Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Reality About Legitimacy

The A-List Blogger Boyz have their collective knickers in a twist about that nasty, mean, spiteful Hillary Clinton refusing to withdraw gracefully from the campaign and allow The Precious to be coronated. Oh, the damage she does by not conceding! How dare she harsh our mellow! The sheer selfishness of her behavior! Nay, the immorality of forcing a destructive battle on the party who needs to unite behind The Golden One and glide to victory on promises of bipartisan love! And ponies for everyone, natch...

Among the punditocracy (among whom I place the A-List bloggers), Golden Boy Barry's legitimacy is presumed, that he simply must be the most adored, most preferred candidate of them all. The count of the pledged delegates is a sacred relic within the cult, the objective symbol of The Precious' status. This is repeated constantly despite clear patterns in the votes to spell out his weak points and as though there are not structural advantages in voting procedures that over emphasize his popularity.

The converse is also a matter of unshakeable belief, that Hillary enjoys no legitimacy, that she is presumptively an illegitimate candidate, and that there is something inherently good in trying to defeat her. What Nevada, the Florida Primary, Super Tuesday and yesterday's smashing victories in Ohio and Texas demonstrate is that Hillary Clinton has broad, deep and diverse support among Democrats, and that she is seen by them as a worthy and legitimate candidate for President. This is important because the animus against her among the leftist blogs and many party elites is that she cannot rally support, that she is not a popular choice candidate. In fact, she is the strongly preferred choice of millions of Democrats. Because her legitimacy cannot be acknowledged, the phenomenon of her really kicking ass and winning big time must be diminished, rather in the same way as Grover Norquist wanted to reduce the Federal government and for much the same objective.

Hence, the fetishization of the pledged delgate count among the punditocracy. The super delegates must vote the way the majority have voted, they protest. This is the express will of the people and must be bowed to. But, is it? The delegate count is not unequivocally legitimate, and this casts an increasing pall of illegitimacy on Obama. There are three significant points where the pledged delegate counts are not obviously the will of the people.

ONE: Open vs. closed contests. Just which people are being counted? For a very long time, Obama's margin of victory was among Independents, not Democrats. He has run the notorious "Democrat for a Day" operation in at least three states (California, Florida, Nevada), explicitly urging Republicans to switch parties simply to vote against Hillary. To the degree that his support does not come from the party, his delegate count is suspect. What would contests look like rebalanced to show only Democratic support?

TWO: Caucus vs. Primary. This, to me, is a far more pernicious and delegitimizing situation than open primaries, because the structure of a caucus has two anti-democratic effects.

First, it reduces popular participation by being limited in time and place (there are far fewer caucus locations than polling places) and by removing the secret ballot. The time issue is two-edged. First, the participant must be available at the appointed time, which is unfavorable to shift workers. It also requires you to be available for a significant amount of time, usually several hours. This is a great burden on people who work, who have caretaker duties, and/or who are physically unable to attend, such as my mother. As for the secret ballot, that has been shown over and over to be essential to free exercise of political preference. Peer pressure is difficult to resist. It is interesting that Hillary won the New Mexico caucus where the votes themselves were cast secretly. Every caucus contest has come replete with reports of Obama supporters bullying and threatening Hillary supporters. The Texas caucuses may result in criminal charges.

The second effect is to exaggerate small differences of support and slight margins of victory, as well as allow a far smaller number of voters to be represented per delegate. A vote margin as small as three people may create a 50/50 split or a 70/30 in terms of delegate allocation. One-tenth the turn-out in a caucus state may earn the same number of convention delegates as in a primary state.

