Friday :: May 16, 2008

Vox Populi, Obama Edition

by eriposte

I have to say there is just endless entertainment in the comment sections from a subset of Obama supporters every time I dare mention such Antiquated, Quixotic and Antidemocratic concepts like the Popular Vote. (Eeeeeek - there I go again!) Needless to say, shouldn't any patriotic and democratic American's blood just boil and evaporate when someone mentions Horrible Concepts like the "popular vote" (eek!) during elections?

[Let's add some Dr. Evil Background Music and Flashing Signs:

How low can I go!

How can I "tear Obama down" so!

That should do it].

Now, it's not just trolls - it's also the Obama campaign (more on this in a bit). Never in my dreams did I expect "progressives" would get all upset by mere mentions of the Decidedly Evil popular vote (eek!). All possible explanations for why the popular vote (eek!) is such a Pathetic Measure spew forth predictably from the usual suspects. As a sample, let's use the hilarity from one of my favorite trolls who thinks poorly of the popular vote (eek!) and highly of the pledged delegate count. Since he hits many of the Pleasingly Educated & Highly Brilliant Points in his recent comment, let's start with this one (emphasis mine):

Finally, some states have open primaries. There is no way to exclude Republican and independent voters who either crossed to vote for a candidate or to cause mischief. So eriposte's self-righteousness over the popular vote ignores a lot of sleaziness to come to that self-delusion.

Simply Brilliant (not to mention The Clinton Rules and The Obama Rules wonderfully in play)! Definitely deserving of The Sullivan-Aravosis-Marshall (SAM) Award for Enlightened Punditry! Let's distil the essence of this Great comment that Simply Destroyed my entire post and Exposed my Self-Righteous Self-Delusion about the popular vote (eek!).

The Mischief* allegedly corrupts the popular vote (eek!) in open primaries. However, the allegedly corrupted popular vote (eek!) in districts across each state and in the state overall is the basis for allocating The Highly Uncorrupted and Supremely Reliable pledged delegates from that state.**

I doubt Stephen Colbert could make this up even if he had been paid $1M for it - what say you Stephen? (Now, now, I know that you don't read any of my Evil posts Stephen - good for you! - but I can only Hope, Change and Unify so that My Evilness Will Haunt You Forever). What else can I say? The Bushbots of the Dear Leader era have absolutely stiff competition in my comment threads. I'm a lucky lucky sub-human!

[Adding on cue:

How low can I go!

How can I "tear Obama down" so!

OK, back to the post].

As one might expect, our troll had some of the other usual talking points in his comments. For instance, the popular votes (eek!) in caucuses are evidently Rather Unreliable compared to the pledged delegates from the same caucuses. In other words, the votes cast by the people in the caucuses - which are the basis of the pledged delegates - are evidently unreliable but the delegate counts based on those votes are again, Supremely Reliable and The Only True Measure of the Will of the People. (NOTE: I won't even go into the undemocratic nature of the caucuses and how Sen. Obama enjoyed large wins (% wise) that tilted the caucus popular vote margins in his favor because of the much lower turnouts in some of the caucuses compared to primaries).

What is amazing with all of this nonsense about the Superiority of Delegate Counts over the popular vote (eek!) is that pledged delegates are non-binding according to The Greatest Rules Ever that these people just love to keep citing (just ask the Clinton pledged delegate who recently switched to Sen. Obama). Anyone who bothered to read The Greatest Rules Ever would have known from day one that:

Pledged delegates reflect the preferences of voters but are not actually legally bound to vote for the candidate they represent.

Yay, the Triumph of the Will of the People! (Rinse and Repeat 1000 times - heck, didn't you know Saddam was involved in 9/11?)

Shall I add that superdelegate endorsements are also non-binding (just ask the superdelegate who recently switched from Sen. Obama to Sen. Clinton). Again, anyone who bothered to read The Greatest Rules Ever would have known this from day one.

