way.
I'm betting it will pay big dividends here, both for Obama and for the SEIO and other unions that spun off from the more conservative AFL-CIO to create the new Change to Win organization partly to gain leeway to do more creative politicking like this.

- Finally, John McCain is embarrassing himself when it comes to fundraising. He's criticized Obama and dared him to accept public funding (and therefore limit the amount his campaign can spend in privately-contributed money) -- basically, hoping that Obama will voluntarily hobble himself by surrendering his (unexpected) advantage over McCain in fundraising. But now it turns out that McCain wasn't just being noble in limiting himself to public funds: rather, it turns out he ran short on money and privately agreed to go the public finance route as security for a loan he needed to stay competitive. I'm all for public financing of elections, but only if it's mandatory, not optional. If private contributions are going to play a role, then Obama -- who still has taken far fewer corporate and lobbyist contributions than Hillary has -- might as well retain any fair edge he's got over McCain.

Don't forget to stay on top of both the Superdelegate and Michigan/Florida controversies. They're being "spun" wildly, but the issues remain simple, and we voters need to keep reminding all parties -- including Obama -- that they need to do the right thing by (a) encouraging all "supers" to surrender their pledges and instead vote however their constituents did, (b) encourage the Michigan and Florida parties to hold new primary elections so that their delegations can be seated fairly, and (c) if they don't do so, insist that the party's Rules Committee NOT seat those delegations if doing so will tilt the apparent popular vote in a different way than it otherwise would fall. Studies of these issues are here, here, and here; please keep on top.

I'll be away for a couple of days with the family, and offline. See everyone next week, and have a great weekend.




Anonymous said...

I know and believe that Hillary Clinton will be the next President of the United States. Obama does not have the legislative record to beat John McCain in November. He is too far to the left and his talk of reaching across party lines is a mute point when you consider how badly the Republicans will be represented in the next Congress. Obama is a flash in the pan and a "feel good" candidate. I know that my republican friends and family here in Georgia will vote for McCain in the general election over Obama, they have said as much. They would vote for Hillary Clinton when faced with McCain. Hillary has a more centralist record and has the experience to fight McCain on National Security issues this summer. Obama will go down in smoke when facing he Republicans. I think the Democratic Primaries are being swayed by a false "movement" represent by Obama and his idealistic view of what he will face in a general election campaign. I know that the pendants in the Republican Party secretly believe that Obama will not get the votes that people are saying they will cast in a general election. They are trying to trick the Democratic electorate into demonizing Hillary, again. The national media is feeding stories of the Obama campaign because it is a story that sells papers, advertisements and has people tuned in. He won't win and the Republicans know it!! Obama is not winning enough support with whites, Hispanics, seniors and centralist minded Republicans. Independents may say they like his message but when it comes down to voting for him for President, they will revert to McCain, a centralist on issues. He will lose and thus the Democratic Party will again face eight more years of a Republican in the Oval Office. PLEASE think before you vote America! Obama can't win a general election. Hillary can!

Anonymous said...

Ladies and Gentlemen:
Anonymous, above, is a classic example of what we call a "concern troll" -- someone who, posing as a concerned Democrat, passes off the opposition's meme (or "standard talking points") without support. Be careful of them: they're personally harmless, but can confuse the unwary.

Does anyone really think that Georgia Republicans would vote for Hillary, and not Obama? Nah, I didn't think you were so naive. Hillary's the ideal Republican opponent precisely because they know they can beat her.

So, again: beware concern trolls. Fortunately, if you don't look them in the eyes, they go away.

Cautionarily yours,

desert dawg said...

You don't have to be a concern troll to recongnize bogus arguments when you see them.

How you can argue that if HRC wins every big state except IL that she should not be the nominee, that the supers should not go for her at that point, and that the credentials committee should then seat FL & MI is beyond me.

I've been trying to imagine myself in the reverse position--having my candidate win lots of small states , gain the bulk of her delegates from caucuses, but lose every big state, and still say she were the better candidate for the GE. I don't think I could say it. And on top of that, to then argue to change the rules in her favor.

I would think I'd be betraying the party's ability to win the GE. Talk about Vichy.

desert dawg said...

shd have been "should not then seat"

Kvatch said...

Both Obama and Clinton have serious liabilities, but I doubt that either would lose against McCain.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of concern trolls: Desert Dawg asks a number of question he certainly knows the answers to -- and the answers don't support DD's spin:

How you can argue that if HRC wins every big state except IL that she should not be the nominee...
Because, in our democracy, America's heartland and smaller states (what some folks, apparently like you, dismiss as "flyover country") count too. Obama has won pretty much the entire Midwest, central West and Northern states, as well as key states in the deep South. Those certainly represent "real" Americans better than New York and California do.

Besides, smaller states actually have more impact in the general election than large states do, because their voters actually have "bigger" votes. Why? The Electoral College: the number of electors awarded each state is equal to the number of Congresspeople they have, plus their two Senators. Rhode Island, with two Congressmen and two Senators, effectively has almost twice as much impact per voter than California, which has 36 Congresspeople and only two Senators.

[and] that the supers should not go for her at that point

Because, again, states besides California and New York are part of the Union, too. Are you arguing that a congresswoman from Oklahoma with "superdelegate" status should cast her vote for Hillary simply because California did? How does that represent her constituents?

and that the credentials committee should then seat FL & MI

The Democratic National Committee -- with Hillary's concurrence! -- told MI and FL that if their primaries were held early, their delegations would not be seated. The DNC also asked the candidates not to campaign there -- and Hillary signed that pledge. And Hillary's was the only Democratic name on the Michigan ballot, so no one could credibly claim the outcome there was 'democratic' or fair.

on top of that, to then argue to change the rules in [Obama's] favor... would ... be betraying the party's ability to win the GE. Talk about Vichy.

For party insiders to seat Michigan and Florida, as Clinton wants, would be changing the rules. For voters to demand that their representatives, in their capacity as superdelegates, vote the same way their constituents did, is democracy in action and doesn't change the rules at all -- since superdelegates aren't bound by any rules, why shouldn't their constituents pressure them to do the right thing?

As to nominating Obama hurting the party's chances of winning the general election, everyone who's read this blog lately knows that a full year's worth of polling, as well as all the most recent polls, show Obama beating McCain and Clinton, at best, tying him.

DD, I've liked your comments here, but you can see why (after reading a post like this last one of yours) I sometimes take the step of labeling commenters "concern trolls", can't you?