Monday, June 02, 2008

What Happened This Weekend?

I mean, in the Democratic primary race, that is...

Saturday was the big meeting with the DNC to hopefully settle the clusterfuck that is Michigan and Florida and move the process along. One candidate discouraged supporters from attending or protesting and instead worked GOTV campaigns and registered thousands of new Democrats...The other campaign trained a spotlight on the hearing, called for protests in the streets and floated outrageous solutions to the situation, preemptively deeming anything less as "disenfranchisement" and "illegitimate."

Guess which was which...

So what ended up happening? If you listen Hillary Clinton or any of her official surrogates, Barack Obama button-holed the DNC into wresting away Clinton's nomination and have done democracy a grave disservice.

I mean, could this woman be wrong?



So, this weekend is less about what happened with the numbers (which were by and large unaffected) but what didn't happen with race as a whole. There was no resolution. There was no calming of the waters...no reaching for common ground or a sense that the party might be able to come together. Instead the Clinton machine is using one part of the two-state solution as a cause célèbre that the nomination was just stolen—to whip it's already frothy bitter-enders to the point when they stiffen—all because Obama got four of Hillary's delegates in Michigan.

I suppose when you are the Clinton camp and you think going into Saturday that you are entitled to not only ALL of your own delegates earned in an unopposed primary, but half the votes actually cast against you, coming out 69-59 is a pretty serious blow.

Initially, I was also confused at the number as well...the primary results should have netted Hillary 73 delegates, with "Uncommitted" the other 55. Where was this 69-59 split coming from? The Clintonites were blaming Obama, Dean and the DNC—claiming the fix was in. But I knew those numbers sounded like the compromise solution pitched previously by the Michigan Democratic Party.

So what were the Clintonites freaking out about? Four delegates? when she trails by triple-digits, and there are only forty more delegates outstanding?

But, for that matter, why didn't Obama just let her have 'em. Surely those four delegates are even less consequential to him, and hardly worth the bad press? I had to simply trust his judgment—so far, every time I've second-guessed his strategy, he's turned out to be right, and outplayed the Clintons.

Because, as it turns out, it's not about the four delegates—they ARE inconsequential—it's about what those delegates could be extrapolated to mean. Nate Silver* at fivethirtyeight.com explains...
Obama actually had the votes on the Rules & Bylaws Committee to earn an even delegate split out of Michigan. But instead, he deferred to Carl Levin's 69-59 plan. How come? Because the delegate margin isn't close enough to matter, and giving Clinton some kind of a "win" in Michigan will help to undercut the perception that delegate shenanigans caused the nomination to be stolen from her.

It might be asked: why not instead sign off Clinton the 73-55 delegate split that her campaign desired? It's only a difference of a few delegates.

Well, if you did that, you'd be reflecting the Clinton/uncommitted preference from the unsanctioned primary. Which means that you'd be tending to legitimate the results of that primary. Which means that Clinton would have had a stronger claim for including Michigan in her popular vote count. And the popular vote count is different way that Clinton has tended to imply that Obama's nomination is not legitimate.

I suspect if Clinton had not decided to take the party down in flames, Obama would've let her have the delegates and the "win."

But he, wisely, realized that if Clinton could use the 73-55 delegate math to "legitimize" the results of the primary, she could continue to use the MI results in her popular vote math—dishonestly of course, because she calculates the state at 328,000 to 0—but it's exactly what would happen. None of the delegates apportioned Saturday would actually get Clinton anywhere within shouting distance of Obama among pledged delegates...The reason the Clinton camp is so upset is that it was all about being able to use their creative accounting to declare her the popular vote winner to convince superdelegates that she must be the nominee...

But waitasec—are there even enough unpledged superdelegates left to close the gap? to do that Clinton needs 80% of the remaining unpledged superdelegates. And after this Tuesday many will hop off the fence after the last primaries—Obama will likely have reached the official number to clinch the nomination.

So this is over right? These are just three-day death throes from Clinton's campaign?

No.
"One thing about superdelegates is that they can change their minds," [Clinton] said aboard her plane in Puerto Rico before taking off for South Dakota.

She also said she is not committed to accepting the new 2118 delegate threshold for winning the nomination. "That's a question we will be considering," she said.

She continued to argue that she leads in the popular vote count — the way she counts it — and said "I have put together a much broader coalition" of voters than Obama.

The math never stops evolving, and the goalpost never stop moving. Even if Obama clinches the nomination tomorrow with wins in South Dakota and Montana, and asa result picks up another wave of supers, Hillary won't count them as final votes until the convention.

So, unless she surprises us with a level of class, grace, and regard for anything but herself she has yet to display, it appears she will take this bullshit the distance—to a floor fight in Denver. Nearly three months from now.

*If you've been reading the excellent analysis by "Poblano" at fivethirtyeight.com, it's now been revealed that he is Nate Silver of Baseball Prospectus fame (non-fame). As in baseball, Nate has forgotten more about elections minutiae than I'll ever know, so check it out.

UPDATE: Kos concurs:
Of course, the issue isn't the four delegates. The Clinton campaign made clear a long time ago that they don't view this as a delegate fight. Not since she lost the lead in delegates. Now, they view it as a popular vote fight.

Had the DNC handed out delegates based on January's sham vote, it would've ratified the election as a legitimate one (as ended up happening with Florida, by the way). Hillary and her acolytes would've then had a greater claim to her Michigan "victory" of 328,309 votes to zero for Obama. As is, at the Michigan Democratic Party's insistence, the DNC threw out the election and invented a new split out of thin air. Obama had the votes on the committee for a 50-50 split, but threw Clinton a few extra delegates to try and ease bruised feelings.

But again, Clinton doesn't give a damn about those extra delegates. She wanted to ratify the Michigan election and claim that 328,309-vote advantage for her tally.

So when you see Clinton surrogates in a rage about those "four delegates", understand that their rage has nothing to do with four delegates. It has to do with the blow it dealt to their propaganda efforts.


UPDATE 2: Edited slightly for length and clarity—can't you tell?

5 comments:

Mrs Furious said...

Don't ever say I don't read your blog... Dude... next time fell free to summarize. I've got shit to do around here.

S.W. Anderson said...

You're analysis makes sense.

BTW, I watched a good bit of that committee meeting on C-SPAN. Sen. Levin was impressive.

Toast said...

Sen. Levin was impressive.

In a vagina-cleaning sort of way.

Mr Furious said...

I haven't seen how he's handled the post-game on this primary bullshit, but he was pretty instrumental in fucking this thing up in the first place...

In fact, just last week, I believe I was about to place him on the same shit-list Debbie Stabenow is stuck on.

There are a lot of things I like about Levin, but at times he's like the Arlen Spector of the Dems.

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