So, according to The Greatest Rules Ever blessed by the Most Objective Person Alive (Donna Brazile), both pledged and unpledged/super-duper/automatic delegates can switch any time from one candidate to another regardless of how the people in their state or district voted - and Sen. Obama has been the happy beneficiary of these rules of late. You can see how this Clearly and Supremely Reflects the Will of the People (remember, Saddam caused 9/11).

In the meantime, notice the one thing in the whole election that cannot be changed or altered in any way (unless you run a company called Diebold)? The Supremely Undemocratic, Positively Evil Travesty called the Popular Vote* (eek!).

[Not to put too fine a point to it, I should add that the Popular-Vote-is-Bad crowd is sometimes predictably overjoyed when a popular vote (eek!) margin of say 10,000 in a caucus yields as many additional pledged delegates for Sen. Obama as a popular vote (eek!) margin of, say, 100,000 yields for Sen. Clinton in a primary. This of course is a sign that Democracy is Working, that the Will of the People is at work and is a fact worth celebrating.]

Which brings us to what Sen. Obama's campaign manager David Plouffe wrote recently in a memo to superdelegates (emphasis mine):

However, the popular vote is a deeply flawed and illegitimate metric for deciding the nominee - since each campaign based their strategy on the acquisition of delegates. More importantly, the rules of the nomination are predicated on delegates, not popular vote.

Just as the Presidential election in November will be decided by the electoral college, not popular vote, the Democratic nomination is decided by delegates.


Essentially, the popular vote is not much better as a metric than basing the nominee on which candidate raised more money, has more volunteers, contacted more voters, or is taller.

First, it's time to page the Brooks Brothers - I somehow think they would agree that looking at the popular vote is like asking who is taller

Second, Plouffe's memo is hilariously misleading because the way one nominally acquires more pledged delegates than one's opponent is by um, winning the popular vote (eek!) in each election, state-by-state. In general, if you win the popular vote (eek!) in a state (whether it is in a primary or a caucus), your chances of winning more pledged delegates are higher. Now, there are situations where you can lose the popular vote (eek!) in a state and still win more delegates (Will, cough, of the People, cough) - but usually no campaign goes into an election in any state with the objective of losing the popular vote (eek!). They usually try to win or at least reduce the loss margin by bringing out as much of the popular vote (eek!) in their favor as possible in every state. So, David, please spare me the unceremonious b***s***. (I don't golf and I could live happily without astroturf).

Third and fourth, the Presidential election in November is not decided by superdelegates and the Democratic nomination will be decided by superdelegates this year because neither candidate has enough pledged delegates of their own to cross the threshold of 2209.1415926536 (or whatever the number is today). Since neither candidate has enough pledged delegates to win on their own, superdelegates have to exercise independent judgment to figure out which candidate has the best chance of winning in November, mm-kay? In that situation, the superdelegates are entirely entitled to use the popular vote (eek!) - among registered Democrats (if you want to avoid the um, "mischief" factor) or among all voters or both - to decide who would be the better candidate to beat Sen. McCain in November, just as they are entitled to use the pledged delegate count - which in turn is ultimately based on popular votes** (eek!) [and, um, the height of Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton and David Plouffe, and other factors like the size of the shoes worn by Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton].

Finally, no, Saddam was not involved in 9/11.

Ooooh, I almost forgot!

How low can I go!

How can I "tear Obama down" so!

*FOOTNOTE 1: Remember all that Republican "mischief" from Rush Limbaugh after he came out in favor of Sen. Obama last week? That caused so much mischief that Sen. Clinton won by 41% this week - can't you just smell the mischief, folks?! Should we now wait for David Axelrod and John Kerry to emerge again to display their Remarkable Brilliance by reciting The Limbaugh Tall Tales?

**FOOTNOTE 2: Yes, I know counting the popular vote is difficult in one or two cases, but that doesn't mean it is a worse representation of the will of the people than pledged delegate counts that are based on the popular vote counts but often disproportionate to the popular vote (and therefore a distortion of the will of the people who voted) and entirely changeable and as fickle as the delegates themselves.

eriposte :: 6:06 AM :: Comments (84) :: Spotlight :: Digg It!