When it looks like a pig...

Here's what the Democratic Party's website shows on the "Lipstick on a Pig" issue.

Now I wonder who they could possibly be trying to portray?

What tasteful mock-ups of Barack Obama do you suppose would be considered reasonable?

[hat tip Michelle Malkin]

Palin Derangement Syndrome, or "Lipstick on a pig" Take 2

If Senator Obama did not intend the insult, why did he repeat it on the Letterman show? Bush Derangement Syndrome has been replaced by Palin Derangement Syndrome. The Democratic Party candidate for the presidency of the U.S.A. has got it bad.
His excuse for the now notorious "Lipstick on a Pig" jibe at his vice-presidential opponent Governor Sarah Palin is:

"Keep in mind, technically, had I meant it this way, [Palin] would be the lipstick. The failed policies of John McCain would be the pig, just following the logic of this illogical situation," Obama said.

So to all the people (mostly women) who have been in denial that this was an attack on Governor Palin: "SHE WOULD BE THE LIPSTICK" on a pig [McCain].

Obama's "had I meant it this way" sounds like O.J. Simpson trying to cash in on "if I did kill my ex-wife and her boyfriend, this is how I would have done it." I don't know on what planet Obama thinks his "following the logic of this illogical situation" will work, but it isn't in this solar system.

It was a cheap shot. The body language tells me he knew it, was embarrassed by it from the moment it left his mouth. The rest is a bully's denial. Pathetic.

Here's a transcript of what I saw:
“[hand in starts in pocket then moves towards face] but you know you can’t…you-you know you can put..er…[covers his face]…lipstick on a pig…[long pause waiting for audience to cheer]…[takes his hand off his face]…it’s still a pig! [looks around].”

UPDATE: Just checking out Intrade. Here's what people putting their money think.

2008 Pres Obama: 49.0 -3.4
2008 Pres McCain: 50.0 +2.6


Doesn't Senator Obama know how many U.S. Senators there are?

I really hope this isn't the reason Senator Barack Obama loses the 2008 U.S. presidential election:

If Senator Obama thinks he's going to win the NINE states he claims to have visited that don't exist he might have a problem: overestimating his Electoral College votes. He said he hadn't visited Alaska or Hawaii so he can only have visited 48 real states at the most. That's a minimum overestimate of 27 electoral college votes, assuming they're all small. To give Senator Obama some credit, he did run a superb primary election campaign by not, at least until he was clearly going to win, refusing to campaign in states however small or normally Republican (Michigan and Florida re a special case).

Or is it that Senator Obama hasn't a clue? You'd think he knew how many Senators there are at least: 2 per state or 100 in total.

Perhaps it's something about the drinking water in the U.S. Senate washrooms, in which case I assume Senators John McCain (Arizona) and Joseph Biden (plagiarist, Delaware) should be viewed with suspicion:

Last election, Senator John Kerry (Massachusetts) also thought he had a better chance of winning than he really had: he thought that he only had to gain FOUR E.C. votes from New Hampshire and hold the states certified to have been won by Al Gore in 2000. Turns out, Senator Kerry didn't know about the U.S. Census and how that changes things.


"Lipstick on a pig"

From Breitbart.com:
"We will leave here more united than we came," she said.

Some audience members heckled her in response. "Lipstick on a pig!" one shouted.

"We just blew the election!" a woman in the audience shouted. The crowd was divided between cheering Obama supporters and booing Clinton supporters.

"This isn't unity! Count all the votes!" another audience member yelled.

At stake was what the Democratic National Committee was going to do about the Michigan and Florida primaries, where the Party initially proposed to ban delegates from those two states from the August National Convention.

The "compromise" effectively gives the nomination to Senator Barak Obama.

Of course the procedure is so convoluted and arbitrary that the deal may not stand up to the scrutiny of a court of law.

Whatever happened to "every vote must be counted"? Silly me, it only applies to when the Democrat is behind a Republican...


How things stand in the 2008 Democratic primaries

All right, this site doesn't normally do satire. But this is priceless.

Hat-tip: Russell Whitaker.


Welcome fivethirtyeight.com!

Fivethirtyeight.com is a project by a Daily Kos contributor I've mentioned previously, here and here and which has some flaws, despite what I reckon are genuine attempts to avoid overstating Democratic party hopes for November.

I think it's a very good addition to the debate about what will happen, as opposed to what we might like to happen or wish would happen. As such, I have no hesitation in adding fivethirtyeight.com to my blogroll.

Here's what Poblano says about it all, taken from the site FAQ:

What is the significance of the number 538?
538 is the number of electors in the electoral college.

How is this site different from other compilations of polls like Real Clear Politics?
There are a few things we're able to do over here that these other sites haven't done. Firstly, we assign each poll a weighting based on that pollster's historical track record, the poll's sample size, and the recentness of the poll. More reliable polls are weighted more heavily in our averages. Secondly, we include a regression estimate for each state among our 'polls', which helps to account for outlier polls and to stabilize the results. Thirdly, we simulate the election 10,000 times for each site update, in order to provide a probabilistic assessment of electoral outcomes.

I'm not sure that RealClearPolitics doesn't already do the weighting that Poblano is doing, but either way there are likely to be some differences. See here for my praise for the RCP.

And we agree on Zogby:

OK, so just who are the most reliable pollsters? As of 3/13/2008, the weights assigned to the various polling agencies are as follows:

Survey USA 1.91
Selzer & Co (IA) 1.47
Field Poll (CA) 1.33
Rasmussen 1.30
Ohio Poll / U. of Cincinnati 1.24
Chicago Trib. / Market Shares 1.16
Mason-Dixon 1.10
Univ. New Hampshire 1.08
Public Policy Polling (PPP) 1.05
Research 2000 1.01
Mitchell (MI) 0.96
ABC / Washington Post 0.95
Insider Advantage 0.95
Quinnipiac 0.95
Strategic Vision 0.95
LA Times / Bloomberg 0.83
Star Tribune (MN) 0.81
FOX / Opinion Dynamics 0.79
CNN / Opinion Research 0.77
Suffolk (MA) 0.77
EPIC-MRA (MI) 0.75
Franklin Pierce (NH) 0.74
Farleigh-Dickinson (NJ) 0.71
Marist (NY) 0.69
CBS / New York Times 0.66
American Research Group 0.65
Zogby 0.64
Keystone (PA) 0.64
USA Today / Gallup 0.63
Public Opinion Strategies 0.63
Columbus Dispatch (OH) 0.50
Zogby Interactive 0.43


Let the voters decide? No!

Daily Kos contributor DHinMI seems almost frantic to persuade Senator Hillary Clinton to stop her campaign, before the Pennsylvania and other primaries that remain.

See here, here, and here.

For what it's worth, I agree with the analysis and that the only serious chance Mrs Clinton has is to see her rival, Senator Barack Obama, destroyed by a smear or a drip-drip of innuendo, like this.

Anyone who believes there aren't people working full-time on identifying, testing and disseminating dirt on Mr Obama, for the benefit of the Clintons is naive.

So for the sake of Party unity, this slugging match must stop. Barack Obama is the (almost) clear winner.

But what I want to know is, what happened to "count every vote"?

What happened to the disenfranchised voters of Florida and Michigan? If I lived in Florida, it wouldn't MY fault the local state government and political parties move the date of their primary to January. So by what right would I be disenfranchised?

In 2000, the Democrats made a lot of noise about electoral cheating and sharp practice. In 2004, very conveniently (because Ohio was the ONLY state that could change the result), various allegations were made, which should more likely have been directed in the Washington State Governor's election.

So blacks can only vote, when they vote Democrat. And Florida can only vote, when it suits one of the Democratic nominees. And just in case the voters get it wrong, the super-delegates can fix it.

Any guesses as to why Senator John McCain, if he were 10 years younger, would now be my prediction for winner of the November presidential election? I won't make a firm prediction until the vice-presidents have been picked.
McCain's problems are:

1) the stupid, if not outright evil, Feingold-McCain Campaign Finance Act, which allows labor unions to act as Democratic party surrogates but restricts individual donors and businesses; he sponsored it, so I have no sympathy. The legislation was also used to try and shut down political blogs, so shame on you Senator! McCain has less money than his opponents, although they seem to be doing their best to redress that imbalance.

2) age and health. The simple fact is, he has never had a campaign of this kind before. How fit is Senator McCain. He is two years older than Ronald Reagan was in 1980. It didn't harm the Great Communicator in 1984: "I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience."

3) He is a Senator. That means he has a long record of votes than can be mined for evidence of anything an opponent might wish to accuse him of. True, so are his opponents, but unlike a McCain or a John Kerry, there is a lot shorter trail of evidence to follow.