With both Washington State and Texas, we saw the difference between holding a primary and a caucus, using the same pool of voters. In WA, Obama won both, but with a significantly smaller margin in the primary than in the caucus. In TX, Hillary won the primary handily, but may be edged out in the caucus, which is composed of a sub-set of all primary voters. The pairing of these two states demonstrates that it is entirely possible Obama would not have won some of those caucuses (Iowa would probably have gone by a tiny margin to Hillary in a straight vote, and Nevada would have gone to her even more than it did). In short, the contests where the process itself is more democratic, Hillary has gained more support. The allocation of delegates is inconsistent and exaggerated. The disparity between delegate counts would be far less if all states had been primaries, even if Obama had won all the states he currently holds.

THREE: Michigan and Florida being excluded from the counts. The Florida and Michigan delegates are not being seated because they would allow Hillary to win. Period. Unlike the first two issues, which are structural, this one is political. In a pathetic attempt to stack the primary season for John Edwards, the DNC shoved these two, must-win states out in the cold, probably figuring they would fall in line and support the eventual nominee and all damage could be fixed before the convention. Michigan is a self-inflicted wound for The Precious. He took his name off the ballot to try to deligitimize Hillary, and the strategy backfired on him. In Florida, he ran campaign ads and came off a power-house victory in South Carolina, only to be thoroughly snubbed by the voters of a state the Democrats must win in November (hmm, I'm sensing a pattern here) . While a formal argument might be offered that Michigan shouldn't be seated because of the ballot - though it was Barry's choice to do so and it was done for strategic reasons - there is no reason to refuse to seat Florida at this point except to prevent a count of Hillary's true support.

Something I have not seen discussed much in the blogosphere, in great part because voters who support Hillary are not seen as having cast legitimate votes, is that Florida knows it is the king-maker in this convention, and it damn well is not going to revote. In this game of chicken, Howard Dean loses. "The rules" aren't going to count for squat when Florida demands to be seated. If Obama's forces refuse to seat Florida for the sole purpose of denying Hillary delegates, he will lose Florida in the general, and probably Michigan, too, and there goes the election. To try to wrangle a win out of a convention that does not seat Florida and Michigan is to lose massive amounts of legitimacy. Do you think my mother-in-law and all her senior female friends who turned out en masse to vote for Hillary in Florida are going to vote for Obama after he denies FL a voice at the convention?

The pledged delegate count is not invalid or without merit, but it is far less definitive in the eyes of rank-and-file Democratic voters - the ones who have been favoring Hillary in big state primary contests - and they are not going to regard it as fully legitimate. The Blogger Boyz and the rest of the media whores know this, which is another reason they howl loudly to drown out the contesting perspectives.

And, here is the real rub. The contest is basically tied and Golden Boy Barry, despite his overwhelming money advantage and all the positive media attention money can't buy, couldn't close the deal yesterday and will not get to the magic number of 2,025 delegates before the convention. Hillary is behind him only because two big states are not being counted for her. I add she can't get to 2025 by the convention, either, but she has as strong (if not a stronger) argument to make to the convention - my wins are where we need to win in November, and my wins are up front and broad based, more like the national electorate than my competitor has won. My point is that what the rank and file Democrat thinks is legitimate may not be measured in the delegate count, and that the way in which Hillary and her committed supporters are treated is what will determine the final outcome.

Obama cannot win without Florida and Michigan, and they don't want him. He is going to have to compromise, else he will lose all legitimacy. And that's the cold, hard reality.

Anglachel

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

I hope some elders like TeddyK and others will tell Obama that he must stand down after losing PA, then and only then he can be VP choice. but I guess an ambitious man like Obama seeing that he is this close to the nomination won't give up because a. he is ahead in the delegate count and b. won't accept being second to Hillary.

CognitiveDissonance said...

Excellent points, Anglachel. I would also add that popular vote counts now show Hillary ahead of Obama. We keep hearing that the voice of the people must be heard and respected. Delegate counts don't fairly show that. The popular vote does.

We also keep hearing that super delegates should vote with their state. I just saw a post today over at hillaryclintonforum.com by someone who has figured out what the delegate counts would now be if that were followed. In every case, whether FL and MI are counted or not, Hillary would now be several hundred delegates above Obama.

