Saturday, March 08, 2008

# Posted 6:51 PM by Taylor Owen  

MATH VS HOPE: Some quick answers to David's questions:
1. Why shouldn't they go to the candidate who emerges with the largest popular vote?
I agree, I don’t think there is clear reason, other than the fact that the nominee is chosen by delegates, rather than a straight popular ballot. I suppose that means something. Bush would probably think so. I also believe that even if you count Michigan and Florida, which is looking increasingly unlikely to happen, Obama is ahead in the pop. vote.
2. From day one, Obama's message has been that he is a bringer of change who can unite the entire country, not just the Democratic Party. Thus, would an emphasis on the math actually do more to hurt his campaign than to help?
Well, a couple of things. First, I don’t see how these are necessarily mutually exclusive. Second, I think the message of the campaign can be transmitted in many ways. Obama himself would obviously not be on the stump mixing math with hope, delegates with change. His surrogates could certainly do fair amount to get that point across though.
3. Is it "absolutely ridiculous" for her to argue that she is better vetted?
OK, this might be a bit strong. First, though, her claim assumed that the "vast right-wing conspiracy" is done "vetting" her. That the current silence is due to the right being out of ammo, as opposed to her primary opponent trying to run a relatively clean campaign. Second, what is certainly “absolutely ridiculous” is her claim that she is fully vetted, but then to call any reference to the issues for which she was critiqued off limits, or worse still, Starr-ian. She can’t have it both ways.
4. What I want to know is, is one set of arguments intrinsically more persuasive to Democratic superdelegates? Or is only way forward to forget about which argument is better and just see who polls better against McCain?
In the end, I am not sure if it will ever come down to solely who is better positioned against McCain. If Obama is ahead in delegates, popular vote, and states won going into the convention, then it is hard to see Hillary to becoming the nominee. If they split any of these, or, I suppose, if Hillary has some real momentum coming out of the final few states, then the super delegates will decide based on the McCain factor. This, despite Clinton’s experience messaging, I think actually favors Obama. He polls better against McCain, puts more swing states into play, and Hillary is far more vulnerable on her Iraq vote than she implies.

Plus, what could be better for Oxblog than an Obama-McCain general? Surely that has to factor into our analysis?

PS - In a thorough post on the same topic, Jonathan Chait argues that while there may be nothing illegitimate about a super delegate decided outcome, with the math strongly against her, Clinton's only path to the nomination will not be a pretty affair.
(2) opinions -- Add your opinion

I also believe that even if you count Michigan and Florida, which is looking increasingly unlikely to happen, Obama is ahead in the pop. vote.

Actually, no. Clinton's ahead by about 20,000 if FL and MI are counted, FWIW. Well, at least until Mississippi's results are announced tonight, which should swing it back to Obama by a nose.

Of course, that's changing the rules of the game. It's true that Obama loses in some sense because his best results are in caucuses, but OTOH Texas showed that Clinton can win by 3% a state's primary while losing caucuses there by an impressive amount.
The super-duper delegates get to decide how to vote however they wish, and we get to criticize their reasoning. Hee hee.

IMO, appealing to some statistic (who got the most votes overall, who has the lead in delegates, who got the most votes in my district / state)is a cop-out.

"Super-delegates" weren't created to reduce their vote to some sort of mechanical bean-counting exercise ... if that was their purpose, why have them at all?

They were created for just this situation - two or more contenders who can't win the nomination without them, in which case THEY get to decide who's "best."

The reason "supers" are getting uncomfortable is their role makes it pretty hard to claim their party "trusts the voters" ... they exist PRECISELY to frustrate the will of the "majority" of voters who've cast ballots in their primaries.
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