Blogs > Cliopatria > Who leads in the pop vote category?

Apr 25, 2008 12:00 am

Who leads in the pop vote category?

The following money quote from Michael Barone's US News column helps clarify the answer to this question.

Clinton now leads in the popular vote, if you include the Florida and Michigan results, by 121,943 votes. And even if you include the imputed totals for the Iowa, Nevada, Washington, and Maine caucuses, she's ahead by 11,721 votes. It seems to me that this provides the Clinton campaign with an important talking point, though one they're probably reluctant to use over the next two weeks. Reluctant, because the likely Obama victory in North Carolina could erase this popular-vote lead, and) an offsetting Clinton margin in Indiana seems unlikely (or at least risky to project from current polling). But looking ahead from May 6, Clinton is likely to regain that popular-vote lead (including Florida and Michigan) and quite possibly could gain a popular-vote lead counting just Florida and not the more problematic (because Obama was not on the ballot there) Michigan. She'll get big margins in West Virginia on May 13 and Kentucky on May 20, and it's not clear Obama will get a big margin in Oregon on May 20; Obama won the nonbinding February 19 primary in Washington only narrowly. If Clinton wins big in Puerto Rico on June 1, as the one poll I've seen there suggests, that will far outshadow in popular votes any Obama margins in South Dakota and Montana on June 3.

The Obama campaign has had much success selling the press and some superdelegates on the notion that the candidate who wins the most pledged delegates has some moral entitlement to superdelegates' votes. The idea is that the unelected superdelegates should not overturn the verdict of the elected pledged delegates. But I think there are serious arguments against as well as for this proposition. The superdelegates themselves were elected, and to positions that everyone knew carried an entitlement to be a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. A minority of them are elected public officials; most are state party chairmen and members of the Democratic National Committee. You can argue that the party officials were chosen by only a relatively few party insiders, but that's arguably true of pledged delegates selected in caucuses as well. In both cases, everyone knew or could have known the rules, and those who chose to participate had influence over the outcome, while those who didn't, didn't.

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Jonathan Dresner - 4/25/2008

Maybe, Rick, though it doesn't sound all that new to me. It's pretty much the same balance we've had for a few months with "electability": the reason nobody won that is that the numbers are too balanced and there are no sure things in politics, so nobody had any reason to give up their-candidate-favoring arguments.

Barone's right about one thing, though: the superdelegates are doing a lousy job of explaining their decisions, and they are clearly looking for ways to rationalize them as involuntary responsibilities.

Ralph E. Luker - 4/25/2008

Well, no, Rick. How can you justify counting the Michigan totals, when a) Obama followed the party protocols and b) thus, removed his name from the ballot in Michigan? Since there was *no* opportunity to vote for Obama (or Edwards, since he also followed the protocols) in Michigan, you and Hillary are counting votes that the leadership of the Democratic Party does not count.

Rick Shenkman - 4/24/2008

Barone's point is that both sides can make a plausible argument that is 1. consistent with the rules of the game and 2. appeals to an abstract standard of justice. I think his piece captures well the nuances of the debate better than anything else I've read.

Jonathan Dresner - 4/24/2008

I don't think Barone's numbers are definitive.

Here's the comprehensive total which they use in the video.

It's still a draw. There's no great legitimacy in a hair-splitting win.

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