So we need to keep these points and the ones you've brought up in mind. No matter how much the boys wail and gnash their teeth, Hillary's claim to the democratic nomination is far more legitimate than Obama's.

ccp said...

I agree with anonymous. Obama will not let down, especially if the media continues to remind us that he is ahead in delegates and there is no way Hillary will get ahead of him in the delegate count. I agree with everything you said Anglachel but the Obamabots will cause a riot and complain how unfair it is to seat Florida. These folks will do anything to deny Clinton the contests she won fair and square.

It will be embarassing and a huge blow to Obama's ego if she still gets the nomination after his string of wins and more delegates. Also, a lot of Obama surrogates like Donna Brazile will stop at nothing to get Obama this nomination. I can feel Brazile causing problems and doing something outrageous like urging black voters to sit out the election in protest if Clinton gets the nomination.

Yes, I believe that MI and FL will eventually be seated but it's going to be a battle. It's going to be pandamonium if FL really does end up being the kingmaker at the convention. Obamabots will be there in droves to protest. This is just bad all around unless Obama can put away his resentment and either agree to be Clinton's VP or do whatever he can on the campaign trail to help her win his base.

Right now I believe that FL won't do a re-vote but MI will. Governor Granholm of MI mentioned today about a caucus. I don't know what has gotten into her because she's a Clinton supporter so why she is even mentioning a caucus is beyond me unless it will be like a NM caucus. Riverdaughter over at The Confluence wants MI to do a mail-in primary. I just want a new closed primary. It's the system that benefits Clinton the most. Either way, if Clinton ends up in the lead because of MI and FL you can be sure we'll be hearing months of Obamabots whining that she cheated and stole the nomination from him.

Jay said...

Great post! Luckily it's late so I'll not ramble but a great examination of Obama's delegate "card".

ccp said...

This is a video of a caucus in North Dallas. We should've been videotaping and recording caucuses sooner because I've been hearing of reports of voter intimidation since Iowa. I met people who traveled to Iowa and told me stories that would explain why Obama has won the majority of caucuses. Chicago style politics at it's finest.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRO3KO6Ws34

Anonymous said...

Seat the delegates now! There is an article in the Tampa newspaper quoting Obama saying that he will "take it to court to seat the delegates if he should win FL." Google it. It shows him talking to the press even though he wasn't suppose to campaign there! His picture is there bigger than God. As I recall it was the Tampa Sun??? Really.

old said...

Wouldn't a mail-in primary be even better for Hillary than a regular primary?

I'm kind of suspicious of any of these 're-do's, though -- especially one that the GOP governor of Florida (and the DNC) might set up.

1950democrat

Anonymous said...

Excellent post! This is my first comment, although I have been lurking here for awhile and thoroughly enjoy your voice. Keep up the good work!

I am baffled by the reports I hear from the Texas caucus. I am shocked if the DNC believes that Obama can win in the GE. The GE will be tough on Clinton as well, no doubt about it, but the shadows in Obama's past are growing and the media's reluctance to light them is more than curious. All things point to the direction that MSM does not want to let the cat out of the bag too early. DNC cannot be so naive as to think this media fawning will continue. At least I hope it is not.

Anyway, as this unravels, I'll be visiting this site more. Thank you for all you do.

JP

Anonymous said...

Excellent article. Very well thought out and comprehensive.I love this site and all the hard work that you put in to it. Thanks, Anglachel

B.P.

Susan the Dork said...

In Washington State we were told that only the caucus counted if we voted D. The ballot only counted if you voted R. So a lot of people didn't even bother to send in their ballots. My guess is that most or ALL of the Obama nuts mailed theirs in. They also controlled the caucus through intimation and bullying tactics. It was awful. A mail-in only ballot would have given a clear picture of how we voted. Didn't happen and so the numbers are way off!


