According to Bill Clinton, it is a matter of respect or better yet, disrespect as he so succinctly puts it, he has "never seen a candidate treated so disrespectfully just for running", and "she will win the general election if you nominate her. They're just trying to make sure you don't."
Issues of Florida and Michigan, popular vote totals, delegates, superdelegates and now Bill Clinton speaks about electoral votes and how Hillary is far ahead of Obama in electoral votes but if the tables were turned it wouldn't be a "little secret".
It is almost impossible to know where to start here while trying to make sense of this years campaign season, but I will attempt to list it all in a comprehensive manner.
BILL CLINTON'S ARGUMENT.
Speaking to approximately 200 people in South Dakota, Bill Clinton asserts that his wife has been treated disrespectfully during this campaign and that everyone has been in a rush to "push her out" as well as saying that people have been trying to bully the superdelegates into casting their votes before all of the primaries have been held.
Clinton's statement is:
"I cant believe it. It is just frantic the way they are trying to push and pressure and bully all these superdelegates to come out. 'Oh, this is so terrible: The people they want her. Oh, this is so terrible: She is winning the general election, and he is not. Oh my goodness, we have to cover this up.'"
His next argument includes Michigan and Florida and the popular vote which by some accounts, if Florida and Michigan counted, Hillary Clinton would, indeed, be ahead of Barack Obama in the popular vote totals.
"If you vote for her and she does well in Montana and she does well in Puerto Rico, when this is over she will be ahead in the popular vote," Clinton said. "And they're trying to get her to cry uncle before the Democratic Party has to decide what to do in Florida and Michigan because they are claiming that it only takes 2029 votes on the first ballot to win, and it takes a lot more than that if you put Florida and Michigan back in.
Then Bill Clinton makes the statement, "She is winning the general election today and he is not, according to all the evidence."
What he is talking about, as well as the popular vote if Michigan and Florida were counted, is the electoral college vote, which I will explain below as we go through the chaotic mess that is the United States Campaign season of 2008.
"If you notice, there hasn't been a lot of publicity on these polls I just told you about," Clinton said. "It is the first time you've heard it? Why do you think that is? Why do you think? Don't you think if the polls were the reverse and he was winning the electoral college against Sen. McCain and Hillary was losing it, it would be blasted on every television station? You would know it wouldn't you? It wouldn't be a little secret. And there is another Electoral College poll that I saw yesterday had her over 300 electoral votes, yeah. She will win the general election is you nominate her. They're just trying to make sure you don't."
Looking into what Clinton was asserting, I found that by Real Clear Politics popular vote totals, Barack Obama is ahead until Michigan and Florida is added into the mix, then Hillary Clinton is ahead.
Point for Bill Clinton there.
MICHIGAN AND FLORIDA.
Michigan and Florida both moved their primaries forward and according to the Democratic National Committee Rules on Selection of Delegates, that was against the rules and by moving those primaries forward, the two states, Michigan and Florida would suffer a penalty.
When Michigan and Florida first made the decision, the penalty, as stated in the DNC Rules on Selection of Delegates (On page #24 of the PDF file linked), Rule 20(c)(1), headed Violation of Timing- both states would suffer the loss of 50 percent of their pledged delegates.
The exact wording:
Violation of timing: In the event the Delegate Selection Plan of a state party provides or permits a meeting, caucus, convention or primary which constitutes the first determining stage in the presidential nominating process to be held prior to or after the dates for the state as provided in Rule 11 of these rules, or in the event a state holds such a meeting, caucus, convention or primary prior to or after such dates, the number of pledged delegates elected in each category allocated to the state pursuant to the Call for the National Convention shall be reduced by fifty (50%) percent, and the number of alternates shall also be reduced by fifty (50%) percent. In addition, none of the members of the Democratic National Committee and no other unpledged delegate allocated pursuant to Rule 8.A. from that state shall be permitted to vote as members of the state’s delegation. In determining the actual number of delegates or alternates by which the state’s delegation is to be reduced, any fraction below .5 shall be rounded down to the nearest whole number, and any fraction of .5 or greater shall be rounded up to the next nearest whole number.
Relevant portion of the rule in bold.
Prepared to accept that penalty Florida and Michigan moved the primaries forward.
Howard Dean, the chairman of the DNC, and the Rules and Bylaws committee, voted last August to change that penalty in Florida by stripping all the delegates and then in December of 2007, did the same thing to Michigan.
