March 24, 2008

Bayh's test: Which candidate won the states with the most electoral votes?

I think it's a good idea for Obama and Clinton proponents to propose different measures for the purposes of argument to the superdelegates, like Bayh's test. But that test needs to be refined to focus on states that might go Republican in the fall. New York, California, and Massachusetts don't matter. You may think the fairest test really is the pledged delegates, because that is what the candidates were competing for. Bayh's test retroactively treats state primaries and caucuses as though they were winner-take-all, but if they were the candidates would have fought differently. But it's not clear to me that the candidates relied on something that the superdelegates have to respect.

The superdelegates should be using their power to choose the best candidate for the party, and there are many arguments that could refute the assumption that the candidate that collected the most delegates — but failed to lock the nomination — will do best in November. Since November is crucial, the Electoral College should be taken into account, but not in the crude way Bayh suggests, since the superdelegates shouldn't worry about marginal preferences for Obama or Clinton in states that will almost certainly give its electoral votes to whichever candidate the party nominates. Thus, Clinton's popularity in Ohio and Pennsylvania (and, face it, Florida) matters, but her popularity in New York and California doesn't.

40 comments:

AlphaLiberal said...

Trying to rewrite the rules in the middle of the race is a very bad idea. Clinton, Bayh and the rest need to deal with the rules as they are.

She's toast.

Ann Althouse said...

How is it rewriting the rules? The superdelegates are empowered to use their independent judgment. Now we are talking about how they should analyze the situation!

Ann Althouse said...

That is, the superdelegates are part of the rules. To say they are bound by the pledged delegate count is to change the rules.

John Stodder said...

Well, that doesn't quite say it, because of the superdelegates. The purpose of all these formulae are to guide the superdelegates on how they "should" vote.

But the point of the system was for the superdelegates to act as an override switch. If Hillary runs the table or if there are other indications that the Obama surge was just a fad (a view I don't subscribe to, btw), the super-d's can absorb all that information and vote accordingly. I would assume that the majority of them are going to vote for a candidate they believe can win.

My prediction: Neither candidate will get a majority even with the super-delegates voting. Some of them will vote present, or vote for Edwards, Dodd, Kucinich, et. al. Then, on the second ballot, Hillary will pry away enough Obama-pledged delegates to win the nomination.

It's a scorced earth strategy, but, hey, Hillary never promised you a rose garden. Just herself.

John Stodder said...

My response was to Alpha Liberal, in case that's not clear.

Revenant said...

The rules are that superdelegates can vote for whomever they wish, for whatever reason they wish to do so. The intent behind those rules is to give the superdelegates the power to reject the will of the primary voters in cases where they think the best candidate is someone other than the winner.

Of course, the Democrats can't come out and say "we set things up so that we can ignore the voters if they pick the wrong candidate". They are, after all, supposed to be the party of the people and democracy and blah blah blah. What the Clinton campaign is doing is trying to come up with some flimsy rationalization for letting the superdelegates do what they were originally supposed to do: ignore who the Democratic voters voted for and pick someone else.

Matt said...

The quote at the end says it all:

After the 2000 election Mrs. Clinton, said, "I believe strongly that in a democracy, we should respect the will of the people and to me, that means it's time to do away with the Electoral College and move to the popular election of our president."

Oh, but NOW the Electoral College means something. Come on.
If Obama is ahead in delegates and in popular vote the super delegates would be stupid to give it to Hillary - even if she is somehow more electable.

George said...

This is like asking where the steel in the rails was made instead of taking in the spectacle of the orphan train hurtling over the cliff as the bridge explodes.

Pastafarian said...

Isn't it obvious that Obama has fatally wounded himself with his association with the ranting racist Wright?

Pre-Wright, Obama would have crushed McCain -- McCain's only hope was to carry every swing state in play, including New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts (!). Now, every one of those states is perfectly winnable for McCain, and several others that were safely in Obama's column are no longer safe, according to the most recent Obama-vs-McCain polls.

Hillary actually appears to be the stronger candidate for the Democrats in the general election. Why shouldn't the superdelegates do their job and choose the stronger candidate?

I know that Clinton also has skeletons in her closet, but those are just bare bones, not the still-rotting corpses burbling up from Obama's crawl space:

Crazy anti-white radical spiritual advisor preaching to Obama's children;

Lying about his knowledge of the nature of Wright's sermons;

"Typical white person" comment;

Rezko (if Althouse posted on this, I missed it);

A dirty million-dollar earmark to Michelle Obama's hospital;

Michelle Obama's salary apparently tied to her husband's political fortunes;

The whole "never proud of my country" thing;

Obama told the Canadians that his NAFTA talk was just "rhetoric" for us Ohio hicks;

Obama's repeated beclowning of himself whenever he speaks of anything military (suggesting that we attack Pakistan, claiming that our military has to capture weapons in order to fight, implying that Al Quaeda isn't in Iraq, etc.)