The big advantages McCain has are "the surge" in Iraq, no nonsense about earmarks, the fact he was demolished in 2000 by George W. Bush (hard to make him out to be a crony) and his appeal to moderates.

Here's the sort of opinion poll Democrat strategists wake up in the night screaming about: one in five Democrats will back McCain instead of the primary candidate they didn't want.

If [FILL preferred candidate] does not win the Democratic nomination, who do
you think you will vote for in the November election? Will you vote for [fill other
candidate], John McCain, some other candidate, or will you probably not vote in the
November election?

Hillary Clinton supporters (n = 228)
53% Barack Obama
19% John McCain
5% Other
13% Won’t vote
10% Don’t know

Barack Obama supporters (n = 126)
60% Hillary Clinton
20% John McCain
3% Other
3% Won’t vote
14% Don’t know


When narcissists clash

From that bastion of the great "right-wing conspiracy," the New York Times, comes this:

Delegate Battles Embroil 2 States

Remember Florida 2000? You ain't seen nothin' yet!

There's one lot wants their money back.
Reflecting how tense the situation has become, influential fund-raisers for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton have stepped up their behind-the-scenes pressure on national party leaders to resolve the matter, with some even threatening to withhold their donations to the Democratic National Committee unless it seats the delegates from the two states or holds new primaries there.

In the middle of it all the Clinton spin machine is flying into orbit:
Mrs. Clinton won the primaries in both states, but the contests were not sanctioned by the party, neither candidate campaigned in the states and Mr. Obama did not even put his name on the ballot in Michigan.
Actually, Senator Clinton accidentally forgot to have her name taken off the ballot in Michigan, you know, a bit like forgetting to cancel the gym monthly payments...
And the "non-campaign" in Florida included a televised event in the state a couple of days before the vote (obviously a long-standing engagement that couldn't be re-arranged for the following week, you understand). In fact, the bit I really liked was the victory party for the non-campaign.

Pushing to seat the Florida delegates, at least one top Clinton fund-raiser, Paul Cejas, a Miami businessman who has given the Democratic National Committee $63,500 since 2003, has demanded Democratic officials return his 2007 contribution of $28,500, which they have agreed to do.

“If you’re not going to count my vote, I’m not going to give you my money,” said Mr. Cejas, who was the United States ambassador to Belgium from 1998 to 2001.

Hmm. Is it really legal to appoint as U.S. Ambassador to Belgium someone who's main qualification was to give under $30,000 a year? If buying ambassadorships is that cheap, can I have one?

The post is presumably important, given that the E.U., N.A.T.O., and a couple of other international bureaucracies are based there. Its not like Ambassador to St Lucia or Monte Carlo. Also, we can assume that the threat means Mr Cejas doesn't expect to get a big-time job this time. Is he worried the Democrats might lose?

Just in case you think Florida's bad...try Michigan:
The new vote, which would be run by state elections officials but financed with money raised from private sources, is far from a sure thing. It requires approval by the divided state legislature and from the Clinton and Obama campaigns. There is also no assurance that the party can quickly raise the estimated $10 million it would cost to redo the January contest.

Now you might be forgiven for thinking it was the Republicans stirring the pot and making it hard to arrange a re-vote. But no:
The person said that Michigan Republicans, who control the State Senate, said they would not stand in the way. But Democrats, who control the state House of Representatives, are divided between Clinton supporters and Obama supporters. “The Clinton people say they’re not going to block it,” the source said. “The question is what the Obama people are going to do.”

I always thought the Florida 2000 fraud claims were dubious: the Democrats in Florida have a rotten record of organizing elections, and in many of the areas where disputes occurred, the local election boards were, shall we say, not exactly in the hands of Karl Rove.

At stake is a net THIRTY-EIGHT DELEGATE gain for Senator Clinton. According to some counts, this reduces Senator Barack Obama's lead by a third.


Why the drama of elections is fascinating if you hate politics

Here's my take on the appeal of the current U.S. primaries and caucuses:
It’s like a less rational version of The Apprentice, with guns and lawyers. And right now, we don’t know how one of the finalists is going to get picked.

I think part of the appeal of elections is that, unlike a TV show, we don’t really know what’s going to happen.

I mean, who predicted the California Democratic party primary of June 5th 1968 would end with the front-runner gunned down? Depending on who you believe, even Sirhan Sirhan didn’t see that one coming.

[Thanks Jackie D for triggering that one]

What now?

After the drama of the other day, it all dribbles away for a bit.

Saturday 8 March - Arkansas Democratic Special State Convention and Wyoming Democratic County Caucuses

Tuesday 11 March - Mississippi Democratic Primary

Saturday 15 March - Democrats Abroad Democratic Regional Caucuses

Thursday 3 April - District of Columbia State Party Committee

There is a multitude of smaller events until the next big state primary: Pennsylvania on April 22. There are 45 days between the Mississippi and Pennsylvania primaries.

For hardcore election nerds, check out this complete listing.

Lots of idle hands to make mischief over the next six weeks!


I guess he or she found what they wanted

Glad to be of service.

Opposite result, same effect: Super Tuesday 2 post mortem

I may not have been very brave in my predictions yesterday, but they have been fairly well vindicated. This Super Tuesday to follow the Super Duper Tuesday of February 4 has failed to produce a knock-out blow for the favorite, this time Senator Barack Obama (Illinois). Instead it is Senator Hillary Clinton (New York) who is relatively better off after last night's efforts.

Here's how it ended up:
1) Vermont called first, giving Obama a 12th win on the trot. Some people in Ohio and texas may still have been voting when the news came out, which is naughty.
Obama: 91,829 votes; 59%; 9 delegates
Clinton: 59,854 votes; 39%; 6 delegates

2) Then came Rhode Island. Clinton's first win in a month.
Clinton: 106,471 votes; 58%; 13 delegates
Obama: 73,609 votes; 40%; 8 delegates

N.B. At this stage Clinton is narrowing the gap: 166,325 to 165,438 or by less than 1,000, but it is a start. Two net delegate gains are handy too.

3) Ohio. Zogby tried to make it look close. For a variety of reasons, it wasn't.
Clinton: 1,212,077 votes; 54%; 75 delegates
Obama: 982,172 votes; 44%; 52 delegates

N.B. At this stage Texas is no longer crucial: as long as it's close and with the strange bias in the caucuses held immediately after the primary, Clinton has broken the losing streak and can narrow the gap.

4) Texas. The primary was a Clinton victory, as in Ohio, Obama spent a lot more. This time, with negative advertising, she spent smarter.
Clinton: 1,453,139 votes; 51%; 65 delegates
Obama: 1,354,672 votes; 47%; 61 delegates

N.B. If it stopped here, all would be sweetness and light for Clinton. But now the caucuses kick in, with the sort of racial gerrymandering that old time Democrats in the Deep South would do. I'm surprised they didn't do "literacy tests" for Latinos at the caucuses. I guess they didn't have to.

Kos, who wishes Clinton would quit gracefully, sums up his version of events here:
Based on the Obama math, Clinton netted a gain of four delegates Tuesday. My own count based on official sources and projections based on the early TX caucus results peg the number at nine delegates. This cycle, Obama's numbers have been solid (and have matched up with the Clinton numbers), so my count is likely to shrink as the official results catch up with the campaign's projections.

A four-delegate gain is far less than what the Clinton campaign needed.

This is a sure recipe for lawyers. That'll be cheap!

Overall, the Green Papers has Clinton ahead in both popular vote (but this includes Florida and Michigan) and in some caluclations of delegates. Real Clear Politics gives Obama a lead of 97 or 136, depending on definition. The latter estimate is close enough to discourage quitting but big enough to make overtaking hard to do, if at all likely.

One of the definitions of a Zugzwang in chess, is that the player who has in fact lost, may not realise it for a while. Each move is making the position inexorably weaker. But the defeated player may persist in the delusion of salvaging something. I still think we're at this stage.

With a stronger Republican candidate (15-20 years younger, better at fundraising, better at motivating conservatives), this election would now be a formality.

How not to build bridges

O.K. so I said:
On a different note, there is NO WAY Mrs Clinton quits the contest if she narrows the Obama delegate lead, winning three states in the process. A legal argument over who won Texas is as good as a win for these purposes.

Put it this way. I don't think I'm more self-delusional about my own importance to the world than Hillary Clinton is, but speaking as an election candidate myself, in her shoes I wouldn't quit now.

