Archive for March, 2008

obama003.jpgSo here we are again. We’ve avoided the post-apocalyptic nightmare of a Clinton defeat and trudge on to even more primaries that offer no concrete solutions to the 2008 Nomination War. This fight is going to rage until mid-June and for those of you who have stayed tuned to this blog, you know we’ve been saying this for months.

A few things are clear from Texas and Ohio. Clinton avoided her Waterloo. Obama thwarted a sweep. And John McCain finally gained what was rightfully his for the past several weeks.

The Clinton victories also mollified her supporters and donors who might have switched allegiances in the early morning hours on Wednesday. Under the banner of ‘party unity’, many of Clinton’s coterie would have denounced her if the junior Senator from Illinois had gained even one large state. Luckily, she won both and kept her organization afloat.

But afloat on what? It’s becoming patently obvious that her battle is uphill and against mathematical predictions showing virtually no hope. Seeing this, Barack Obama has re-launched his post-Texas/Ohio campaign with the central theme that the math doesn’t add up for Hillary. E-mailing his supporters under the guise of his campaign manager, David Plouffe, Obama drove home his campaign’s calculations:

quote01.jpgOur projections show the most likely outcome of yesterday’s elections will be that Hillary Clinton gained 187 delegates, and we gained 183. That’s a net gain of 4 delegates out of more than 370 delegates available from all the states that voted.

While the press might disagree with the math, it’s hard to disagree with another of his conclusions – she’s trailing, and badly.

quote01.jpgThe task for the Clinton campaign yesterday was clear. In order to have a plausible path to the nomination, they needed to score huge delegate victories and cut into our lead.

They failed.

It’s clear, though, that Senator Clinton wants to continue an increasingly desperate, increasingly negative — and increasingly expensive — campaign to tear us down.

He’s firing back and he has the dangerous weapon of logic on his side. Not only is Barack saying that Hillary is going to have to claw victory from the undesirable position of having won fewer states and possessing fewer delegates, he has also planted the thought that if this primary season grows acrimonious, voters are going to grow weary. Watch for Obama to capitalize on this sentiment if this fight goes further than April.

Please also note that the Delegate Tracker is now updated and reflects the returns from the Texas Primary & Caucus, as well as the 4 major news sources finally getting it all in print. I have decided to do away with the Republican Tracker, as we all know who the nominee is. Enjoy.

thinkmatter’s Democratic Delegate Tracker


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Click here for the 2010 Pennsylvania Voter’s Guide for the 2010 Midterm Elections

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Primary Date: April 22nd

Democratic & Republican Party Primary

Type: Closed Primary

Voter Registration Deadline: Must be registered to vote 30 days prior to the election.

Important Note: You must declare your membership in either the Democratic or Republican Party to be able to vote on April 22nd.

The state of Pennsylvania votes this year in one of the most decisive primary elections in a generation. In what is call a ‘closed primary’, Pennsylvania has set up rules that allow only those voters who have registered as either a Democrat or Republican to vote in the year’s primary.

The 2008 nominating process no longer hinges on Iowa and New Hampshire, as so many elections have in the past. Instead, this election has been about Super Tuesday and the states that follow. And Pennsylvania now has the opportunity to decide who the nominee will be in the Democratic Party.

In light of this, I feel it is necessary to share a quick history and voter’s guide to the most salient questions I’ve been asked about Pennsylvania. A political professional for nearly 10 years, I hope that this guide helps to answer all of your questions. If you have further ones, feel free to leave a comment.

Can I vote in the Pennsylvania Primary?

Only if you meet the following conditions:

1). You are registered to vote before March 22nd 2008

2). You are registered as either a Democrat or Republican.

Can Independents or the Unaffiliated vote in the Pennsylvania Primary?


Why can’t Independents vote in the Pennsylvania Primary?

The State of Pennsylvania votes in what is known as a ‘closed primary’. This means that as unless you are a registered Democrat or Republican, you will not be allowed to vote this year.

Closed primaries are a unique example of a political party’s interest in keeping active participation in the party going strong.

Unfortunately, this type of primary traditionally has lower turnout since only those who are officially declared as a member of a party are permitted to vote. Furthermore, many Independents find this system to be a disincentive to pay attention to the primary elections and therefore pay little mind to the race until the General Election.

penn01.jpgI’m an Independent, but I want to vote in the Pennsylvania Primary. What can I do?

You must declare as either Democrat or Republican prior to the March 22nd deadline. Details can be located at the Pennsylvania Department of State at http://www.votespa.com.