Always remember, caucus means most can not participate. You have a specific location and time you MUST be able to deal with. Most could not make the caucus here in Washington. Some didn't because they heard what was going to happen. I went and was SHOCKED at what I saw and what I felt. No one should go through that----I want an end to the caucus system. It's a bunch of cauci! Spend the money and vote by ballot. THEN we will know for sure who the PEOPLE want as their candidate! As it is now----I don't trust any of the caucus results. So, if there is to be a do-over in Florida and Michigan---NO CAUCUS. Dean wants a caucus because it benefits Obama. Do a ballot and let the PEOPLE decide!


LET THE PEOPLE DECIDE!

Nic said...

Howard Dean should READ the by-laws of the primary and delegate seating. Not only FL and MI should be stripped IF you go according to the DNC's by-laws, but also IA, NH and SC.
Rule 11.A specifically set the date for the primaries & caucuses for those three states as "no earlier than 22 days before the first Tuesday in February, no earlier than 14 days before the first Tuesday in February and no earlier than 7 days before the first Tuesday in February. IA held their caucuses on January 3rd.- MORE than 22 days before the first Tuesday in February, NH on January 8th, MORE than 17 days before the first Tuesday in February and SC held their primary on January 26th. That's MORE than 7 days before the first Tuesday. So, according to DNC by-laws IA,NH and SC should be stripped of their delegates too. If Howard can’t do his job, he should at the very least learn how to read. REINSTATE the FL and MI delegates, or STRIP IA, NH and SC. Dean and whiney ass Nobama cannot have it both ways. Here is a link to the by-laws….
http://rds.yahoo.com/_ylt=A0oGkwL9ENBHmnABHLNXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTExZWpwZHBqBHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDMgRjb2xvA3NrMQR2dGlkAwRsA1dTMQ--/SIG=141u4qu18/EXP=1204904573/**http%3a//a9.g.akamai.net/7/9/8082/v001/democratic1.download.akamai.com/8082/pdfs/2008delegateselectionrules.pdf

Anonymous said...

Very well written, thanks. This is exactly what I've been running around the house articulating for two days, only you do it a lot better. I feel like the A-list bloggers and their little pals are out to lunch on this. To me, it's clear that HRC is going to take the nomination. Their clinging to that delegate count is really looking pathetic.

Daryl said...

there is no reason to refuse to seat Florida at this point except to prevent a count of Hillary's true support.

Curious how Dean is punishing Democratic voters for something forced upon them by Republicans in control of both houses of the Florida legislature. It is political folly to go into a GE with the idea of pissing off a few million voters hanging over one party.

And don't they think the GOP will remind voters over and over again that they got dissed by the dems?

Anonymous said...

If the FLA legislature ran the primary early over the heads of the Dems then Dean is being an ass.

ccp said...

To the anonymous person above: You don't even address most of Anglachel's argument. You don't address the fact that Obama won in - yes - smaller, states that held caucuses which tend to have way fewer people are are more undemocratic than primaries. Many of the states Obama won were also by narrow margins (he won Missouri by 1% yet McCaskill continues to tout on television his win there and that every nominee has won her state).

Your argument to exclude MI and FL is even more ridiculous than the big state vs. small state argument. If you think MI and FL don't count just wait until the general election. YOU will do almost anything including disenfranchising voters for your candidate to win. Yes, that's the way to go. Shut out two swing states to win the nomination. Obama is screwed even if he is the nominee. I'm from one of those two states and you must be dreaming if you think I'll vote for Obama after he had a hand in taking away my voice in this primary.

I'll say this - we'll have even more Dems sit out this election if Obama, Dean, and the DNC think they can get away with this and give Obama the nomination by disenfranchising millions of voters.

Anonymous said...

Please would someone post this over at TPM or blog and link it?

ccp said...

I'm sure if Anglachel wanted to post this at TPM, MYDD, or any of those other blogs she'd do so. I personally don't think that is necessary because we'd have a billion obamabots here cursing Anglachel out by the end of the night. On the other hand I think more people need to read Anglachel's perspective.