There is no mistaking the fight in the email I reproduce below, but... doesn't John McCain just have to read this out in the televised debates to win in November? I've highlighted some juicy bits. I got this from RealClearPolitics but the highlights are my own. Sorry, but I don't seem to be on Mark Penn's email list these days!

March 5, 2008

To: Interested Parties

From: Harold Ickes

Mark Penn

Re: The Path to the Presidency

With last night's victories in Ohio and Texas, one thing is clear: the momentum has swung back to Hillary Clinton. Voters in both states agreed that Hillary Clinton would be the best Commander-in-Chief and the strongest steward of our economy. In fact, according to last night's polls, those who decided who to vote for in the last three days overwhelmingly favored Hillary [CNN exit polls, 3/4/08]. Its time for a second look.

1. Ohio is the barometer: Hillary was successful in Ohio, the state that for the last quarter century has picked our president. As everyone knows: As Ohio goes, so goes our country. Historically, it's one of the bellwether states and it decided the last election. And the demographics of the upcoming contests in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana and Kentucky closely mirror those in Ohio. Hillary looks strong in all four states.

- In recent years, every President has won two of the three following states: Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. Hillary has already won two of those and, according to all polls, is leading in the third - Pennsylvania.

2. This race is extremely close and more than 5 million Democrats are likely to vote. After 28 million votes have been counted, the popular vote contest in the Democratic primary is within one-tenth of one percent. Applying the same level of turnout to the remaining contests, there are still more than 5 million Democratic voters - 17 percent of the total - who are likely to participate in this contested primary race. After 41 primaries and caucuses, the delegate count is within roughly 2 percent.

3. In the primaries, Hillary has demonstrated that she is the best positioned candidate to carry the core battleground states essential to a general election victory -- particularly the large industrial states of Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and the critical swing contests in Florida, New Mexico, Nevada, and New Jersey.

4. The vetting of Obama has just begun. The press has only begun to scrutinize Senator Obama and his record. The corruption trial of Tony Rezko is getting underway this week, yet many questions about Obama's relationship with him remain unanswered. Hillary, on the other hand, has withstood fifteen years of substantial media and Republican scrutiny, including many months of sharper scrutiny as the front-runner. If the primary contest ends prematurely and Obama is the nominee, Democrats may have a nominee who will be a lightening rod of controversy.

5. Several of Hillary's base constituencies (women, Hispanic, labor, elderly and under $75,000) are key to a Democratic victory in November. Senator Obama has not brought these voters out in the same numbers.

- The two groups that fueled President Bush's victory in '04 were women and Hispanics, and they are among Hillary Clinton's strongest supporters. From 2000 to 2004, Bush's support among Hispanics rose from 35% to 44%. And Bush's support among women rose from 43% to 48%. That five point gain among women and nine point gain among Latinos gave Bush his victory in 2004.

- Women reached an all-time presidential election high of 54% of voters in '04. As a factual matter, an outpouring of women for the first woman president alone can win the election. Hillary leads all candidates among women.

- These political and demographic trends project positively into the general election and strongly favor Hillary.

6. The Red States: The central strategic argument of the Obama campaign is flawed. Senator Obama argues that his success in Democratic primary contests held in long-time Red States means he will carry those states in a general election. In reality, there are no "Red States" in a Democratic primary - there are only Democratic voters who live in Republican states and represent a small percentage of the general election population.

Of the eleven core Republican states that have gone to the polls, Sen. Obama has won ten: Utah, Idaho, Nebraska, North Dakota, Alabama, Alaska, Kansas, South Carolina, Georgia, and Louisiana. John Kerry lost each of these states by fifteen points or more.

- The last time a Democratic nominee won Utah, Idaho, Nebraska, North Dakota, Kansas, and Alaska in the general election was 1964.

- Even if Obama is "transcendent," as his campaign has argued, the historic electoral trends and the current political environment suggest that translating those primary wins into November success will be close to impossible.

- In short: Hillary is better positioned to carry the battle ground states that Democrats need to win in November and Obama's victories in deep red states do not .

7. Hillary is the only Democrat with the strength, leadership, and experience to defeat John McCain. Senator Clinton is seen as the best prepared to be Commander-in-Chief.

- Nationally, 57% say Hillary Clinton is best prepared to be president, 39% Obama [CBS/ NYT, February 24]

- Hillary Clinton is seen as best able to take on the Republicans on their own turf - national security and terrorism. She is seen as a strong and decisive leader (a seven point advantage over Obama nationally).

- Hillary is seen as the one who can get the job done - leading Obama nationally by 13 points [USA Today/ Gallup, 2/24].

- Hillary is seen as the candidate to solve the country's problems, leading Obama by 10 points [USA Today/ Gallup, 2/24].

8. John McCain will diminish any perceived advantage Obama has with independents. As has been widely discussed, one of John McCain's key constituents is independents. And against McCain, Obama will be framed by the Republicans as too liberal (he was ranked by the National Journal as the most liberal Senator); untested on national security; and vulnerable on issues that would make him unelectable in November. These issues may be surmountable in a Democratic primary but will be an Achilles heel with independents in a general election.

9. The McCain Roadmap: McCain has already foreshadowed his campaign's construct against Obama: His vulnerability is experience and judgment on national security.

- McCain: Obama's 'meet, talk and hope approach' is 'dangerously naïve in international diplomacy.' "Meet, talk, and hope may be a sound approach in a state legislature, but it is dangerously naive in international diplomacy where the oppressed look to America for hope and adversaries wish us ill." [McCain, NYT's The Caucus, 2/22/08]

- McCain: Obama is an 'inexperienced candidate who once suggested bombing our ally, Pakistan, and suggested sitting down without preconditions or clear purpose with enemies who support terrorists.' "Each event poses a challenge and an opportunity. Will the next president have the experience -- the judgment, experience informs and the strength of purpose to respond to each of these developments in ways that strengthen our security and advance the global progress of our ideals? Or will we risk the confused leadership of an inexperienced candidate who once suggested bombing our ally, Pakistan, and suggested sitting down without preconditions or clear purpose with enemies who support terrorists and are intent on destabilizing the world by acquiring nuclear weapons? I think you know the answer to that question." [Post-Wisconsin Primary Victory Speech, 2/19/08]

10. Steward of the economy. Hillary Clinton leads both John McCain and Barack Obama on the economy and health care. In the latest LA Times/Bloomberg poll (1/22), Hillary leads McCain 52/28 on health care and 43/34 on the economy.

- Hillary leads Barack Obama on health care by 21 points nationally [USA Today/Gallup, 2/24].

11. Florida. There is an additional reality that must be considered - the 1.75 million voters in Florida whose votes will not be represented at the Democratic convention. How we handle this swing state will affect our Party's potential of carrying it in November (Democrats lost Florida in 2004). This is a state where the playing field was level - all of the candidates had their names on the ballot and none campaigned in the state.

12. Michigan. Nearly 600,000 Democrats voted in Michigan, but right now their votes are not being counted. Democrats barely carried Michigan in 2004 (by only 3% -- 51 to 48). If our party refuses to let them participate in the convention, we will provide a political opportunity for the Republicans to win both Florida and Michigan. Recognizing their importance to Democratic success in November, Hillary has called for the delegates of both states to be seated at the convention.

13. Hillary has the money to compete. In February, the Clinton campaign raised approximately $35 million - averaging more than a million dollars a day. This deep level of support gives Hillary the resources she needs to compete between now and the Convention.

On the last two highlighted points, nothing beats a BIG FAT LIE. Hillary Clinton can pretend that attending a public event which is televised in Florida is not campaigning, but that's baloney. And when she somehow didn't manage to get her name removed from the ballot in Michigan (others somehow managed it, is she that incompetent? No) the lie then was that "it won't matter, these votes don't count."

That said, the kernel of truth is that the Michigan and Florida fiascos are good for McCain. It would be very handy for him to have a war between the local Democrats and the their presidential candidate over this. And if the lawyers, to use the expression beloved of Al Gore fans in 2000 "award" the candidacy to Senator Clinton, how can that stand up in the face of public decency?

Liveblogging OH/RI/TX/VT

I'm turning in. At this stage it looks survivable for Clinton, which is therefore a moral victory. A bit like Super Duper Tuesday (a month ago!) was the moment when Obama survived the Clinton juggernaught (which ground to a halt until today). This time it's Obama's relentless thrust that has been blocked. A very good night for John McCain.
Latest projection: Texas close, Ohio Clinton, Rhode Island Clinton, Vermont Obama. Apart from the Texas caucus, Clinton closes gap. But that caucus is key. Too good for Obama and the lawyers will be in, I reckon.

