Archive for January, 2008

Michigan & Florida “delegate” counts

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

According to the Green Papers, Florida’s pledged delegates — if they are seated at the convention — would break down like this: Clinton 108, Obama 77. Clinton also has 5 (hypothetical) superdelegates from Florida; Obama has 2. Eighteen Florida superdelegates have yet to declare an allegiance. (This raises an existential question: if you’re an unpledged, undeclared, unallied "delegate" from a state that has no delegates, aren’t you basically a nonexistent nonentity?) So the total Florida delegate (or rather, "delegate") tally is Clinton 113, Obama 79, undeclared superdelegates 18.

Combine that with Michigan (73 pledged to Hillary, 55 for Uncommitted, 6 superdelegates for Hillary, 1 superdelegate for Obama, 1 superdelegate for Edwards, and 20 undeclared superdelegates), and you’ve got the following combined breakdown of the two disputed delegate slates, including the declared supers: Clinton 192, Obama 79, Edwards 1, Uncommitted 55, undeclared superdelegates 38.

A big question that I don’t know the answer to — but maybe someone out there does — is whether Michigan’s 55 "Uncommitted" delegates will be Obama delegates by any other name. Certainly, most of the voters who cast their ballots for Uncommitted on Yooper Tuesday were Obama supporters, but does that necessarily mean that the Uncommitted delegates will be Obama loyalists? It depends on Michigan’s delegate selection process (i.e., not the process of allocating the numerical delegates, but the process of choosing the individual humans who fill the allocations), and I don’t know how that works.

Assuming for the sake of argument that the Uncommitted delegates favor Obama, and further assuming that Edwards eventually throws his delegates (or rather, in this case, his delegate) to Obama, the breakdown would be Clinton 192, Obama 136, undeclared superdelegates 38. That’s Obama’s best-case scenario, and it’s still a substantial edge for Hillary. Heck, even if every single undeclared superdelegate eventually backs Obama, which seems highly unlikely, we’re still looking at a 20-delegate Clinton edge.

Like I said, if the Democratic nomination comes down to a knock-down, drag-out fight over whether these delegates get seated, it’s going to be a big stinkin’ mess.

P.S. Another important question that I don’t know the answer to, at least not for sure: if the delegates from Michigan and Florida aren’t seated, does that change the total number of delegates needed to win the nomination?

Normally, the Democratic nominee needs 2,208 delegates
(50.01% of the delegate total, 4,415) to win the nomination. With Michigan and Florida excluded, the
total number of delegates needed is reduced to 4,049. Presumably, that
reduces the nomination-winning "magic number" to 50.01% of
4,049, which is 2,025. Or does it? The Green Papers assumes (or perhaps actually knows) that it does, but is this actually a settled issue, I wonder? It can’t have come up too often before!

Suppose the expected breakdown coming into the convention is
something like Clinton 2,100, Obama 1,949. Clinton’s total would be 52%
of 4,409, but only 48% of 4,415. Could Obama try to insist that the
winner needs to get a majority of the pre-sanction delegate total — in other words, that Hillary needs 2,208 delegates after all (the original
"magic number"), which would amount to 54.5% of the delegates actually
seated? It seems like a battle Obama would probably lose in that
scenario, but it’s just another example of how this thing could be a
huge mess.

UPDATE: As noted in the post above, John Edwards has dropped out of the race. Politico‘s Ben Smith writes that Edwards’s departure "makes
a long race, and a brokered convention, far, far less likely. … If
it’s one-on-one, the road to an absolute majority is a lot clearer."

Clearer, yes, but still not totally clear. If the "winner" gets less
than ~65% of the pledged delegates, he or she will be dependent on
superdelegates to secure a majority at the convention. The
superdelegates are notoriously fickle, and will want to "back the
winner." If Hillary beats Obama in the pledged delegate count (or, less
likely, vice versa) by something like 60% to 40%, this won’t be much of
an issue, because the superdelegates will back the presumed winner. But
if it’s 51% to 49%, it will still be a brokered convention, because
it’ll be up to the unpleged superdelegates to decide who wins.

CNN Breaking News

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

Two GOP sources tell CNN that Rudy Giuliani will drop out, endorse Sen. John McCain for GOP presidential bid.

Hillary Clinton doesn’t get it

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

Hillary Clinton, on CNN, just said, “I will do whatever I can, if I’m the nominee, to get the Florida delegates seated.” Wolf Blitzer responded by sensibly noting something that so many in the media seem not to understand: “if this is a very close contest in Denver at the Democratic Convention, a brokered convention, those Florida and Michigan delegates could be decisive.” He then asked Hillary, “Would you go to court to get them seated?”

Hillary’s ridiculous response: “Oh, Wolf, this is all pretty premature. We don’t even know who the nominee’s going to be yet.

