Friday, March 07, 2008

Delegate Derby: Texas Two Step and Michigan and Florida Keep Coming Up

I don’t know. After the Texas primary I thought we would all be moving on to the future. Some of us haven’t. Admittedly, one of us is me.

I’m still watching the Texas caucus numbers. Those numbers at the Texas Democratic Party’s website have not budged since last night. I suppose someone told someone else to stop updating the website with current numbers to keep the speculation down, although I think the cat is out of the bag on that. What I think we can lay it to is transparency inaction.

So the numbers jump around a bit. That’s going to happen. But for the first time there is a microscope focused on this race. So I guess it’s best for the TDP to turn off the light source.

If anyone has been paying attention, they are still counting the Tuesday night caucus results. These are not electronic ballots, nor can they be optically scanned, it is all done by hand counting. And there are some stories of caucus improprieties going around, mainly about camp A, with the stories being spread by camp B, if you get what I mean. With 48 and change percent of the caucus votes counted, it looks like Barack Obama won the Texas caucus by taking either 37 or 38 of the available 67 caucus votes. Right now he’s polling at about 56%.

But the bandwagon has moved on and everyone is now focused on Pennsylvania. The irony is that the big news is breaking here that Obama seems to be winning the Texas caucus and will have a majority of the Texas delegates at the national convention, but it’s all a big yawn now everywhere else but here.

“So what?” the Clinton camp says “Hillary won the popular vote in Texas”. I would counter that Texas has an open primary, anyone can vote for the Democratic candidates, Limbaugh ditto-heads included. The caucus is, I think, more pure. I doubt that many Republicans deigned to caucus with the Democrats. No, what we are seeing with the caucus vote is more of an indication of who will actually come out and vote for the Democratic candidate in the fall.

There are those that complain about the arcane Texas system. Especially now that it doesn’t look promising for the Hillary Clinton campaign. To this I would say this: “these are the rules that everyone agreed to, stop complaining”.

And that brings me to Florida and Michigan. Also past tense, but it keeps coming up in the present and I would hazard a guess that it will be a factor in the future if the Clinton campaign continue to press the issue, and I see no reason they won’t – pressing the point can only help Clinton’s numbers and hurt Obama’s. And a win’s a win, right?

It is if you want to leave a scorched earth all the way to the polls in November. Most people, I think, are not terribly political, but most of them are fair-minded, and have a sense of what is right.

One of the things about being in the right is obeying the rules. Florida and Michigan, two states that moved their primaries before Super Tuesday, were told that if they did this, their elected delegates would not be given a seat at the Democratic Convention. They went ahead anyway, and for the most part everyone ignored those races once it was made known that their results were moot. Now the Clinton campaign wants those delegates, and they are making vast but specious arguments for the seating of them.

I like data, and one thing I found in looking at the data is that while Florida was contested, in that Obama was actually on the ballot, and Michigan’s primary was not (by Obama), the numbers truly reflect this. Witness the turnout data. In every state where Obama and Clinton stood toe to toe, Democratic voters turned up at the polls in record numbers, some states had double and even triple the voters that usually show up in a primary. Now look at Florida. In their 2004 primary, 732,731 voters came to vote for the presidential nominee in the Democratic primary. Contrast this to 2008 where 1,749,920 voters showed. Now compare that to Michigan’s primary. In 2004, Democratic voter turnout at their primary was 1,384,200. In 2008, where only Clinton, Dodd, Gravel and Kucinich appeared on the ballot voter turnout was 594,400.

My point is, is that while Florida’s turnout numbers followed the rest of the country, Michigan actually had a reverse trend. FEWER voters showed up to vote in Michigan this year than in the 2004 primary. Clearly, this was not a valid sampling of the voters’ preference. And to press the point, you wonder what the Florida results would have been had the Obama campaign spent any time there exciting the crowds.

Now I admire the Clinton campaign for their bulldog stance in this: win at any price, get the delegates, just get them. And if I were in a snowball fight I sure would want the Clinton campaign on my side. But it’s not a snowball fight. We’re talking about the Presidency here. A presidency that has been cast in shadows for the past 2 terms. A presidency that has been arguably unfairly wrenched from the hands of Democrats in 2000, and possibly again in 2004.

We don’t need a continuation of this in 2008. I think Americans are tired of people not playing by the rules, or in the case of the Bush Regime, breaking the laws of the land.

Let the rules be applied. Let the candidates win or lose by the rules, not by circumvention of the rules. Haven’t we all had enough of this?


Steve said...

I was wondering the same thing about the caucus results. You may already know this, but apparently precincts are allowed to report the results to the Democratic party by snail mail, and they weren't required to do so until today. If this is true, maybe we'll start to see those numbers move in the next few days.


Anonymous said...

Im so glad that im not the only person that feels this way. I was starting to think that i was the only one who thought it strange that the caucus count has stopped being updated. Then again, I was at my Texas caucus on Tuesday and this should have been expected.

Hal said...

I am by nature cynical and suspicious. My first spreadsheet on the 5th was constructed, and then I compared those numbers the next day and saw small changes, but losses of votes in one column and gains in others. I wondered about this a little, but didn't take it to mean anything. Now that the tally updating has stopped updating my suspicions grow.