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Fun With Numbers

Posted on Mar 5, 2008

By Marie Cocco

Related: A new poll forecasts the Democrats’ chances against McCain.
Update: The first poll to crunch the electoral math just came out.

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    WASHINGTON—Hillary Clinton is not the only Democrat with a math problem. But the arithmetical difficulty that Barack Obama faces is fundamentally different from Clinton’s: She doesn’t have the numbers that plot a clear path to the nomination; he doesn’t have the numbers that plot a clear path to a Democratic victory in the fall.

    The spin-of-the-day from the Obama campaign on the morning after Clinton’s victories in three of the four states holding primaries Tuesday was that the New York senator cannot possibly overtake her rival’s lead in “pledged” delegates—that is, those won in primaries and caucuses—and therefore has no chance of winning the Democratic nomination.

    The arithmetic conveniently leaves out an essential part of the equation: Neither Obama nor Clinton can secure through the primaries and caucuses the 2,025 delegates necessary to win at the Denver convention without the votes of the superdelegates. And Clinton’s stunning performance Tuesday, particularly in Ohio, makes Obama’s argument that superdelegates should automatically back the will of the voters—and not use independent political judgment about who can best compete against Republican John McCain in November—look like an awfully simplistic calculus.

    Add up all the states he has won in his historic drive to become the nominee, including all of those small and deeply “red” Republican states where the Obama supporters boast of their candidate’s transcendental appeal, and so far Obama has won in places representing 193 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency. Add up Clinton’s victories thus far and she has triumphed in states representing 263 electoral votes. 


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    Of course, some states in Clinton’s column—Texas comes most readily to mind—that have a large trove of Electoral College votes are highly unlikely to wind up Democratic in the fall. But the same holds true for Obama, whose strength in Southern Democratic primaries has rested on the huge margins he has run up among African-American voters. African-Americans are a crucial constituency for Democrats, but their votes in recent contests haven’t been enough to win such states as Alabama, South Carolina or Georgia.

    In a new memo, Clinton strategists Mark Penn and Harold Ickes point out that the 2004 Democratic nominee, John Kerry, lost these states and several others in which Obama has won primaries by 15 points or more. In Utah, Idaho, Nebraska, North Dakota, Kansas and Alaska—all states the Obama forces point to with pride as evidence of an emerging “50-state strategy”—no Democrat has won the general election since 1964.

    So how has Obama fared in those states that are the crucial building blocks of a Democratic general election strategy? He’s won his home state of Illinois, plus Wisconsin, Washington and Minnesota. Together, these states account for 51 electoral votes. Clinton has won her home state of New York, as well as California, New Jersey and Michigan, representing a total of 118 electoral votes. This sum deliberately leaves out Ohio and Florida, which will be hotly contested in the fall.

    There is a reason some states are called general election “battlegrounds.” It is because partisan identification is roughly even, or because certain groups in the electorate, such as Catholics, Hispanics or blue-collar whites, switch their allegiances—or split their votes. That’s why Clinton made so much in her victory speech about the “bellwether” nature of Ohio: “It’s a battleground state. It’s a state that knows how to pick a president. And no candidate in recent history, Democrat or Republican, has won the White House without winning the Ohio primary,” she said.

    There is no papering over the depth of the problem Obama faced there. He won only five of the state’s 88 counties, an inauspicious foundation for a general election campaign. Clinton trounced him among Catholic voters, 63 percent to 36 percent, according to exit polls. She beat him among voters in every income category and bested him by 14 points among those making less than $50,000 annually.

    This is why Pennsylvania, which is demographically similar to Ohio—and a must-win state for Democrats in November—is considered such fertile ground for Clinton on April 22.

    The Democratic Party is indeed developing a general election problem, and it’s only partly because Obama and Clinton will be sniping at one another for the next seven weeks. Obama, the leading candidate, still hasn’t shown he has appeal in a large battleground state that will be pivotal in the fall. In this sense, Pennsylvania is where Obama’s back, and not Clinton’s, is up against the wall.

    Marie Cocco’s e-mail address is mariecocco(at)   

    © 2008, Washington Post Writers Group

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By Teaxs voter, March 11, 2008 at 1:48 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Actually, Sen. Obama was on the ballot in Florida. He lost by a wide margin. Get your facts straight and stop spreading lies. Clinton did not campaign in Florida. All democratic candidates agreed to not campaign there. However, Obama still ran TV ads in Florida before the vote. So he was the only one who violated his pledge to not campaign, still lost by a wide margin and now has people like you spreading lies about what happened. He lost fair and square, get over it.

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By Tony Wicher, March 11, 2008 at 8:53 am Link to this comment

The best thing for the party is for both sides to agree on do-overs. I am an Obama supporter who would like to see a unified party in November. Whoever wins it should be fair and square. If Clinton wins Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania and we go to a brokered convention, and she manages to get enough super-delegates to get the nomination, so be it. I will support Clinton in the fall, no question. I have told the Obama campaign, many of whom are angry and talking about not supporting Clinton in the November that such an attitude will hand the country back to the Republicans. We are not going to win by splitting the party getting mad, taking our dolly and dishes and going home. We have influence only as Democrats. We are not some silly Naderites or Greens or Socialist Workers talking to ourselves in a phone booth.