Did she honestly not understand the question? Of course we don’t know who the nominee’s going to be yet — and in Blitzer’s scenario, when the time comes to decide whether or not to seat those delegates, we still won’t know! And the very matter at issue — whether the delegates get seated — could itself play a potentially huge role in determining “who the nominee’s going to be”!

Hillary, along with most of the media, has it completely backwards. The prevailing theory — that the nominee presumptive will insist on the delegates being seated — only works if there’s a nominee presumptive. The far more interesting scenario is the one Blitzer astutely raised, and Hillary flatly ignored. And it’s getting to be a very realistic scenario.

It’s going to be a huge stinkin’ mess if that happens.

Obama, Clinton tied in Connecticut

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

So says the latest Rasmussen poll, taken on Sunday — the day after South Carolina, the day before Ted Kennedy. Obama 40%, Clinton 40%, Edwards 11%, Other 3%, Undecided 6%.

This is great news for Obama, as it’s the first empirical evidence that Obama’s recent momentum is actually translating into increased support in a Super Tuesday state. Previous polls, including a Hartford Courant poll 10 days ago, had Clinton leading by double digits.

The big question is whether this will start a trend. RCP’s Latest Polls page will be worth watching in the coming days, to see whether other post-S.C. (and post-Teddy) polls in Super Tuesday states also show Obama gains.

CNN Breaking News

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

CNN is projecting Sen. John McCain as the winner of the GOP primary in Florida.

McCain wins; Rudy to endorse him?

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

With 54 percent of the precincts reporting, McCain leads Romney 36% to 32% in Florida. In comments, Ed writes, “Barone reported that the strongest county (Orange), in theory, for Romney already reported and Romney won it by less than 100 votes.”

Giuliani is a very weak third with 15%, and has apparently come to the end of his road. He will reportedly endorse McCain as early as tomorrow. So much for me winning that dinner bet.

UPDATE, 9:18 PM: The networks are calling it for McCain.

P.S. Watching (and blogging) primary returns is fun. It’s even more fun when you’ve got an adorable baby sleeping on your shoulder throughout. :)

Barock the Vote

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

I went down to the grand opening of Obama’s new Knoxville headquarters after work this afternoon to take some pictures:

And I met Rebecca Loy!

Becky’s namesake seemed very nice. :) I also met Kevin Barry, vice chairman of the Knox County Democratic Party. (He’s the guy in the blue shirt here, here and here.) Kevin walked up to me and asked if I’m Brendan Loy — he’s read my blog before, via InstaPundit. Heh.

Full gallery here.

McCain, Romney very close; Rudy toast

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

The polls are closed in most of Florida. According to NRO and Drudge, the first wave of exit polls shows a razor-close race with McCain barely ahead: McCain 34.3%, Romney 32.6%, Giuliani 15.3%, Huckabee 12%. That’s way too close between John and Mitt to draw any conclusions from the exit poll alone. I think it’s safe to conclude, however, that Rudy is done for. But hey, at least he’s on track to beat Ron Paul this time! :)

Those numbers supposedly (somehow) include early/absentee votes — which reportedly favored Romney, proving once again that every single thing I predict this election season is wrong. :)

P.S. Hey, wait a minute, this has potential! I predict Hillary will win the nomination! Heh. There. You can thank me in your inaugural address, Barack.

Obama to open Knoxville HQ

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

Barack Obama is opening a Knoxville headquarters at 5:00 PM today. It may open with a bang; severe thunderstorms are expected this afternoon.

Up until now, Obama’s only Tennessee HQs were in Nashville and Memphis. Hillary Clinton’s only TN headquarters at the moment is in Nashville. The only candidate to visit East Tennessee so far is John Edwards, who was in Chattanooga yesterday.

Meanwhile, one of Obama’s main organizers in the Knoxville area is named Rebecca Loy. Not my Rebecca Loy (though she likes Obama too), but someone else by the same name. Weird!

Early voting could create a Rudy surprise

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

The polls are open in Florida, where Mitt Romney and John McCain are in a knock-down, drag-out fight for Republican front-runner status. Even Rudy Giuliani says the winner of the Sunshine State’s primary is likely to win the nomination — a statement that has many folks speculating that Rudy will drop out if he loses, which polls suggest is extremely likely; he’s in a battle for a distant third place with Mike Huckabee.

A word of caution about those polls, though. The polls are snapshots; the Florida primary is not. Floridians have actually been voting for weeks already. Absentee voting began in late December, and "early voting" started on January 14. As of last Friday, a whopping 400,000 Republicans had already voted. [UPDATE: Make that 474,000 through Sunday.] To give you an idea of how significant a number that is, a total of 699,500 voters cast ballots in Florida’s 2000 GOP primary. Now, turnout will probably be much higher in 2008, since this year’s primary is much more significant and hotly contested. (The 2000 primary was held a week after Super Tuesday; McCain had already conceded.) But even if the raw turnout total doubles, we’re still talking about something on the order of one-third of the electorate having voted before election day. (Florida has 3.8 million registered Republicans. If 1.4 million of them vote, that’d be a 37% turnout — which would be quite high for a primary.)

