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February 06, 2008

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So, is there any explanation for why Obama did spectacularly well in caucus states? He not only didn't lose a single caucus tonight, he won them by huge margins. I think there's several possible reasons for this, but nonetheless, I think it's interesting and potentially important at least from an explicative viewpoint.

Thoughts, Pubby?

I think caucuses tend to reward organization -- and he just seems really good on that front. You may object to the caucus system (and I don't like them). But the skills necessary to pull them off are highly probative of an ability to run a good campaign

"I just saw Chuck Todd crunching delegate numbers on MSNBC. "

Was talking about it here a while ago, for what little it's worth.

"So, is there any explanation for why Obama did spectacularly well in caucus states?"

Only more passionate people are willing to bother to figure out how to caucus, and to go do it, obviously. Not remotely a mystery.

This is why Hart also won big in caucus states, and the same goes for other candidates in the past few cycles who worked somewhat similar "outsider" candidacies.

When that doesn't happen, the more establishment candidate dominates caucuses, for obvious reasons. When it doesn't, the reason is as obvious as ten times more voters than last time. As we've spent the past several hours discussing.

I just got another of those "personal emails" from Barack Obama.

gary --

The votes will be counted into the night and into tomorrow, but today we won states and we won delegates in every part of the country.

As of right now, we have won more states and delegates than Senator Clinton. It's a remarkable achievement we can all be proud of.

[...]

Yes, we can.

Thank you so much,

Barack

That's Barack's third e-mail to me in two days, and then there was Michelle, too.

Am I the only person who finds that overly spammish?

Meant to put that in the other thread, actually, not as a non-sequitur in this one. Apologies.

Ed Kilgore makes some excellent points about the convention.

Caucus states are mostly western too. They are more favorable to reform/process/change message than the big machine states.

Offering to hold FL/MI caucases should probably be the compromise position if it comes to that.

Fighting Clinton – with her universal name recognition

Not to mention her attack machine.

But still, I don’t think it’s obvious that Clinton will dominate the superdelegate vote (maybe that’s naïve)

We'll see. If the superdelegates decide Obama really is viable, there's no incentive for them to back the Clintons, since losing the nomination would pretty much consign them to the past, whereas Obama's going to be a major force in Democratic politics for years to come. In that case there might be a move to him. Things seem to be trending in his direction, but obviously we're not at the tipping point yet.

My other looming fear is the growing importance of the phantom Florida and Michigan delegates. I think Obama (and everyone) needs to signal early and often that this would be the nuclear option.

The "nuclear option" is exactly the right metaphor, since trying to get those delegates seated in order to tip the balance in Clinton's favor would be the equivalent of mutual assured destruction - the one way to tear the party apart ahead of November.

Of course, maybe McCain’s poor showing in the South is a sign of depressed bases to come.

Against Obama? Yeah. But against Hillary? I'm not so sure. The right-wing venom-spewing virago Malkin/Coulter and table pounding blowhard Limbaugh/Hewitt contingents aside, I think the thought of her as President would pretty quickly get the Republican base in line.

McCain won the nomination tonight. It’s hard to see the negatives in that this far in advance.

He probably did - one thing it gives him is the opportunity to ease up and rest a bit while sharpening his weapons in preparation for the general election. That could be a negative from the Democratic perspective.

Yeah, this looks bad for Hillary. The rest of the states don't have as much of the ethnic/catholic/urban/establishment machine to turn out vote for her, and he has more time to organize his own gotv. And he has more time to campaign. TX and OH will be close, and the other states obama wins big. Kentucky is the only state left i think she could win significantly.

"Caucus states are mostly western too. They are more favorable to reform/process/change message than the big machine states."

Fair point.

Obama campaign estimate:

[...] "We are, in terms of delegates, ahead currently: about 606 to 534, in terms of pledged delegates awarded tonight," he said.

This cheers me up a little this morning. Went I went to bed it was trending heavily Clinton.