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By i,Q, March 11, 2008 at 8:52 am Link to this comment

Don’t forget that Dems are showing up to vote in this nomination process over Repubs by a ratio of like 2 or 3 to 1. i really don’t see the GOP having much of a shot at suppressing those kind of numbers should the turnout in the general be similar, and this season they’ve got no wedge issue to speak of to drive voter turnout in their favor. As long as we can all kiss and make up after the nominee is decided—which will happen unless the nomination is perceived to be stolen, i don’t think it really matters for the general how bloodied up either of them get.

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By Tony Wicher, March 11, 2008 at 8:51 am Link to this comment

The best thing for the party is for both sides to agree on do-overs. I am an Obama supporter who would like to see a unified party in November. Whoever wins it should be fair and square. If Clinton wins Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania and we go to a brokered convention, and she manages to get enough super-delegates to get the nomination, so be it. I will support Clinton in the fall, no question. I have told the Obama campaign, many of whom are angry and talking about not supporting Clinton in the November that such an attitude will hadnd the country back to the Republicans. We are not going to win by splitting the party getting mad, taking our dolly and dishes and going home. We have influence only as Democrats. We are not some silly Naderites or Greens or Socialist Workers talking to ourselves in a phone booth.

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By Tony Wicher, March 11, 2008 at 8:42 am Link to this comment

What personal attacks? I don’t even know what you are talking about.

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By i,Q, March 11, 2008 at 8:27 am Link to this comment

i think she’s saying you’re an ass.

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By Tony Wicher, March 10, 2008 at 6:46 pm Link to this comment

I am a free human being blogging wherever I can, advocating whatever seems right to me. I have been supporting Obama because I think that is the best way to make progress to a more peaceful, civilized world in this concrete situation. I advocate my point of view within the Obama campaign as I do on Truthdig. I have been critical of Obama lately within the campaign and some other Obama supporters don’t like it. He may disappoint me and turn out to be “just another politician”. Or he may yet surprise me and manage by some supreme effort to rise above the muck. We shall see.

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By charlie kane, March 10, 2008 at 11:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The DNC does not have the final word in this matter the Credentials committee at the National Democratic Convention has the final word in this matter. Howard Dean is so fond of saying that we need to stick to the rules well my understanding is that in the end he does not make the decision, the credentials committee makes the decision and the credentials committee might very well decide that Howard Dean was out of line and seat the delegates.

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By Tony Wicher, March 10, 2008 at 8:38 am Link to this comment


Since my last post, James Carville has offered to raise 15 million for do-over primaries if the Obama people raise 15 million to match it. In other words, they got there first with my suggestion. Now I have told the Obama campaign that they should accept the offer with the proviso that the elections be held using all-paper ballots counted by hand.

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By cyrena, March 10, 2008 at 2:22 am Link to this comment

sg miller, just an FYI…

OBAMA did NOT ‘run his ads’ in Florida. The ads that were broadcast in Florida were ads created by the DNC, and were picked up by NBC and the one other broadcast monopoly, and I can’t swear to which one it was right now, though I’d be willing to check when I have time.  (MAYBE ABC, but don’t quote me on that). Maybe CY will remember, or somebody else might.

The point I’m making is that neither Barack Obama nor his campaign created an ad specifically to run in Florida, (as they did for other states) and neither he nor his campaign asked or forced the broadcast companies to air it. I believe that once they were aware that it was being aired, they requested that it NOT be aired.

Barack Obama did NOT, I repeat this, did NOT do any in person campaigning in the state of Florida, though Hillary Clinton DID sponsor 2 private fund raisers in that state, in the days/weeks before that contest. HRC was also in FLORIDA, on the evening of that contest, for yet ANOTHER fund raiser.

Let’s move on to the Michigan contest. Hillary CLINTON’s name was the ONLY one on the Democratic ballot. So, if you wanna play semantics on this, then we can. You’re right, Obama didn’t REMOVE his name, because once the ‘rules’ for Michigan and Florida had already been established, HIS NAME WAS NEVER PRINTED ON IT. Neither was ANY OTHER DEMOCRAT still in the race at that point!

In MY state, (California) ALL of the original candidates were on the ballots, despite the fact that Kucinich had already dropped out by that point. It takes a while to print the things up, in case you didn’t consider that. Now in MICHIGAN, they had plenty of time to know that the Dems weren’t gonna be seated, which is why there were NO OTHER CANDIDATES on the ballot, WITH THE EXCEPTION of HILLARY CLINTON! The only OTHER ‘option’ to HRC on the DEM ticket there, was ‘uncommitted’.

So, if you wanna make sure that facts are checked, then I suggest you check your own.

Now, do you suppose any of these actions by HRC might have been in VIOLATION of DNC RULES?

Stop the personal attacks, or ‘we dems’ will not win in November. Hillary may win, but she’s not a Democrat, which is probably why she was the only one on the ticket in MI. They could have saved money and just put her on the same ticket with the rest of the repugs. That’s what she is.

And, why should Obama put up any money for another prelim in these two states? The rules are the rules, and they ALL knew in advance, what they were!! Besides, WE didn’t decide to have our contests early in violation of the rules.

Guess ya’ll will just have to wait until November to cast a vote that will count. At least you’ll be able to do that much. If you lived in Texas, you wouldn’t be able to vote in the general election unless you had cast a vote in the primary.

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By cyrena, March 10, 2008 at 2:00 am Link to this comment


Thanks for the re-summary, since I somehow have a feeling that many folks, (outside MI and FL) might not have understood exactly how this all came about.

