Thursday, February 7, 2008

Obama May Have Won More Delegates Tuesday, Narrowing Hillary's Lead

UPDATE, FEB. 20: More examples of Hillary taking the gloves off: her campaign originated the "Obama's like a cult leader" theme to the media, and will file suit to gain the nomination if she can't win it with voters. I'm not kidding.

THIS IS A VERY BIG DEAL: Hillary Clinton has taken the gloves off today: since she's losing the popular vote, her "firewalls" with women and Latinos (who increasingly are supporting Obama), and maybe even her edge in superdelegates, she's now pushing to have Florida's and Michigan's delegates seated.

Why's this a big deal? Because both states were told their delegates wouldn't count if they moved their primaries up on the calendar; both states did it anyway; Hillary conducted stealth campaigns in those states while Obama and the others stayed away as the party's rules required; Hillary even put her name (the only Dem name) on Michigan's ballot; of course, she won huge in those states, so seating their delegates will make her appear to have won the popular vote when what she's really doing is cheating.

Worse, there are movements in both states to re-hold their primaries or caucuses, so that their delegates can be seated without dispute -- but the Clinton campaign is undercutting those efforts to do the right thing by maneuvering to have the flawed delegates seated instead.

It's a mess -- it's undemocratic and dishonest -- it could hand the nomination to someone who didn't actually win it, the same way Bush "won" the Presidency in 2000 -- and it says a lot of bad things about Hillary's character and her hunger for power that exceeds her sense of decency, fair play, party loyalty, or -- given multiple polls showing that Obama is much more electable than she is -- even her concern for the country as a whole. Her actions suggest she'd rather run and lose to McCain, than lose honestly to Obama and see a Democrat in the White House. Again, more about this here.

UPDATE, FEB. 12: If you like this post but want more up-to-date info, please visit the Vichy Dems home page when you're done here. Especially do so if you're curious or concerned about the increasing "superdelegates" controversy , the ongoing brouhaha between Paul Krugman and Barack Obama, or each candidate's electability against John McCain. Thanks!)

OK, I'll admit it. By 10:30 pm Tuesday, after Obama lost both NY (expected) and California (contested), my very rough math suggested Hillary walked away with more delegates, widening her lead. But as I also explained at the time, the delegate allocation process is extremely complicated, discounting any candidate with less than 15% of the vote in any given Congressional district and (contrary to the winner-take-all, state-by-state process preferred by Republicans), assigns Democratic delegates on a Congressional-district-by-Congressional-district basis. (Alabama shows how strange the process is -- Obama won with 56% of the vote, but received only 20 delegates to Hillary's 21.)

After doing all the math, district-by-district, the powers that be are concluding that Obama not only won more states -- including, significantly in my mind, a large swath of middle America, right through the Midwest and northern states -- but may also have taken more delegates, actually reducing the gap with Hillary -- great news for Obama supporters and for anyone who'd like to see a real horserace, demonstrating that the race isn't always to the personally wealthy and well-connected. As CNN puts it this afternoon: "Senator Barack Obama won a majority of the states, but Senator Hillary Clinton won bigger states and the delegate count was very close, even as the party tried to figure out its complicated maths of who won what, where." Here's a state by state breakdown including number of delegates each candidate appeared, as of Wednesday morning, to have won. However, note that the numbers are inconsistent. For instance, Time projected the Feb. 5 result was 845 delegates to Obama, 836 to Hillary, while CNN here (at least at the time this is posted; it's not a permalink) says Hillary won on Feb. 5, with 580 delegates to Obama's 571. (UPDATE, FEB.8 9:39 Pacific: the previous link now says Hillary leads Obama in SuperTuesday delegates, 790-767. No indication whether that includes their projection of New Mexico; it shouldn't, though, because New Mexico continues counting provisional ballots, with Obama down by only about 1,000 votes.)

Also, news that Hillary and Bill are adding $5 million of their own money to the race. Obama doesn't have that kind of personal cash -- one of the reasons I prefer him to Hillary, who's not only rich but also has the backing of big-$ donors including Fox News' Rupert Murdoch and (normally a good guy) George Soros -- but is outraising Clinton lately, largely from small donations. It would be nice if Obama could quickly match the Clintons' personal $5 million injection, to show that U.S. elections aren't only for the personally wealthy and U.S. democracy isn't actually a plutocracy -- so if you support Obama, or even just want a fair race, please consider donating to Obama here at VichyDems' ActBlue page. No spam, no mailing lists, just an easy way to donate money.

Finally, keep your eye on those problematic "superdelegates" -- party insiders who comprise 40% of total Democratic delegates and who DON'T HAVE TO FOLLOW THE POPULAR VOTE AT ALL. It's said that to become the nominee, either Clinton or Obama needs 2,025 delegates -- but 20% of all delegates -- i.e., 40% of the total a candidate needs to secure the nomination -- are superdelegates, which means that each candidate needs far fewer "popular" or "pledged" (read: democratically elected) delegates to win the popular vote, but that the winner of the popular vote isn't automatically the nominee: they then have to persuade the "Democratic" party to actually live up to its name instead of handing the election to its favorite daughter. (Hillary unquestionably has the lead in superdelegate preference, largely because she has bought support by lavishing money on those superdelegates during their own elections and because of Bill's connections.) Allowing a small elite to hand an election to someone other than the one the popular vote selected -- sounds sort of 2000ish, doesn't it? It's how Bush got appointed to office, and it's neither democratic nor Democratic. For voters, the key at this point is to make enough stink, BEFORE the convention, that the party is shamed into doing the right thing and muscles the superdelegates into supporting the voters' choice.


Anonymous said...

I would like to know if Hillary Clinton did not have to share her winning delegates with Obama would she not be in the lead and far away from Obama?
Since when does Jessie Jackson's affirmative actiion in regards to Africian Americans sharing Democratic Delegates give Obama bragging rights. If you counted winner take all in all the states the Hillary Clinton won she would be the Democratic Presidential Candidate.
I think it is down right pathetic that this sharing of the delegates on the Democtatic side is view as Affirmative Action.

Anonymous said...

The state-by-state "winner takes all" system isn't very democratic (small "d"); if a candidate won 50.001% of a state's vote, why should the voices of the other 49.999% be ignored? It seems to me that any system that approaches pure democracy is better, especially in primaries; and shifting to a district-by-district, rather than state-by-state, level does come closer to pure democracy.

I'm guessing that your problem is with the fact that some Congressional districts are "majority minority" and that the district-by-district system constitutes "affirmative action." To that, I have three responses:

1. As an idea, such a system doesn't give unfair advantage to minorities; it merely gives them some chance to have an impact on outcomes instead of always being diluted into irrelevancy by the majority. So I don't have a problem with the principle.

2. Setting aside the principle and looking at the facts, it's not clear to me that the system even does benefit minorities. Look at Alabama, which has a very substantial black population: Obama won the state, but Clinton received more delegates.

3. Look more closely at the places where Obama's winning: in white America.
Sure, he won a majority (of votes, not necessarily delegates) in South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama, but he also won Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Idaho -- as I said, White America. His success isn't based on affirmative action, but on strong showings in the heartland, with white voters.

Finally, I'll point out that Obama's won more states than Hillary has. My question back at you is this: do you really, honestly think that the entire country is well represented by the huge delegate blocs in the main states Hillary won, California and New York? Because the truth is, Hillary's winning the elite areas, and Obama's winning in "flyover country", and that's not a black/white thing, it's a message thing, and it's absolutely the right way to determine an election.

Anonymous said...

P.S.: Anonymous hails from Quebec, anyway; why the bile about an election I assume you're not even participating in, anyway?