Obama's Weather Underground supporters in Chicago.

And I could go on with this list -- these are just the few that I can recall off the top of my head.

Middle Class Guy said...

Matt said...
The quote at the end says it all:

After the 2000 election Mrs. Clinton, said, "I believe strongly that in a democracy, we should respect the will of the people and to me, that means it's time to do away with the Electoral College and move to the popular election of our president."



You realy do not understand. She misspoke in 2000. Se really meant to say that the snipers were in the vicinity of the Electoral College.

Middle Class Guy said...

Bayh is also a Clinton supporter.

ricpic said...

I'm not so sure that California, which is the big cahuna, would be a lock for the Dems if Obama is the candidate. Hispanics are a huge factor in that state and they have been noticeably cool toward Obama. Something the superdelegates would do well to consider.

Tim said...

I'm lovin' that the Democrat primary votes, per Democrat rules, really aren't binding at all upon the superduperextraordinaire and plenipotentiary delegates.

It kinda reaffirms one's faith in Republicanism.

Tim said...

ricpic,

Kuhuna is spelled with a "K," (no "C" in the Hawaiian alphabet, although one could argue that's an artificial imposition from Western Imperialism...) for future reference.

Otherwise, spot on.

ricpic said...

My ignorance is oceanic.

Slim999 said...

It's quite transparent what Bayh's up to: He wants to know how can Democrats have a rational that allows them to nominate the losing white candidate instead of the winning black candidate?

If you're goal is to find a reason that Hillary should get the nomination even though she couldn't win elections, thus, disenfranchising millions of black voters, this is as good a rational as any other.

Hillary can't win the general election UNLESS black people vote for her in overwhelming numbers in the general election.

That makes her nomination the best thing that could possibly happen to John McCain.

Obama will easily carry the black vote in the general election. White Democrats won't vote for John McCain. It's the only plausible way for Democrats to win.

So, the only way the Democrats can possibly have a chance at defeating McCain is to nominate the candidate who won more caucuses, won more primaries, won more states, won more Democrat votes.

It just so happens he's black. Unfortunately, he's also a member of a racist Party that will guarantee he can't be nominated no matter how many elections he defeats Hillary in.

Folks like Evan Bayh are going to see to that by continually trotting out ideas that always result in Hillary getting the nomination until one of those ideas sticks.

Even if it costs them the Presidency.

Pastafarian said...

Slim, I don't know why you would suggest that Evan Bayh is a racist. He's just a typical white person. When he sees somebody on the street that he doesn't know...there's a reaction in him that doesn't go away, and it comes out in the wrong way.

Unlike someone more swarthy, and therefore completely non-racist, like, say, Obama.

Dogwood said...

Bayh just wants to be V.P. and he can't be V.P. if Obama is the nominee because then the D ticket would lack geographical balance.

Slim999 said...

Pasta,

Obama and Hillary are both members of the Democrat Party.

It's that Party which will, ultimately, deny blacks their rightful victory by nominating Hillary over the candidate who beat her in all those elections, all those caucuses, all those primaries ... who won almost a million more Democrat votes.

Obama is just as much a part of problem. I never once suggested he wasn't ALSO a racist. Not saying he is; not saying he isn't; he sure seems to be friends with a lot of them and get endorsed by a lot of them, though.

But so does Hillary, so, they're pretty even on that score.

Pastafarian said...

Slim --

I agree that there is considerable racism in the Democratic party, but I think that it's mostly in the form of the "soft bigotry of low expectations".

I'm not sure that the unusually clean, articulate, and bright black man Obama is necessarily a hardcore racist (although his "typical white person" quote certainly gives one pause). I doubt that he really believes much of what Wright spews from his pulpit -- I think that he belonged to this church out of political expediency.

Which makes his willingness to subject his children to this vile hate all the more despicable. Whether he's a racist or not, it's beyond belief that he's still considered a viable candidate at all after this -- would McCain still be in this race if it was somehow suddenly uncovered that he'd attended the Fred Phelps God-Hates-Fags church for the last 20 years, and counted Phelps among his closest advisors?

And for those commentors that think that this comparison is absurd: Wright thinks that the US deserved 9-11, and that (white) America created HIV to infect blacks. Phelps might be a little more obnoxious about his insanity, but they're both hate-filled nuts.