In fact, I didn’t learn until the latter part of January, what was going on, or WHY. I was astounded when I learned from a friend in Michigan, (who had decided that she wasn’t going to bother to vote) that only Hillary would be on the Democratic ticket, and that no write-ins would be allowed.

I was totally befuddled, until I started asking around, and discovered that Michigan and Florida were being penalized by the party, for holding their contests early.

And, while both states KNEW that they would be penalized, and what that penalty WOULD BE, they did it anyway. (had their primaries/caucuses early.)

So, who do we blame for that? Apparently the governors of both states didn’t have a problem with that, DESPITE the fact that it meant that their constituents would be disenfranchised. What about the repugs in both states? Do they normally have their contests that early? Do they not vote on the same day for their contests? In other words, if the MI and FL were holding their contests earlier than agreed upon, were the repugs not holding theirs early as well?

Maybe not, since repugs obviously have different rules. But why then, are the Repug delegates recognized and not the Democratic ones? (I think another poster mentioned that at least in Michigan, it had been agreed that ½ of the repug delegates would be seated).

I guess my point is that whomever screwed up, (because that’s what it is) and allowed the atrocity to begin with, needs to pay for any re-do, even though I’m not so sure that one should even happen. As awful as it is for the residents of those states, the whole issue of a re-do at this point, just smacks of Bush-Rove-Repug-Neoconning type tactics. Like the shrub has done all of his life. As long as he’s winning the game, then the rules, (that he initially made on his own) will apply. If he starts losing, then he changes the rules, or extends the game into his enforced overtime, or demands that it all start over. It’s just so typically ROVE/REPUG and HRC!!

So, I’m inclined to just say…Sorry MI, sorry FL. It’s a painful lesson, but hopefully one with great educational value. Fool us once. They can still vote in November, and maybe they’ll even decide to dump their Repug governors as well.

That said, your idea is a good political strategy, seeing as how Obama can afford it, and Hillary can’t. (Hell, his supporters can pinch another $15.00 or $25.00 out of next week’s petty cash…the kids just have to give up a movie or pizza one night) But, that isn’t the point. There were MULTIPLE candidates on both sides, when this whole agreement was initiated. NOW, this far down the road, when the numbers look far better for Barack than they do for Hillary, why should ANYBODY be paying for a re-do?

At some point I think, our political system needs to get back to at least some recognition of accountability. If I screw up and make a really bad error in judgment, or even a minor error in judgment, (like not enough quarters in the parking meter) I definitely pay the price. 

Those were the rules, and nobody can claim that they ‘didn’t know’.

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By Mary Kay, March 9, 2008 at 11:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Lost in the discussions of the Florida primary has seemed to be HOW the date of the primary was set.  It is my understanding our(an overwhelmingly Republican )STATE LEGISLATURE set the date——-(Florida’s voting record need not be reviewed here)
SO…....Republicans past the legislation that set our primary date and somehow Democrats in the state were supposed to be able to do something about that????  Huh???????
I am curious why this aspect of the date seems to be rarely discussed…....AND…...ALL the Democratic candidates had their names on Florida’s ballot——equal chance to vote for any of them————mkay

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By Jon, March 9, 2008 at 6:43 pm Link to this comment

I understand, given the way the numbers are coming out that it could be suggested that there may be an electability problem for Mr. Obama. 

However, I believe that espescially given the lopsided fund raising and the seemigly inordinate amount of voters switching and voting democratic in these primaries and caucuses, that the standard logic and polling cannot necessarily be applied in this election. 

I believe, the current scenario suggests that people are fed up with the situation, on so many levels, that this president has put us in, and the fact that Mr. Obama has done as well(better than was intially predicted) as he has so far further suggests that people are indeed, ready for a change. 

I believe, if it can be shown that Hillary Clinton is merely paying lip service to change, then Obama may be viewed more as the true change agent this country is seeking.

As far as the states who voted so far, I do not believe given again, the fund raising disparity and the change in voter registration that any or at least very few can be pigeon holed as either voting republican or democratic in this election.

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By Douglas Chalmers, March 8, 2008 at 11:37 pm Link to this comment

Tony Wicher’s Blog for Peace - A forum for a new foreign policy based on peace, democracy and human rights instead of hegemony and war, with particular attention to the Israel/Palestine conflict as the key to a new Middle East policy…

Its nice that you have sympathies about the Israel/Palestine issue, TW, but your ideas are not exactly what Barack Obama believes or intends. He is a legalist whist you are an idealist. The two are NOT synonymous, uhh.

You have naively projected your own ideas onto him and his campaign. As a worker for his campaign, you can get away with that but it is not a genuine position to be blogging about independently while you are also running a bolg on Obama’s The Ring website.

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By sg miller, March 8, 2008 at 9:45 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

to tony wicher:
recheck just how “scrupulously” obama was in Florida…
1. you will discover he ran campaign ads there, violating the DNC rules.
2. he “choose” to remove his name in Mich.
3. Clinton has ALREADY proposed to the Obama folks that they will contribute 15mill for another primary.
they did not accept this as of yet.
Check your facts, stop the personal attacks or we Dems will NOT win in Nov.

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By Marian Dunnwebber, March 8, 2008 at 8:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In Florida the Republican body and the Republican Governor settled when it would be the election day over the objections of the Democrats who were not in the majority.
The Republicans were allow to seat 1/2 of their delegates but the Democratic Governing body decided it was better to punish the Florida Group evidently do to the fact that they did not have the majority of the powers how dare they not have more members to protect themselves.  How much did they pay Dean to side with the Republicans that pulled off the stunt?
Did he get enough to pay postage to all those who voted before?  After all isn’t it their vote that is in question.
Obama had his advertisments running in Florida.

