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If wishing won elections

Reclusive Leftist wonders why Obama is still the front-runner after his humiliating defeat in Pennsylvania last Tuesday:

It was thus that I learned about the realpolitik of nominating contests. A lot has changed in the process since 1968, and all to the good. More actual voting, fewer smoke-filled rooms. But what hasn’t changed is the purpose of the whole thing: to settle on the candidate with the best chance to win in the general election.

If I had a time machine and could go back to 1968 or 1972 to chew over a thought experiment with one of those old pros, the conversation might go like this:

Violet: Okay, hypothetical situation. Let’s say we’ve got two strong candidates. Candidate A wins the Iowa caucus. Candidate B wins New Hampshire. Then Candidate A catches fire and in February wins a bunch of caucuses and small primaries in mostly Republican states. Racks up the lead in delegates. But then Candidate B comes roaring back and wins New York, California, Massachusetts, Ohio, New Jersey, Texas, Pennsylvania. Who’s the front-runner?
Old Pro from 1968/72: Are you kidding me?
Violet: No, really — who’s the front runner?
Old Pro: Candidate B, of course. What’s the matter with you?
Violet: But Candidate A leads in pledged delegates!
Old Pro: Candidate A is the guy who had a good February? But then loses in all the big states?
Violet: Right.
Old Pro: You’re actually asking me this question?
Violet: But don’t the pledged delegates count?
Old Pro: You’re talking about nominating the guy who lost New York, California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, and Florida? Jesus! You’re outta your mind!
Violet: But what about his delegates?
Old Pro: Fight it out at the convention if you have to. Geez. That’s what conventions are for. Look, you don’t get to be the nominee because you were popular in February in Utah. For chrissake, if you can’t win the Democratic primaries in California or New York or Massachusetts or Florida or Texas or Ohio or Pennsylvania, you don’t get to be the Democratic nominee. Unless you’re Hubert Humphrey. Wait a minute, Humphrey isn’t still alive, is he?

Sadly for Senator Obama, wishes don’t win elections. And since the dark months of winter, Senator Clinton has pulled her campaign out of that slump and shown how happily voters respond to brains, organization and the most articulate candidate.

Super Delegates get to use any criteria they want when making their vote. But, I agree with Reclusive Leftist — I think big states and recent momentum are going to be hard to beat on the convention floor.

Let’s help Hillary keep the momentum going. For my birthday I’m going to set up a recurring pledge to her campaign. Using this page, we can pledge any amount from $5.00 up to recur monthly. Please celebrate my birthday with me — and set up a recurring pledge for yourself.

Because wishing doesn’t win elections.

Thank you.

32 Responses

  1. I’m going to put this out there: even if Clinton doesn’t have the lead in the popular vote count at the end, she should be our nominee not simply because she’s vastly electable in her own right, but because Obama would be an absolute disaster. Besides, with her we stand to gain the working class, women (esp. white women), Latinos, and can even contend with McCain in “red” states like AR, KY, or WV. That is just huge. We not only win with her, but win big–across the board. The difference between an Obama and a Clinton nomination couldn’t be more stark.

    However, I fear the supers are so cowardly and foolishly out of touch with reality that they’ll hand it to Obama to avoid being accused of “racism” or “stealing” the nomination from The Chosen One (Even the once-admirable Jon Stewart is spewing this bullshit lie, as if Obama can win without supers).

  2. Kbird- Happy Birthday, please save me a piece of b’day cake!! The SDs also have to consider that Hillary lost all those primaries because her (I’m sure well-meaning, but ineffective) campaign manager was cash poor and blew a bunch of the primaries. I live in Maryland and we had absolutely not support to GOTV. We could not even get Hillary stickers to give out. I know that ‘it is part of the game’ and that you do not get redos, but the SD are going to want to win in November and the fact that Hillary was bad in Feb, is of limited importance. ‘Stop her before she wins” is an attempt to stop Hillary from showing the SDs and voters that she is now riding a wave.

  3. “But what hasn’t changed is the purpose of the whole thing: to settle on the candidate with the best chance to win in the general election.”