Ohio looks solid for Clinton, especially with the Governor on-side and all the "cleric errors" apparently hitting Obama voters.
Clinton 323,055 votes 58%
Obama 223,666 votes 40%
24% of precincts reported

As I was saying a couple of minutes ago:
Obama 606,941 51%
Clinton 566,035 48%
7% [same source as below]

Gap closing in Texas:
Obama 586,586 votes 52%
Clinton 522,565 votes 47%
6% precincts reporting, sez ABC.

Ron Gunzburger finds less than fraternal love on the Republican side:
P2008 - GOP. In a sign that John McCain still has a way to go to build party unity, check out these comments by US Senator John Cornyn (R-TX). Speaking this past weekend at a GOP dinner, Cornyn said McCain wasn't his "first choice ... or second, third or fourth choice" for the Presidential nomination. "I sort of liken it to a grieving process. You come to acceptance," said Cornyn in his speech, according to the Dallas Morning News. Still, Cornyn said he thought McCain was "head and shoulders above Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton" -- as he said he feared the election of either could lead to a "socialist regime" in the US.

From the Hill (the publication, not the TV show):
Clinton cries foul in Texas; Obama lawyer hijacks call
By Sam Youngman
Posted: 03/04/08 09:10 PM [ET]
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) campaign charged rival Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) campaign with breaking several rules in the Texas caucuses.

The Clinton campaign called an “emergency” conference call with reporters that was interrupted by Obama’s chief counsel Bob Bauer, who called in and said the Clinton campaign only criticized the caucus process when it was losing.

Texas looks ridiculously good for Obama, considering the polls, so I'm guessing the distribution of precincts reporting so far is not representative of the whole. But Ohio's looking good for Clinton.
Figures going round on Drudge: OBAMA 530,214 54%, CLINTON 448,702 45%

My view on a prolongation of the civil war presidential primary campaign? From an email I sent earlier:
think of the wasted cash, the insults, the hate, the venom, the lifelong friendships ruined, the stabbings.
I love it!

If I were a Democrat, I'd be praying for a big Obama win in Texas and a decent delegate allocation elsewhere.

Clinton wins Rhode Island, Obama has Vermont. Huckabee has quit leaving Ron Paul the only challenger to McCain. ;-)

Bad weather reported in Cleveland in the North and in Cincinnati in the South West of Ohio. Who does it hurt most?

HEH. Just spotted this:

Bush to endorse McCain
by kos
Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 05:36:01 PM PST

According to CNN, the McCain campaign is all excited that if they can close the deal tonight, that Bush will endorse him tomorrow.

They're excited about it.

So am I.

I hope there's lots of pictures and video.

Smintheus at Daily Kos has a useful preview of Rhode Island for those of who only know it as the smallest U.S. state by size.

John McCain will reach the number of delegates required for nomination as Republican candidate. The same may not be the case for a Democrat for, let me see... six months if the lawyers get involved?

All polls for primaries closed... BUT! Texas has caucuses starting soon to determine who gets up to 67 delegates in a series of caucus across the Lone Star state.
For comparison, this is more than double the total number of delegates available in Rhode Island, and nearly five times the number from Vermont.

Polls close in Ohio, Rhode Island, I'm checking Texas. Exit polls in these states published earlier will miss some late deciders, which this time, looks like helping Clinton not Obama. Beware a New Hampshire style snafu!

Sandusky County is the hold up in Ohio. Court orders polls to stay open until 02:00 GMT, according to The Green Papers, and that's a detail I trust them with.

01:40 GMT
Vermont is so friendly! Here's what the Vermont Secretary of State has to say tonight:

Official Presidential Primary Results from the March 4, 2008 will not be available on this website until Tuesday, March 11th at 11:00 a.m. We do not release unofficial results so please do not call our office.

01:32 GMT
Welcome Samizdatistas!
Voting is still going on in Rhode Island and part of Texas. With the caucus element in Texas, that could create delays, to say nothing of confusion. Any projections in those states must be pretty unreliable if not deliberate attempts to sway the result.

01:06 GMT
Checking in for the night. Early projections show a comfortable Obama win in Vermont, as expected, but Matt Drudge's headline implies a close race everywhere else "EXIT POLLS: DEADLOCK IN TX, OH, RI".
So that would put the balance against Clinton, if true and confirmed by later returns. I'm not commenting on that until I've had a sniff around.
Here's ABC on Vermont (15 delegates to select):
Candidate Votes Vote % Delegates Projected Winner
Obama 3,769 59% 3 Winner
Clinton 2,532 39% 2
[this will probably look bad until I fix a table template later on.]


Super Tuesday, Take Number 2!


Head on the block time. My gut predictions:

Texas is a popular vote win for Senator Hillary Clinton (New York) over Senator Barack Obama (Illinois), but the delegate count won't reflect it.

Ohio is a Clinton win. But, if it turns out very close, credit should go to the Quinnipiac poll, which is the only one showing Clinton's lead dipping towards the end.

Vermont and Rhode Island are straightforward: Obama gets a win in the former, Clinton the latter. Crucially, if the margins are similar, Clinton should benefit: Rhode Island, though smaller in size, has more people and twice as many delegates (32 to 15), up for grabs.

If I'm right, the winner is Senator John McCain (Arizona), the troubled Republican candidate.

At the moment McCain has A LOT less money than the Democrats and while he probably can beat Clinton, Obama is right now out of his league. Every penny spent by them against each other is not held back for October/November. There is also the chance of such bitterness between the two camps that the Democratic party cannot unite in time. It is the best, and cheapest (in every sense of the word) shot McCain has right now. Who knows, both sides may dig up slime that the Republicans can pretend to hold their noses against, while dangling it in front of the electorate. The NAFTA and the Rezko case, for instance.

On a different note, there is NO WAY Mrs Clinton quits the contest if she narrows the Obama delegate lead, winning three states in the process. A legal argument over who won Texas is as good as a win for these purposes.

Put it this way. I don't think I'm more self-delusional about my own importance to the world than Hillary Clinton is, but speaking as an election candidate myself, in her shoes I wouldn't quit now. She loses Texas and Ohio? Maybe.

I hope to live-blog the voting and results later.

ZOGBY says Clinton wins Texas!

So either it was something I said, or Senator Hillary Clinton (New York) is now the left-wing candidate.

Joking aside, the only media ferociously battling for Clinton that I'm aware of was Fox News. The only pundits talking her up were Rush Limbaugh and people who loathe the Republican party candidate (Arizona Senator John McCain), such as Darwin-basher Ann Coulter.

Hilariously, or should that be another word to avoid accusations of rotten puns, newspapers across the U.S.A. are publishing op-eds written a day or two ago before the polls suddenly shifted in Sen Clinton's direction. How daft headlines such as these will look if the Sen Barack Obama (Illinois) delegate lead is cut?
Hillary Should Save Dems - From Herself - Margery Eagan, Boston Herald
Clinton Campaign's Dying Light - Jonathan Chait, Los Angeles Times

For the record, here's the new Zogby bias, against Obama!
Reuters/CSpan/Zogby. Polling dates: from 03/01 to 03/03. Sample size: 855 Likely Voters. Clinton 47% Obama 44%. Lead: Clinton +3.0%.
[Big Hat Tip: RealClearPolitics]


Battleground March 4

Since I now have a crude map template, here's where the action is. This time both parties are having their contests in the same states.

Ohio (OH), Rhode Island (RI), Texas (TX) and Vermont (VT).

The delegate allocations are different for each party and the same type of election may not even be happening. But I can give the number of Electoral college votes and how significant they were in the last election.

Ohio: 20 EC votes (seventh largest out of 50 plus Washington D.C.), Republican in 2004 by 2.1%.

Texas: 34 EC votes (second largest after California 55, third is New York 31), Republican in 2004 by 22.87%.

Rhode Island: 4 EC votes (joint 39th largest), Democratic in 2004 by 20.75%.

Vermont: 3 EC votes (smallest possible along with six other states and Washington D.C.), Democratic in 2004 by 20.14%.

N.B. I've got a feeling these percentages are slightly different than some I've published elsewhere. These ones include the presence of third party candidates, which can change things. I generally compare only the two leading parties.

For example, if the Democrat gets 45%, the Republican 40%, and others get 5%, the majority is 5%. But if I only compare the 450,000 votes of a Democrat, with the 400,000 votes of a Republican, ignoring the rest, the margin is 50k out of 950k, so about 5,26%. I'll try to make sure I keep clear which calculation I'm making.

For the Republicans, Texas and Ohio make sense to worry about as a candidate. For the Democrats, Ohio is the one I would want to show myself as a strong contender. But there are more delegates in Texas... and it's a close race.

