Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: Hillary Marches fourth

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  • Craig Ranapia,

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    You have to wonder what the state Democratic parties of Florida and Michigan were thinking.

    I understand that moving your primary forward helps your state and gives more prominence to your issues etc.

    Given that they were forewarned of the consequences however - isn't having a later primary better than having no primary at all? No one is going to care about your issues if they never have to turn up and get you to choose them.

    Weird.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Conor Roberts,

    Watching this amazing Democratic race it is amazing how familiar this all seems... I mean it’s all about West Wing Series Six - Episode "2162 Votes"...

    Could it be that we're seeing series six of The West Wing play out in real life? I mean, insurgent candidate with an inspirational message and an ethnic minority background, up against experienced insider candidate. Obama vs. Hillary or Santos vs. Russell?

    The way that the delegate count is going in 2008 - are we lining up for a real nomination convention with all the drama and excitement of the final episode of series six? And are we in for the same outcome in the general?

    Stay tuned…

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 56 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    they act as guardians, to prevent a candidate in a close race from securing the nomination if it's not in the interests of the party.

    The role of the superdelegate is to question "is this the best person for the job?", "does this person – popular within the democratic party – actually have the better chance of taking the White House?"

    But wasn't the USA founded on the idea of "We, The People..."??

    I 'get' that this is a process to select the Democrat nominee for the Presidential election; but imagine if the Presidential election was run along similar lines? The people go out and vote in November for who they want to as President. Candidate A beats Candidate B by a narrow margin. But Candidate A is not inaugurated because Congress and The House of Representatives have 'Superdelegate' status and it is their job to question "is this the best person for the job?" and they give their votes to Candidate B.

    Imagine the uproar!


    Besides, is Obama's success not a good indicator of "who has the better chance of taking the White House?". If at conference time Obama has a narrow lead over Clinton, and the Superdelegates use this as validation to annoint Clinton as the nominee ('there was no clear mandate from the people') then they better hope like hell she wins. Because if she doesn't they will all be swept out of the party heirarchy. Obama's supporters want change and they won't stand for their party delivering another Republican term.

    If Clinton doesn't win significantly in the next primary round she should step aside. If Obama wins, even by a narrow margin, she should step aside immediately.

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • Josh Addison,

    Interestingly, some (but not all) of the West Wing writers claim that Santos was originally going to lose the general election to Vinick. When they had to write out Leo McGarry (due to the death of the actor that played him), they decided that having Santos lose the election and his running partner was too much pathos, so they changed the storyline. Not sure how that would be emulated in real life, though...

    Onehunga, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 298 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    I just find it ironic that the democratic party in America is an aristocracy. But then, the US is really a monarchy, so its not that surprising.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    you can't change the rules to suit you after the game has started

    ah but you can - all you have to do is put this before the Rules Committee - they can decide to seat Florida - that's well within the rules.

    Certainly the Dems have an idiosyncratic method for determining a candidate. Obama has much to thank the fact that independents and Republicans can vote in some primaries. But in the end it's not an election, it's a selection process a lot of which is like an election.

    If the contest remains close then the supers will have to decide and that's just the way it is. Obama and Clinton are both trying to game this to their advantage.

    Besides, is Obama's success not a good indicator of "who has the better chance of taking the White House?".

    Not necessarily - it depends partly on which states either do well in. It's the electoral vote that counts not the popular vote. Clinton did well in Florida which is a must win in November. Obama did very well in many states that the Dems just won’t pickup.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson,

    I am not sure why your post is titled "Hillary marches fourth". She appears to be a very close second at the moment.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    The Florida Dems have maintained that it was the Republicans that got them into trouble with the DNC and it's quite hard to find out what exactly went on but on Obama's web site there's this -

    According to the Florida Democratic Party's website it was the amendments filed in an effort to change the January 29th date to forestall the DNC's sanctions that were turned down by the Florida Republicans.

    So they may have a case to be seated.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Mike Graham,

    ... A role they played in 1984, when they gave the nomination to insider Walter Mondale over insurgent Gary Hart. ...

    And Mondale went on to lose. Has there been a case, similar to the one that you described, where the super-delegates effectively changed the nomination, and that nominated person went on to win?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I 'get' that this is a process to select the Democrat nominee for the Presidential election; but imagine if the Presidential election was run along similar lines? The people go out and vote in November for who they want to as President. Candidate A beats Candidate B by a narrow margin. But Candidate A is not inaugurated because Congress and The House of Representatives have 'Superdelegate' status and it is their job to question "is this the best person for the job?" and they give their votes to Candidate B.

    Well, the US Supreme Court seemed to have an extraordinary number of votes in 2000. Way more than some minority voters in Florida.

    And some diebold machines in Ohio in 2004 were rumoured to be voting heavily as well.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Conor Roberts,

    Funny thing about Florida and Michigan moving their contests earlier in order to have more influence on the outcome is this: if they hadn’t moved them, they would have had their primaries just after Super Tuesday. With the Democratic race running this late Florida and Michigan would have probably decided the nomination. Doh.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 56 posts Report Reply

  • Raymond A Francis,

    It seems to me that there would be a good case to just run the Florida and Michigan primaries again
    Then there would be an uproar

    45' South • Since Nov 2006 • 576 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    According to the Florida Democratic Party's website it was the amendments filed in an effort to change the January 29th date to forestall the DNC's sanctions that were turned down by the Florida Republicans.

    It's another one of those really weird things in American politics, that republicans - presumably through the state legislature - get to influence how democrats choose their candidates.

    It'd be like parliament voting on whether or not MPs from Wellington were able to attend their own party caucus to choose the PM.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Hosking,

    Damn you Sarah Silverman (NSFW)

    Dear oh dear oh dear. Still wiping a tear away about the 'close but no cigar' bit....