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By s.a.b., March 8, 2008 at 7:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I would just like to mention that Obama,s camp was saying that hillary,s camp was picking and choosing states that they could win but when i was watching cnn last nite they had a spokesman on for the obama camp that said he had a list of states that they picked way before this campaign started that he could win and lose. How is it wrong for hillary to project which states would be better to win than it is for obama to have a lists its been going by for months and picking and choosing .To me they both should be that focused on what the people want out of them which i really think hillary does. Also delegates in the state of ohio even though hillary won are still pledging to obama that is not right either because the people that elected them in can vote them out since they arnt listening to the people.

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By Texas democrat, March 8, 2008 at 8:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Obama and Clinton were both on the Florida ballot, and he lost. He was the only Democrat to run TV ads in Florida despite having pledged to not campaign there. Stop spreading misinformation and lies.

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By Tony Wicher, March 7, 2008 at 3:08 pm Link to this comment

He did not lose fair and square. He never competed by campaigning. There was no real election. Without campaigning, Hillary already had the advantage of name recognition. It is completely unfair. If Howard Dean is worth anything, and I think he is, he will never allow Florida or Michigan to count without a re-vote. It will destroy the party. I have written to him that if he caves on this, I’m voting for Ralph Nader in November, which is pretty much the same as staying home. I believe lots of Obama supporters, especially blacks, of course, will do the same.

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By bert, March 7, 2008 at 3:05 pm Link to this comment


This is my second post on your comments. The more I think about this, the more I am certain you are on to something. Especially as regards this piece:

“Unfortunately, the current formula of the DNC does not mirror the general election formula, hence we are stuck with a complicated method, THAT IS PROBABLY THE REASON WHY THE DEMOCRATS HAVE FAILED TO DOMINATE IN THE PRESIDENTIAL CONTESTS IN RECENT HISTORY.”  [caps mine]

I had never thought about our nominating process like this before. Because of our proportional allocation of delegates - which is just so democratic and sounds so good and noble - we may be missing something. We may be shooting ourselves in the foot every four years. We may be failing to get a real consensus of what a majority of Americans seek in a candidate. We become too fractured in our primary system and end up choosing a candidate that a majority of voters cannot support.

Or as Will Rogers said a generation ago - “I don’t belong to any organized political party. I am a Democrat.”

Humor aside, I think this is worth pursuing. Are you active in your local Dem party.? Are you on a first name basis with any Dem office holders? If so, you might want to take your ideas to them and have it work its way up the chain of command.

In any event, after this primary season the Democratic party had better revisit their primary system. It is time for an overhaul. It is long overdue.

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By Tony Wicher, March 7, 2008 at 2:22 pm Link to this comment

I was watching the news (KCET) last night and they had a segment where they were interviewing governors of Florida and Michigan. These states went against party rules by trying to move up the dates of their primaries, and the party responded by saying the delegates would not be seated in the national convention. Clinton and Obama did not campaign there. Now Clinton has been saying that these delegates should be seated. Howard Dean says that unless there is a re-vote, they will not be seated. He sounds very firm about this. It would be unfair to Obama who has scrupulously followed the rules, and even withdrew his name from the ballot in Michigan (Clinton did not). I just wrote Howard to tell him I agree with his position on this. The governors were also agreeing with Howard; they both think a revote (preceded by a fresh campaign, of course) would be great for their states and for the Democratic party. The sticking point seems to be the question of who is going to pay for it.  Howard Dean has said that it is not going to be the DNC. Both governors say it is not going to be the taxpayers of their states. They agreed that it ought to be the candidates themselves: they could both go to their donor base to raise the money. I think this is a fine idea. I think Obama should make a public offer to supply the funds if Clinton will match them. How could she refuse? If she does, she will be responsible for disenfranchising the voters. I think this would make Barack look great, and make Hillary look like the conniving politician she is! I also think it would engage the voters of these two states and would be good for the party and for our chances in November. What do you think?

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By bert, March 7, 2008 at 1:46 pm Link to this comment

Is this journalism, opinion or editorial?

Been to high school. Been to college. Have taught in both. So what’s your point?

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By Teddi Curtis, March 7, 2008 at 1:43 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I added up all of the popular votes cast so far for Clinton, Obama and McCain, and I included the uncommitted votes in Michigan for Obama.
Clinton = 12,661,949
Obama = 12,594,478 (237,762 uncommitted)
McCain = 6,763,681

So, Hillary wins the popular vote!  She beats McCain by 2 to 1….

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By Texas voter, March 7, 2008 at 6:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Actually, Sen. Obama was on the Florida ballot. He lost fair and square even though he was the only Democrat who ran TV ads in Florida prior to the vote, despite the fact that all Democratic candidates had agreed to not campaign there.

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By cyrena, March 7, 2008 at 1:57 am Link to this comment

I agree Louise. Those were the rules they agreed to.

Ya know, when you mention that they need to do something about this before the next election, it reminds me of what happened after the horror of the 2000 election. (yes…that was the most egregious example of non-democracy to date). But since then, we’ve also wiped out the principles installed in the document that set this up as a democracy to begin with.
After this long, we’ve ceased to have a democracy.

Still, I was reading all of those figures that the analyst1970 posted, and specifically the part where he/she mentions that whatever all of those numbers represent, and a recommendation:

” As you can see, a winner-take-all scenario best mirrors the electoral college.”