Pending the appeal

The opinion polls are closing... and I should have put down my misgivings.


In my view, the least reliable opinion pollster is Zogby: let's just say that the next time one of his polls overstates the conservative vote please send me a copy so I can frame it.

Guess who predicted, most loudly, that Hillary Clinton had lost New Hampshire? Until the New York Senator came back and won, that is.

And who has been talking up the Barack Obama lead in Texas, and the gap narrowing in Ohio?

OK, here's evidence:
1) Reuters Zogby poll: February 16 Obama leads Clinton by 14%.
AP/Ipsos has Clinton +5% on the 10th.
Hotline/FD has Clinton +2% on the 17th.

2) Reuters Zogby poll: January 13 Clinton leads Obama by only 1%.
Same day: USA Today/Gallup says Clinton +12%.
Pew Research say Clinton +15%.

3) Eight opinion poll margins between Clinton and Obama in Ohio, listed in date order by RealClearPolitics (survey dates range from February 26 to March 2).
Guess which is the Zogby poll?
a) Clinton +8%, b) Clinton +4%, c) Clinton +4%, d) Obama +2%, e) Clinton +10%, f) Clinton +9%, g) Clinton +12% and h) Clinton +6%.

Truth is: the real counting starts tomorrow. I don't know what will happen, but I don't see a landslide for Obama in votes this time. My other thought is the Democratic party has set up at least two opportunities for the loser to take this whole process to court, maybe three or more.

First, the absurd rules for delegate selection in Texas. Yes, I know the Clinton camp should have looked into it a long time before the middle of February THIS YEAR. But come on! We have two sets of rules and a weighting system which, if it benefited white people in Mississippi at the expense of blacks the way it benefits black people at the expense of Latinos in Texas, would have people asking if its 2008 or 1948. Mind you, some of the character sniping against Obama would look a lot less out place coming from George Wallace and Strom Thurmond's presidential campaigns than from the high priestess of political correctness's acolytes.

To allow such a system to determine the outcome of the entire presidential candidate selection process, because that's effectively what Texas would come down to, is like having rival gangs of thugs outside Chicago City Hall deciding who gets past to choose the Mayor. It might have a vague coincidental similarity with the outcome one could have got in a free and fair election. Maybe.

So if the votes come out with an Obama victory in Texas, because of a screwy voting system, I expect the Warren Zevon cry to go out:
Send lawyers, guns and money/
The s*** has hit the fan
If the system is changed after tomorrow to "restore" balance, a different set of law firms move in: how can one change the rules after the race?

Second, now take Florida. There's an offer to have a re-run (cheeky, if you ask me). But if Florida can have a second vote, why can't Michigan? And if there's a good enough reason to deny a re-vote, why not let Senator Clinton have her Michigan delegates? Or half of them, like the Republicans did with their renegade states?

You try settling that lot of potential pitfalls without ending up in court.

The nightmare for the Democrats must be an inconclusive outcome tomorrow: Hillary Clinton wins the popular vote in both Texas and Ohio, and she gets Rhode Island, leaving Obama with Vermont. But Obama gets a disproportionate delegate allocation from Texas, and one of the camps demands a decision on Florida Governor Charlie Crist's (Republican) offer of a Florida re-run.

The NAFTA spin over Canada has hit Obama's credibility with the media. This in turn may trickle into the public arena.

What are the odds the Supreme Court of the United States (with a conservative majority - HEH!) Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and company get to rule on these issues (or worse, refuses to rule) some time in, say, September or October, on who the Democratic candidate is? As a precaution, will some states have to print ballot papers with BOTH Obama and Clinton, as well as McCain, to add to Nader and the Libertarian candidate? How divisive or confusing will that be?

I guess the televised debates would be tricky: John McCain has a go against each of them?

You want more confusing? Imagine both sides agree to have the other as vice president (Yeah, that shouldn't be hard to arrange!). So the ballot papers say "Clinton/Obama" and "Obama/Clinton" and "McCain/GOP-VP". But only one set of Democratic names counts, in some states. In others, both permutations count.
Pending the appeal.

Can I help (you dig your own grave)?

A nice offer of a compromise from Florida Governor Charlie Crist: the Republican Governor is offering to allow the state to pay for a re-run of the Democratic presidential primary. How nice!

Before opponents of wasting public money jump up (I'm one of them) it's worth pondering any possible ulterior motives.

"I think it's very important though that those delegates are seated," Gov Crist said.

Of course, the current allocation is that no one gets any delegates from Florida, but Senator Hillary Clinton would like the results of a January vote to stand, even though officially she didn't campaign there and though no one else really didn't campaign there.

If Sen Clinton gets her way, we get: Clinton, 113 extra delegates; Barack Obama, 71; and John Edwards, 13.

If Gov Crist gets his way, the whole Democratic civil war goes on for a couple of months longer until a primary can be held, the lawyers earn their fees and judges end up choosing the Democratic candidate.

Any ideas why the Republicans might be so helpful?


Republicans for Clinton

You don't have to be a genius to figure out that Senator Hillary Clinton is the candidate Republican strategists would rather face in November. She's the scarecrow candidate, the one person capable of mobilizing 40% of Democrat voters to come out in a blizzard to vote "uncommitted" in a Michigan primary. And that's when the effort is also going in from Daily Kos to get Democrats to go and vote instead for Mitt Romney "because the GOP deserves the worst."

Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter campaigning for Mrs Clinton (is the entire "vast right-wing conspiracy" really on her side?).

And now this:
Financial concerns have also played into a decision by Mrs. Clinton’s campaign to buy time on the Fox sports channel to broadcast across Texas a town-hall-style forum that she will hold Monday near Austin.

Her aides said the venue was chosen in part to reach white male voters who had moved steadily to Mr. Obama. But the bigger factor, they said, was that the channel was a relatively inexpensive outlet.

I like the idea that Mrs Clinton is funding Fox. I bet that plays well with Democratic voters.


Six to watch

Of the 50 U.S. states and Washington D.C., which between them provide the 538 electoral colleges votes for a presidential election, exactly six have been won by the winners of the 1972, 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004 elections. It is therefore tempting to argue that the entire 2008 election can be defined by which candidate will win most or all of these states.

Intriguingly, all six have at least one common border with another, and they form a barrier between North and South as well as a barrier between the East and the West. One could walk from the Great Lakes (well, more likely drive) to the Gulf of Mexico without ever leaving one the six.

The furthest to the North is Ohio. No Republican has been elected President without winning that state, and the last Democrat to win a presidential election without winning the Buckeye State was John F. Kennedy in 1960.

Cross the Ohio River and one arrives in Kentucky. Like Ohio, J.F.K. was the last President to be elected without the support of Kentucky voters. However, in most respects this is traditionally a Democratic party stronghold. Since 1956 (General Eisenhower's re-election year), Kentucky has more often been Republican.

Kentucky is generally a lower-taxed state with less industry than Ohio. It also had slavery, whereas the 19th century Underground Railroad for escaped slaves led to Ohio. They should be opposites, but aren't.

Head South from Kentucky and one enters Tennessee. Here the Republicans hardly ever won until 1952 (Dwight W. Eisenhower's first term). However, the voting population nearly doubled in the 1945-1960 period and with it, it seems the Democratic party declined. Most dramatically, in 1968, virtually all the Democratic counties backed George Wallace, the segregationist candidate. The Democrats came third that year, but since then the state has been won by every winner.

Go West (or North-West) from Tennessee and you enter the southern tip of Missouri. This is the mother of all weather vanes. Since 1904, Missouri's electoral college votes have always been on the winning side, except, that same 1956 election where the Democrats took Ohio and lost nationally.

Move southwards again down the Mississippi/Missouri basin and one hits Arkansas, where Bill Clinton was Governor. Like Tennessee, Arkansas was solidly Democrat (never voted Republican from 1872 to 1972) and the segregationist candidate in 1968 won there. However, only a southern Democrat (Bill Clinton or Georgia's Jimmy Carter) has beaten a Republican since Richard Nixon in 1972.

Finally, push downriver to Louisiana. This is again a traditional Democratic state. Although Eisenhower managed to win there in 1956 and Louisiana managed to back segregationist candidates TWICE since 1945 (in 1948 and 1968), this was another state where Democrats used to win well over 80% of the vote on occasion.

In 2004, John Kerry came close in Ohio, but nowhere near winning any of the other states. I reckon that one difference this time round is that areas not considered vulnerable to either side in the past two elections, for example, Connecticut and Maryland or Indiana and Kansas.