Simon said...

It's not a bad strategy - it provides a (concededly contrived) metric by which she's thrashing Obama (263 votes to 189 by my count), and taps into the electoral college's own strengths, viz., measuring her appeal across regional interests. Nevertheless, as other commenters have noted, the real problem is her own earlier disparaging of the electoral college. If Clinton has genuinely had a Saul on the road to Damascus experience vis-a-vis the Constitution, even if prompted by personal interest, so much the better: I welcome her to the fold. But I suspect that this is opportunism, a good for one time only reliance. And “to take the benefits accorded by the constitutional system ... while denying it allegiance when a special burden is imposed ... is the antithesis of law.” Herbert Wechsler, Towards Neutral Principles of Constitutional Law, 73 Harv L. Rev. 1, 35 (1959).

Simon said...

Slim999 said...
"It's that Party which will, ultimately, deny blacks their rightful victory...."

(1) Why is it a "victory" for blacks if Obama wins? (2) Why is it their (or any other group's) "rightful" victory? The system - I'm not talking about the real system, I mean the Democratic party's primary system - doesn't award the nomination to such and such a faction, or even to the winner of the popular vote. You don't have a "right" to the candidate of your choice prevailing. At most, you have a "right" to participate in a process according to rules laid down in advance.

Daryl said...

Althouse wrote: The superdelegates should be using their power to choose the best candidate for the party

1: Of course they should. Those are the pre-ordained rules.

2: Of course they will. It would be silly to expect them to really choose based on anything other than winning in November.

3: But of course they can't come right out and say that. They have to pretend to respect democracy. So they need to come up with a dozen different phony tests, just so they can be sure there will be at least one test that lets Hillary win (there will be plenty that say Barack should win). This way, they have cover to decide how they want to decide, and blame it on democracy:

"Sorry, primary voters who are annoyed with our choice. We weren't overriding your vote--we were just deciding based on the states starting with a consonant that have a Democratic governor, multiplied times the number of swing states that start with vowels."

What superdelegate is dumb (or selfless) enough to give up their power now by picking a side? Take a look at one odious character, Steven Ybarra, who says he will give his vote to the candidate who promises more to Latinos. Regular Democrats, who cast their vote in primaries and/or caucused, should be outraged by this crass opportunism. But it's the norm.

Superdelegates are hopelessly corrupt. Being party insiders, many are candidates themselves--and guess who is making cash donations to their campaigns? That's right, Hillary and Barack.

Gahrie said...

Wouldn't it be ironic if the party that was formed because of electoral controversy (Election of 1824) collapsed because of electoral controversy (2008 convention meltdown)?

Slim999 said...

"At most, you have a "right" to participate in a process according to rules laid down in advance."

Not according to Evan Bayh. According to Evan Bayh, the winner should be the candidate who won the states with the most electoral votes. Where's that in the rules?

The rules change, dude, based on how such a change can prevent the black guy from getting the nomination.

Hillary and the DNC have been trying for months to come up with a way to certify delegates in Florida and Michgan - despite the rules.

Why would they want to now change the rules? Do you think those delegates won't be seated at the convention - despite the rules?

Hillary is going to be the nominee. She's the only white candidate left - so it doesn't matter what the rules are. The rules can be changed at any time by the party.

And the rules will be changed. The candidate with the fewest votes, no matter how you count them, is going to win.

Because she's white.

Cedarford said...

As things stand, Hillary looks to be the stronger Democrat challenger in swing states. California, Florida,& Nevada for Obama in a General election? Wait 'till remarks by black preachers about filthy job-stealing hispanic interlopers begin to surface.

My guess is the Republicans want to run against Obama. The longer Hillary stays in, though, the better, for Republicans. That means it would be less likely she will be Obama's VP and the less help Obama will get with the Clintons on women, white ethnics, hispanics, and reclaimed Reagan democrats.

With McCain, if he doesn't screw it up bad, and he has screwed up lots badly in his lifetime, he needs a VP and a team that breaks hard from Bush II on Iraq and focuses on "finishing the job in Iraq" and in dealing with Bush's economic mess. Two VPs come to mind - Romney and Portman - for their economic credentials...

Yeah, he hates Romney, but as Cheney said: "So?" as in lots of Presidents detested or at least lisliked their VP.

Romney could definitely benefit, however, from a 2-week McCain assigned politician's charm school of elimination of the more blatant Romney flaws - like a doglike urge to pander..McCain could also benefit considerably, but he is the asshole that won.