Concerning superdelegates, Florida, and Michigan - some Republicans are getting excited about the possibility of a long fight on the D side, ending in a bloody knife fight at the convention. If McCain gets to focus on campaigning for president while HRC and Obama have to focus on campaigning against each other that gives him an advantage. Republicans last best hope is if Democrats tear themselves apart:

Hillary Clinton has had an edge in the superdelegates, both in number and in influence. These superdelegates represent the party establishment, which owes a lot to the Clintons over the last 16 years. The two have won elections for the party establishment and raised a lot of money, something Barack Obama has hardly had a chance to do until just recently.

What happens if Obama comes to the convention -- and Hillary beats him with the superdelegates?

It could create a huge firestorm in Denver that could consume the party's oxygen for the next several years. The African-American vote would see this as a stolen nomination and could walk away from the Democrats. Rank-and-file voters, especially those who supported Obama's call for change in politics, would likely see this as smoke-filled-room maneuvering -- which is exactly what it would be. The bitterness would extend to the House and Senate members of the superdelegate assembly who backed Clinton over Obama, and it could threaten the Democrats' down-ticket races as well as their presidential election chances.

I was getting really bored with this years long election cycle. Not any more I guess….


Obama just had to survive tonight, and he did so in spades.

Got to watch that word choice. The PC police will be out in full force. ;)

"Got to watch that word choice. The PC police will be out in full force. ;)"

Darn it OCSteve, you beat me to it. Of course, we might be telling our age.

John: Of course, we might be telling our age.

Heh. I think you might be right.

I was getting really bored with this years long election cycle. Not any more I guess…

Yeah. If the Democrats go all the way to the convention without it having been decided, and it comes down to superdelegates and/or the Florida/Michigan contingents, it will mean BIG trouble - maybe not 1968 in Chicago trouble, but close. And we know how that turned out.

I wonder how they'll get out of it? For some reason I don't see either Obama or the Clintons backing down...

Darn it OCSteve, you beat me to it. Of course, we might be telling our age.

I think you are - I had no idea "spade" had any sort of un-PC connotation whatsoever.

Xeynon: It’s an (older?) derogatory slang term for an African-American. I believe the origin might be “black as the Ace of Spades”.

BTW – I never thought for a moment that publius was using that way intentionally. I assumed he was completely unaware of how that sentence could be interpreted.

It’s an (older?) derogatory slang term for an African-American. I believe the origin might be “black as the Ace of Spades”.

So I gathered from the context and your comment. In my young life I've never (or at least never that I can remember) heard it, though.

I think that Obama should take the initiative regarding Florida and Michigan.

Assuming that he continues to build momentum he should publicly state that he supports giving Florida and Michigan a voice. But since the voters really didn't have a chance to have a voice in their elections they should hold emergency elections or some other mechanism to both give them a voice and to circumvent the possibility that the DNC will buckle and award the delegates to Hillary.

Talking to the people in my office this morning, about the only thing that could get them riled up enough to vote in any direction would be a Clinton candidacy. Then they'll vote republican. Since any of them would be happy with either McCain or Obama, I'm trying to talk them into voting in the primary for Obama.

In my young life I've never (or at least never that I can remember) heard it, though.

i'm in my late 30s, so i don't know if i'm young or not. but i've never heard it spoken in real life either. i've read it in older books, though.

My personal thought looking at the states Obama won and the margins there relative to Clinton's margins in her winning states is that the map shows precisely why Democrats must nominate Obama to have a stong chance of winning the general election. It looks like Clinton's biggest margin of victory was 20% in California, while Obama beat Clinton by 30% to 50%+ (!) in much of the mid-west and Rocky Mountain region. These are the states that Democrats need to try to pick up at least a few of in the general election to win.

I found this a good site to keep track of the delegates/superdelegates and endorsements

Your site has won a Blog of the Day Award (BOTDA)

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Thank you,

famous quotes

Well, since I see that Obama has closed the gap in California considerably, that will teach me to post before reading the morning news. (I still stand by my analysis, however.)

i'm in my late 30s, so i don't know if i'm young or not. but i've never heard it spoken in real life either. i've read it in older books, though.

