Tag Archives: Presidential election

Democrats Clinton and Obama Battle to a Draw on Super Tuesday.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama split the spoils of Super Tuesday down the middle. Out of some 11 million votes cast and reported as of 10 PM Pacific Time they were only 5000 votes apart.

In projected delegate count they also split, 451 for Clinton to 438 for Obama. These are not the final counts and are only projected totals for the day. Missouri is still too close to call as is New Mexico.

A good place to go to see the final results are posted at the Seattle Times and the New York Times elections pages.

Clinton has won the states of Arizona, Arkansas, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. These are all primary states.

Obama won primaries in Alabama , Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, and Illinois. He won all of the caucus states – Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota and Utah and is leading in Alaska. This makes sense in that caucuses work well for a candidate with a dedicated, passonate and committed grassroots presence.

The problem remains that a caucus vote, while winning delegates, does not accurately reflect the actual vote total because the Democrats are only reporting delegates selected. This is misleading in determining the actual voting strength of a candidate and also does not reflect the candidates actual appeal among the broader voting population that will be voting in November. The delegate count is more accurately a reflection of grassroots organization strength than it is of voter appeal. And caucus rules vary from state to state.

We have written previously about how reporting delegates selected in a caucus and actual vote counts are different and that we believe the Democrats should report both numbers. The New York Times for example in their reporting of percentage of vote for each state on Feb 5th do not make a distinction in their reporting of caucus delegate votes and primary voter counts.

After I wrote about how the Democrats are not releasing actual voter sign in numbers for caucus attendees but only number of delegates chosen for each candidate I came across an op ed written in Dec 2007 for the New York Times entitled Iowa’s Undemocratic Caucuses.

The piece notes that “Iowa Democrats shun public disclosure of voter preferences at their caucuses — something not generally reported by the press or understood by the public.”

In a separate post I found by The Next Harrah posted on Jan 13, 2008 and entitled “New found Transparency in Iowa [..someday]” there is a link to vote totals after people made their final choice in the caucus. It was posted by the gazetteonline but sometime after the election and not widely known.

As The Next Harrah notes we urge all caucus states to release vote totals for both the initial sign-in and after caucuses make any final vote changes before delegates are selected, so the public can better understand what is happening and how the delegate number is arrived at.

The Democratic Party should select delegates by a transparent process and not keep secret preliminary votes and final votes.

The next states up for a vote are on Saturday Feb 9, 2007 when Louisiana (67 delegates), Nebraska (caucus)(31 delegates), Virgin Islands (9 delegates) and Washington State (caucus) (97 delegates)vote. Maine (34 delegates) holds a caucus on Feb 10, 2008. Obama has an advantage, based on past results, in the three upcoming caucus states.

Inslee, Cantwell and Sims Campaign for Hillary Clinton for President

Senator Maria Cantwell , Congressman Jay Inslee and King County Executive Ron Sims were busy Saturday urging Washington voters to support Senator Hillary Clinton for President in the precinct caucuses next Saturday, February 9, 2008. They spoke to Clinton supporters at a rally at the Machinists Hall in South Seattle after speaking in Tacoma and Everett earlier in the day.

Congressman Inslee has become a major force in Congress for renewable energy pushing the new Apollo Energy Project. Inslee called Senator Clinton a change agent who understood the energy issues and who would provide the leadership to “kick our addiction to Middle East Oil” and move us to a clean energy future and green jobs.

Programs needed include 55 miles per gallon cars by 2030, getting 25% of our energy from renewables, 70% more efficient lighting, and 20 million low income homes weatherized. Clinton stood for action, not talk said Inslee.

Senator Cantwell noted that she came to the US Senate the same year as Clinton did and that in the seven years she has worked with Clinton, Clinton gets things done. She said Clinton as President would be ready from Day 1 to to work for new green jobs and clean energy.

Cantwell say Clinton working across the aisle getting things done, even when the Republicans were in control. One example of this was Clinton working for lifetime health benefits for the National Guard and Reserve.

She saw this same dedication on Clinton’s part with her plan for a clean energy economy creating new jobs. Clinton will be ready from day 1 to change history and to get our country on the right course, economically and internationally.

