Mar 11, 2008

Hillary's path to the nomination

So how can Hillary win? These are the scenarios I can think of in order of best outcome to worst.

  • She can win more pledged delegates. Based on current polling that path will close on the May 20th primaries in Oregon and Kentucky.
  • Next up is Obama implodes ala Vitter, Craig or Spitzer. This is what super delegates are for.
  • Now we're in dodgy territory. This is the "will of the voters" argument. Popular votes, primary votes and primary popular votes. In addition to this being a hard argument to sell, the numbers don't back it up.
  • An even worse variation on "the will of the voters" is only counting voters if they live in big states or in blue states. Discounting voters based on ideology or geography.
  • Lastly there's super delegate arm twisting.
The downside is that in addition to being in the order of best to worst outcomes, they're also in order from least to most plausible. Clinton is working to win this cycle - not to be veep and not to run again in 2012 (she'll never win a caucus again). So the Clinton campaign is actively pursuing all of these strategies. Update: Another take on this.

Mar 9, 2008

Obama's 2002 speech

Obama supporters deliver his October, 2002 speech. One week later, the House and Senate (including Senators Clinton and McCain) voted to authorise the war in Iraq.

You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s fight to wean ourselves off Middle East oil, through an energy policy that doesn’t simply serve the interests of Exxon and Mobil.

Those are the battles that we need to fight. Those are the battles that we willingly join. The battles against ignorance and intolerance. Corruption and greed. Poverty and despair.

The consequences of war are dire, the sacrifices immeasurable. We may have occasion in our lifetime to once again rise up in defense of our freedom, and pay the wages of war. But we ought not – we will not – travel down that hellish path blindly. Nor should we allow those who would march off and pay the ultimate sacrifice, who would prove the full measure of devotion with their blood, to make such an awful sacrifice in vain.

If that's inexperience, I hope he's as inexperienced today as he was in 2002.

Mar 8, 2008

Paths to the nomination

An article on DailyKos covers how Obama can win the nomination. I'll update this with the follow up article on Clinton's path.

Mar 6, 2008

How to ask for help

How to ask for help online. This actually seems a bit wiser than a previous suggestion.

Mar 5, 2008

More election questions

Two more questions:

1. Why does texas have a ballot vote (primary) and a caucus (public voting???)?

2. What's the path to the democratic nom being confirmed? (e.g. how many primaries are left, what's the idiot's quick guide to these 'superdelegates')

Apparently they call it the "Texas two-step" in Texas. One of the guys who helped create it explains it.

For the super-delegates a bunch of people have gotten together to track them using MediaWiki. Their site is at and it looks like their research will matter more and more since neither candidate has a realistic possibility of getting the correct number of pledged delegates. is a good site for poll watching and some good thoughts on the nomination process. Last night's wrap up post covered a lot of issues.

Election question

As the Democratic Presidential nomination battle drags on, more people are paying attention. For two decades or more, the nomination was decided pretty quickly and people tuning in now don't understand the rules. Plus I live in Ireland and the US election system is by definition foreign to most of my friends here. So I'll try to answer questions as best I know them starting with:

According to the beeb, Hilary has 16 states and 1391 delegates. Barack has 24 states and 1477 delegates. So what counts more, the number of states or the total number of deleages? And what exactly is a delegate?
There's a convention in August to choose the Democratic presidential candidate. Each state[0] right now is coming up with the delegates they'll be sending to that convention - the number of delegates each state sends is in proportion to its population. Most of those delegates are elected - they're called pledged delegates. They are chosen based on which candidate they pledge to support. About 20% of delegates are super delegates. They are state party chairs, Democratic House and Senate members and other higher office holders. They're all elected; they've won their position through an election. But they are not elected to vote for a specific candidate at the convention. Each delegate - pledged and super - has a vote[1] and there are around ~4,000 delegates. So to win the nomination you need to get over ~2,000 delegate votes. All delegates are free agents once the convention starts. On the first vote pledged delegates usually vote who they're elected to vote for, but if a nominee isn't chosen on the first vote they can vote for whoever they want. So, your question: delegates matter; states do not. But delegate counts are all approximate right now. Not normally an issue, but in a close election it's a huge issue. For instance any accurate count of Obama's pledged delegate count should end in .5 - he won 5 Dems Abroad delegates last month. Many news organisations are opaque in their delegate counts - merging who they think super delegates will vote for with pledged delegate totals. And pledged delegate totals are not final either - the Iowa caucus which was the first step in this process finalises it's delegation to the convention on March 15th. Kevin [0] the 50 actual states; US territories like Guam, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico; Washington DC and lastly Democrats Abroad. [1] Not all delegates get a single vote. Democrats Abroad delegates get half a vote. I think we're it though. And the half vote isn't done to be mean - we only have 11 votes and it's a way to give more folks overseas a chance to participate.