Giuliani’s campaign has specifically tried to get their candidate’s supporters in Florida to vote early (though hopefully not often), in hopes of "locking them in" before the inevitable decline in Rudy’s momentum and poll numbers as the early-state results took their toll. As far as I know, the other candidates — who, unlike Giuliani, actually focused their resources on competing in those early states — have not focused on early and absentee voting nearly as much. So if Rudy does much better tonight than the current polls indicate, the reason is probably early voting.

[UPDATE: In comments, Derek suggests that I’m overstating the impact of early voting, as many of the pollsters have taken it into account. I didn’t realize that.]


The state of the baby is strong!

Monday, January 28th, 2008

In honor of President Bush’s final State of the Union address (which is now underway; liveblogging below), Loyette wore a very Republican-looking outfit today:

I’m not sure she likes President Bush, though:

Don’t worry, darlin’, most Americans feel pretty much the same way. :)

P.S. Loyette is four weeks old today!

State of the Union liveblogging

Monday, January 28th, 2008

powered by

source file

UPDATE: Above, you can listen to a live audioblogged clip of President Bush being introduced.

In case you’re wondering, CNN reported that Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne is the odd man out of the State of the Union tonight, preserving the line of succession in case the unthinkable happens.

I wonder if Kempthorne was as momentarily alarmed as I was when the TV signal, on CNN at least, appeared to cut out for a split-second. It came right back on, but my heart skipped a beat there. If somebody blew up the Congress, that’s how it might look on TV, no? Everything’s normal, and then — [no signal].

Anyway… President Bush just said if we don’t pass new trade agreements, it will “embolden the purveyors of false populism in our hemisphere.” You mean like Mike Huckabee and John Edwards? :)

UPDATE 2: Heh. Great minds think alike. Or something.

UPDATE 3: Did I just hear some guy loudly yelling something at the tail end of the round of applause for the success of the surge?

UPDATE 4: Hopefully next year at this time, we’ll have a president who can say “nuclear.”

UPDATE 5: “Our message to the Iranian people is clear: When Iran gets her freedom, boy, you’ll get your motor car!

UPDATE 6:America opposes genocide in Sudan”?!? Well that’s a relief! Here I thought we supported it! Seriously, what kind of weak-ass language is that… ridiculous!

UPDATE 7: A-ha… it sounded dumb because he flubbed the line, plus there was an inappropriate applause break. He was supposed to say, “America is opposing genocide in Sudan and supporting freedom in countries from Cuba and Zimbabwe to Belarus and Burma.”


UPDATE 9: Mark it down: he said “he State of Union will remain strong” … at 10:02 PM. It was the second-to-the-last sentence of the speech.


UPDATE 10: Who are these dorky congresspeople kissing Bush’s ass on his way out? “You make me proud to be an American”? Gag me. Methinks the audio feed is a bad idea for the maintenance of these people‘s dignity…

UPDATE 11: I agree with Fox’s Fred Barnes — the best line of the speech was: “Others have said they would personally be happy to pay higher taxes. I welcome their enthusiasm, and I am pleased to report that the I.R.S. accepts both checks and money orders.” Heh. I laughed out loud.

UPDATE 12: Bush just almost shared a Lieberman-like kiss with Barney Frank! Teehee.

UPDATE 13: Charles Krauthammer is the creepiest-looking person on earth.

UPDATE 14: OMG! Nancy Pelosi was “mouthing”!

Looks more like she was chewing gum or something.

UPDATE 15: Good opening to Sebelius’s speech. All about bipartisanship, etc. Very Obama-esque!

UPDATE 16: Here’s the text:

I’m a Democrat, but tonight, it really doesn’t matter whether you think of yourself as a Democrat…or a Republican…or an Independent. Or…none-of-the-above.

Instead, the fact you’re tuning in this evening tells me each of you is, above all…

…an American, first.

You are mothers, and fathers. Grandparents, and grandchildren. Working people, and business-owners. Americans, all.

And the American people – folks like you, and me – are not nearly as divided as our rancorous politics might suggest.

In fact, right now, tonight, as political pundits discuss the President’s speech – chances are, they’ll obsess over the reactions of Members of Congress.

“How many times was the President interrupted by applause? Did Republicans stand? Did Democrats sit?”

And the rest of us will roll our eyes and think, “What in the world does any of that have to do with me?”

And, so, I want to take a slight detour from tradition on this State of the Union night.

In this time, normally reserved for the partisan response, I hope to offer you something more:

An American Response.