Ron Sims said he saw Clinton having the intuitive instinct and preparation to make the changes that people in this coutry are ready for. He said we’ve been in the wasteland too long but that Clinton, like FDR and TR, knows how to get things done – that she is the right person with the right intuition at the right time to be elected President.

Cantwell noted that Clinton is leading the fight in the Senate opposing any Bush proposal to lock the US into a long term agreement with Iraq. Clinton said any such proposal is basically a treaty and as such treaties must be approved by the Senate.

Cantwell also mentioned efforts being made in the Senate trying to add green energy proposals now to the stimulus package. Sims noted that China is spending $35 billion a year on new energy production and that if the US could take the lead in developing green energy sources, this could help in bringing money into this country and help reduce our trade deficit.

It’s Clinton Versus Obama as Edwards Exits Presidential Race

Suddenly there were only two. John Edwards is ending his long campaign to be President. This heightens the suspense as Super Tuesday next week becomes a head to head match of Hillary Clinton versus Barack Obama.

Some 40% of the delegates will be decided next week as 20 states hold primaries and caucuses. Some states will be pivotal – like California and New York which have large numbers of delegates at stake.

John Edwards brought a strong voice to his campaign to speak for ending poverty in America and getting public control back from corporate America’s domination of our government under the Bush Republicans.

Edwards called both Obama and Clinton to tell them of his decision and to urge that they include adressing poverty in their campaigns.

Edwards is flying to New Orleans where he will be making a major speech later today. He is not going to endorse another candidate at this point.

Who benefits most by Edwards leaving the race. The Fix notes that polling in Florida leave the issue a tossup:

Exit polling conducted yesterday in Florida suggests that Edwards supporters are equally inclined to back Obama and Clinton. Forty seven percent of Edwards backers in Florida said they would be “satisfied” with Clinton as the nominee
with 13 percent saying they would be “very satisfied”. A similar 47 percent said they would be “satisfied” with Obama as the party’s standard bearer with 19 percent saying they would be “very satisfied”. Those trends were affirmed by exit poll data from South Carolina’s primary on Jan. 26 as more than six in 10 Edwards supporters said they would be satisfied with either Clinton or Obama as the nominee.”

see also Washington Post -“John Edwards to Quit Presidential Race

McCain and Clinton Win Florida Primary

The big loser in the Florida Primary Vote is Rudy Giuliani who is coming in a tepid third place in the Republican Primary. McCain is receiving 36% of the vote to Romney at 31% to Giuliani at 15% and Huckabee at 13%. Florida is a winner take all state for the Republicans and McCain is picking up 57 delegates. This is with 94% of the vote counted.

Because Florida moved it’s Primary early against the Democratic Party rules no delegates are being awarded now although that could change at the convention. Meanwhile, despite the Democratic candidates pledge to not campaign in Florida, their names were still on the ballot and Hillary Clinton is decisively beating Obama and Edwards. She has 49.5% of the votes to Obama’s 32.9% to Edwards 14.4%.

So what does Clinton’s win in Florida mean?

Now the Democratic politically correct thing to say is that Clinton’s win doesn’t count but Obama assumes that at his peril. The media likewise discounts it. While the delegates aren’t there now, Clinton still won the vote and I believe the win is as significant as Obama’s win in South Carolina.

Voters turned out and made a choice. With national media attention and coverage of the campaigns these days, voters were well aware of who they were voting for, whether the candidates physically campaigned in the state or not.

The same goes for the Michigan Primary. Clinton’s name was on the ballot there, while Obama and Edwards were not. The national party withdrew the delegates from Michigan because they went early like Florida did. But voters had a choice and they voted. If they choose Obama or Edwards instead of Clinton, they had to vote uncommitted. Clinton won 55.3% of the Michigan Democratic vote while uncommitted received 40%.

So by my calculation, Clinton has won the vote in four states – New Hampshire, Michigan, Nevada and Florida. Obama has won the vote in Iowa and South Carolina. Collectively Clinton has garnered more votes than Obama in total. A rough estimate is that Clinton has received about 1.54 million votes total to Obama’s 1.25 million votes. This is a ballpark figure only – an estimate based on a couple of extrapolations from delegate counts in Iowa and Nevada and giving Obama 2/3 of the uncommitted vote in Michigan.