    Not sure I agree with that part of the quote really. Granted, one could argue that a even bad Dem is better than any Republican, but personally I’d rather cast my vote for the Dem who I think will do the best job for the American people, not the one I think has the best angle on winning. Matter of perspective i suppose. (Oh, and just to clarify so as not to get lynched… 😉 I’m not saying HRC is a “bad Dem”, I’m talking in generalities there about the statement, not about particular candidates.) I believe Dems should vote for who they think will do the best job and party solidarity will get whomever that is elected. Party solidarity that has, unfortunately, much evaporated in this primary season.

    As for the rest, I agree it’s disappointing that Obama couldn’t carry more of the ‘big Blue’ states, but I also think it’s a bit of a stretch to imagine NY, Mass, CA, etc. not going Blue in the General. The margins are just to big. Heck, I imagine even Mike Gravel would have carried them in a GE.

  4. billd: “Oh, and just to clarify so as not to get lynched…”

    Thou shall not use the verb “lynch” this electoral cycle. Big no, no…. 😉

  5. ROFL… good point. 😉

  6. billd:

    About those traditional blue states, Paul Lukasiak has a post running the numbers, that shows how weak Obama is in those states.

  7. Wonder how soon the Obama’s will be asking Rev. Wright over to dinner?

  8. Yea saw that… Clinton’s looking weaker against McCain as well which is just silly. He’s a really, really weak candidate and should be very easy for the Dem’s to roll over, particularly with his vocal support of the Iraq war, his many personal and political gaffe’s, his ignorance of economy and foreign policy, etc, etc, etc..

    The losses by both our candidates are mainly due (I believe) to the extended primary season. Fact is we’re doing the Republican’s work for them and their just sitting back and hoarding all the little gems they find along with their thinning dollars for the General. On the plus side, I do believe once either Obama or Clinton is able to fully focus on McCain the losses we’re sustaining now will not be insurmountable, provided we as a party are able to look past the “bitterness” (yea, I know 😛 ) and divisivness of this primary season to support whomever wins.

    Supporters of both sides who say they will not vote for the other should they win just annoy me. This isn’t about Obama vs Clinton so much as it’s about the reversing the disastrous policies of the Bush years. If we actually follow through with those petty promises and hand this election to McCain, then may all the suffering among the poor, the countless deaths in Iraq, the bankrupt and homeless families in our own Nation, those who continue to suffer and even die without medical insurance, be on our own heads. Clinton or Obama – Obama or Clinton… it’s about fixing what’s wrong with this country, not about ‘taking our toys and going home’ if we don’t get our first choice.

    I just hope Democrats remember that when the smoke finally clears.

  9. There are still 3 candidates in the running and all are about even in the national at this point. As soon as one drops out the other will surge into the lead. I doubt any good dem wants 4 more years of Bush lite.

  10. about those ‘blue’ states – ca has a rep gov. and has had one
    with only a brief respite (gray davis) for quite a few years.
    of our 58 counties – only 19 have dem majorities, albeit they are the most populous, but the explosion in pop of red counties
    – san joaquin, kern, placer,el dorado, sacto, riverside, etc cannot be ignored and they are RED – california is not in the bag. we need a candidate who can connect w/voters in the central valley as well as marin county.

    btw – i got a call last night from a ca dnc member who is campaigning to keep his seat – cdp exec board votes in june for our elected dnc members – i told him i would not vote for a dnc candidate who would not support counting the votes in fla & mi BEFORE the convention…and would he take a long hard look at this disaster they turned this into by penalizing millions of voters in two large swing states and promise to never let it happen again
    He said he wholeheartedly agreed w/me – but maybe he just wanted my vote :>)

  11. billd, I assumed that I would vote for whichever one the nomination. But I will not vote for Obama now. I don’t sincerely believe that him winning would be better in any way – not for me, not for the Democratic party, not for the nation. Better to have a disastrous Republican President and a popular Democratic congress, and be set up to take the Presidency back in four years, than to have a disastrous Democratic president whose supporters will purge me and mine from the party, and who will drag the name Democrat through the mud.