Holy Shit! Isn’t the electoral college malfunction what brought us the nightmare we’ve been living for the past 7 plus years? Yeah, that’s how I remember it.

I also remember, (very specifically from 12/2000) that HILLARY CLINTON claimed electoral system was grossly flawed, and that it needed to be corrected. That was over seven years ago, nothing yet. No legislation introduced. 7 years.

Talk about taking a crash course in sense and sensibility. The US electoral system is bad news. If the popular vote, (the will of the people) can be overruled by such a screwed up system, when do we figure we should change it?

I’m actually serious here. As slow and burdensome as the legal system is, with getting old/ineffective/unenforceable laws off the books, or at least revised, THAT actually happens faster, and it’s INTENDED to be slow and plodding. Still, when a law becomes totally obsolete, or can not longer be enforced, or is always problematic in it’s interpretation, we get around to making the necessary changes.

So, we’ve had well over 7 years to address the horrors of the flawed electoral system, since this ‘winner take all’ suff has NEVER been a good thing in my opinion, and I say that regardless of the party or the candidates. It just doesn’t suit the publics interest if we really do believe ourselves to be selecting a president, and not a Monarchy or a dictator.

Obama’s run is the first challange to that Monarchy type system, in over 3 decades, (well, since Nixon in my opinion, since he didn’t come from any standing Dynasty) but I could be missing somebody. I’m tired. I’ll check in with my presidential historian expert later. wink

Still, it just seems like we would have done away with this electoral system entirely, after the disaster of the neocons coup of 2000.

But, sense and sensibility are not always apparent with the numbers’ crunchers.  Like they somehow leave out ENTIRE segments of the analysis…like the fact that the numbers represent HUMAN BEINGS, and not machines.

Reminds me of a social science experiment gone wrong, (decades old). It was done up at Standford, and I wanna say it was the Milford project, or something close. The basic thing was to split a bunch of students up and make half of them prisoners, and the other have the prison guards. (and see what would happen)

Well, it turned horrific, and the guy that had the idea, and was doing it, was just sitting there doing his observations, and crunching his numbers, as things got more and more out of hand. His girlfriend happened by in the midst of it.  She took one look and yelled. It was something like..MY GOD!!! What are you DOING? This is insane! STOP! Let them out!

And the guy is looking all dufus and surprised like…What’s wrong? Well nothing expect you’ve got torture going on here, and these kids have obviously gone off the deep end. It’s a flippin’ disaster!! He was just fine though.

So, you’ve got one guy selected by the majority of the people, and the other guy picked by the numbers. 7 years later – ANYBODY WORRIED?

Do we need a NEW SYSTEM, or just some new numbers crunchers?

Electoral college my ass.

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By Neil, March 7, 2008 at 1:52 am Link to this comment

(not sure how to do links here, but here are the links to numbers by request)
Michigan (scroll down for Dems):
(select president (statewide) for total numbers)

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By cyrena, March 6, 2008 at 10:28 pm Link to this comment

I only knew that HILLARY was the only one on the Michigan ballot, and I have a copy of that one.

Florida I didn’t know, though I do remember Lefty saying that he had voted for Gravel. So, I assumed there might be other names on the ballot, or that write-ins had been allowed. But, I was never certain for Florida.

So, if Obama was on the ballot, where any other candidates? They were ALL on the California ballot.

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By Maani, March 6, 2008 at 9:23 pm Link to this comment


I second bert’s comment: this is superb work.  You are to be highly commended.


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By michele, March 6, 2008 at 8:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thanks for the tutorial Bert. This is why I don’t generally say anything in response to all you people who must not have much else to do but this.
Op Eds still have to be based in some type of responsible journalism, not blind writing.
I actually have several writer friends who do op eds for papers and I teach this in high school.
Trust me when I tell you , this is not reliable or responsible editorial writing. It’s an opinion that is not able to be backed by much at all and is a waste of the readers time, does not serve to educate. So, Bert, you are the one who should’ get with the program.” I can’t believe what an intelligent response that was. “Get with the prgram?” What grade are you in? Maybe I will teach you when you get to high school!

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By Louise, March 6, 2008 at 5:24 pm Link to this comment

Really! I didn’t know that!
Maybe there’s a lot of other stuff I don’t know.
References with links would be appreciated. smile

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By bert, March 6, 2008 at 5:24 pm Link to this comment

Michelle - Marie is not a reporter but an editorial writer. This is op ed. Opinion Editorial. Get with the program. Please!!!

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By bert, March 6, 2008 at 5:21 pm Link to this comment

Analyst1970 - GREAT post and great crunching of numbers. You did a great job of explaining this. Better by far than my feeble attempts on this site. Thanks and kudos for a job well done.

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By Analyst1970, March 6, 2008 at 3:40 pm Link to this comment

According to recent CNN exit polls, Democratic Primary voters indicated that they would like the super delegates to vote for the candidates based on the way the primary voters voted.  So do they mean by congressional district, or by state?  If the considerations are being made for the super delegates, should the same rule apply to the pledged delegates?  It makes a difference.  If the Democrats had a primary system that was more straightforward, and the winner of the popular vote won all the states’ pledged delegates, then Hillary Rodham Clinton would currently have 1430 delegates, compared to Barack Obama’s 1205 delegates.  Why does this matter?

