February 6, 2008

On Leading In Delegates

Correction: Hillary did not have the lead in delegates going in Tuesday as I said in my last post. She was ahead in polls and superdelegates, but Obama had the delegate lead.

Last night I said that I would have rather seen a person clearly pulling ahead on the Democratic side, but I’ve changed my mind after reading that the RNC is just waiting to see who the front runner is so they can let loose their attack dogs. The earlier there is a clear winner, the earlier they begin to smear. It is a slight advantage to the Democrats that McCain is clearly out in front, because it’s so likely he’s going to be the candidate to beat in November.

And also, last night I responded to a tweet from Mike about the possible role of superdelegates; I was skeptical they could play an important role in swinging the result of the primaries away from the will of the voters, mainly because I figured they would worry about losing swing support for their candidate. I still think this is true on the Republican side, but I’m starting to see that a really close delegate count would give the party leaders cover on the Democratic side to flex some muscle.

Posted by James at February 6, 2008 9:41 AM
Create Social Bookmark Links
Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


I dislike the superdelegates and the effect they have on the election almost as much as I dislike the way the pundits always prematurely announce the "winner" before the polls close and votes are counted (and these days, recounted)

Posted by: leslie at February 6, 2008 11:49 AM

If Obama wins the primaries and the superdelgates install Clinton (or if she is succesful at getting the Florida and Michigan delegates seated) it will prove to me once and for all that the Democratic party hates its own base, and they will lose my vote forever. I'd rather have President Romney than give in to jerks who insist I be loyal to a party that won't even count my vote.

Posted by: David grenier at February 6, 2008 12:03 PM

...which is exactly the reaction I thought they should expect. Except I don't think it would hurt them in the general election this time around, nor perhaps into the future.

Just a guess.

The primaries are supposed to help find the most electable candidate: the strongest candidate with the most support. Truthfully, that may not be the same thing as the candidate who gets the most votes, if it is a really close primary.

But I agree that it will be felt by the electorate as a slap in the face. Would it be a huge strategic blunder? It's hard to say. If most of Obama's support is not in the battleground states it will be a choice between a strategic blunder and a strategic suicide.


I understand your concern about the reporting, but I find it to be less of an annoyance during the primaries. After all, there are plenty of people who won't be voting for a while. Should the media hold their reportage until the last state votes? The primaries are already structured so that we're forced to watch some results before others, and before others even have a chance to vote. We endure New Hampshire's vote results for many weeks before our ballots are in our hands; and there are far fewer candidates to vote for now.

Posted by: James at February 6, 2008 12:21 PM

The super delegates aren't and won't be a factor. Only about one-third of the super delegates have declared so far, and its typical for most to wait until nomination is decided in the primaries. They also can (and do) switch as one candidate clears the path to the nomination. I also really question how much hold HRC is alleged to have over these people. If the Clinton's are that powerful, why don't they have these people lined up now? If her campaign had the ability to get another 450 delegates without having to buy one ad or hold one rally - don't you think she would have done it by now?

I'm also not worried about Florida and Michigan. They won't matter. First, the courts have been very clear that the DNC was in its powers to strip the delegates. Second, the DNC has the full support of every state not named Florida or Michigan because everyone else played by the rules. No way will the rest of the states allow Florida and/or Michigan to have the ultimate award of deciding the nomination for breaking the rules. Third and most important, winning the nomination by forcing the Florida and Michigan delegates into the count would be political suicide for Hillary Clinton and her husband's legacy, and she knows it.

Whoever leads going into Denver is going to be the nominee, and super delegates won't get behind Clinton just to push her into first. The supers will get behind whoever has the lead in assigned delegates everyone will be watching for that kind of game and these people have their own careers to think about.

Florida and Michigan won't matter because if Clinton is leading going into the convention she won't need them, and they won't be able to save her if she's behind.

Posted by: Brian at February 6, 2008 12:41 PM

Thanks Brian and David for making me feel a lot better about the situation today.

Posted by: James at February 6, 2008 12:50 PM

Copyright © 1999-2007 James P. Burke. All Rights Reserved