Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Popular Vote Argument and Other Nonsense

"If all states with popular vote totals are counted — which would exclude four caucus states that have not released numbers — Mrs. Clinton would lead Mr. Obama by more than 26,000 votes out of more than 33 million cast."

NYT article

"A bit more on the popular vote... Without adding Florida and Michigan, as noted above, Obama leads by 574,619 votes. Adding Florida to the mix, he leads by 279,847 (16,733,853 to 16,454,006). And adding Michigan but not “uncommitted,” Clinton leads by 48,462 (16,782,315 to 16,733,853). But do note that the “uncommitted” vote was 238,168."

NBC news article

Race Politics Anyone?

"According to Democratic politico Mike Berman, Obama has dominated the states with the largest or smallest black populations, while Clinton fares MUCH better in the states in between. Berman writes in his Washington Political Watch that Obama “has won 12 of the 15 contests in which the African-American population is less than 4%, and 10 of the 11 contests in which the African-American population is greater than 16%. In those 18 states where the population ranges from 4%-16%, Obama won 8, while Clinton won 11.” The African-American population for Kentucky? 7.3% For Oregon? 1.6%. As one Republican politico told us, these aren't primaries anymore; they’re census surveys."

NBC news article

The magic number is 50.

"[I]f Obama picks up approximately 50 delegates tonight, then he'll clinch a majority of the pledged delegates even if you add in Michigan and Florida as they originally voted."

NBC news article

Anyway you slice it Obama will be ahead in pledged delegates when this is over. To assume that he can not pick up a total of 50 delegates by Puerto Rico is being detached from reality.

What about the popular vote? The Popular vote argument is mostly hot air. The numbers are skewed by the four caucus states that did not report their vote tallies. The numbers are skewed by Michigan's uncommitted vote. The numbers are skewed by the caucus states that did report their tallies because of the special weirdness that caucuses bring to the table: depressed vote total in absolute numbers, depressed vote totals among the less affluent, depressed vote totals among minor candidates, increased influence of party activists, etc. At best the popular vote argument fits the Al Franken definition of a weasel: something that is technically true but is still is intended to deceive. The uncommitted vote in Michigan totally cooks Hillary’s numbers. The truth about the popular vote total is that is just too close to call. There are just too many variables for the Supers to make a rational decision base on those numbers.

What Clinton's real argument is "my coalition can beat up your coalition" Her coalition being the more traditional one of blue-collar types, elderly and white women. Clinton does spice up the mix with a Latin flavor. Obama's coalition is African Americans, While Liberals and young voters. If the vote were taken today both would probably win with Clinton winning more handily. But the vote is not being taken today, it is happening in November. Neither Obama nor Clinton have stood the test of a full on Republican Slime attack. Clinton at least did get a preview of coming attractions with her husband’s woes. Even then she was just a secondary target, a way to get at Bill Clinton.

Clinton should do well in such an environment, she now has an image as a scrapper, and people are honestly tiered of the politics of fear. That is not to say that Obama is unprepared, that he is a bunny going against a snowplow. His calculation is that he can float above the muck; his calculation is that the Republicans loose more than they gain by being negative. 2008 might just be a turning point or at least an anominally, where people no longer listen to or care about the negatives. The war and the economy can easily trump any sleazy Republican attempt at fear mongering. Obama does have a Teflon air about him; maybe that is why he admires Reagan. The Wright affair proved that Democrats did not really care about the not so good Reverend. Who knows? Maybe the general electorate will be similarly unimpressed.

The Republicans are not with out problems. In a bad economy race politics may no longer be a factor. If the economy tanks as badly as some are predicting Obama could show up in full Zulu regalia and still win. People are more willing to take risky bets when things are tough. Desperate time can call for desperate measures. Remember the only way we got the radical changes of the New Deal was because of the Depression. 

McCain's run is hampered by the twin ball-and-chains of Iraq and the economy. McCain is already distancing himself from the Republican brand. He is already talking about a full withdrawal from Iraq by 2013 (after we "win" naturally.) He is also distancing himself from Bush as best he can. But this is a "change" election. The natives are very restless. Republicans just lost in deep red Mississippi to conservative Democrat. The Elephant is in intensive care right now; he may just flat-line in November. Eight years of incompetent, radical right-wing governance will do that to a party. Every Republican is carrying the dead weight of George W Bush's presidency around their necks. All it may take for the dam to truly break is one more example of crony-based incompetence. One more Katrina, one more foreign policy disaster, one more example of Bush lawlessness may be all it takes to sink McCain.

The real question here is; how many Hail Mary passes does Clinton get? When does this end? She is behind, she is way behind. How many of her former Supers need to defect? How many uncommitted Supers need to break Obama's way? (Hint not near as many as Clinton needs to break her way.) Does the count have to climb all the way to 2209 before Clinton concedes? How much deeper in debt must she go? When does the brave fight transform into a petulant refusal to accept a loss? We might not be there yet but we are very, very close.
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