This is where “electability” in the general election comes to play.  The general election employs a winner-take-all-electoral-college-votes systems, it is not parsed out by congressional districts.  I indulged myself and looked at the numbers by electoral college.  If this were the general between the two, Hillary would currently have 219 (267 if you count FL and MI) electoral college votes to Barack’s 193.  Out of these Hillary would have won 121 in ‘blue’ states (CA, MA, NH, NJ, NY, RI) and 98 in ‘red’ states (AZ, AR, NV, NM, OH, OK, TN, TX).  On the other hand Obama would have won 86 in ‘blue’ states (CT, DC, DE, HI, IL, ME, MD, MN, VT, WA, WI), and 107 in ‘red’ states (AL, AK, CO, GA, ID, IA, KS, LO, MS, NE, ND, SD, SC, UT, VA).  Hillary wins blue states by 35
electoral college votes, and loses red states by 9 electoral college votes.  In a winner-take-all delegates model, the trends carry, with Hillary winning the blue state delegates by 261, and losing the red state delegates by 36.  If we stick with the winner-take-all formula, while Hillary would win the pledged delegates race 1,430 to 1,205, get this, she loses the super-delegates race to Obama 287 to 329.  Why, well in the states that Hillary has won, the super delegates represent an average of 17% of the total state delegates & 20% of the pledged delegates, while in the states Obama won, the super delegates represent an average of 21% of the total state delegates & 27% of the pledged delegates.  The table below summarizes these results (to date).  Again, assume a winner take all scenario.
  Pledged Del.  Super Del.  Total Del   % Pledged Del   &#xSu;per Del   &#xTo;tal Del   Electoral College   Elec % College
Obama   1,205   329   1,534   45.73%  53.41%  47.19%  193   46.84%
Clinton   1,430   287   1,717   54.27%  46.59%  52.81%  219   53.16%
Total   2,635   616   3,251           412  

As you can see, a winner-take-all scenario best mirrors the electoral college.  Unfortunately, the current formula of the DNC does not mirror the general election formula, hence we are stuck with a complicated method, that is probably the reason why the Democrats have failed to dominate in the presidential contests in recent history.  It’s being said that this presidential election is the Democrats’ to lose, I sure hope the super-delegates value their role as leaders, and lead the party to victory.

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By Aegrus, March 6, 2008 at 1:27 pm Link to this comment

Hillary still has a big chance to take Florida, even if we get a do-over. I will be trying to get our government to do a mail-in ballot for a ‘do-over’. It’s really the only effective way to combat the vicious voter suppression we are subject to.

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By Louise, March 6, 2008 at 11:25 am Link to this comment

Lots’a good points there ... no reason for repeating them. But when did I let a little thing like that stop me? wink

If the Governors of Michigan and Florida are upset, they should go after the party leaders in THEIR respective states, because they were a part of the decision that led to the States being disenfranchised. And, if the voters in Michigan and Florida are upset, they should go after the Governors who probably could have stepped forward before, rather than after the fact and brought saner heads to prevail. And they should ALL go after whoever brought the lawsuit that led to a decision that the primaries could be held, which led to the confusion that brought voters out to vote in nonbinding caucus/primaries. If ANY of them had the sense God gave a green apple, they would have re-set their caucus and primary dates to conform to party rules, then gone after the party to change the rules after the election.

And down the road, if anybody remembers [or cares to bother] the party needs to go after the party to clean up this mess and make sure it never happens again!

In a perfect world Florida and Michigan would be allowed to have another vote, throwing out the first one. And BOTH candidates would be on the ballet. But this is not a perfect world, so it’s doubtful that will happen. Consider the ramifications. Which of the previous candidates might have faired better had they been on the ballots and campaigned in those States. How might that have affected where we are right now? Would that have changed the faces’ of the front runners. Would there be more than two candidates on the ballet now. Would one or both of the front runners have been eliminated. Would the whole thing have shifted to create a totally different landscape?

Probably not. But possibly so. The thing is we don’t know. And never will. And allowing Hillary to claim the votes from Florida and Michigan is disingenuous at best, especially in Michigan where she was the only name on the ballot. So like it or not, we are where we are. And like it or not this situation actually plays against Hillary, because she started calling for those votes to count the day after that non-binding vote. And she already KNEW they were not going to count. And as far as the democrat party is concerned the vote is non-binding. And that stinks, because the lame-brains should have known this would happen! But all the same, we need to ask ourselves, were the tables turned and Obama was the only name on the ballot and he wanted those votes, is it likely Hillary would be screaming you cant have them?

I think so. For the very simple reason while the leading candidates agreed to remove their names from the ballot, Hillary made the choice to leave hers on. Not hard to predict you’ll win against your major competitor when that competitor is not in the race, right? Which means it wasn’t really a race, right? which means Hillary didn’t really win anything ... right?

So sorry, the votes can’t count. And I mean it sincerely when I say sorry. Because this is the most egregious example of non-democracy I can remember.

I take that back! Nothing compares to the Bush appointment to president.

However the Super-delegates in those States have not been disenfranchised and most likely will support the person who won the non-binding vote. Underlying even further, dems, particularly the dems from every State who make up the rules committee need to take a crash course in sense and sensibility, before the next election.

What a bunch of dummies!

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By bert, March 6, 2008 at 8:41 am Link to this comment

Well after reading Coccos’s latest outstanding piece I was going to write and suggest that all of us should just keep quiet and save the time and energy of writing at all as I am sure the same things that were siad by the smae folks (including me) have already been written as posts to Clinton Holds the line and Pelosis charge to super delagates.