All this is to say that its a close race and if votes split similarly on February 5th, and delegates likewise, we’re in for the long haul. Both candidates are running hard and no one has scored a knockout punch yet in the Democrat’s race. February 5th could change all that since Super Tuesday has over 20 states voting and over 40% of the total delegates at stake for both parties.

Kucinich Exits Presidential Race, Makes Urgent Appeal for Funds for Contested March 10th Congessional Primary.

Facing the obvious reality that his long shot Presidential campaign was not going to take off, Democratic Representative Dennis Kucinich has announced that he is ending his bid for the Presidency and focusing on getting re-elected to Congress.

You can view the video here where he announces his plans to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Kucinich frequently was at the top of various Internet polls of Democrats when people selected a Democratic candidate based on their positions on issues. Unfortunately while many Democrats felt he was right on the issues like getting out of Iraq, he lacked the funds and organization to put together a credible national campaign that could compete with Clinton or Obama or even Edwards.

Kucinich received less than 2% of the vote in New Hampshire and lost his main outreach platform when the media started excluding him from the debates. He was excluded from the televised debates in New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. He was also excluded from an upcoming debate in California.

Kucinich was a former mayor of Cleveland, Ohio and is a 6 term Congressman in Ohio’s 10th Congressional District. The New York Times says that he is facing “a tough primary fight“. The Democratic Primary for Ohio’s 10th Congressional District is fast approaching on March 10, 2008. Kucinich is facing 4 Democratic challengers.

Running for President has left him open to charges of being a part time Congressman. You can read more about his re-election campaign here on the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Election Blog “Openers“.

Kucinich’s re-election website has video and an appeal for funds to help his Congressional re-election campaign. Please consider helping as it would be a shame to lose his voice in Congress.

Only 4.67% of Iowa’s Registered Voters Supported Barrack Obama

Yes the headline is correct. And only 3.69% of Iowa’s registered voters turned out for John Edwards and only 3.66% for Hillary Clinton. The Iowa caucus system is a crazy system for picking a new President. As the New York Times notes today in an editorial entitled “Let it Start Now“; now is a good time to look forward and work for a better process next time.

The Iowa Secretary of State’s website listed some 1,922,235 active registered voters as of 1/3/2008. This number was the total based on figures for each Congressional District.

The Iowa Caucus results as released by the Iowa State Democratic Party are not actual vote totals or a tally of votes cast for specific candidates. According to the Washington Post Instead of reporting the actual number of caucus voters, the Iowa Democratic Party releases an estimated number of delegates to the state party convention that each candidate will receive based on their proportional support in the caucuses

Accordingly the Iowa State Democratic Party reported that Barrack Obama received 37.57% of the delegates, John Edwards 29.75% and Hillary Clinton 29.47%. These are the adjusted figures after delegates realigned their votes if their candidate did not meet a minimum 15% threshold figure to qualify for a delegate.

According to the Iowa State Democratic Party some 239,000 voters participated in the Democratic caucuses and some 115,000 voters participated in the Republican caucus.

So overall some 363,000 of Iowa’s 1,922,235 active registered voters participated in the caucuses. This is equal to 18.9% of all the registered voters.

Iowa does register people by party. From the Secretary of State figures there were 575,949 registered Republicans, 605,052 registered Democrats and 741,231 registered Independents.

The result is that some 39.5% of registered Democrats and 20% of registered Republicans participated in the caucuses. Overall participation was significantly higher than in previous caucuses.

Iowa does allow same day party registration so people could register at the caucuses on Jan 3rd. This law actually just went into effect on Jan 1, 2008. I do not know how many actually took advantage of this, but news reports attributed an active effort by some of the candidates to draw new voters into the caucuses process. Barrack Obama made a strong effort to appeal to independents to participate in the Democratic caucus and was successful.

Even so the results when viewed in the context of overall voter participation of 363,000 caucuses attendees out of 1,922,235 active registered voters gives a participation rate of only 18.9%.

And the initial figures I gave above showed that only about 4.67% of Iowa voters wound up supporting Barrack Obama. (239,000 x 37.58% / 1,922,235 = 89,818 voters for Obama/1,922,235 total voters = 4.67% of total voters supporting Obama in the Iowa caucuses.)