I'm in my late 30s, as well. I remember my bigoted a-hole of a stepfather using that word in that way when I was a kid. Right in front of me, of course. No problem with potentially instilling racism into the next generation. Jerk. (Not that I'm bitter or anything.)

"No problem with potentially instilling racism into the next generation."

Generally how it is done.

FWIW, at my advanced age, and growing up in the most conservative part of the Midwest (I was able to watch the funeral procession for Joe McCarthy two blocks from my house) I could probably list off several terms that were used that the younger generation has never heard.

One thing I have noticed, and perhaps it is a sign of lessening racism, is that the variety of epithets used to connotate various groups have been reduced.

Apparently, NBC News is predicting that, once the dust has settled, Obama will have won from 2-20 more delegates yesterday than Clinton.

Y'all have no idea how excited I am that Washington - a caucus state with 97 delegates - actually matters this time. I'm soooo psyched.

You young guys can't be telling me you've never seen Blazing Saddles?

"In my young life I've never (or at least never that I can remember) heard it, though."

Gotta say you're now completely disqualified from commenting on matters of race.

Part kidding. Not entirely.

You should see a video of this, sometime, just for fun.

Polls I'd like to see right now:

dems and repubs; 'Who could you never vote for, for president?'

plus

clinton vs mccain
barack vs mccain

also; what if there were a terrorist attack on our shores between now and the dem convention or general election?

In other politio blogs many say based on fund raising and primary turnout the dems are kicking butt almost 2 to one to repubs.
So goes the general election.. Yes? No?

femdem:
Talking to the people in my office this morning, about the only thing that could get them riled up enough to vote in any direction would be a Clinton candidacy. Then they'll vote republican.

In your opinion, is there any reason for this attitude besides sexism? Given that Obama is probably slightly to Clinton's left and McCain has a much nastier personality, I don't see how their opposition could be honestly based on either her being "too radical" or "too unpleasant", considered as a human being (instead of that weird, quasi-human category, "woman").

"In your opinion, is there any reason for this attitude besides sexism?"

Not to deny that sexism plays a role, but is it your suggestion/speculation that those same voters would be more okay if it were instead Bill Clinton again?

Because I'm touch skeptical about that.

"Given that Obama is probably slightly to Clinton's left and McCain has a much nastier personality, I don't see how their opposition could be honestly based on either her being 'too radical' or 'too unpleasant', considered as a human being (instead of that weird, quasi-human category, "woman")."

The other part of this I question is that it seems to have an underlying theory that there are two reasons people vote: rationally, or affected by sexism.

Which seems to be completely undescriptive of reality to me. In my view, a huge proportion of people vote irrationally, with little regard to policies or fact, but on largely impressions and misinformation, as well as a wide variety of irrational criteria, of which sexism is just one of many many many factors.

So in my view, if you filter out sexism, or racism, or any one or two or three or five or ten of the specific forms of irrationalism, you're still left with a huge proportion of the populace voting based on irrational prejudice, rather than rational analysis of positions, facts, and policies, anyway.

So the idea that if not for sexism, people would be voting on that basis, doesn't seem based in the reality I'm familiar with.

But what do you think?

I can't speak for Doctor Science, but I tend to agree with you. It always bothers me when someone gives one prejudice as reason for a behavior of a person.

I can think of lots of reasons why people would not want to vote for Clinton which have nothing to do with sexism. I can think of plenty of reasons to not vote for Obama that have nothing to do with racism. And so on and so on. And most of those reasons do not necessarily have anything to do with a rational look at policies, etc.

OTOH, Clinton is very subtlely (or not so subtlely) asking people to vote for her specifically because she is a woman. Is that not a form of sexism?

This is a bit off subject, but you may find it illuminating.

Had a 20 minute chat yesterday with a former Democratic State Chair. He says:

--In a small group, Michelle Obama comes across as one of the most gifted politicians he has ever met.

--He believes that if Obama gets the nomination, the general election will be a cakewalk for Barack.