    I do not mean to be inflammatory. I apologize if I come across as really negative about it. But I really do feel that strongly about it, and I keep hoping that somehow people will wake up and realize – this isn’t some abstract intellectual game we’re playing here. The DNC can’t just treat people so badly and then play their usual game of blame the voters for not voting they way they “ought”. The DNC has GOT to get past this “ought” stuff and start treating its people right, because this time it has gone way too far.

  12. When race and gender are left out of your analysis, katiebird, it is clear as day. And I dare say if two white men were running, there would be a unity ticket, or if that couldn’t be done the person who couldn’t take the big states would be shoved aside. That can’t happen this time because race and gender matter as historic markers, as reasons why some people are voting for particular candidates in the first place, and as cultural problems that run deep. I am not suggesting this is the fault of either of the candidates. Those who threaten to leave the party do so for basically one of two reasons: 1) the actually object strongly to other person’s policies or 2) they have an absolute hatred of the other person (regardless of the reasons, which are many). I don’t see a solution. I am a voter who is part of the problem. I am angry with the DNC, I can’t stand Obama’s personality or his wimpy policies, and the only way to get me is to have a ticket with Clinton as president (I would accept Obama as VP reluctantly). I see that I am part of the problem; I agree we can’t let McCain win. It’s a dilemma I can’t see my own way out of.

  13. jacilyn – haven’t been on this site long so you may have articulated your views more clearly in the past, but can’t tell from your current post what it is about Obama that your so strongly against that you feel his presidency would be ‘disasterous’.

    As far as the DNC goes, that’s a very different issue than Obama, the two are not one and the same. Personally I feel the DNC is correct in denying representation for MI and FL. I would feel the same way if they had both went big for Obama. The rules were set out, both states agreed to them initially, and then changed their minds. Both were aware of the consequences before they took action and both decided to do it anyway. Sorry, but I’m a rule of law kinda guy. They broke the rules, they take the consequences. If they are accepted now what’s to stop every state from crowding into February next cycle? There must be consequences for breaking the agreed upon rules or there’s no point in having any.

    You seem to feel pretty strongly though so think we’re gona have to agree to disagree on that one 😉

  14. billd, I’m sure you know that there was nothing in the rules that required stripping MI & FL of all their delegates. The assumption in the rules was a 1/2 delegation penalty. But I watched the hearing where the two states were stripped of their delegations and it was clear that the decision was made in advance.

    The consequences in the case of these two states were way beyond what was required by the rules. And in my opinion, it’s our candidates who will ultimately suffer for it.

    Also for those who are saying the votes in FL and MI don’t count. That’s just not true. Those were certified elections and people voted. If we want to talk about how many people voted for Hillary this year, they count.

    Honestly, I can’t believe I’m a member of a political party that doesn’t believe in counting every vote.

  15. Honestly I’m of two minds on the votes themselves. On the one hand I agree with you that every vote should count. That’s one of the main pillars of our democracy after all. On the other hand, Obama wasn’t even on the ballot in MI and because it was known in advance that the delgates wouldn’t be seated many people in both states either didn’t vote at all or voted in the Republican primary in order to try to vote against the candidate they liked least. We can’t know specific numbers on how many people did this but there has plenty of ancedotal evidence.

    So yea… while I agree the whole situation is a mess and an embarrassment for the Dem party as a whole, to me the precedent against breaking the rules outweighs anything else.

    If this whole thing had been decided Super Tuesday would anyone care? Ironically if HRC had been off the ballot in MI and Obama on and the results in FL had gone the other way I imagine it would be Obama supporters screaming for them to be counted instead of arguing against it.

    In any case though, this is a DNC decision, right or wrong and has nothing really to do with the candidates themselves.

  16. billd, There is no irony possible here.

    One of the reasons that Hillary is a better candidate is that she didn’t take her name off the ballot in Michigan. That was a short-sighted maneuver by a political innocent. By that action Obama and Edwards themselves cheated the voters of Michigan of a valid election. And by continuing to resist revotes in MI & FL, Obama continues the same blind mistake.

    I believed this back when I was an Edwards supporter. And I believe it now.