Kansas of course was unique in having a Republican majority in every one of the state's counties. Not this time, if Barack Obama is the candidate...

Michael Barone at RealClearPolitics, says it's time to throw out the maps. Or maybe dig out some old ones.



I'm not well, but this brought a chuckle:
To: Interested Parties

From: The Clinton Campaign

Date: Friday, February 29, 2008

RE: Obama Must-Wins

The media has anointed Barack Obama the presumptive nominee and he’s playing the part.

With an eleven state winning streak coming out of February, Senator Obama is riding a surge of momentum that has enabled him to pour unprecedented resources into Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont.

The Obama campaign and its allies are outspending us two to one in paid media and have sent more staff into the March 4 states. In fact, when all is totaled, Senator Obama and his allies have outspent Senator Clinton by a margin of $18.4 million to $9.2 million on advertising in the four states that are voting next Tuesday.

Senator Obama has campaigned hard in these states. He has spent time meeting editorial boards, courting endorsers, holding rallies, and - of course - making speeches.

If he cannot win all of these states with all this effort, there’s a problem.

Should Senator Obama fail to score decisive victories with all of the resources and effort he is bringing to bear, the message will be clear:

Democrats, the majority of whom have favored Hillary in the primary contests held to date, have their doubts about Senator Obama and are having second thoughts about him as a prospective standard-bearer.


And if you want a real chuckle, check out the comments.

And here's another I saw on Wednesday.

I'm not a Clinton adviser... but

This is not how to win friends.

Of course, if one hired people who knew what they were doing when they decided to allow 11 states to be won by Senator Barack Obama on the trot (which aren't important)...

So having lost the votes where there was an election, scraped about half the vote when there wasn't another candidate (in Florida and Michigan), and taken the super-delegates for granted to the point where some are switching, she'll get the lawyers to fix it.

No, you try and rig the election process AFTER the voters have been, not BEFORE. That way, if you win, you can save on the lawyers and goons.

And you don't grin with him in the background, the day of the funeral of a police officer who was killed escorting your motorcade.

The only way Hillary Clinton wins from here is if Barack Obama does a Vince Foster.

Why Kos prediction looks wrong

I wrote a couple of days ago that an attempt to extrapolate the result of this year's U.S. presidential election "overstates the Democratic position."
Here's why.

My radar for possible bias comes from the Hillary Clinton versus John McCain match-up.
Poblano's list of variables is comprehensive:
1. John Kerry vote margin, 2004;
2. Fundraising;
3. Percentage of Baptists, especially Southern Baptists (Obama only);
4. LDS (Mormon) voters.

Then he writes:
However, the work is not done, as there are at least three other ways in which the polling data may differ from the eventual results.

These are: Sampling error, State-specific movement and National movement.

One problem is that the mechanisms to cancel out these effects run the risk of introducing their own distortions.
But what gets me thinking this analysis is a little too convenient is the state tally.
Florida, with a 3.2% Republican majority, is the closest to being lost by McCain to give him his 299 electoral college votes (remembering that Hillary Clinton get 239). But of the 50 states plus Washington D.C., 10 have smaller majorities, and ALL are estimated to go to Senator Clinton. Which seems a little unlikely.
For the sake of comparison, in 2004, there were SEVEN states in the less than 3.2% majority, and of these, John Kerry won THREE (Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania) while George W. Bush won FOUR (Iowa, New Mexico, Ohio and Nevada). Poblano also makes the mistake of listing Iowa as Democrat in 2004, when of course it was one of the two gains by President Bush.
It seems plausible that within the margin of error of this forecast, Senator Clinton could end up losing the following states (EC votes in brackets) in order of likelyhood (most to least): Missouri (11), Ohio (20), Washington (11), Michigan (17), Pennsylvania (21), New Hampshire (4), Minnesota (10), Delaware (3), Hawaii (4) and Maine (4, although more likely a 3-1 split). This would trigger a 403-135 or 404-134 thrashing for Senator McCain over his Democratic opponent.
To me, an interesting element of this forecast, is how well McCain appears to do, even against the Obama juggernaut. Obama picks up five states, but comes close elsewhere. Even a tidal wave for "change" does not remotely, at this stage, look like a Ronald Reagan triumph in 1980 in reverse.
If the projection that Barack Obama can't win Ohio by 1% is true, how will that square with the "Bush stole Ohio" nonsense last time round, when the majority for the Republicans was 2.5%? Silly me, only Republicans steal elections...


How does this compare with last time?

A view from the Daily Kos which scrambles the data from 2004, weights it and finds that Hillary could get mashed in November, while Obama becomes the biggest Democrat winner since 1964
OK, my first impression is it overstates the Democratic party's position, by perhaps overcompensating some effects (I'll have a closer look before elaborating).
But here's the bottom line:
Barack Obama: 289 electoral college votes (and wins the popular vote by 0.9%)
John McCain: 249 ECVs
With 5,000 re-runs Obama wins 64.2% of the time, allowing for variations in the margins of error to play, for example.

Hillary Clinton: 239 electoral college votes (and loses the popular vote by 1.4%)
John McCain: 299 ECVs
With 5,000 re-runs Clinton wins 37.6% of the time.

Incidentally, if the latest crazy Democratic plan to demolish the Electoral College were applied, California's EC votes to go to the winner of the national popular vote, regardless of who wins in California, Hillary Clinton would win California in terms of votes cast, but get nothing there in terms of EC.

So the total would be:
Clinton: 184
McCain: 354

Previous attempts to lose the election next time by changing the rules to suit the last election include the very dubious 2004 Colorado proposal which would have changed the system at the same time as people voted (so they wouldn't know when they voted how these would be counted).


Not winning

Was it the U.S. Democratic party that complained about President George W. Bush's failure to balance the budget?
Perhaps this story from Hillary Clinton's "invoice challenged" campaign says something about character, integrity, financial competence, narcissism, empathy for working people, and public reputation. Or perhaps not.

It was just $2,492.63, a pittance, really, alongside million-dollar television buys and direct mail drops.

But with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s bid for the Democratic presidential nomination enduring a rough patch, Peter Semetis, the owner of a deli and catering business in Lower Manhattan, had been following the news and growing increasingly worried that he was not going to be paid for the assorted breakfast trays, coffee, tea and orange juice he had provided the campaign for an event in mid-December.

“I’m afraid of her dropping out of the campaign and me becoming a casualty,” Mr. Semetis said.

So on Thursday, he went to small claims court and filed suit. Mr. Semetis, 53, said he was hardly a political pundit but like others across the country, he had become caught up in the election in the last year and was able to offer some analysis. “There is potential for her to lose Texas,” he said — an assessment not at odds with the polls — “which would pretty much force her to quit.”

[Hat tip: Jackie D]

Good to see the New York Times join the misogynistic witch burners of the Vast-Right-Wing-Conspiracy (just like black women in South Carolina). Does anyone else wonder if there are a load of businesses in Texas about to demand C.O.D.?


Little things

Momentum is bad enough against you, but when little things go wrong too...

1) Hillary Clinton's campaign, because it was based on the assumption that there would not be a serious challenger left after "Super Duper Tuesday" (February 5), did not have a strategy for dealing with what is happening now.
In my view this is exactly what strategists are supposed to do anyway. I would personally be ashamed to charge fees if this report is true:
System Worries Clinton Backers
Delegates Won May Not Reflect Popular Vote

By Matthew Mosk
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 18, 2008; A06

Supporters of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton are worried that convoluted delegate rules in Texas could water down the impact of strong support for her among Hispanic voters there, creating a new obstacle for her in the must-win presidential primary contest.

Several top Clinton strategists and fundraisers became alarmed after learning of the state's unusual provisions during a closed-door strategy meeting this month, according to one person who attended.

What Clinton aides discovered is that in certain targeted districts, such as Democratic state Sen. Juan Hinojosa's heavily Hispanic Senate district in the Rio Grande Valley, Clinton could win an overwhelming majority of votes but gain only a small edge in delegates. At the same time, a win in the more urban districts in Dallas and Houston -- where Sen. Barack Obama expects to receive significant support -- could yield three or four times as many delegates.

The article then descends into a mixture of spin and "I am a poor victim" whining.
One word: Rubbish.

A Democratic Party member for 35 years? Who has spent the last EIGHT YEARS planning to become President? With a budget in the TENS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS (if not over $100,000,000)? A LAWYER BY TRAINING?

I think I might have thought to check the primary and caucus system before February 5th, or whenever it was Plan A went down the pan.

