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February 19, 2008

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Ready on day one. And not a day sooner.

It's rapidly becoming a sitcom with this campaign. Will Mark Penn or Howard Wolfson make their next statement with a laugh track?

"Rather, the candidates are given (pdf) a certain number of delegates based on the candidates' share of the popular vote, and the votes for delegate (along with other rules designed to ensure roughly equal representation for men and women) determine delegates' rank on a given candidate's slate."

This is the same as in the New York primary.

Well, finally I realize the pragmatic reason to back Obama in the primary: he has the organization on the ground to do what has to be done come November and Clinton apparently does not, hard as it is to believe.

If Clinton wins and tries to co-opt and absorb Obama's grass-roots organization into hers, forget it. Obama himself would do the right thing and go along but I don't think the meat of his organization would, after all is said and done.

They won't take Mark Penn's orders.

O.K., I'm fully Obama-ized for the primary.

Of course, one of the big stories for the past seven and a half hours has been this: Clinton targets pledged delegates.

Kudos to you, Hilzoy! I really appreciate how much research you have done into all these campaign related issues!

There's been some discussion of the story that Clinton is targeting Obama's pledged delegates on another thread, starting here.

Fwiw, my take on the pledged delegates story is: I don't see that the article that announced it provides much support for the claim that this is an actual Clinton plan, as opposed to a generalized "stuff could get ugly, folks" prediction. If, however, she does target pledged delegates, that would (to me) be a very big deal.

"There's been some discussion of the story that Clinton is targeting Obama's pledged delegates on another thread, starting here."

So I subsequently saw.

For those not yet down with Thullen's 12:44.

Here's how to endorsement!

The PA and NY system is one way to determine who the actual convention delegates will be, one which requires aspiring delegates to get organized well in advance of the primary.

Another major method is a post-primary delegate selection process (what happens in Virginia, and I'm assuming other places, too): County and city Democratic committees hold caucuses on a given day. They announce these publicly, with a filing deadline for those interested in running for delegates to a later Congressional District convention. The number of delegates to be elected is determined by each locality's share of the Democratic vote in the previous general election(s). The District convention delegates elect delegates to the state convention, where the actual delegates to the national convention are selected.

In practice, those hoping to be national convention delegates must be well-connected: known beyond your locality to the people likely to be elected as District and state delegates, and having the blessing of the campaign you hope to represent. In other words: party officers, past candidates, office-holders, and/or super-volunteers.

In the PA-NY system, those kinds of connections come into play before the primary, determining where aspiring delegates' names fall on a candidate's slate.

The rules requiring equal male-female representation date from the reforms preceding the 1972 convention.

I'm in favor of ditching the DNC-member superdelegates (as opposed to the office-holding SDs), but it's worth noting that they, too, are selected in a gender-balanced process. Sure to be brought up if there's any serious move to eliminate them before 2012.

"I'm in favor of ditching the DNC-member superdelegates (as opposed to the office-holding SDs), but it's worth noting that they, too, are selected in a gender-balanced process."

That would include each of the 50 State Chairs of the Democratic Party, and each of the 50 State Vice-chairs of the Democratic Party.

Is it really the best idea to cut out their say in who the presidential candidate should be? Are they really apt to have no insight into which candidate would be best for the growth of the Democratic Party of their state?

I have to say I'm skeptical.

Although I do, as I say, prefer to get the overall number of PLEOs down to about 10%-12%, rather than 15%-20%.

"That would include each of the 50 State Chairs of the Democratic Party, and each of the 50 State Vice-chairs of the Democratic Party."

And needless to say, they're all democratically elected, after all.

@Gary: If state party chairs want to contribute their unique insight into who would be the best candidate, let them become regular delegates. They will always succeed, thanks to the process I've outlined in my post above.

Party chairs are not at all democratically elected in the same sense in which Senators and Governors are.

"Party chairs are not at all democratically elected in the same sense in which Senators and Governors are."

Yes, they're democratically elected in the same sense in which we choose Democratic nominees, and other office-holders, high and low, in the party, which is to say, by party elections, instead. We don't consider those elections illegitimate, do we?

"@Gary: If state party chairs want to contribute their unique insight into who would be the best candidate, let them become regular delegates. They will always succeed, thanks to the process I've outlined in my post above."

That's a reasonable argument, but I'd need to hear more debate from pro and con sides before I was convinced it would be a definite improvement. But it might be a reasonable way to get those percentages down, as I said was my preference, so I'm certainly open to looking at that option.

I think "Clinton targets pledged delegates" was simply Roger Simon trolling the liberal blogosphere, and it was phenomenally effective. I'll have to admit to a momentary attack of CDS for ever linking to the thing. The story was thin, and made no sense anyway.

The worst was the use of the quote "If you are Hillary Clinton, you know you can’t get the nomination just with superdelegates without splitting the party. You have to go after the pledged delegates." That can't possibly refer to trying to flip delegates pledged to other candidates, since that would split the party even worse than winning through superdelegates. It has to be talking about her need to "go after the pledged delegates" by, you know, winning primaries and caucuses.

Gary, maybe it's different in Colorado, but in Virginia, the party chair is elected by members of the Democratic state central committee, a group of hundreds who are elected every four years in Congressional District conventions by the county delegates as I described in my post earlier. Where I live, we have one such representative for my county and two cities.

Compare that to the millions of votes with which Kaine and Webb received, or the more than a hundred thousand votes for Congressman Bobby Scott.

State party chairs and vice chairs don't need an automatic delegate slot. They have de facto slots.

"Gary, maybe it's different in Colorado, but in Virginia, the party chair is elected by members of the Democratic state central committee, a group of hundreds who are elected every four years in Congressional District conventions by the county delegates as I described in my post earlier.

How is this different from, or less legitimate, than a) the caucus system in general; or b) how the Senate and House majority leaders are picked?

"Where I live, we have one such representative for my county and two cities."

How's that different from electing someone to the U.S. House, or the state House and Senate? I'm not following what the nature of your objection is, I'm afraid. Do you believe only a majority vote of every citizen for every elected position in either a political party or government is legitimate?

Your facts are correct, but you have an assumption about something being wrong with them which it would likely be helpful to state overtly, because I don't know what it is.

(If it's something like "voting for people who then vote for their own choices to represent them is inherently wrong, and insufficiently democratic" then we'll likely have to agree to disagree.)

Gary, I'm fine with your not agreeing with my proposal that only governors, senators and members of Congress be awarded automatic delegate seats at the national convention. I'm not going to go through it again in detail, only correct one major way in which you appear to be misinterpreting what I'm saying.

Governors, senators, and members of Congress are elected in general, popular elections. Party chairs and members of the DNC are chosen in internal party elections, in which representatives of representatives vote.

I said nothing about party elections being illegitimate, or not democratic in their way. My point is simply that they're not broadly representative enough for the winners to rate automatic voting rights in the national convention that determines the party's nominee for president.

Let's leave it there, and if you disagree with anything I've said here, then we just disagree.

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