    Again, there is NO irony possible here. Obama has put himself in the position of playing with votes. If he had pushed to seat those delegations (either in full or at 1/2) back in February, it wouldn’t have had any negative effect on his momentum at all.

    AND the statemanlike stance might very well have helped him clinch the deal.

    Obviously, Hillary has something to gain by pushing to seat the delegations. But, that’s not just a matter of random luck. It’s because of the person she is and the sort of campaign she is running.

    I happen to think it’s beyond stupid that Obama put himself in a position where he has to fight to suppress votes.

  17. Happy Birthday, katiebird! And thanks for the link!

  18. I won’t vote for Obama because he’s incompetent and would be a danger to our country as CIC.

    I support Senator Clinton because she is the best person for the job.

  19. Thank you Violet! and thank you for the wonderful post. I’ve become a real fan of yours.

  20. Arabella, every time I see your name, I think of one of my favorite Georgette Heyer books.

    My feelings about voting for BO are that he’ll have to campaign for my vote. I don’t trust his ability as a politician or a statesman and he’ll just have to sell himself to me.

  21. Before anyone want to cast their votes for obama, go look at those broken down buildings in Chicago. he left “his people” in ruins while actively accepting money from crooks liek Rezko etc…he does not care for anything except his ambition.

  22. The following AP article finally makes its way to my local paper, The Houston Chronicle:

    First win for Obama ended in 1996 TKO

    He proved his mettle by keeping his opponent, a woman, off ballot

    Associated Press

    CHICAGO — Barack Obama faced a choice: launch a political battle against a highly respected woman with more seniority, or step aside and hope for another chance later.

    He chose to fight.

    The situation will sound familiar to anyone following Obama’s battle against Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, but this clash happened more than 10 years ago as Obama made his first run for public office.

    Obama came out on top in that confrontation but not through a head-to-head vote. Instead, he capitalized on his opponent’s mistakes to get her thrown off the ballot so that his name was the only choice presented to voters.

    His willingness to knock his opponent off the ballot, say Illinois political insiders, was an early demonstration of the tenacity that has helped him in the primary process against Clinton thus far.

    “In Chicago, this is a blood sport,” said Ron Davis, a South Side political activist who helped Obama in the 1996 contest.

    At the time, Obama was a lawyer and lecturer at the University of Chicago law school. Alice Palmer, the state senator representing that part of the city, decided against re-election. She aimed for a congressional seat in a special election being held to fill a vacancy.

    Reneging on vow

    To reassure her legislative constituents that they’d be in good hands, Palmer told them she’d find a good replacement, said Davis. “She went out and recruited Barack.”

    But then Palmer lost the special congressional election. Suddenly, she faced being out of office after four years in the state Legislature.

    Then, Palmer asked Obama to halt his legislative campaign so she could run for re-election.

    He refused.

    “He was not about to withdraw. He had put a lot of energy and time into it,” said state Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, a Democrat who represented the same part of Chicago as Palmer. “I thought it was pretty gutsy of him to stay in.”

    Saying she had given Obama her word, Currie continued to back him even after Palmer changed her mind and tried to run again.

    Palmer filed petitions to get on the ballot for the spring 1996 primary, but Obama supporters scoured her petitions, and those of two other would-be candidates, for any technical flaws.

    They ended up filing complaints alleging that Palmer and the others hadn’t collected the 757 valid voter signatures needed to qualify for the ballot.

    Davis, who formally filed the complaints, said the problems included signatures from people living outside the district or who weren’t registered to vote. Some petitions were circulated by ineligible campaign aides, making every signature invalid.

    Palmer ended up dropping out of the race instead of trying to argue that she had met the petition requirements.

    Now serving on the board of a state pension system, she did not return repeated messages. But others confirm that she and Obama have been estranged since their clash, and she ran in the Illinois primary to be a Clinton delegate.


  23. billd:

    You say you’re a rule of law kind of guy. Okay. Have you read the rules?

    Click to access 2008delegateselectionrules.pdf

    For a breakdown of the myths about The Rules, please see http://www.mydd.com/story/2008/4/23/102017/841

    And if we’re going to follow the rules, then keep in mind that the rules have a rule that the DNC can throw out the rules at any time.

