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Monday, March 17, 2008

Superdelegate Watch

posted by on March 17 at 11:30 AM

I love the superdelegate counter the New York Times published this weekend to go with this story testing the superdel winds.

According to the New York Times, Washington’s superdelegate situation is this: 5 for Clinton (oddly, they’re all electeds: Cantwell, Dicks, Inslee, Murray, Sims), 4 for Obama (Baird, Gregoire, Smith, and DNC hotshot Pam Notter), and 8 so far uncommitted. Here’s where the tea leaves come in:

Ed Cote, Party official, Wash.
“I am still firmly uncommitted and I am going to stay uncommitted. I do not have to vote until the week of Aug. 25. This is only Feb. 11.”

Thomas Foley, Party official, Wash.

Rick Larsen, Representative, Wash.
“If I need to exercise my vote as a superdelegate in order to have a nominee this fall, then I will. I believe the grass roots of the party should select the candidate. The grass-roots process is not done. We should let it finish.”

Eileen Macoll, Party official, Wash.
“They have so much to offer. It’s an amazing experience to be a superdelegate and in this position. I truly am undecided.” “I’m going to watch the traffic and watch the flow and see which way it’s going. I’ll especially be watching how the vote goes in the large states that remain, like Pennsylvania, Texas and Ohio. That will perhaps lead me to a decision.”

Sharon Mast, Party official, Wash.

Jim McDermott, Representative, Wash.

David T. McDonald, Party official, Wash.
“Delegate-by-delegate fights are very emotionally intense. There is a great risk to all of us that the support base of the two candidates will not be able to work for the other. The single best way for a Republican to win is for us to have a fight that gets out of hand. Whoever we support, the overriding concern is to not have a Republican in the White House next year.”

Dwight Pelz, Party official, Wash.

I feel like we should all be betting on where are supers are going to fall-it’s more rational than the Oscars, after all.

If you want to set up an office pool, here are some pointers. Rick Larsen sounds like he’s sympathetic toward the Obama line (defer to the pledged delegates), Eileen Macoll is obviously leaning Clinton (that telltale “big state” argument), and my hunch is that David McDonald (who supported Dean last go round, and who sits on the Rules committee that stripped Florida and Michigan of its delegates; he’s been quoted saying that if Clinton “makes the motion to allocate ‘beauty contest’ delegates, she will not get support from me”) will go for Obama. Jim McDermott (whose 7th Congressional District went wildly for Obama in the caucuses) and Dwight Pelz also seem likely to vote for Obama, though who really knows. That leaves three more party people.

My wild guess? It’ll be 2 more for Clinton and 6 more for Obama, making Washington’s final split 7 C/10 O.

RSS icon Comments


Notice how brave they all are, resolutely avoiding deciding till the returns are all in.

Profiles in Courage.

Like Pelosi's standing up for just cutting the funding of the war.

Posted by unPC | March 17, 2008 11:39 AM

(Tangent) I don't understand the whole "superdelegates should follow the will of the people" meme. If that's true, then why do we have them in the first place? It seems like the entire reason the Dems created them was to thwart the will of the people. In case, ya know, they get it wrong. Ahem.

Posted by fluteprof | March 17, 2008 11:49 AM

If the electeds thwart the will of the people, they'll have well-funded challengers who will replace them.

That's called consequences.

Posted by Will in Seattle | March 17, 2008 11:50 AM

i always thought the super-delegates were supposed to be used to prevent a catastrophic candidate from getting the nomination. something where if they all band together they could use their mass to stop a mistake.

in this case, we don't have a "bad" candidate. but they can vote how they like nonetheless.

Posted by infrequent | March 17, 2008 12:00 PM

None of the memes make any sense whatsoever, but the campaigns have to invent some kind of argument to sway people. In my opinion, the big state argument is pretty transparently unconvincing. If Clinton believes she can win working-class Catholics and Hispanics and therefore Ohio and Texas, that's her argument, not this silly big-state thing. The "follow the will of the people" makes sense only because both candidates are competent--in another hypothetical race where, say, Kucinich was battling Clinton, the supers could legitimately overturn the will of the people, since Kucinich would never ever beat McCain in the general. In my opinion.

And Will, nobody is going to mount a robust primary challenge against Murray or Cantwell purely on the grounds that they preferred Clinton. You're being unrealistic.

Posted by annie | March 17, 2008 12:04 PM

I understand the reasoning to be:

We're staying neutral because if Hillary actually swings this election somehow, and we vote the wrong way, she will eat our hearts for breakfast.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | March 17, 2008 12:04 PM

Well, or in Sharon's case, she's probably being neutral. I'll ask her tomorrow.