But I see I was way too late in getting this out. Time difference I suppose as I am on the west coast.

This article is stating the same thing as I have been saying and is just a different version of the two articles and research I have already cited. And I am positive this will have the same effect on Obama supporters, which is to say it will be ignored and denigrated but talked about loudly and continuously ad infintum… nausium.

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By bert, March 6, 2008 at 8:34 am Link to this comment

You need to go back to school and learn some U.S. History and basic Civics.

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By hollywood, March 6, 2008 at 7:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Cyrena makes some valid points.  In he end, however, Marie fails to recognize that this may be 1964 all over again—if Obama is the nominee.

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By Neil, March 6, 2008 at 7:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Oops. Not only was Obama on the ballot in Florida, but he got nearly 600,000 votes.

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By Neil, March 6, 2008 at 7:37 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Kucinich, Dodd, and Gravel were on the ballot in Michigan and 238,168 voted for “Undecided.” If Undecided was 100% Obama (Edwards was still in the race, so it likely wasn’t), then it is still a clear Clinton victory.  That Obama (and Edwards) didn’t bother to go through the process and the other four did doesn’t mean either of them would have won at the polls that night.

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By Marshall K, March 6, 2008 at 6:49 am Link to this comment

Howard Dean was on NPR last night and made clear that the Dems were not going to change the rules in the middle of the game and allow Michigan and Florida to have a primary.  The rules were accepted by all when the race started.  Changing them in the middle of the race would call into huge question the legitimacy of the whole process. 

The “process”, with its marathon campaigning, super delegates, caucus-primaries, two stupid little states with a butt load of clout, etc. creates enough of its own fog of incredibility without changing the rules, too.

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By cyrena, March 6, 2008 at 5:02 am Link to this comment

Latest from MSM on the Florida and Michigan atrocity.

Florida, Michigan Primary Do-Overs?
Increasing Calls For New Vote In States Disqualified By Democratic Party
WASHINGTON, March 6, 2008
•  “(CBS/AP) The governors of Michigan and Florida are saying it’s increasingly important that delegates from the two states be seated.”

OF COUSE IT IS!! It’s not ‘increasingly important’…it’s ALWAYS been important!  These are two states that are part of our 50! How the hell did ANYBODY ever agree that they should be left out? (and why did either of them engage is the stupidity of being pissed off that Iowa and New Hampshire happened to be ‘first’ to hold their caucuses?) Who cares whose ‘first’? We are FIFTY!! Everybody gets a turn!

•  “Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and Florida Governor Charlie Crist say it’s “reprehensible” the voices of 5.2 million people who voted in the two primaries would be silenced. “

More political bullshit spin from both of them, because they didn’t protest that this was ‘reprehensible’ before the Democrats from either state were PROHIITED from voting!

•  “Granholm, along with top officials in Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign and Florida’s state party chair, are NOW SAYING (caps are mine) they would consider holding a sort of do-over contest by June. That’s a change from their previous insistence that the primaries their states held in January should determine how their delegates are allocated.”

•  Well, why did they think that those primaries would hold any legitimacy, when the democrats of the state(s) weren’t allowed to vote for anyone other than Hillary?

“CBS News senior political correspondent Jeff Greenfield reported Wednesday that the Clinton campaign was considering asking for “re-dos” in the two states.”

Well yeah, I guess she would be asking for ‘re-dos’ since nobody in the world is gonna even think about considering the legitimacy of these states that she’s trying to claim as ‘wins’ when half the population didn’t get to register a vote for anyone other than her.

•  “Clinton won both contests, but the results were meaningless because the elections violated national party rules.”

Well, NO SHIT! They were MEANINGLESS for the reasons we already KNOW!! Hillary was the ONLY democrat to campaign in either state, and hers was the ONLY name on the democratic ballot of those still technically in the race, with clear instructions that NO WRITE-INS would be allowed!!

Should I break that down again? In Michigan, the only name on the democratic ballot was Hillary’s and the voters were advised in advance, that NO WRITE-INS would be acknowledged!  That was ON TOP of the fact that the DLC had already decided that NO democratic delegates would be seated/recognized. Based on that, a whole bunch of democrats didn’t even bother to go to the polls.

And she’s ‘considering’ DO-OVERS? Yeah well, that might backfire on her ass as well. If the voters in Michigan and Florida actually get a SELECTION, it might not be HER!!

In Florida, a few other dems, (besides Hillary) were still on the ballot that had been printed long before, but they had dropped out of the race by the time of the primary.

Again…it had ALREADY BEEN DECIDED, that their votes wouldn’t mean anything anyway!!!

So, why has Hillary still been claiming these as ‘winning states’, when it was decided long before, that they would be meaningless?

Because…as usual, she thought everybody was stupid, and that she could market/spin/innuendo it away, by claiming ‘victories’.

