guest post by Paul Lukasiak
Based on exit polls, among the approximately
16.3 million people who identified themselves as Democrats, over 678,000 more
voted for Hillary Clinton than Barack Obama. If we’re going to “let
the people decide” who the Democratic nominee would be, shouldn’t we be
basing that on the will of Democrats themselves?
The latest meme from the Barack Obama camp (and one that is being heavily promoted
by the media), is that super-delegates should comply with “the will of
the people” as reflected in the popular vote count. But this was hardly
even mentioned until the week after Super Tuesday, when Obama took the lead
in total votes cast in the primaries.
In fact, on Super Tuesday, 295,952 more primary voters cast their ballots for
Hillary Clinton than for Obama, yet somehow neither the Obama campaign, nor
the media, was paying much attention to Clinton’s lead in the popular
vote. If we include all the states that held primaries before Super Tuesday
(NH, SC, MI, FL) Clinton was up by 468,024 votesÃ¢â‚¬”that was 2.51% of the
total votes cast. But talking about that number was not a media priority either.
Only now that Obama has a miniscule lead of 128,736 in the number of votes
cast (and that includes assigning all the “uncommitted” votes in
Michigan to Obama) has the media focused on total votes cast. This lead represents
less than 1% (0.62%) of votes cast in the primary elections held so far, yet
it is trumpeted by the media endlessly.
But, since this is actually the Democratic primary, perhaps we should look
at how Democrats have actually voted. Based on the available exit polling data,
we find that Hillary Clinton has a commanding lead over Barack Obama in the
number of votes Ã¢â‚¬“ As of February 16, 2008, 391,992 more Democrats voted
for Clinton than Obama.
That number does not include results from the District of Columbia, because
of a lack of exit polling data. If we include DC, and assume that 100% of the
voters were Democrats, Clinton still has a lead among Democrats of 333,981 votes.
But that number also doesn’t include Florida. Add in Florida’s
Democrats, and Clinton’s lead advantage increases to 565,684. Nor does
it include Michigan; and even if we assign all the Democrats who voted “uncommitted”
to Obama, Clinton’s lead among Democratic voters grows to 678,276.
In terms of actual Democratic voters, the numbers from Super Tuesday are astonishing
Ã¢â‚¬“ and were, of course, ignored by the media. Out of over 12,100,000 votes
cast by Democrats that day, Clinton beat Obama by nearly 7%, and just short
of 837,000 votes. And if we include all the primaries that took place before
Super Tuesday (NH, SC, MI, FL) the Clinton advantage among Democrats rises to
7.5%, and well over a million votes.
As Democrats, it is our votes that should be the determining factor in a close
race. We’re the voters that the party can depend on, and ignoring the
will of Democratic voters can lead to Democratic voters ignoring the will of
Perhaps more to the point is the question of which states these votes are coming
from. Are they from potential “swing states” Ã¢â‚¬“ states where
5% or less of the electorate determined who won the state’s electoral
votes in 2004? Are they from states that are outside of that 5% margin, but
where its still close enough that a Democrat should make an effort anyway to
ensure that the GOP candidate has to divert time and resources there, rather
than concentrate on states where Democrats hold an edge? Or are they from states
where one party has a lock, barring a complete landslide?
On the whole, Clinton has done far better than Obama in the swing states. In
deep blue states, its been about even, but in deep red states, Obama has dominated.
This raises the question of the extent to which primary voters in states where
a Democratic nominee has little chance of winning should be able to determine
the party’s nominee.
The Obama campaign, and now the media, are arguing that “super-delegates”
aren’t supposed to determine who the nominee will be. But in a close race,
who better to determine which candidate will be best for the nation, and the
party, than the professional politicians and party activist who best understand
how elections work.
And while legitimate arguments can be made on both sides of the “super-delegate”
debate, there is simply no question that the system was not set up to allow
the nominee to be chosen based in very large part on primary and caucus victories
in states that Democrats aren’t truly competitive. The very idea that
a 12 delegate advantage from a state like Idaho trumps an 11 delegate advantage
from a swing state like New Jersey should be anathema to the party. Nor should
racking up a combined 449,000 vote advantage in the “practically impossible
to win” states of Georgia and Alabama be considered more important than
a 416,000 vote advantage in a competitive/must-win state like California.
Yet this is exactly what the Obama campaign is arguing — that the reality
of the electorial college map should be irrelevant, and that only raw vote totals,
“pledged” delegates, and the number of states won should matter
to the super-delegates. And the media simply repeats this argument without question.
The candidate selection process is not, as Obama would have it, “majority
rules”. During the primary season, its “supermajority rules”
Ã¢â‚¬“ in order to assume the mantle of nominee for the Democratic Party, a
candidate has to get 60% of the pledged delegates awareded in primaries and
caucuses. The Obama campaign has demonstrated an unsurpassed mastery of the
rules governing the primary season Ã¢â‚¬“ while the Clinton campaign was been
concentrating its efforts in those states which will be the key to a victory
in November, Obama’s people put considerable time and effort into racking
up delegates in a slew of states that require a national landslide for a Democrat
to win in November. As a result of this strategy, Obama now has a lead of 124
in pledged delegates from the states that have h eld their caucuses and primaries.
But having taken full advantage of the rules to acquire that lead, the Obama
campaign is now demanding the 60% of primary/caucus delegates rule be ignored.
At the same time, he insists that delegates from key states like Florida and
Michigan, because those states didn’t “play by the rules”.
It’s one thing to work the rules to your advantage. But Obama is now working
the refs in an effort to have them forget that there are any rules at all.