    The primary process is a selection, not an election, designed to nominate the candidate who has the best chance to win the White House. That’s the justification for this ridiculous process.

    One reason to seat the Michigan and Florida delegations now is by not counting the votes and ignoring those voters when it matters could mean losing the White House in the fall. And we may lose voters in these states (esp. Florida) for years.

    And isn’t counting the votes a core Democratic belief? Isn’t that one of those things we’re supposed to be for?

  24. Ohio – While you make an interesting point about the provision that allows for throwinhg out the rules I don’t agree that just because the rules CAN be thrown out that they SHOULD be thrown out. Both Michigan and Florida initially agreed with the schedule and later reneged. Had they protested from the beginning I’d have agreed with them. Personally, like many people, I feel the primary process as it stands now gives a couple of states undue influence over the rest of the country. It needs to be changed, perhaps to a regional rotation schedule. As for counting votes being a core democratic belief… yep, absolutely. I said much the same upthread. The situation is ugly and there’s no ‘win’ in my opinion, just the choice between bad and worse resolutions. Which you think is which… that’s the controversy.

    Katie – Interesting take on why Hillary kept her name on the ballot. Be interested to see if she made a statement stating that rationale at the time or is that just something you believe about her reasoning? In either case hadn’t really considered that perspective before so appreciate the input. As for Obama being a ‘political innocent’… well, that’s one of the things I like about him. Though it’s interesting to see one post declaring him a political innocent and the next declaring him the political victor in a Chicago ‘blood-sport’. Oh, and happy birthday btw! 😉

    jd – “he does not care for anything except his ambition.” This gave me a chuckle just because it’s a charge used interchangeably by HRC supporters against Obama and by Obama supporters against Clinton. I don’t believe that Barack doesn’t care about the people, he’s spent too much time and energy in his community for that. I also don’t believe Hillary is driven solely by ambition. She’s spent too much time supporting women’s rights, child-care programs and trying to reform health policy for that. Extreme views like this are vastly oversimplified in my opinion and are what has led us to the divisiveness the party is experiencing today.

  25. Hi Bill,

    I should have been more specific, that I consider Obama rather innocent regarding Presidential Politics and the intricacies of running so many state-level elections in a compressed period of time.

    I know that he is quite experienced in Chicago/Illinois politics. And I don’t at all mean to disparage that experience. My father is from Chicago and I was raised on exciting tales for the old days there.

    But, Hillary was right by Bill’s side through 2 successful Presidential campaigns. And I think that shows in how she managed to come back from the brink of absolute defeat to being a real contender today.

    I’ll see if I can find the article that inspired what I said in the previous comment. But, I’ll have to think about where/when I saw it.

    Thanks for the Birthday wish — I think it’s going to rain here in KC, but since I’m at work, it’s ok with me. Plus, I like rainy days.

  26. In KC myself actually, so I know just what you mean. 😉

  27. Ok, that’s just weird. Did I know that?

  28. billd:

    What did he do for his people in Chicago? Did you not see those rat infested buildings? sure he did not know. people were w/o heat and stuff. Why did he not know about?

    Name one thing that he did to improve people lives in Chicago.

  29. Yea that is a strange coicidence. 😉

    jd – http://www.thenation.com/doc/20070416/moberg has a bit about Obama’s time as a community organizer. Let’s be be fair now, name one major city where there are no homeless, where there are no rat infested tenements (I guarantee you New York isn’t one) or where there is no crime. The point is he did what he could because he wanted to help. Clinton has done much the same when and where she could. Did either succeed completely? of course not, but they did try.

  30. The nominee was decided a long time ago by Party insiders. Now the DNC, stunned from BO’s inability to win the nomination on Super Tuesday, has to find a way to make the nomination appear legitimate. Obama, Biden, Dodd, Richardson, & Edwards agreed to remove their names from the MI. ballot. They couldn’t do that in FL. because the law states that candidates must be on the primary ballot to be eligible for the GE ballot.

