Wednesday, April 30, 2008
What is the popular will, pledged delegates, and which popular vote should count?
The first is Iowa. You may not remember but John Edwards actually came away with fewer pledged delegates in the initial count than Hillary Clinton even though he had more people caucus for him.
New Hampshire is example two. Clinton beat beat Barack Obama by a few thousand votes, but they ended up gaining an equal amount of delegates.
Nevada is just a repeat of Iowa... Clinton had more people caucus for her but Obama gained one more delegate.
Missouri is just a repeat of New Hampshire but in reverse. Obama won more votes than Clinton, but they split the delegate count.
In the electoral college such difference on the state level isn't possible. A person who receives less votes in a state can not get the same amount of electoral votes or more electoral vote (unless something like fraud is abound). In both systems its possible that a candidate can receive more support than the popular vote validates.
Anyone dumb enough to argue that pledged delegates don't count shouldn't be heard. It was the system that was picked out before the primary. The candidates knew the rules.
There are reasons why pledged delegates and the way they are alloted are put in place over an electoral college and over the popular vote. First, primaries are made up of delegates won (its that way and always will be). Second, the proportional aspect is a security blanket against the majority or even plurality overrunning the minority. Even if a candidate wins 90% of the statewide vote, there might a congressional district where he wins only 60%. Shouldn't those people get a voice at the convention?
Or in a less extreme example, pledged delegates are proportional to protect a candidate winning 50.1% of the vote and winning all the delegates (a problem seen in the electoral college).
Third, pledged delegates awarded on a congressional level make sure that each campaign has a strong get out the vote effort in November.
Forth, pledged delegates alloted proportionally make every state count (clearly something Obama knows and Clinton doesn't/didn't).
All of these are great reasons for pledged delegates.
The problem is what I outlined above. Delegates at the end of the day are not really proportional, and they don't by themselves guarantee that we hear the general will.
That is where the popular vote comes in.... the reasons for nominations not decided completely on it have already been said.
But the popular vote should play some form independent on how its translated into the pledged delegates.
It should factor into how superdelegates vote. See, that is the beauty of the superdelegates. They aren't bound by popular vote or pledged delegates or even who they think is the best general election candidate.
I believe it to be impossible to determine for sure who the most electable candidate is. What polls and what states a person looks at can lead him or her to different answers.
Pledged delegates mean Obama is the winner.... and we know that.
The question then becomes what is the popular vote and is it fair?
Take Washington for instance... Obama won the caucus there with about 2/3's of the vote. Yet he won the primary (a week later which alloted no delegates) by less votes, despite the fact that more people voted. The obvious conclusion is that primaries bring out more Clinton voters than caucuses in comparison to Barack Obama. The problem being that who knows what would have happened if Obama had put forth a great organization in the state knowing that primary counted? And did people vote in the caucus and not the primary (i'm sure there are some stats on that one). Its a whole big bag of a mess.
Further, caucuses tend to have lower turnout, which leads to less popular vote. The obvious problem here is that states that held caucuses get less of a say than states that held primaries. Unfair I would say.
And we have yet to answer the Michigan/Florida question.
Yes, we know those primaries were rouge. We know that the neither candidate had any sort of organization going on (at least campaigned sponsored). We know the states broke the rules.
The problem for Obama is that he stopped a revote. Anyone who knows anything about Michigan know Obama stopped a revote. He was also the one who took his name off the ballot (there was no reason to do it). It was honestly a stupid move. Obama would have had a legitimate chance at winning a new primary.
The problem in Florida is less complex. His name was on the ballot. But once again there were no campaigns (except for his fundraiser and his ads that were aired in the northern part of the state... in fact a strict interpretation would allot Clinton half of the pledged delegates I believe... I'd have to check on it). Once again a revote was blocked. And a revote on Florida would have probably led to the same vote difference (even if the pledged delegate difference was less).
Do these states count? Most agree Michigan shouldn't. Florida is a tougher case.
I don't pretend to know the answers.
What I do know is that if we counted the primary vote in Florida and primary in Washington as the popular vote, Clinton would win under most scenarios I have played out.
I also know that Clinton would have a pretty good shot at winning the popular vote with Florida and the washington caucus counting.
The chances are much slimmer without Florida...
Michigan would pretty much guarantee a win for Clinton in the popular vote.
But even if you counted Michigan, will the superdelegates decide based on the popular vote?
And if you don't count the popular vote at all and only who is going to win, who do you choose?
Me? I'm going to let it all play out.
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