Which brings us to where we are today, as of now, no delegates will be seated from Florida and Michigan and Florida lawmakers have filed a suit against the DNC claiming that the DNC is in violation of the Voting Rights Act which prohibits any national party from stripping a state's delegates and the rules and bylaws committee is due to meet on May 31, 2008 to try to figure out what to do about the two state's delegates.
Barack Obama took his name off of the Michigan ballot but remained on the Florida ballot and Hillary Clinton won both of those states.
Delegates from the major political parties are involved in the selection of candidates for President of the United States by such assemblies as a convention. Some of the officials involved in the process are called superdelegates.
Delegate is the title of a person elected to the United States House of Representatives to serve the interests of an organized United States territory, at present only overseas or the District of Columbia, but historically in most cases in a portion of North America as precursor to one or more of the present states of the union. Delegates have powers similar to that of Representatives, including the right to vote in committee, but have no right to take part in the floor votes in which the full house actually decides whether the proposal is carried. (Reference)
"Superdelegate" is an informal term commonly used for some of the delegates to the Democratic National Convention, the presidential nominating convention of the United States Democratic Party.
Unlike most convention delegates, the superdelegates are not selected based on the party primaries and caucuses in each U.S. state, in which voters choose among candidates for the party's presidential nomination. Instead, most of the superdelegates are seated automatically, based solely on their status as current or former party leaders and elected officials (Reference)
According to the Real Clear Politics Democratic delegate count, Barack Obama has 1658 pledged delegates and Hillary Clinton has 1500.
The same page shows that Obama holds 312 superdelegates and Clinton holds 280.
(Note: Different organizations differ slightly on the exact delegate and superdelegate count but all of them show that Obama is in the lead in both delegates and superdelegates.)
Still with me? I hope so because here comes the confusing part of American politics.
ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTE.
The Electoral College is the body of representatives which formally elects the President and Vice President of the United States.
Currently, the Electoral College is composed of 538 electors, 435 Representatives and 100 Senators plus three Electors from the District of Columbia.
The winning candidate needs 270 electoral votes to be able to win the election for presidency of the United States of America.
Hillary Clinton claims that, "The states that I’ve won total 300 electoral votes. The question is who can win 270 electoral votes? My opponent has won states totaling 217 electoral votes.”
(Video of her saying that is here)
Political junkies will remember that in the year 2000, Al Gore was up against George Bush for the presidency and Gore was ahead of Bush in the popular vote and after the chaotic recounts in Florida as well as the courts entering into it, when the ruling came down, Florida's 25 electoral votes gave George Bush the presidency.
Electoral votes are important and without 270, no one can be elected president.
Which makes both of the Clinton's arguments about electoral votes as well as popular votes, something people do not want to hear, but despite that, their point is valid.
THE REAL KICKER.
If that isn't enough for readers though, let me point out one other thing I ran across in my research for this article.
Both Clinton's are arguing that Barack Obama does not have the electoral votes (from the states he beat Hillary in for the primaries) to beat John McCain in November's general election and both Clinton's are touting that as a reason that she should not be discounted and why superdelegates should think hard and long about assuring Obama the Democratic nomination for presidency, yet in the year 2000, while the fight was still going on to see if Bush or Gore would take those last 25 electoral votes to win the presidency, Hillary Clinton was calling for the elimination of electoral votes.
Kind of ironic that the argument she is making now about how the electoral votes are so important (and she isn't wrong) is dependent on a process that she once vowed to try to eliminate.
Isn't that a kick in the mouth?
[Update] GOP strategists have also been quoting the electoral map to show that there is a good chance that in the general election, where electoral votes are what elects a president, John McCain has a very good chance of winning, and even some Democratic strategists "acknowledge that the Republican scenarios are at least reasonable" in regards to the electoral numbers.
Democratic pollster Paul Maslin states, "We have to hold Michigan and Pennsylvania. McCain wins one of those states, we are in trouble. They have to hold Florida and Ohio or they are trouble. The truth about this race [is], this is the year that we shouldn’t lose, and we could lose.”
Bottom line here is that Obama is so far ahead in the Demcratic contest against Hillary Clinton that he is almost assured the nomination.
Yet the Clinton's have a good point that by nominating Obama, the Democrats might just be handing the November election to John McCain.
Time will tell.