Posted by Will in Seattle | March 17, 2008 1:25 PM

The superdelegates are going to break for the winner once it becomes apparent who that is. I don't think ideology or personal preference is going to play much part in the remaining delegates. All of the superdelegates with strong feelings either way have already declared (and even some of those are switching).

Obama's lead will thus survive the superdelegates; at the point where Obama's pledged delegates plus his already-declared superdelegates plus about half of the remaining SDs puts him over the top, ALL of the remaining SDs will declare for him -- or for Clinton if the math breaks for her following what would have to be an incredible series of massive 70-30 victories.

That point gets closer and closer. Not only is Obama holding and increasing his lead, but the pool of available delegates to divvy up gets smaller and smaller. Also, the loser gets delegates too; this is why FL and MI no longer matter. Yes, there are 313 delegates there, but the net gain for Clinton even if they are seated as-is is only about 50.

EVEN IF YOU COUNT THEM, Obama only needs about 80-100 more pledged delegates (out of 608 left in the remaining states) IF the remaining SDs split 50-50.

Posted by Fnarf | March 17, 2008 1:30 PM

Fluteproof @2, yes, it's possible for primary voters to "get it wrong" -- the situation that could occur if an otherwise successful candidate self-destructs after the primaries and before the convention. Superdelegates can lead the Party to coalesce behind an alternate choice. Infrequent @4 understands that.

My guess is that Obama will continue to lead in pledged delegates and primary vote totals, by some narrow margin, and the superdelegates will coalesce behind him when they are ready to end it. Clinton's fundamentals, lead by her continuing high negative ratings, are just too risky, and overriding the results of the primaries, for no good reason other than "it's just politics", would irreparably divide the party.

If the Clinton camp continues its march to destroy Obama, effectively writing the GOP playbook for November, the superdelegates' action will occur sooner rather than later.

The LAST thing on the mind of the supers is party self-destruction.

Posted by Perfect Voter | March 17, 2008 1:31 PM

The only path to victory for Clinton is via coup by super delegate.

Clinton knows this.

That's why there's all the talk about poaching pledged delegates and spinning uncertainty around Michigan and Florida, and laying the case for super delegates to discard the popular will and stage a coup.

Yet a coup by super delegate would plunge the party in civil war.

Clinton knows this, it's her only path to victory, and she doesn't care. She is willing -- nay, eager to split the party apart in her mad pursuit of power.

If the situations were reversed, and Obama was lagging in the delegates, popular vote, states won, money raised, and every other reasonable measure, then I'd feel the same way about Obama. (I pulled the plug early on Dean in 2004.) But that's not the case.

It is Clinton, with no reasonable chance of victory, who is fomenting civil war in order to overturn the will of the Democratic electorate. As such, as far as I'm concerned, she doesn't deserve "fairness" on this site. All sexist attacks will be dealt with -- those will never be acceptable. But otherwise, Clinton has set an inevitably divisive course and must be dealt with appropriately.

To reiterate, she cannot win without overturning the will of the national Democratic electorate and fomenting civil war, and she doesn't care.

That's why she has earned my scorn and that of so many others. That's why she is bleeding super delegates. That's why she's even bleeding her own caucus delegates (remember, she lost a delegate in Iowa on Saturday). That's why Keith Olbermann finally broke his neutrality. That's why Nancy Pelosi essentially cast her lot with Obama. That's why Democrats outside of the Beltway are hoping for the unifying Obama at the top of the ticket, and not a Clinton so divisive, she is actually working to split her own party.

Meanwhile, Clinton and her shrinking band of paranoid holdouts wail and scream about all those evil people who have "turned" on Clinton and are no longer "honest power brokers" or "respectable voices" or whatnot, wearing blinders to reality, talking about silly little "strikes" when in reality, Clinton is planning a far more drastic, destructive and dehabilitating civil war.

People like me have two choices -- look the other way while Clinton attempts to ignite her civil war, or fight back now, before we cross that dangerous line. Honestly, it wasn't a difficult choice. And it's clear, looking at where the super delegates, most bloggers, and people like Olbermann are lining up, that the mainstream of the progressive movement is making the same choice.

And the more super delegates see what is happening, and what Clinton has in store, the more imperative it is that they line up behind Obama and put an end to it before it's too late.

'Nuff said.

Posted by Reality Check | March 17, 2008 2:03 PM

hey, didn't i read that somewhere else this morning?

Posted by infrequent | March 17, 2008 2:12 PM

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