    Informed FL. democrats know why our primary was moved up to Jan. 29. The RNC, aided and abetted by Gov. Christ, the republican majority in the state legislature, and some democrats who are Obama supporters, succeeded in making the change by including a paper trail voting issue in the same bill (which also included changing state law to enable Gov. Christ to run for national office while serving as govenor-McCain’s VP?). The Dems had to vote for it or the Repubs would have refused to bring it up again.

    The following is just a snippit of what transpired in FL. & MI.

    “The DNC implicitly challenged the “good faith” of the Democratic opposition to the Republican moves in Florida. The DNC critique of Florida’s noncompliance included a reference to the fact that a Democratic state senator was the initial sponsor of the move-up bill in that house, which was seen as a sign of eagerness on the part of some Democratic leaders to break the rules. That senator was Jeremy Ring, an Obama supporter. Obama even named Ring’s 2006 campaign manager to run his statewide Florida effort. Ring was such a champion of the early primary that when Obama, like all the other candidates, supported the sanctions and agreed not to campaign in the state, Ring withdrew his endorsement.

    When Governor Crist signed the bill at a ceremony in West Palm Beach, the man at his side was Bob Wexler, the chair of Obama’s Florida campaign. Wexler wasn’t there because he wanted to defy Howard Dean. He was there for the same reason that almost all the Democrats in the legislature voted for the bill. He is the state’s leading foe of paperless voting systems and filed two suits against them. He saw the bill as the governor’s fulfillment of a campaign pledge “to make Florida a model state for the nation in terms of our election system.”

    Similarly, all three of the Michigan House Democrats who endorsed Obama — Coleman Young II, Bert Johnson, and Aldo Vagnozzi — voted in favor of the bill to push the Michigan date forward. When Obama later took his name off the Michigan ballot, Young and Johnson became sponsors of the bill to cancel the election they had just voted to authorize.

    The support of Obama’s principal backers in both states for the move-up bills was hardly consequential, but it does raise questions about his current opposition to any counting or recounting of these states. If bad faith is the DNC’s standard, Obama doesn’t have to look too far to find alleged examples of it, and to recognize that the national party might be unfairly characterizing what the leaders in these states did.”

    The DNC is supporting the power brokers’ move to shove an Obama nomination down our throats. If not, then they should be able to make a better case for not seating FL/MI delegates. We all want our votes to count toward choosing the nominee.

    Common sense would allow pledged delegates, as determined by the voters, to be seated and allow the remainder to be seated as unpledged. Voters in MI. showed up to vote for HC and uncommitted.

    We have worked for years to boost democratic membership in our state. Now, the DNC risks loosing FL. in the GE. It behooves the Party to take a good look at the possible consequences of this arbitrary and caprcious decision.

  31. PamFlorida: What do you think was behind Ring’s decision to move up the primary date? Because the whole thing sounds like an inside job. Is it possible that Ring was a useful tool and was assured that there would be no adverse consequences? Did Wexler suggest putting the paperless ballot proposition on the ballot? I understand why they couldn’t back out once the Republicans signed onto it but why initiate it in the first place? Was it to force caucuses on Florida because it seems to me that the caucuses were remarkably well planned for SuperTuesday.

  32. billd:

    he point is he did what he could because he wanted to help.

    The argument many are making, is that he didn’t do as much as he could, because Rezko owned those buildings, was given state money to upkeep those buildings, and at the time Rezko was fundraising for Obama, while Obama worked at a law firm that represented Rezko, The whole thing stinks.

    And most reports about his community organizing stint, are that he wasn’t very good at it. That’s why he went to Harvard, because he wasn’t going anywhere with it, politically.

    As far as MI & FL go, at least with Clinton I can have faith that she would do the right thing, as far as counting votes, while Obama has shown me that he won’t.

    Yea saw that… Clinton’s looking weaker against McCain as well which is just silly.

    I don’t think you really looked at it. Where Clinton is weak, Obama is weaker, where Obama gained strength, Clinton gained more.

    And Obama is not a progressive, he only plays one on TV.

    IMO, he is such a neophyte, if he were elected, the damage would undo democratic presidential prospects for another generation. Is it really worth suffering through 4 years of McCain now, or suffer through 12 years of Bush copycats later?

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