The same calculation for Edwards showed him receiving the support of about 3.69% of Iowa voters and Clinton receiving support from about 3.66% of Iowa voters.

Obama won Iowa by the rules in play and is to be congratulated as are Edwards and Clinton for their strong showing.

The point I want to make is that even so, the caucuses are a limiting process in selecting candidates. The numbers support this in that participation levels are much lower than with Presidential Primaries and there is no absentee ballot voting for those that can’t attend because they have to work or are disabled or are in the military or are out of state for work or vacation or school. Caucus rules for Iowa only allowed you to vote if you were physically present.

The race for President is far from over. Iowa’s process and voter makeup is far from ideal in gaging how a candidate will fare in the national November 2008 election. The way the selection process is this year, Feb 5th will be the biggest test facing the viability of the candidates remaining at that time. Over 20 states, including New York, California, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Illinois and New Jersey will vote that day.

Between now and Feb 5, 2008, voters in New Hampshire, Michigan, Nevada, South Carolina and Florida will vote. You can track the list of state, dates and results at the New York Times Election Guide page.

Obama Still Top Fundraiser Despite Clinton’s Latest Efforts

To date Barack Obama has raised some $75 million in his quest for the Presidency. Hillary Clinton has raised $63 million – some $12 million less.

Much hoopla is being raised about the fact that Clinton raised some $3 million more in the third quarter numbers through September 30th than Obama did. The New York Times claims in its headline that “Clinton Steals Obama’s Fund Raising Thunder” But one can look at these numbers in different ways. Hillary’s figure go from $20 million to $22 million to $23 million for the three quarters of this year. Pretty consistent numbers.

Barack’s number go from $25 million to $31 million to $19 million. In my mind $19 million is pretty close to $22 million. A shift in momentum -maybe but he is keeping pace with Hillary despite lower third quarter numbers and is still the overall leader in fundraising. In addition he has some 140,000 more new donors than Hillary does.

In reality both candidates are to be commended for their strong campaigns, reaching out to new donors and continuing to show fundraising strength. Individual donors are limited to $2100 for the primary election. An additional $2100 individual contribution can be made for the general election. Both Obama and Clinton have raised additional cash (beyond the figures reported above for the primary) which can only be used for the general election. Whoever loses will have to return these funds to the donors.

When all is said and done, summer is a hard time for any candidate to raise money. The remaining quarter before the caucuses and primaries start in January will be a real measure of whether a significant change has taken place. Once the primaries and caucuses start all bets are off as voting results will skew fundraising momentum day to day.

CNN politics reports that John Edwards came in third in fundraising with $7 million raised for the third quarter. Bill Richardson reports that he raised $5.2 million.

Official 3Q fundraising reports for all candidates are due on October 15th and are filed with the Federal Elections Commission.

In truth the public deserves better reporting than the current system requires. All candidates should be required to file monthly reports rather than quarterly reports. Washington State has had monthly reporting for a number of years, with reports due by the 10th of each month. See Washington State Public Disclosure Commission.

Monthly reporting would give the public quicker access to campaign finance records and more accountability on who’s supporting campaigns.

Can Democrats Win the White House without Washington and Oregon?

Republicans, in fear of being sucked under by the anti-Bush whirlpool, are looking desperately for ways to win the White House in 2008.

Republicans in California think the answer is to change the rules for next year’s Presidential election. Their strategy is to change California’s statewide winner take all primary with its 55 electoral votes to one allocating the votes based on who wins individual Congressional District votes.

Except for Maine (4 electoral votes) and Nebraska (5 electoral votes) states currently allocate their electoral college votes by a winner take all process statewide. Each state is allocated 2 votes for their 2 Senators and 1 vote for each Representative.

Currently 19 of California’s Congressional Districts are held by Republicans. In 2004 John Kerry won the statewide vote over Bush by 54% to 44%. However Bush won majorities in 22 of California’s 53 Congressional Districts.

Changing how California allocates its electoral votes would be the equivalent to transferring the combined vote of Washington (11 electoral votes)and Oregon (7 electoral votes) to the Republican column. Remember Ohio’s 20 electoral votes – we’re talking about a sizable impact if the Republicans proposed change in California is successful.