A national call to action on behalf of the struggling families in the heartland, and across this great country. A wakeup call to Washington, on behalf of a new American majority, that time is running out on our opportunities to meet our challenges and solve our problems.

UPDATE 17: A possible reason to vote against McCain: we’d be replacing a guy who pronounces “nuclear” “nukular” with a guy pronounces “Washington” “Warshington.”

Rats deserting the Clintons’ ship

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Once upon a time, Hillary Clinton was the "establishment candidate" in the Democratic presidential race. But Ted Kennedy’s endorsement of Barack Obama today is only the latest crack in that foundation, writes ABC’s The Note:

It’s not just the Kennedys who are falling into line for Obama, as the non-Clinton Democratic establishment…coalesces (along with with scattered red-staters — and Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, D-Kan., is next, after she delivers the Democratic response to the State of the Union) to try to steer a party into a new direction.

Obama spoke both for them and to them, in an interview on ABC’s "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" on Sunday. "There is no doubt that I think that in the ’90s, we got caught up in a slash-and-burn politics that the American people are weary of," Obama said. "And we still see it in Washington today."

It’s been a long time coming, The New Republic’s Noam Scheiber reports in the magazine’s new issue. "For people like [John] Kerry and [Tom] Daschle and especially their former advisers, the Clintons’ continued presence at the center of Democratic politics has sometimes chafed over the last eight years," Scheiber writes.

"It may not be apparent beyond the Beltway, but the Clintons kept their grip on Democratic Washington long after leaving the White House. . . . If you’ve looked for a job in the Democrats’ government-in-exile lately, chances are you’ve hit up a Clintonite."

How did the Clintons burn so much goodwill so quickly? Why is the establishment candidate facing a revolt from inside the establishment?

Start with persistent concerns that Sen. Clinton’s candidacy would guarantee a revival of the pitched partisan battles of the past two decades. Sprinkle in Bill’s performance of the last few weeks, which persisted right up through the primary in South Carolina with his comparison of Obama to Jesse Jackson.

Add to it a broader sense of how Hillary was running her campaign — another factor that hurt her with voters in South Carolina every bit as much as it hurt her with party regulars in Washington, Bloomberg’s Al Hunt writes.

"Hyperbole is a staple of American political campaigns. Senator Hillary Clinton has crossed the line into distortion," writes Hunt (hardly a Clinton basher). "She has flagrantly misrepresented her own and her opponents’ positions or statements. The general tone, more than any specifics, of the Clinton effort contributed to Barack Obama’s stunning 2-to-1 victory over her in the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary this past weekend."

Hunt’s article is worth reading in its own right. It does a good job distinguishing between run-of-the-mill exaggeration, which all candidates are guilty of, and the Clintons’ routine practice of out-and-out lying. He concludes: "Privately, some Clintonites agree that while the campaign is ugly, it’s only a prelude to what Republicans will do in the general election. Perhaps, but Hillary Clinton is paying a price. There is so much to admire in her public life. Her whatever-it-takes campaign is debasing that value."

Meanwhile, echoing my "P.S." below, TNR‘s Michael Crowley writes, "If he wanted to, Al Gore could deliver something close to a death blow right now by endorsing Obama." I don’t know about "death blow," but right now — or, better yet, tomorrow evening, just in time to completely steal the thunder from Hillary’s "win" in the beauty-contest Florida primary whose significance she is now trying to resurrect, in flagrant violation of (at least) the spirit of the party rules that she and everyone else agreed to — would certainly be a great time for him to jump on the bandwagon.

Why Teddy matters

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Mark Halperin explains why Ted Kennedy’s endorsement of Obama is a big deal.

Somewhat less of a big deal, but still interesting and potentially helpful: Kathleen Sebelius will endorse Obama later in the week. Sebelius is the governor of Kansas (a Super Tuesday state) and a rising political star who will be giving tomorrow night’s Democratic response to the State of the Union address. Hmm… Obama-Sebelius ’08? (Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan.)

P.S. As long as we’re talking about Obama endorsements… what about Al Gore?

Disabled satellite tumbles toward Earth

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

Somebody call Bruce Willis:

A 10-ton American spy satellite has lost power and could hit the Earth in the next few weeks, government officials said today.

The satellite, which no longer can be controlled, could contain hazardous materials, and it is unknown where on the planet it might come down, they said. …

[Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said,] “Numerous satellites over the years have come out of orbit and fallen harmlessly. We are looking at potential options to mitigate any possible damage this satellite may cause.”

He would not comment on whether it is possible for the satellite to perhaps be shot down by a missile. He said it would be inappropriate to discuss any specifics at this time.

A senior government official said that lawmakers and other nations are being kept apprised of the situation. …

[John] Pike, director of the defense research group, estimated that the spacecraft weighs about 10 tons and was the size of a small bus.

See also here.