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    February 07, 2008

    The upcoming Democratic trainwreck

    Posted by: Andoni

    The conventional wisdom today is that the Republican party is going to have problems because of the current divisiveness between the McCain branch of the party and the base conservatives such as Rush Linbaugh.

    Just as serious, and possibly worse is the plot that is developing on the Democratic side. With two powerful candidates battling from state to state and the proportional assignment of delegates (as opposed to winner take all), it is possible that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will more or less be tied, but short of the necessary votes to be nominated when the Democratic Convention begins.

    Under current rules, any voting with a margin less than a 60-40 split, pretty much divides the delegates evenly. Greater than a 60-40 split begins to see significant advantage for the winner. Even though Senator Obama does well in caucus states (which are coming this weekend), it's hard to imagine so many 70-30 splits that he could pull away from Senator Clinton. The mirror image is true for Senator Clinton in states like Texas and Ohio. It is hard to imagine that the popular vote in these states could be 70- 30  or more to allow her to significantly into the lead.

    The Democrats will have 842 super delegates at the convention in Denver. They were not selected by the primary process. They can vote any way they want and are not bound by the results of the primaries or the caucuses. These super delegates are the party's elders, the elected officials and dignitaries. I would guess that people like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton are super delegates, and I know that all Democratic congressmen and senators are automatically super delegates.

    The train wreck coming is that if nothing major changes (think scandals, national security catastrophe) the two candidates are going to reach the convention roughly tied in pledged delegate count (the ones based on the primaries and caucuses) but not with enough votes to win the nomination.

    If that happens, it will be the super delegates who will determine the nominee. My concern is what happens if they go for the candidate who did not have the most votes based on the primaries and caucuses going into the convention? I believe if they do this, there will be such hard feelings that the party will not be able to repair itself in time for the November election. The result would be that in a year when all the pundits agree, it is supposed to the Democrats' year, a Republican will win.

    Personalizing this, my candidate is Obama. If he has the most votes (delegates) based on the primaries and caucuses and the party elders anoint Clinton, I would be so angry that I don't think I could get over this by November to be able to vote for Clinton. I am sure there are Clinton supporters who might feel the same way if the party elders decided to anoint Obama even though Clinton entered the convention leading in delegates based on the voting in the primaries and caucuses.

    There are several solutions to this dilemma. Here's the one that I like and should be instituted right now before we know who will be the leader when all this pre-convention voting is finished. There needs to an immediate agreement, right now, among all the super delegates that they will vote as a block for the candidate who is ahead after all the people have finished voting. If all 842 super delegates vote for the candidate who is leading based on the primaries and caucuses, it will catapult him/her into the nomination by a wide margin. This will be a simple act of legitimizing the will of the people and avoiding a schism.

    If my candidate loses using this method, I will be very sad, but at least I will understand it and think the process was fair, especially if the agreement is made now, before we know who the leader is going to be. However, if my candidate loses because the super delegates reverse the will of the people, I don't think I could forgive the party and come back to the fold in time for the general election.

    Hopefully Howard Dean will show leadership and begin to find ways to avoid the obvious trainwreck that is on the horizon. I happen to like my idea, but a solution, any solution must be found to avoid this obvious catastrophe.



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    1. Chris on Feb 7, 2008 7:59:43 PM:

      That's a really interesting suggestion, Chris. I agree that the Democrats need to be careful not to mess this election up. It would really be stupid of them if they let internal party politics result in a November loss.

      Another suggestion - and I make this as a Obama supporter - would be for the two candidates to make a behind doors agreement right now that Clinton would pick Obama as her VP and vice-versa. That way they could continue their race but agree to what the ticket will be (just a question as to who is the VP), avoiding any acrimony at the convention.

    1. Geena The Transgirl on Feb 7, 2008 8:01:20 PM:

      Don't do it, you’re conceding defeat where a win is still possible.
      If Obama has the same or ONE more delegate, I don't see how the superdelegates could deny him the nomination.

      Speculation follows - If he is short the amount of Michigan + Florida, I still don't see how you deny him a shot at those delegates.

      Look at it this way, If Hillary comes up one delegate short - SHE"S OUT - GAME OVER. The party won't do it.

      If Obama comes up one or more delegate short - HE"S STILL IN - They go to OVERTIME. Which Hillary is more likely to lose.

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