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Clinton and Obama are simply head and shoulders above the rest and the shoot-out will between the pair of them. Edwards is well-respected but gradually losing headway.

I understand how you could get this impression from the US media, but the truth is somewhat more complex.  First, national polls have no meaning, because the first actual election comes in the Iowa Caucuses where the polling is entirely different with Edwards far in the lead, followed by Clinton, with Obama and Richardson (this being something recent) fighting for third place.

The Iowa caucuses are notoriously unpredictable, because in order to get a polling stations votes, you have to reach viability, which means that if you're candidate isn't above a certain threshold, you have to vote in what amounts to a second round.  It's vaguely runoff electionish.  Edwards has a tremendous group of supporters in Iowa that have been in place since 2004, and has consistently led in polls of that state.

Once a candidate wins Iowa, they have on average seen a 14% jump in the polls.  So for example in 2004 John Kerry saw his polling in the next state to vote, New Hampshire, saw his poll numbers rise by almost a third, while the then frontleader in national polls, Howard Dean crashed.  

Iowa is the only state where polls have any real meaning at this point.  Giving the shift in the election calendar pushing many states to Feb 5 or earlier (Iowa will vote in early January.), the results of the Iowa caucuses will be even more important than before.  And national polls will have even less meaning.

The media though, doesn't seem to have gotten that particular memo.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Wed Jun 27th, 2007 at 07:31:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But as all of the state primaries seem to be leap-frogging each other to the earliest possible date right now, it's quite likely that the result in Iowa will have little effect on creating a momentum cos the election will probably be over in a couple of weeks.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jun 28th, 2007 at 08:51:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the primaries should either be all simultaneous, or else run in order of increasing number of electoral votes.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 28th, 2007 at 09:00:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The leap frogging is likely intensify the effect of Iowa.

Because there's such an extended primary season (well over a year in the current election), with the exception of voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, and the perhaps quarter of the population that's deeply involved in politics, no one is paying attention.  

Iowa tends to create a huge bump for the winner in the primaries until what's called super Tuesday, when a large number of large states all vote at once.  So whoever comes out of Iowa with a win has an automatic advantage going into super Tuesday.  

This year, super Tuesday is going to be even more super, as more and more states vote on that day.

Some states, like Florida, have jumped clear past super Tuesday on Feb. 5, to right after New Hampshire.  There have been persistent rumors that Florida well attempt to  vote earlier than New Hampshire.  The DNC, Democratic National Committee, the federal party, has made clear that if Florida does so, it's delegates will be decertified.  Which means that Florida voters will have no say in who the Democratic candidates is.

If Florida jumps, the, New York, California, and Illinois are likely to jump clear past New Hampshire in response.  At that point the DNC has to either tell New Hampshire that they've lost their place in line, or decertify the results of elections in New York, California, and Illinois.

Remember that voting early generates about $250 million in economic stimulus for New Hampshire in hotel and food costs for campaigns and reporters.  This is not something to be sneezed at.

We could very easily arrive at a situation in which almost a third of the elected delegates have been decertified.  Which means that the role of the 800 superdelegates (DNC members, governors, Congress, Senate, etc) will be magnified, because a close election in which the winner of Iowa took early states only to lose later on, leaving them without a majority from delegates allocated by voters.  Sounds like gibberish.  Here's a chart detailing how 2004 DNC delegates were allocated.  

There are roughly 4,300 delegates. If you start yanking the delegates from California (~500) Florida, Illinois, New York (~250 each), that 1,250 delegates gone.  So now you have a base of 3,050 delegates.  Around 2,250 of those are elected in the primary election.  The rest are superdelegates.   The more states that decide they want to leapfrog, the more enhanced the role of superdelegates in the election.

I've got to go know, but I may post a diary on this later.  

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Thu Jun 28th, 2007 at 12:39:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We could very easily arrive at a situation in which almost a third of the elected delegates have been decertified.  Which means that the role of the 800 superdelegates (DNC members, governors, Congress, Senate, etc) will be magnified, because a close election in which the winner of Iowa took early states only to lose later on, leaving them without a majority from delegates allocated by voters.  Sounds like gibberish.  Here's a chart detailing how 2004 DNC delegates were allocated.

At that point the DNC needs to take the calendar away from the states and institute some sort of standard procedure.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 28th, 2007 at 12:45:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They can't.

The US is a federal system.  Primary elections were only instituted in the early 20th century, and are subject to state law.  Different states have different laws, and they always have.

The poor, blacks, and women have all at one time or another been disenfrachised.  Up until the 1840's various states required citizens to hold a certain amount of land property in order to vote.  This led to actual political warfare, that being the kind involving guns and militias, in Rhode Island in 1841 or 1842, called the Dorr Rebellion.  Rhode Island then had a law requiring the ownership of property worth $134 to vote.  By the 1840's this had disenfranchised all but 40% of the white males in the state.  

The story of how the abolition of class limitations on voting changed America is largely unknown, but the story of who women and blacks became able to vote is much better known.

Back to my point.  The DNC can't tell states what to do, they can only threaten to decertify delegates.  And that creates the potential for the final say on the nominee to be determined by superdelegates.  And it also, may force Iowa and New Hampshire to move back their calendars.  So far as I know, there's nothing prohibiting Iowa and New Hampshire from moving back as early as November 9, 2007.

It's a mess, and it's going to be very dependent on Dean as the DNC chair to clean up.  I don't envy his position.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Thu Jun 28th, 2007 at 02:20:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So it is the states and not the parties that organise primaries? Interesting. Does that mean that it is the states that pay for it too?

Is there then any formal reason why only two parties gets primaries organised by the states? Or to put it another way, can other parties get primaries and ge3t the states to pay for it? Has any party tried?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Jun 28th, 2007 at 08:15:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Also, is the the state legislatures as opposed to the parties themselves that decide to shift the calendar?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 29th, 2007 at 05:07:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg
by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Jun 29th, 2007 at 11:23:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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