Please note: You may, at any time following the election, re-register as an Unenrolled or Unaffiliated voter.

Does the Pennsylvania Primary matter?

I don’t think I have to tell you that it matters a great deal – especially if you have been watching the news lately. When a presidential primary comes to a state like Pennsylvania and the voting will still determine the outcome, it is a rare opportunity for voters to have their voices heard nationally.

If you are a Democrat, your vote will contribute to your candidate’s delegate total when it comes to convention time. Even if your candidate doesn’t win Pennsylvania, the better he or she does, the more delegates he or she will have to potentially be the nominee.

If you’re an Independent voter, and you want to take the plunge by registered as a Democrat, you should feel that this is great opportunity. Independents are widely known to be the heartbeat of the voting public whose opinions are frequently the basis for the ‘mandate’ that new presidents talk about during their first days. There should be no doubt that the candidates want your vote more than anything else. If you help in choosing either of the nominees, you’ll help shape the next 4 years of public policy.

What resources are out there for me?

I’m afraid that not many will go this length in explaining the logic of the primary system to you, but I will point you in the right direction for better details on what to expect on Election Day.

Pennsylvania Department of State


Keystone Politics

Young Philly Politics

Related posts on thinkmatter: Obama: Back In Touch (with your wallet); ‘They Cling to Guns or Religion’: Obama Takes Heat for Remarks about ‘Bitter’ Small Towns; The Money in Pennsylvania (and a Delegate Tracker Update)

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Clinton in Texas

Please note:

[This post has been updated on May 7th here: Delegate & Superdelegate Trackers: A Post-Indiana/North Carolina Update ]

The all-consuming Superdelegates have secured their importance in the arms race to the nomination and now it’s time we found out where they stand. I’ve updated the Superdelegate Tracker just in time for the Ohio/Texas primary today, and once the results are in, we’ll most likely have a clear picture of who this primary season has favored.

With that said, I’m going to predict that a win or loss sustained by Clinton today puts her out of the game – unless her vote totals are substantially more than anticipated, which I doubt will occur (more on this later). I’ve slowly come to the realization that Clinton has exercised futile attempts to curry favor in the party over the past month. This is not the lucidity of hindsight speaking. Instead Clinton is trying to contend with impossible numbers within the Democratic Party rules for winning the nomination. For instance:

  • Even if she wins both Texas and Ohio, her delegate totals are only going to nominally increase, leaving Obama with a near 100 point lead despite her gains.
  • If she were to stay in the race, her margin of victory in every other primary this year would have to be substantial (some estimates range at 70%) in order for her to beat Obama in elected delegate totals.
  • Her lead is lessening in Superdelegates, and some have jumped ship and gone to Obama.
  • The Superdelegates are subscribing to the common wisdom that the party and the voters will not stand for a candidate who wins the nomination by the decree of unaccountable party members (i.e. themselves).

If Clinton is being truthful with herself, she knows that the Obama camp has made a good case that is slowly invading the thought process of the undecided Superdelegates. These folks realize that a protracted war for the nomination or denying the winner of the elected delegates the Big Prize would set the party’s national chances squarely at odds with the favorability it has achieved since 2006. The simple math goes like this: get a nominee soon and November looks great, fight this out or let the Superdelegates decide the nominee and race to November becomes mired in claims about legitimacy, party rules and the Dem nominee may be crippled from the outset.

The Obama team was prescient enough to make this math clear early in February, and because his lead is solid enough now, it has little chance of backfiring on him. Superdelegates know and recognize this and it is one of the biggest reasons some of them are decamping from the Clinton wing.

The only caveat that I will cite here is the popular vote totals. If Clinton can somehow overtake Obama in the popular vote once the primary process is over, she will have a convincing argument that she should be the nominee. In order for this to happen, she must win in Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania to eek out a popular vote victory. If she does, she can easily argue that Obama might win in delegates, but much like Bush/Gore 2000, she should be the nominee because the plurality of votes nationwide are on her side.

This of course is a big ‘what-if’ scenario and depends greatly on her success today. If it does happen, she still faces the danger of perception turning against her. She will, after all, be asking to be granted a party nomination outside of the rules the Democrats have laid out. Popular vote totals don’t make a nominee – delegates and Superdelegates do.

Stranger things have happened, but if Clinton does grab victories in the remaining big states, it’s up to Obama to demonstrate that her claim to the nomination by popular vote is (I’m sorry to say) procedurally illegitimate.

See related posts: Howard Dean to Superdelegates: Decide Now and Let’s Get this Wrapped-Up in June

thinkmatter’s Superdelegate Tracker

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