Friday, March 14, 2008

Let them eat cake!

I, along with most Democrats, will be very disappointed if the convention comes down to a battle between Superdelegates that may not reflect the actual votes of party members.

This is especially true if, in this close race, the voices of Michigan and Florida are shut out. Yes, they screwed up and went against the party. Yes, they were rightly stripped of their delegates as punishment. But now we need both states to help make this decision. Not, as Obama would like it, split 50/50 between him and Clinton, but as a real reflection of the will of the party.

It's really the only way for Democrats to finally be comfortable with whoever ends up pulling ahead. I know Obama supporters don't want to risk the votes of these two states putting their horse behind, but if we look at the electoral votes and the popular votes (discounting the "winning streaks" a particular candidate might have state-by-state), the race is truly neck-and-neck. Clinton has no reason to drop out now and should see it through to the end.

Florida and Michigan should revote. It's really the only way. The Clinton camp's insistence on seating Michigan as is is laughably absurd bordering on insane. How should they sit the "other" votes? Florida is at least more of a reflection of the voters wills. Yes, Florida voters knew that their votes would not count, but they still turned out in record numbers and there's no indication that one candidate's base supporters stayed home at larger rates than the other's. Still, in all fairness, Florida should be done over also.

And no, it should not be by caucusing. Chez Progress has had a long-standing debate about caucuses. The better-half thinks their fine. I, on the other hand, think they are undemocratic, or at least undemocratic in the American sense. Secret votes where every eligible voter has a chance to have his voice heard is the only true reflection of the voter's wills. A system where a voter is required to be at a site at a particular time (thereby disenfranchising late-night workers, parents, the elderly, etc.) and a voter must stand up to community pressure doesn't cut it. If I wanted to vote from Gravel, I should have every right to do so and have my vote counted!

Clinton has it right on this one. Yes, she has nothing to lose and if she was on the other side her tune might be different, but that's just an ad hominem criticism of her position. Each candidate should put up 15 million dollars and have Michigan and Florida revote. If the result stays the same, at least we can all sleep easily.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are forgetting that the DNC specifically punished Florida and Michigan for moving up their primary by stripping them of their delegates.

The DNC also did it to send a message to other states who were considering moving up their primary not to do so. Having every state vote at once, or having a super duper Tuesday as we did this cycle challenges the integrity of the nomination process.

How can you tell the presidential candidates to devise a primary electoral srategy with two states not counting to the delegate total, and then midway through tell them that in fact they do count? Its unfair to the candidates and their campaigns who have spent long hours developing and implementing the campaign strategy under the current rules.

And lastly, to have both candidates pour in $30 million to have two states revote who were displined in the first place does not make sense. I would be surprised if either campaign had $15 million cash on hand as we speak. And $15 million would be close to 15% of the total raised for each campaign. To spend 15% of the total raised just to have a state re-vote is a huge waste of resources. I will sleep just fine knowing that through the fault of their own, Michigian and Florida will have no say picking the Democratic nominee.

March 15, 2008 at 6:40 PM  
Blogger David said...

Your last point first: Howard Dean told both Florida and Michigan that they were not bound by the same campaign laws as the National Party as far as fundraising for the special elections were concerned. Translation, they can have Warren Buffet or Bill Gates or some other multi-billionaire bankroll the entire process personally and it would all be legal.

What Clinton was telling the Obama campaign is, more specifically, you get private donations up to $15 million and we will do the same and we'll together get this thing going. These would be donations from donors who are probably already maxed out as far as the national campaign is concerned, but would be happy to throw some money around to help voters have their say.

And yes, the two states were punished and rightly so. But this has become a campaign like no other with neither candidate being able to clench the nomination and both being forced to take the fight to states that were not going to play too much of a roll (Puerto Rico anyone?). The more voices we allow to be counted, the more comfortable the party will be in the decision.

And ultimately this speaks to the point of electoral strategy. I don't believe for a second that either campaign was, or is, not surreptitiously campaigning in both Florida and Michigan already (Florida had a record turnout either way). Perhaps the campaigns won't be able to run as many ads, or have as many town-hall meetings, but I can't imagine a citizen of any state or territory, or really foreign country at this point, who has not been subjected to the constant media coverage of this campaign. There are plenty of voters who have made informed decisions in cities, counties and even states where a candidate has not set foot in.

All this is said with the full belief that, moving forward, we need to have a real hard look at our primary system. Frankly, it's nuts.

March 16, 2008 at 3:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A response to your response:

In your original blog, you did not mention that the traditional fundraising rules would be waived in raising money for the re-votes. Even with the new information, I still find it to be a gross waste of resources. The DNC since Howard Dean took over as chair has been dramatically outraised by its RNC adversary. Last I checked, the Democratic National Convention has also not been meeting its fundraising goals to put on a successful convention. This is especially awful given how much more energy there is on the Democratic side. The re-vote money could go to catch up in fundraising with DNC fundraising with the RNC, or to fully fund the convention. Also, it’s usually tough to find donors to donate big bucks for process issues. Donors are usually enticed to give over the big bucks to fund a need or an idea, not a re-vote. My sense is that it will take time, energy, and divert resources away form other important party functions. I guess we can agree to disagree on how easy it will be to raise the money and whether or not it there are better uses for the money. What’s the fundraising pitch on the re-vote? We punished two states when we shouldn’t have, so can you donate so they can have a re-vote?

In terms of your point about electoral strategy: You say that both campaigns must have been surreptitiously campaigning in both Florida and Michigan. I took the campaigns at their word when they both vowed not to campaign in those two states. I took that to mean no TV. ads and no ground game. There would have been articles had either candidate not kept their promise.

You say that perhaps there won’t be as many ads, or townhalls, and that you can make an informed choice without the candidates stepping foot in the state or city they live in. It seems like what you are saying is that the work the campaigns do doesn’t matter. Their ground game (mobilizing voters), TV. ads, and message shaping don’t have an effect on voters because they can make an informed decision without it. If that were so, the candidates would not be having 15 hour days running across the country doing townhalls, their staffs wouldn’t be working around the clock getting voters to turn out, and they would not have messages gurus on staff strategizing how to best shape and deliver their message to each particular voter and in each state. The candidates need to be given the time to run a campaign not only so that they can get their message out, but also so voters have more information about each candidate. If this wasn’t the case, the party would have a national primary day where every state voted on the same day and the nominee would be decided that night. I think you would agree that the integrity of the nomination process would be challenged if the party did such a thing.

Lastly, in your original blog you mention that caucus is not democratic and should be changed. Since the issue of revoting is on the table, would you also advocate a revote in every caucus so that the party can feel more comfortable picking the nominee?

Moving forward, we do need to look at the primary process. Part of the problem is that no one predicted we would ever have such a close nomination fight.

March 18, 2008 at 2:16 PM  
Blogger lauren said... not thrilled about the prospect of a nomination decided by superdelegates, but i'm so damn tired of this primary season. florida and michigan knew the stakes when they pushed their contests up, and i don't think we should be wasting energy (or funds, no matter who raises them) on new votes. this head start of mccain's is no good, i say!

March 20, 2008 at 2:10 PM  

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