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Purple Girl's avatar

By Purple Girl, March 6, 2008 at 4:41 am Link to this comment

In a day and age when we can vote for ‘American Idols’ and instant Message- why must our election process continue to be dragged out?
Historically candiates need the opportunity to ‘Stump’- let the people see them and hear them- straight from the “Horses Mouth”. Honestly I feel I hear & see too much of these current Carpet baggers- didn’t we already Hire them to do another Job- How’s that going- Our estimates say you may have a tough time keeping that one, certainly not promotable performances.When’s the last time You were in the “Office”- We’ve got some criminals who need to be indicted and prosecuted for High Crimes- There IS a Phone Ringing- at your Senate Seat!
Why is it we “can’t” demand Proof our vote was counted correctly. why is it we can not ‘manage’ low tech. Why is it One Person, One vote is too difficult to determine results. why is it there are about 3 layers which superceed ‘the Popular vote’- Isn’t the Popular vote the Democractic vote. Let’s be realistic. California has mor epeople and a larger economy than Vermont- therefore should have the apporopriate proportions in the overall election- Policies effect more of them then Vermonters, or Michiganders either. Also what part of Democracy says it’s OK to skip over States because it has already been decided. The last states to vote in a primary/caucus and General should have the same candidates listed as the First States (every candidate who has put their name on the list for Consideration by the Citizens of US). This would also eliminate the need for PAC money or even personal donations to make it through the Gauntlet of ‘Races’. Short Campaigning seasons would also require those running to really do something notable, before they actually run for President. If the General Public doesn’t know you, you haven’t done enough for them yet.
We have the Technology- It’s called pen and Paper, One citizen one vote- all counted, and re counted as many time as it takes to verify the results. If it is a draw- We Vote again.electorial College, delegates Superdelegates, Hanging Chads and Butterfly ballots, ‘Scam’ Trons, censored ballots, Pocketing ‘lost’ Delegates for her rainy day (MI & FL)
Our Chain is Being Yanked Again. A scum like Vick would have paid through the nose for waht lies at the end of this ever shortening chain.
Cave Adsum

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By Michele, March 6, 2008 at 3:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I really cannot even believe this column makes it on to Truthdig with regularity.
It should be called “Hillary’s Column” or something of that type. This is reporting?
Hmmm…. where did this journalist get her views on objectivity?

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By cyrena, March 6, 2008 at 2:24 am Link to this comment

How did you get lust/sex/repug out of my post Chalmers?

You’re pretty obsessed with it. But then, so are alot of old sexually dysfunctional perverts.

That’s what’s been decided on you a long time ago.

Quite honestly, I really admire Obama’s character and intelligence, but MY own guy has a much better body. I’m really quite happy with it. No plans for a trade-in, and I’m too old to ‘fool around’. Besides, why would I take any chances on messing up a good thing?

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By Douglas Chalmers, March 6, 2008 at 1:40 am Link to this comment

You’re sounding more and more like a Republican supporter every day, cyrena - with a passing purely temporary sexual lust for the body of Barack Obama, duh.

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By cyrena, March 6, 2008 at 12:57 am Link to this comment

•  “And Clinton’s stunning performance on Tuesday, particularly in Ohio, makes Obama’s argument that superdelegates should automatically back the will of the voters—and not use independent political judgment about who can best compete against Republican John McCain in November—look like an awfully simplistic calculus.”

I’ve gotten to the point where I have to chuckle at Marie’s cheerleading for Clinton outfit. She keeps embellishing it. Now Clinton has had a STUNNING victory in Ohio. I’m not sure if we have the same idea of stunning. For me, “STUNNING” would have been like a landslide victory for Clinton, instead of the very close one that we saw. Now STUNNING was Clinton’s victory in New Hampshire, since it wasn’t at all expected, and still reeks of cheating. But, I don’t really see anything ‘stunning’ about the Ohio victory yesterday for Clinton. I mean, it was expected to be close, and there appears to be some hanky panky similar to what has plagued Ohio in the past, but there wasn’t anything STUNNING about it.

Then, to add to the cheerleading, Marie too, has counted Michigan as a ‘victory’ for Clinton, (just as Hillary did) even though we all know that the Michigan delegates won’t be seated, and that Hillary was the ONLY name on the democrats ticket in Michigan, and that voters were NOT allowed to do any write-ins.

Then it gets worse, since Maries math is even worse than all the other ‘math’ combined, since she compares not apples and oranges, but veggies and cereal here…

•  “Add up all the states he has won in his historic drive to become the nominee, including all of those small and deeply “red” Republican states where the Obama supporters boast of their candidate’s transcendental appeal, and so far Obama has won in places representing 193 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency. Add up Clinton’s victories thus far and she has triumphed in states representing 263 electoral votes. …Add up Clinton’s victories thus far and she has triumphed in states representing 263 electoral votes.”

Marie, I’m not math wizard, but you need a new calculator and a map.

How did you just ‘happen’ to ignore the traditionally BLUE states for nearly ALL general elections, like say…CALIFORNIA? Obama did quite well here, and in the last general election, so did Kerry. And New York? Do you really think that just because Hillary won New York, that McCain would win it in the general election over Obama? Give me a flippin’ break!!

Texas? Who knows? Texas HAS been a red state for a while, so I have to say that I honestly don’t know. Still, Marie apparently writes with a straight face, when she assumes that those superdelegates are just gonna blow off the popular vote, and vote instead for Hillary. Then again, those are the same kinds of arrogant assumptions that Hillary started out with, which is exactly why she’s still behind by 89 delegates, even after her ‘stunning win’. (And, that doesn’t include Michigan, which so far, doesn’t HAVE any delegates to count).

Poor Marie. Poor Hillary.

On the other hand, if Hillary does win the nomination, and the White House stays in repug hands, there will be plenty of jobs left. Maybe not journalist jobs, but some people will stay behind to do things like trash collection or maid service in the White House.

Any other able bodied American citizens will have their bags packed, and ready to hit the road for other destinations. Yep, same as abandoning a sinking ship I suppose, but it’s all about survival.

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