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 830 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    I am not sure why your post is titled "Hillary marches fourth"

    A subtle distinction - but it was Hillary Marches fourth - the upper-case M pointing to the date March 4th - when Texas and Ohio hold their primaries (both pretty much must wins for Clinton).

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Could it be that we're seeing series six of The West Wing play out in real life? I mean, insurgent candidate with an inspirational message and an ethnic minority background, up against experienced insider candidate.

    West Wing writers have recently confirmed that the character of Santos was based on Barrack Obama.

    There are also potential parallels with season 7 too. An older McCain against a young insurgent Santos, where the older Senator is considered pretty liberal for a republican, and often off-side with religious conservatives...

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Candidate A beats Candidate B by a narrow margin. But Candidate A is not inaugurated because Congress and The House of Representatives have 'Superdelegate' status and it is their job to question "is this the best person for the job?" and they give their votes to Candidate B.

    Imagine the uproar!

    It can kind of happen. Just as in the primaries, the winner of the presidential election has to get an absolute majority of the votes in the electoral college.

    If they don't (because there's a tie, or some third party candidate splits the electoral vote three ways), then the House of Representatives decides the presidential election, with each state's congressional delegation getting one vote.

    And the Senate then decides the Vice-Presidential election.

    This has happened before. The US used to have the person who came second in the election become the Vice-President (although the electors got two votes so would vote for the two people they want). In 1800/1801 the majority of electors on the electoral college all voted for their Presidential pick Thomas Jefferson, and their Vice-Presidential pick Aaron Burr - so there was a tie. After 36 rounds of voting Jefferson got support from the required majority of state delegations. They then added the 12th amendment to the Constitution so that electors voted once for president and once for vice-president.

    The 1824/1825 election saw electoral votes split between 4 candidates, with John Quincy Adams victorious on the first ballot in the House.

    And in 1836 Virginia's electors refused to vote for Martin van-Buren's Vice-Presidential running mate, leaving him 1 short of the needed majority, and threw the VeeP election to the senate (the only time it got there).

    Every election the numbers-guys at CNN and the other networks will try to come up with a scenario in which the two candidates each get 269 votes so throwing the election to the Congress, but it hasn't happened yet.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Has there been a case, similar to the one that you described, where the super-delegates effectively changed the nomination, and that nominated person went on to win?

    No.

    The nomination didn't used to be decided so openly through primaries - up until 1968 it was largely decided by party insiders. Following 1968 they kicked the power over to democratically elected delegates, but by 1980, party leadership was worried that outsiders with little to do with the democratic party (apart from voting in the primaries) had too much power and were weakening the party. So they added superdelegates.

    1984 was the first time the the current system - with its mix of elected and unelected delegates was used. And Bill Clinton has been the only Democratic president since then (and he won enough pledged delegates)...

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    It seems to me that there would be a good case to just run the Florida and Michigan primaries again
    Then there would be an uproar

    I'm not sure there would be an uproar, but there just isn't enough time to do this.

    Primaries are organised (and paid for) by the States. They're run under legislation passed by the state legislature and run by the Florida government. A new primary cannot happen. It has been suggested that the Florida and Michigan democratic parties could hold caucuses to select delegates, but this doesn't seem likely either (the party would have to pay for these, and they'd likely favour Obama because his greater financial resources play well in caucuses).

    No-one really seems to think replacing the votes of a couple of million primary voters with mere thousands of caucus votes is that great an idea, and the possibility of an all mail-in vote has been mooted. The democratic party has apparently promised some cash, and a website raising funds for the possibility has been set up.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    It's another one of those really weird things in American politics...

    As far as I can make out the story with Florida was -

    1. Florida Dems decide they want a bigger share of the action and move to legislate their primary forward.

    2. That legisaltion gets to be an amendment to a very import piece of state legislation aimed at sorting out their parlous voting system.

    3. The DNC threaten sanctions.

    4. Florida Dems try to amend the legisaltion to stop their original amendment.

    5. The Republicans decide to put the cat among the pigions and refuse to vote for the new amendment (they are a majority).

    6. The Dems have to vote for the legislation in full or risk being seen to vote against legislation of vital importance to the electoral process.

    7. That means they are forced to vote for the primary to come forward even though they don't want that anymore.

    8. The DNC put the punishment in place.

    entertainment of a sort.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Mike Graham,

    Graeme - thanks for another enlightening post, and also your attention to answering questions posed. I've learnt a lot about the US election process in the last couple of months from reading this blog.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • slarty,

    ... the most I've ever learned about the US "system" since I watched the last episode of WW last year...

    And thank you for confirming my recollection... I kept thinking it was familiar!

    Interesting philosophical issue is raised here around the role of delegates, whether super of NZ Members of Parliament. Every time I see a call for a referendum to re-litigate an issue, I'm reminded of the fact we don't elect these people to do what we want, we ask them to make decisions on our behalf.

    It's a bit like a jury - we don't see everything presented in court, so shouldn't second guess their decision.

    Except the Scott Watson case of course. Sheesh... if ever there was an example of why emotive trials should be held away from the area!

    Since Nov 2006 • 290 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Here's one up your alley, Graeme: speculation about the Clinton campaign's pre-emptive tilt at the Texas primary rules.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    I thought the Scott Watson case turned on the judges determined acceptance and promotion of the planted evidence, rather than an emotive atmosphere.


    Super delegates you say. Wouldn't surprise me at all if they'd deliberately run senator Clin-ton to lose and let McCain keep the war machine grinding away another eight years. They have the party donations to think of, after all, and it'd be politically impossible to keep the masses in line if they couldn't pretend to be fighting the president on the matter. Ditto with doing something about global warming.

    Since Nov 2006 • 607 posts Report Reply

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