Bad luck that Texas happens to have the wrong sort of rules to suit Senator Clinton now. But it is criminal incompetence to be in a position where this wasn't recognized as a possibility. I assume the people planning the campaign aren't the sort of people Mrs Clinton would appoint to, let's say, negotiate with Iran, or design a health care system for the U.S.A. or anything as tricky as boil an egg.

2) If I were Hillary, I would smell a rat: the media are reporting a week ago that Wisconsin and Hawaii could mean Senator Barack Obama will clock up a "10 state winning streak." Clearly, if Wisconsin could have been won by Clinton, the narrative would have been destroyed and the momentum could swing back. This is why, despite assurances of a Maginot Line approach (hold the line at Texas and Florida oops, that really came out by mistake! I mean Ohio), there actually was some campaigning going on. Hawaii, Senator Obama's birthplace, was a write-off.

So the best media narrative for Hillary would have been either: Hawaii declared instantly and several days of recounts in Wisconsin, at worst breaking up the impression of the procession of victories for the Illinois Senator; or both declared wins quickly and simultaneously, so we could "move on."

Instead, Wisconsin unexpectedly got called as a crushing win at once. Hawaii, with no suspense, but almost a day's delay, duly declared an even bigger crushing win. So the media spend one whole day going on about the terrible result for Clinton in Wisconsin, and then, what could have been discounted in Hawaii become the "10th win in a row" with the percentages going up. Here's Kos on the winning streak.

You couldn't have planned the two results to put Senator Clinton in a less credible light as a candidate. I could well believe it was done on purpose. I know I have a less than favorable view of the Clintons, but I'd almost be surprised if they didn't feel up against more than just a natural chain of events.

3) The plagiarism row has completely tanked. By luck or design, the alleged victim is a friend who seems only to happy to endorse Senator Obama's use of a turn of phrase. My own view is that it was always going to look petty. But against another candidate, it might have rattled the Obama campaign team into a slip-up.

The Maginot Line

...in Paris, Texas, presumably.
The ineptitude of the Clinton campaign reaches the Grauniad, which itself has a less than perfect record at interfering in U.S. elections.
I like this extract:
Why have the Clintons campaigned so poorly in this election? It may just be that they were out-organised - and the story then is how a solitary junior senator from Illinois managed to put together such an accomplished political organisation from scratch. But another reason is that the Clintons have never fought a primary like this one. Hillary barely faced a contest in the primary for her New York senate seat in 2000. For Bill, 1992 was a long time ago - and Paul Tsongas was no Barack Obama.
There's more:

The spin coming from the Clinton campaign last night was that she was out-spent by Obama in Wisconsin. Well, duh. They are kidding themselves if they think it was about money - although the fact that Obama has more money is in his favour.

What get's me is that this is worse than Rudolf Giuliani's catastrophic decision not to campaign in New Hampshire and stake everything on winner-takes-all Florida. For one thing, the lesson ought to be fresh in everyone's mind.
Under Soviet occupation, the secret police in places like Czechoslovakia didn't need to be subtle when following people around. They just got a couple of heavies to loom menacingly. It seems that something like this has been going through the group-think minds of the Clinton campaign, living in their bubble for the past year.
They assumed that no one could outspend them, or counter the "it's time for a woman!" card. They assumed that the dirty tricks would work. They ignored the lessons, which to be fair even the mainstream media appears to have learned from the Swiftboat veterans affair and Rathergate in 2004.



I don't get this. ;-)

Thanks Chris Muir.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

I admit it: I like a winner.

Here's my favourite bit:
this would be the first time in a long time that Clinton and Obama would be together in a place where they'd be competing for applause.

As you might have guessed, it wasn't much of a competition. Obama is so vastly superior to Clinton in delivering a speech it's almost unfair. He was greeted with an enthusiastic standing ovation, received numerous standing ovations during his speech, and left the crowd standing, and buzzing, as he exited the stage to "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" by Stevie Wonder.

And how, exactly, does a CLINTON respond to this?
"Don't tell me that words don't matter," Obama said, his voice rising with indignation and scorn. "I have a dream. Just words. All men are created equal. Just words. We have nothing to fear but fear itself. Just words."

They'll have to kill him at this rate.

... or change the rules [from Daily Kos].


Mark Penn explains it all

OK, so I've been trawling RealClearPolitics. Sue me.

Here's Clinton's Chief Strategist explaining the path to power.

If I understand it right, Hillary needs to lose more states in order to emulate Walter Mondale(!) or Jimmy Carter(!).

As a well written exercise in bullshit, it's hard to beat.

Zugzwang for Clinton

RealClearPolitics has the graphic.

I said some time ago, Senator Obama has the vibe of a winner.

In a well executed positional attack, there may come a point where the defender is so constrained in terms of having limited possible moves that every move she makes, weakens her position. It's called Zugzwang and was a particular specialty of Aron Nimzowitch.

Here's a classic example from chess: Fritz Saemisch - Aaron Nimzowitsch, Copenhagen 1923.

And here's one from the current election cycle: the order, distribution and timing of the remaining primaries and caucuses is almost designed to produce an Obama nomination victory.


Final thought comes to me from Frank Rich's New York Times column:
The untold story in the run-up to Super Tuesday was Hillary Clinton’s elaborate live prime-time special the night before the vote. Presiding from a studio in New York, the candidate took questions from audiences in 21 other cities. She had plugged the event four days earlier in the last gasp of her debate with Barack Obama and paid a small fortune for it: an hour of time on the Hallmark Channel plus satellite TV hookups for the assemblies of supporters stretching from coast to coast.

By contrast:
A campaign operative, speaking on MSNBC, claimed that 250,000 viewers had seen an online incarnation of the event in addition to “who knows how many” Hallmark channel viewers. Who knows, indeed? What we do know is that by then the “Yes We Can” Obama video fronted by the hip-hop vocalist will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas had been averaging roughly a million YouTube views a day. (Cost to the Obama campaign: zero.)

Not spend more, but spend smart.


I'll take that as a "No"

From ABC News:
Asked whether he intends to run for the Senate, [Mike] Huckabee said he would sooner dye his hair green, tattoo himself and go on a "rock tour with Amy Winehouse," reports ABC News' Kevin Chupka.


A Message to You Rudy 2

2:44 GMT
A frustrating night due to Florida's unique election style. Incidentally, for the Republicans it's a winner takes all contest but the delegation size was halved because the primary is held earlier than the party's rules allow. For the Democrats, Hillary Clinton is claiming victory and not claiming victory, and she is but she is not including the delegates from Florida in her camp. Under Democratic Party rules, which were broken by Florida's holding the primary on January 29, no delegates are eligible, unless, if Senator Clinton can wing it, for her.

First, they let the media report exit polls when part of the state, in a different time zone is still voting. This is called undue influence and the networks involved should have their boards of directors jailed for five to ten years.

Second, it's very close in places like Orlando.
Lake County: 0% in, Romney +412 votes
Osceola County: 87% in, McCain +21 votes (no, that is not a typo)
Orange County: 91% in, Romney +19 votes (neither is that)
Seminole County: 70% in, Romney +1,337 votes
NET: Romney +1,789 votes OUT OF 120,000 total votes.

That's called a tie! - JAY COST

With all these points in mind, it seems Rudolf Giuliani will do well to finish third. Mike Huckabee, close behind the former New York Mayor, should benefit from support in Florida's "panhandle," the bit in the northwest which has a different timezone and is more neighboring Alabama in the Bible Belt. Unless of course the leaked exit polls persuade people to not bother going to the polls.

And then, from the official Florida Department of State website I find this:

(may not include absentee or provisional ballots)

Here's the rub. If that disclaimer means what I think it means, there could be 150,000 uncounted ballots or more from early voters who used the postal system. These, the New York Times said, should favor Rudy.

There are rumours going around RealClearPolitics to the effect that Giuliani and Romney are preparing to quit.

The joke is that Ron Paul, who is doing quite badly in Florida, could well outlast most of the supposed heavyweights. Remind me why Fox News wouldn't have him on a debate instead of Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani?


A bit late, but fascinating comment on Iowa Democratic caucus

I only came across this now. Penelope Trunk, who I read mostly for her advice on careers and managing work, has this on Iowa and the new generation of U.S. voters and activists:
My brother just started school at the University of Iowa, and this was his first caucus. He describes a room totally crammed full of young people: “It was basically all the students caucusing for Obama and the adults dispersing among the other candidates.”

In the end, in his Iowa City precinct, the students sat victorious at the Obama camp with 70% of the votes, while the caucuses for Edwards and Clinton were shouting over to the Kucinich supporters to abandon camp and come to them.