--A few weeks ago, he had lunch with a person who had been an R congresswoman for about 20 years. Just the two of them were having lunch, and he asked her if there was anyone she simply could not get along with in Congress. Without hesitation, she replied, “John McCain - he is one of the nastiest men I have ever met, condescending, and his word cannot be trusted.”

I should emphasize that I think sexism is a very real and very important factor in play against Clinton in a large and significant way.

I don't want anyone to think I'm discounting that in the slightest, because I don't; I'm quite sure it affects a significant number of votes in a variety of ways that hurt Clinton.

I'm just saying that I don't see it as breaking down into a binary division of sexist voters on the one hand, and generally rational voters on the other hand, and I'm skeptical of reasoning that says, well, if they're not being rational, sexism is the only explanation.

I don't observe that there is any lack of Bill Clinton Derangement Syndrome, without much sexism involved. Hell, look at how many Republicans are crazed at how they'll never vote for John McCain, ever, and will vote for Clinton, instead; I find it hard to believe that Ann Coulter is motivated by sexism in saying that, or anyone else.

But the same exact reasoning applies regarding McCain and a rational analysis of his positions. So that reasoning seems possibly less than titanium-clad.

"OTOH, Clinton is very subtlely (or not so subtlely) asking people to vote for her specifically because she is a woman. Is that not a form of sexism?"

It is, but as always, the prejudices of those with less power aren't mirror images of the prejudices of those with more power. (Typically this can be phrased as minority/majority, but gender is the perhaps unique exception.)

Prejudices of the less powerful against the more powerful, and for the less, or the minority, are a lot less harmful than those of the more powerful against the weaker.

In general, if members of a minority seek to support each other, it doesn't have at all the deleterious effects of when a majority seek to support each other to the exclusion of the minority.

So, straightforwardly, it has less harmful effect, and should be judged accordingly, in my view. The NAACP is not the Klan, the Anti-Defamation League is not the Christian Front, and so on.

With Minnesota, take the idea that it was a caucus with a grain of salt. In my precinct, in northeast Minneapolis, it was basically a primary where the polls were only open for 90 minutes. They had a room ready for about 50 caucus goers, which would have been a lot more than showed up four years ago. By 6:30, when registration was supposed to begin, there was no way to fit all the people into the room.

They decided that they would hand out the presidential preference ballot as soon as someone registered, and let them drop it in the box and go home. I arrived at 6:00, so I was near the front of the line, and put my ballot in at 6:45. At that point, the line to register was out the room, down a hallway, up a flight of stairs, down another hallway, and out the door of the building. I'd be kind of surprised if they had everyone registered by 8:00, when the balloting for president was supposed to shut down.

A couple of friends said that it was like this where they voted, too. No real caucus at all.

Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that all objections to Clinton are sexist. But having just come from reading Stanley Fish's blog post about the GQ article on Hillary-hate, it seemed to me likely that when a sizeable group (femdem's co-workers) is rejecting her so strongly, there's probably a large element of Hillary Derangement Syndrome involved.

I'm not sure how much jokiness or irony is intended by "Hillary Derangement Syndrome," or even "Bill Clinton Derangement Syndrome" as used in these comments. But reading the back-and-forth about sexism and the "Derangement" theme makes me realize that for a lot of people, precisely what Hillary Clinton is calling her "experience" and treating as a selling point is what lots of other people see as her baggage, and a major reason not to vote for her. It may be sloppy thinking, but as we've been saying on more than one thread, sloppy thinking isn't a disqualification for voting.

Even if people won't vote for her because of Clinton Derangement, that doesn't imply sexism. Bill and Hillary Clinton both are very polarizing and polarized figures. It doesn't take sexism to dislike either of them. And to the extent that Hillary is disliked by people who like Bill, there is also the explanatory factor of charisma or its lack. Bill had such charisma that when he spoke, even if you strongly disagreed with him, you would find yourself nodding along. Hillary isn't like that at all.

"Bill had such charisma that when he spoke, even if you strongly disagreed with him, you would find yourself nodding along."