According to the LA Times a California Republican group is pushing the “Presidential Election Reform Act Initiative” for the June 2008 California Primary ballot. If passed by voters it would change significantly change the 2008 Presidential election.

“We’ve hit the mother lode of political interest,” said Republican consultant Kevin Eckery, part of the group pushing the Presidential Election Reform Act Initiative.

The measure was written by attorney Thomas Hiltachk, whose Sacramento firm represents the California Republican Party. Also backing the initiative is campaign strategist Marty Wilson, a fundraiser last year for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and now for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Neither Schwarzenegger nor any of the presidential candidates has signed on to the effort. Nor is there confirmed financial backing; Eckery said the fundraising to begin this week is aimed at getting $300,000 to $500,000 for polling and other preliminary work before signature-gathering. Collecting the necessary 434,000 signatures could cost $2 million.

Proponents are optimistic that backers of the presidential candidates will ante up. Though there are federal limits to donations to candidates, California law places no bar on the amount donors can spend on initiatives.

Can California do this? Yes they can. Each individual state and not the Federal Constitution determines how electoral votes are determined. Hiltachk has filed the text of the Presidential Election Reform Initiative with the California Secretary of State on July 17, 2007. He has paid his $200 filing fee and is awaiting the assignment of a ballot tile and summary. He filed in the name of “Californians for Equal Representation” based in Sacramento, California.

Of course no similar effort is slated for decidedly Republican states like Texas which has 34 electoral votes. Altering the rules in specific Democratic states like California to benefit Republican Presidential ambitions is totally in character for Republicans and is a serious threat to Democrats in 2008.

You only need to look at two recent instances where Republicans used the legislative and electoral process to change rules and commonly accepted legal procedures to benefit Republicans. One was the Republican recall campaign of Democratic Governor Gray Davis in 2003 which resulted in Davis’s recall and the election of Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger as Governor.

The New Yorker in an article entitled Votescam by Hendrick Hertzberg in fact reports that California Republican Hiltachk was involved in the recall effort that put Schwarzenegger into office and that he is “Governor Schwarzenegger’s personal lawyer for election matters.”

The other was the effort by Texas Republicans with the aid of Congressman Tom DeLay to redraw the Congressional District boundaries in Texas to gain Republican seats in Congress

Texas Republicans and Delay did their controversial redistricting action after they won control of the Texas Legislature in 2002. In 2004 the Congressional District numbers shifted dramatically. A 17/15 Democrat advantage changed to a 21/11 Republican advantage. In 2006 the Republicans still had a 19/13 advantage.

Distributing electoral votes to winners of Congressional Districts rather than winner take all state votes would seem at first look to be fair if every state had the same rules. But that would clearly not be the case if California alone shifted the way it proportions its electoral votes. The end result would be to shift electoral votes to the Republicans at the expense of the Democrats. Its like spotting the Republicans some 20 electoral votes before the counting even starts.

Would the proposal solve the problem of states clearly being Republican or Democratic and being ignored by the candidates because the outcome is not really in doubt? Actually it would probably make it even worse. You just need to look at the last Congressional campaign in 2006. National attention and money was focused into only 30 -40 battleground Congressional districts.

Would candidates really campaign all over Ohio for example? No – they would concentrate their resources in the much smaller geographical areas of contested battleground Congressional Districts up for grabs in Ohio. They would not be very smart if they spent their time in Congressional Districts that are clearly Republican or Democratic and unlikely to change.

Here in Washington State the biggest spending Congressional race was between Darcy Burner and Dave Reichert in the 8th C.D. Not much attention was paid to Congressman Jim McDermott’s race in Seattle. If electoral votes were allocated by Congressional District, Presidential candidates would go to Bellevue, not Seattle or Everett or Yakima.

Another alternative being considered by some states is a movement to elect the President by popular vote. Such a bill was before the Washington State Legislature this last session. As proposed the legislation would not go into effect until states with a majority of electoral votes (270) passes the legislation. Maryland is the first state to pass such legislation.

See also:
Newsweek “A Red Play for the Golden State”
Sacramento Bee “Electoral System Initiative worries Dems”