BTW, the image of Clinton and Edwards backers trying to reason with Dennis Kucinich supporters says it all.
Penelope follows this with:

This is a metaphor for the workplace. The young people have, effectively, shifted the balance of power to themselves, and the older people squabble between each other, as if their power structures still matter.

Millennials are fundamentally conservative

The victories of Generation Y will not look like the Boston Tea Party or Kent State. They will look like this Iowa caucus: Gen Y, playing by the rules, and winning.

Now think of Hillary Clinton and read Penelope's punchline:
This is not exactly the Civil Rights movement or grunge music. But Gen Y doesn’t need to rebel because, as I wrote in Time magazine, young people are already in the driver’s seat at the workplace. They can work within the established lines of business to get what they want, but they get it faster than we expect.

The gender divide is an antiquated view of the world

So many times I give a speech and explain to the room why women should not report sexual harassment. Invariably, the room divides. The millennials think the advice makes sense, the baby boomers are outraged.

Her problem is that "Hillary Clinton" is not the answer to a problem the new generation has. If Barack Obama was literally the hired help to stand in the group photo he would also be irrelevant.

Awesome. Read the whole thing.



Not a great day for the Clintons, unless you buy the conspiracy theory that Bill doesn't want to be Hillary's First Lady.

Among the news of the Kennedys backing Barack Obama, I saw this today from Dick Morris.

In 1990, Morris found Bill behind in the polls in a Governorship election:
When he learned of his decline in the polls, he immediately blamed me, accusing me of spending too much time with other clients. Yelling and screaming, he escalated his charges, refusing to listen to me tell him that his latest ad had not been on television yet when the poll was completed. He kept ranting.

Finally, I had enough. I stood up and said I was leaving, quitting the campaign. I grabbed my coat and headed out of the mansion. As I crossed the foyer, I suddenly fell to the ground, tackled by Bill Clinton. I saw his large fist coming at me. Hillary was trying to get between us, yelling “Bill, Bill, stop it. Think about what you are doing. Bill, stop it!”

Bill got up and I walked out the door. Hillary ran after me. She tried to calm me and asked me to walk around the grounds of the Mansion with her. “He only does this to people he loves,” she told me. (I’ll leave that one for the psychologists.)

And ends with this:
Bill’s tantrums are causing the press to focus on him and not Hillary. That’s what he wants. No more questions about her experience, her ethics, her flip-flops. Now it's all about Bill.


A Message to You Rudy

From the New York Times, it may not be over for the Rudolf Giuliani campaign. The former New York Mayor has banked on going for Florida and the 20 or so states that vote on February 5. However, the polls show him in big trouble, having been ahead for months.
It seems that:
There has also been a flood of early ballots from Republican voters, which has, again, already exceeded the turnout in the contests in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. As of Friday night, nearly 400,000 party Republicans had cast early votes, either in person or by mail, party officials reported. By contrast, just under 200,000 Republicans had voted in person or by mail at this point in 2006, when there was a heavily contested Republican primary for governor. There were 3.8 million Republicans qualified to vote on Tuesday.

The point is that neither Mitt Romney nor John McCain were campaigning to get early votes out in Florida: Romney concentrated on winning Wyoming, Nevada and Michigan, trying to win New Hampshire and Iowa unsuccessfully and not really doing much in South Carolina. Meanwhile Senator McCain didn't have any campaign money until his win in New Hampshire, which has now been assisted by his performance in South Carolina and Michigan.
If the Giuliani camp has in fact been quietly pulling in a 150,000 early votes, the polls will be wrong.
Unlike the other contests so far, this is a winner-takes-all job with 57 delegates up for grabs. The Green Papers has a different calculation method than RealClearPolitics, but seems less inclined to leave out Ron Paul. According to the former, the Republican delegate "soft" count, including the sanctions against some states for holding their primaries early, is as follows:
MittRomney: 59 delegates
John McCain: 41
Mike Huckabee: 26
Fred Thompson (withdrawn): 11
Ron Paul: 8
Duncan Hunter (withdrawn): 1
Rudolf Giuliani: 0

So even assuming the Republican party doesn't relent and award Florida the 114 delegates it would normally qualify for, a win for Giuliani by a single vote in a split result puts him second place on the Convention board ahead of McCain and right up with Romney.

Truth is, if Giuliani comes close to the winner, either a virtual three-way tie or a close second, assuming he has the money to contest February 5th, he still has a hope. Not much of one though. A win would turn this contest right round.

For the record, 1,191 (out of 2,380) are needed to get the nomination at the party Convention on September 1st.

"Super Tuesday", February 5th for the Republicans, involves the following contests:
Alabama Primary
Alaska District Conventions
Arizona Primary
Arkansas Primary
California Primary
Colorado Precinct Caucuses
Connecticut Primary
Delaware Party-run Primary
Georgia Primary
Illinois Primary
Massachusetts Primary
Minnesota Precinct Caucuses / non-binding straw poll
Missouri Primary
Montana Caucus
North Dakota Caucus
New Jersey Primary
New York Primary
Oklahoma Primary
Tennessee Primary
Utah Primary
West Virginia State Presidential Convention
This lot will bring 1,081 delegates, with California the biggest chunk with 173 and Delaware the smallest with 18. Some are open to non-party supporters, some are winner-takes-all. Some are both.

Before then, on February 1-3 Maine will be holding its Municipal Caucuses (the state has 21 delegates in total). So by the end of Super Tuesday, a majority of the Republican delegates will have been allocated. Anyone who comes out of that with a couple of hundred delegates or more, in a split field, may well want to stick around if they can afford to. It's more likely though, that the losers will drop out. Normally, we'd say with confidence that the winner in Florida will now win. But this hasn't been a normal campaign so far.

"Vote for me because the racists will..."

...seems to be the latest bizarre message from the Clinton campaign.

The Associated Press is not exactly where I normally go looking for dirt on Democrats, but this sums up the situation nicely:
Clinton campaign strategists denied any intentional effort to stir the racial debate. But they said they believe the fallout has had the effect of branding Obama as "the black candidate," a tag that could hurt him outside the South.
Let's just remember that we are talking about Democrats choosing their candidate for U.S. President.
How can being "the black candidate" hurt someone's chances of winning Democratic party supporters votes?
Let's leave aside the obvious point that one would expect racist bigots, who have "NO N*****s IN THE WHITE HOUSE" car bumper stickers, to come from Alabama (or South Carolina, come to think of it) rather than, say, Colorado, Hawaii or Maine.

Could it be that the party of affirmative action, of civil rights and political correctness likes to have its leaders photographed next to the hired help, but not, you know, actually let the servants run the country? "The poor dears, they try so hard, but they can't help it, you know?"
Until last year I would have found it barely conceivable. But the more "liberals" I have met who talk about their moral superiority because they demand that other people pay taxes to provide public transportation (for blacks), public schooling (for blacks), quotas for universities (for blacks) and corporations (for blacks), the more I see something ugly.
This is not "white guilt." These are white people who have a visceral unease with ethnicity and who project this by blaming "society," or "capitalism," or "a right-wing conspiracy" for racism. They remind me of nothing more than those British Conservative Party members who shouted loudest about the evils of homosexuality, demanding that it be outlawed or "all the boys will turn into perverts," only to turn out to be repressed gay men.
Is this really the Hillary Clinton base constituency? I hope not.
I like the bluff: "Me, a racist? No! no! I voted against having black candidate because I couldn't let him be humiliated by REAL racists."
Senator Barack Obama is not (in my personal view) the beautiful orator that Jesse Jackson was 20 years ago. On form, the Reverend is someone I would gladly buy a ticket to hear give a sermon. That's certainly not true of any candidate this time round for me. Sen Obama is more like a bank manager with the common touch, I like his demeanour and his "winner" outlook, but that's not the same. In fact, without Bill Clinton's attempt to not make race an issue, by making it an issue, it would not have occurred to me to compare the two. Senator Obama has plenty of flaws: some of his policies and the dubious Chicago connections. But if it comes to a "which candidate has the worst criminal connections" I don't see Bill Clinton as offering much constructive help. A list of the crooks he pardoned in his last day of office, and the one whose wife by an AMAZING COINCIDENCE gave a lot of money to his wife's 2000 campaign, will make anything Senator Obama is likely to have done look minor.
I'm not impressed with the Republican line-up so far in this election campaign, but if Hillary Clinton wins her party's nomination by pandering to racism, I don't see how any decent human being could campaign for her in November, against what is likely to be a fairly moderate Republican candidate.
In pure election terms, we now know how black women voted in South Carolina: they're misogynistic witch burners, apparently.