Neil said...

To Anonymous above CCP,READ Nic's comments and then READ the by-laws. FL and MI were not the only states that were in violation. So,maybe Obama should give back the SC delegates? IA? Any he may have picked up in NH? Obama chose not to be on the MI ballot and he also went against his word re:NOT running ads in FL. He can't be trusted and has been caught in lie after lie...hell, he couldn't even get his date of conception correct,placing it in 1965 when he was born in 1961.

old said...

All the names WERE on the ballot in Michigan. Obama and Edwards took their OWN names off. Then they came in and campiagned for "uncommitted." Now Obama is trying to use their own shenanigans to de-legitimize the result.

Btw, where are y'all getting the figures that show Hillary ahead in popular vote?

Anonymous said...

"Now Hillary hacks are making similarly piss-poor arguments "Florida and Michigan count, um, because we think they do!")"

Yes, the idea that we should count the votes of millions of voters is truly ridiculous. It is antithetical to Democracy. How about "their votes should count because, um, THEY VOTED"?

"But they did - so the "results" there are COMPLETELY illegitimate."

Uh huh, especially as more Democrats voted in FL than ever before or ever again (property tax relief on the ballot). Any place where lots of Democrats vote is inherently unfair to Obama. That shit should be outlawed.

"- Obama wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan."

Yeah, because he took his name off, knowing he was going to lose. Why doesn't he do that in PA, PR, WY--then when he loses there, we'll have to disenfranchise those voters too (oh, I'm sorry, war is peace freedom is slavery, COUNTING votes is actually disenfranchising nowto you). That didn't stop his surrogates from running a "Vote Undeclared for Obama" campaign, though. And didn't he just get caught on tape lying that he won Michigan? So he seems to be okay with teh election results.

"the reality about legitimacy. Obama has won 27 states to HRC's 14."

Right. The reality about legitmacy is that Hillary Clinton has won half as many states, YET MORE POPULAR VOTES. She is more popular among Democrats by a landslide. And unless you truly believe that Obama is going to carry Idaho, then it really helps to have Democrats on your side. McCain has lots of appeal to Democrats, Obama is a train wreck. Don't count on blue states.

"I'll say this - Hillary is going to see a LOT of Dems sit this one out if she continues with this BS scorched earth policy."

Riiiight. Hillary is only wildly popular among blue collar voters, Latinos, Catholics, women. You know, the people we need to win? Obama carries few demographics outside of Cheeto eating mommy's basement dwellers who flood the blogs with misogyny. Who do you thinks delivers the votes, and does teh phone banking and volunteering in this party? Obama's campaign may not seem negative to anyone who has a pathological hatred of teh Clintons, but most Democrats don't, and they do not like it. Three times as many Hillary voters are already saying they won't vote for Obama, and as his messiah complex grows and his negatives get more publicity, that's likely to increase. The more people see and hear of Obama, the less they like him. Indys are going for McCain, and Obama's campaign officials are scoffing at Archie Bunker Democrats, giving us little hope of carrying OH, PA, or MI in the general, just as FL residents don't seem to like the guy who wants to pull a Bush style disenfranchisment scheme on them. What kind of victory strategy do you imagine here, we give Donna Brazile, Howard Dean, and "policysuxandchixtoo" from kos each 100 million votes by proxy and refuse to count anyone else's?

Anonymous said...

I read a pasting of this post in the comments section at www.taylormarsh.com this morning. I'm interested in knowing more about this statement:

In a pathetic attempt to stack the primary season for John Edwards, the DNC shoved these two, must-win states out in the cold

Can somone please elaborate on this? I'm not disputing it, but I'm not clear on how the primary schedule was supposed to favor Edwards. Thanks.

w.glenn.smith said...

The best voting system for the primaries would mimic the GE. As long as we haven't done away with the Electoral College, the primary votes need to be winner-take-all primaries.