Romney could put close Western states in play, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania against Obama - and possibly even some New England States..Help McCain on his issue of age by having a credible Presidential guy ready to go, help with the Christian conservatives. Also, Romney would be a huge help with building the 2008 election organization, adding vetted and tested Romney People to McCain's staff, and of course really help with fundraising.
Portman would help in Ohio.

Sloanasaurus said...

My guess is the Republicans want to run against Obama. The longer Hillary stays in, though, the better, for Republicans. That means it would be less likely she will be Obama's VP and the less help Obama will get with the Clintons on women, white ethnics, hispanics, and reclaimed Reagan democrats.

I agree with Cedar. I think Obama and Clinton are both recipients of heavy identity politics. Obama with blacks and Clinton with women. Obama and Clinton will get swaths of new voters from these groups come election day. (Obama has liberal elites too, but they already vote and young voters who don't vote ever).

The problem for Obama, however, is that getting 10% new black voters isn't going to help him win in places where the black voters are like Georgia or South Carolina. There aren't enough black voters for Obama to win in any southern state. In contrast, women voters are in every state especially Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Penn, the states where the Dems need to win.

In the end Hillary is the much better general election candidate.

peter hoh said...

Obama has Wright, Clinton has the sniper fib, and McCain has trouble keeping Iraq and Iran straight. This is just ducky.

former law student said...

There are no red states or blue states this year. Obama brings out those who want to vote for him; Hillary brings out those who want to vote against her. Further, Hillary positioned herself as McCain Lite to run against Obama. Why would anyone want McCain Lite when they could get the real McCain? Chicks trying to lose weight?

EnigmatiCore said...

"That is, the superdelegates are part of the rules. To say they are bound by the pledged delegate count is to change the rules."

Ann, the rules in politics are to point your finger and accuse your opponents of doing the very things you are doing. To complain about these rules is to try and change the well-established and understood rules of politics mid-stream.

I was very surprised to see that at least one poll has McCain within a point or two of Obama in Massachusetts.

Modern Otter said...

I suspect that if the Clinton campaign were to divine that Democratic cat-fanciers go 80-20 for Hillary (not so far-fetched if you think about it-- passive-aggressive-wise), the case would be made for the supers voting on the basis of pet ownership.

Fen said...

Daryl: [The Superdelegates] have to pretend to respect democracy. So they need to come up with a dozen different phony tests, just so they can be sure there will be at least one test that lets Hillary win (there will be plenty that say Barack should win). This way, they have cover to decide how they want to decide

I think you nailed it. Nicely done.

Chip Ahoy said...
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Chip Ahoy said...
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Chip Ahoy said...

Finally.

I think the superdelegates should be made to wear a large cape and a spandex costume in bright primary colors with giant letters

S.D.

emblazoned on the chest or breast. So they stick out real good in a crowd of ordinary delegates, themselves making up the minds of even more ordinary people, and so that everybody who sees them, and it is all about being seen, is reminded that some animals are more equal than others, and some animals are even more equal than that. Why, I can think of no political idea more purely American.

The problem of impasse the Democrats are creating for themselves can be resolved by creating hyperdelegates, beings that have power to override decisions of superdelegates. They'd have a similar costume except even more splendid, they'd wear an oversized golden crown with tall points and wear the letters

H.D>

cast in oversized jewelry worn around their necks hung on clunky golden chains, like Fava Flav's clock, and be provided with Pharaonic implements of office, jewel encrusted crook and flail. No one would doubt their authoratah.

(even spellcheck objects to this word superdelegates and I resist having it learn)

jeff said...

"Neither candidate will get a majority even with the super-delegates voting. Some of them will vote present,"

Wait. Obama is both a candidate AND a superdelegate? Or will a vote for "present" be considered a homage to him, but not a vote for him. So confusing.

Joe said...

I just love the hypocrisy of the moment of the Democrats.

But this does highlight the fraud of how primaries are done, especially for the Democrats, but in some cases for the Republicans as well. The national election IS about the electoral college. Period. To find the right candidate, it is only common sense that the primaries mimic the electoral system to determine who can best run that kind of campaign.

(The caucus nonsense also highlights why secret ballots are so very important. Including when voting whether to unionize.)

Chet said...

It's very irresponsible for a Con Law Professor to tell the superdelegates to do whatever they think is best, and go right ahead and thwart the will of the people.

And, all because those superdelegates are so much smarter than the average voters. Those stupid voters who had no idea what they were doing on voting day.

Jeremy said...

Chet,
The will of the people made Reuben Studdard an American Idol. You can't always trust the will of the people. Just sayin'.

Ann Althouse said...

Chet, that's the point of superdelegates. It's not a pure democracy. It's a party choosing its candidate.