I agree with the rest of your comment, but I hadn't heard that Bill had died. When did that happen?

;-)

The thing is, Sebastian, that the GQ reporter found that when he tried to get people to articulate why they hate Hillary (in particular) so very much, they can't give a rational answer.

You say both Clintons are very polarizing figures. This is objectively true, but I at least have never seen any rational basis for that polarization. It's not as though either Clinton has espoused radical policies or used fiery rhetoric. Extreme reactions to them seem to be based not on what they, personally, have done or said, but on who they remind people of.

My use of "Clinton Derangement Syndrome" should have appeared in the sarcasm font (gotta work on that). Republicans have been talking about "Bush Derangement Syndrome" for years, as though people hate Bush for irrational or arbitrary reasons though in fact it's almost entirely based on his actual actions & policies. And if you want to talk about "hate", say the words "Dick Cheney".

But as the GQ article says of Hillary, She is, to them, an empty vessel into which they can pour everything they detest about politicians, ambitious women, and an American culture they fear is being wrested from their control.

"She is, to them, an empty vessel into which they can pour everything they detest about politicians, ambitious women, and an American culture they fear is being wrested from their control." And again. That isn't about her being a woman. That doesn't imply sexism. Many people feel much the same about Bill.

"I agree with the rest of your comment, but I hadn't heard that Bill had died. When did that happen?"

I know that is a joke, but I actually was torn about whether or not to use the past tense in that sentence. I used the past tense because Bill Clinton seems to have lost it a little bit in some of his current speeches. Not completely. He can still light someone up almost against their will. But not the same as before either. Maybe he can only turn it on to that extent on his own behalf, not fully for Hillary.

But when I read the article, I don't actually see people talking about their feelings about politicians or American culture in general. The writer put bookends around "ambitious women", but that's the core issue IMHO.

I admit I have even less sense of where Bill Clinton Derangement comes from, though some people think it's class-based -- Bill never forgot that he came from true poverty, and that *really* gets under some people's skin.

Denver Lawyer "My personal thought looking at the states Obama won and the margins there relative to Clinton's margins in her winning states is that the map shows precisely why Democrats must nominate Obama to have a stong chance of winning the general election. It looks like Clinton's biggest margin of victory was 20% in California, while Obama beat Clinton by 30% to 50%+ (!) in much of the mid-west and Rocky Mountain region. These are the states that Democrats need to try to pick up at least a few of in the general election to win."

If you add up the electoral vote count (the important votes that elect the prez) in the states contested on Super Tuesday, Hillary's total was 156; Obama's total was 116.

Which means she's running stronger in states with more electorial clout then he is (and that doesn't even include the disenfranchised voters in Florida (with 27 electorial votes) who, hopefully, will be seated at the convention to vote for her, so that we have a genuine election, and not one decided by 'back-room' party democrats who think it's more important to control the primary calender then the right of registered democrats to vote for their party's candidates.

"The Publiuses are "one man, one vote" people."

Except when it comes to Florida and Michigan, apparently.

And they're not 'phantom' delegates, publius: they're an example of the most authentic voters so far in the election - expressing their political preferences untainted by the influence of million-dollar spin commercials (except for the back-door national commercial Obama's campaign managed to slip through the back door).

And as to the 'nuclear option' - that's a two edged sword, because if Obama wins by a margin which doesn't exceed the number of excluded delegates, many of those backing Hillary will go radioactive too - what will you call them: the invisible disgruntled?

And they're not 'phantom' delegates, publius:

Don't insult our intelligence.

Jay, so you are saying that Obama could not win any of the states that Clinton won in the primary, correct?

Because that is the only way what you are saying makes any sense at all.

And in regards to the FL delegates, I will have no problem with them being seated if they hold another primary or have caucuses once all the other primaries are over. Same thing holds for MI.

they're an example of the most authentic voters so far in the election - expressing their political preferences untainted by the influence of million-dollar spin commercials

And luckily they don't have newspapers, cable television or the Internet, either. They all live in caves on Mars, with their eyes shut and their fingers in their ears.

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