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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Clinton Vs Obama and Popular Vote vs Super Delegate Vote

A quick history and explanation of what a super delegate is.

"Superdelegate" is an term for some of the delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

Unlike most convention delegates, the superdelegates are not selected based on the party primaries and caucuses in each U.S. state. Instead, the superdelegates are seated automatically, based solely on their status as current or former elected officeholders and party officials. They are free to support any candidate for the nomination.

At the 2008 Democratic National Convention the superdelegates will make up approximately one-fifth of the total number of delegates.

The superdelegate rule was instituted after the 1980 election. Its purpose was to accord a greater role to active politicians.

Bottom line here, a super delegate is "check" against the 'we the people" voters. giving the party elites a chance to change the outcome for their party should they not agree with the "peoples"choice", if a race is close.

As this race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama is.

Obama is ahead of Clinton in the delegates issued after his wins in caucuses and primaries, taking a 100 point lead after the latest primaries.

Clinton, according to her campaign, is ahead in promised superdelegates and today we see an article where her communications director, Howard Wolfson, makes it crystal clear that her campaign, nor Hillary herself care, what the "will of Democratic supporters" want, and according to "advisers" of the Clinton campaign "they were prepared to take a number of potentially incendiary steps to build up Mrs. Clinton’s count."

One of those steps would be to push for Michigan and Florida delegates to be seated despite the fact that they were stripped because the two states moved their primaries forward against party rules.

In Michigan, because the party said none of the delegates chosen there would count, Obama removed himself from the ballot and Hillary Clinton did not, making the statement "We're honoring the pledge and we won't campaign or spend money in states that aren't in compliance with the DNC calendar.We don't think it's necessary to remove ourselves from the ballot."

This is objected to by the Barack Obama campaign.

Mr. Obama’s aides reiterated their opposition to allowing Mrs. Clinton to claim a proportional share of the delegates from the voting in those states. The prospect of a fight over seating the Florida and Michigan delegations has already exposed deep divisions within the party.

Julian Bond, the head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, called for the delegates to be seated, saying failure to do so would amount to disenfranchising minority voters in those states. But on Wednesday, such a move was denounced by the Rev. Al Sharpton of New York, who said many people in those states did not go the polls because they assumed their votes would not count.

If Clinton succeeds in her attempt to get the Michigan and Florida delegates seated, despite the rules and the DNC's promise not to seat them, this would take much of Obama's lead away, which would in turn make the superdelegates even more powerful in the Democratic decision on who the presidential nominee will be.

Which brings us right back to Mr. Wolfson's comments, via the Boston Globe where he states "We are interested in acquiring delegates, period."

Mr. Wolfson reiterates that Hillary Clinton will not concede the race if Barack Obama wins a greater number of pledged delegates by the end of the primary season.

He goes on to state that Hillary Clinton will count on the 796 elected officials and party bigwigs to put her over the top, if necessary.

Mark Penn, Clinton’s senior campaign adviser, is already saying the argument to be used to superdelegates is that they should give less deference to a lead from Mr. Obama because much of that had been built up in states where there were caucuses, which tend to attract far fewer voters than primaries, where Mrs. Clinton has tended to do better than she has done in caucuses.

Penn further states "I think for superdelegates, the quality of where the win comes from should matter in terms of making a judgment about who might be the best general election candidate."

MSNBC has an article out today that expands on Mr. Penn's, and the Clinton campaign's thought processes here.

Strategists said in a conference call with reporters the campaign will go after delegates wherever they can be found -- including in Michigan and Florida. They also said Clinton will likely be within 25 delegates of Obama after voting on March 4, including superdelegates, and they dismissed most states which Obama has won.

“Could we possibly have a nominee who hasn't won any of the significant states -- outside of Illinois?” Chief Strategist Mark Penn said. “That raises some serious questions about Sen. Obama.”

Obama's strategy, from the beginning is that no state was too small and all delegates should count, he has stumped in small towns all over America and considered every single vote and each delegate from a state, no matter how small that state was, another delegate added to his total, which is why he has the lead he does over Clinton right now.

What Penn is arguing is that those smaller states and the totality of Obama's delegates shouldn't count if the state is not "big enough" and that the superdelegates shouldn't put credence on the "smaller" states delegates when deciding whether to cast their super delegate vote.

Guy Cecil, a top campaign aide, admitted that Clinton's strategy had been to focus on the "the large states" and at the same time as arguing that the totality of delegates from the smaller states shouldn't count as much as the larger states, they also now say they are going to try to implement the Obama strategy that worked so well for him in the On February 5, 2008 aka Super Tuesday and that "they are “opening offices” and “hiring staff” in Wyoming, Montana and even Puerto Rico to try to get every delegate possible in “congressional districts where we can be successful.”

In the land of politics, that is called hedging your bets.