Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Democratic Way

This is a must read for everyone with an interest in who would be the strongest candidate in November. Scan, at TaylorMarsh.com, presents a very compelling argument for what superdelegates should be considering over the next 24-48 hours. I encourage you to read: The Democratic Way

As this historic and unbelievably close Democratic primary season winds down, let's take a step back and consider what a stunning situation we have found ourselves in.

In August, it will be the Democratic superdelegates who will decide this contest with their votes at the convention. So...what's the most democratic way to determine the winner here? And, all essential questions of electability aside, who has the democratic moral high ground as the voting comes to a close?

Barack Obama's lead in elected delegates is impressive, but I believe it is an extremely flawed measurement. You see, delegates are malleable. With the right strategy and pressure, they can be changed at will. These changes can occur at local conventions, in DNC meeting rooms, or simply in the brain of an elected delegate with a change of heart. The will of the voters often has nothing to do with it.
For example:


Decision of the voters:
Clinton 51%
Obama 45%

Current delegate apportionment:
Obama 56%
Clinton 44%

Decision of 2.8 million voters:
Clinton 51%
Obama 47%

Current delegate apportionment, when including incomplete caucus tally:
Obama 51%
Clinton 49%

Question: Is the delegate result from Texas a fair representation of the will of its people?
And there is much more.


John J. said...

Nevada I will give you; the DNC should look at the delegate appropriations that different areas of Nevada give.

For your Texas question, however, there is more to look at. Does the delegate total reflect the will of all the people (McCain's supporters and the Democrats') that voted in the primary, no. When you take out the "Operation Chaos"/Limbaugh voters it is significantly closer.

You also leave out the irrelevance of the raw numbers. In Nevada, Obama netted 3 delegates; in Texas it was 5. He leads the pledged delegate count by about 120. These 8 delegates are less than 0.5% of the total pledged delegates either one has.

Remember, in January, it was Clinton's stance that the popular vote didn't matter, only the delegates. Now that the delegate count is undeniably against her and only her debatable math on the popular vote has any hope for her, that has all changed.

Sue J said...

Yes, and in January it was Obama's stance that it would be wrong for the superdelegates to decide the contests, that it should be all about
the popular vote.

Stones. Glass houses.

Just sayin'

John J. said...

Super delegates haven't decided. They are going with the pledged delegates that are picked by the vote.

dguzman said...

I just wish we could count on popular-vote election totals (read: rigged Diebold machines, hanging chads, and other nightmares) enough to just scrap the whole delegate system altogether.

BAC said...

John - I hope you read the entire original post. It's quite enlightening.

Sue - right on, sister!

Dguzman - I'd love to see us go back to the old-fashioned voting machines that I first voted on. You pressed a lever, then the big lever, and you were done. I think we are well past needing delegates at the primary level, or electoral college votes in the general. The argument for both in the past was that not everyone would be able to hear from the candidates. With 500 channels of 24/7 converage, the internet and all other media outlets, that concept is certainly a thing of the past.


John J. said...

The argument for the electoral college, which the delegate system is modeled after, is that the founding fathers didn't want any one state with a large percentage of the population dominating the government. This is also the theory behind the Senate. In this aim, it is getting weaker due to the large number of states, some of which have very large numbers of delegates, but the goal is still very important.

BAC said...

John, if the superdelegates followed the will of the voters then Ted Kennedy and John Kerry would be Clinton delegates.

This election has been decided by superdelegates -- who clearly did not weigh all the information.


John J. said...

Currently, the pledged delegates are 1761 to 1636, with about 5-10 left to be allocated in these last two primaries. That gives Obama a 52% to 48% victory in pledged delegates. The popular vote is much closer, but varies depending on which voters Clinton decides not to count.

In Massachusetts, Obama won 41% of the vote. By that Obama did win the vote of some super delegates from that state. There is nothing to say which super delegates those have to be.

Obama's stance, even since January, has been that the super delegates should not overturn the will of the people as reflected in the pledged delegate count. This is what has happened. If you were to divide the super delegates up as their states voted, Obama would have clinched the nomination weeks ago.

This election was decided by the people who voted in primaries and caucuses nationwide AND by the super delegates. Both groups have chosen the same candidate.

No primary system where 1/3 of the necessary votes are unbound from the will of the people will be determined exclusively by the people. You would need a super majority in every primary and caucus to reach the necessary number. Sen. Clinton achieved that in four states, Obama reached those numbers in 12.

I personally think, and have said this during this entire process, that the role of the super delegates needs to be cut completely, or at least significantly reduced. When one person has the power of any 10,000 normal voters in the system, it weakens the power of the earned mandate of the eventual nominee in a situation like this. If they want to give the core of the party, those that have earned their stripes, a little extra power, limit it to those selected by the people already - senators, congresspeople, governors. That will still leave about 300-400 of these delegates, but it is a step in the right direction. As it stands now, Missouri has four DNC members that get chosen at the state convention every four years. I would bet if you asked the state's democrats, 2/3 of them wouldn't even know we had a state convention, much less that we elected 4 super delegates there.

BAC said...

Clearly you didn't read the original post. That is why trying to communicate with you is such and exercise in frustration.

It looks like once again Democrats are not going to nominate the strongest candidate.