Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Delegate Notes

The NYT has a short handy article explaining some aspects of the delegates process. If you want to know numbers and what is meant by "super delegates," check it out.

Short version: The Reps will have 2380 delegates, meaning a candidate needs 1191 to win. As of this moment, McCain is about halfway there, with a big lead.

The Dems will have a total of 4049 delegates, meaning Obama a candidate needs 2025 to win. Right now, Clinton is slightly ahead, but not even close to halfway to the magic number.

No two news organizations count the running totals of committed delegates the same way, although there's less variance for the Republican counts.

Dems only: Of their 4049 delegates, 796 are "unpledged" or "super" delegates -- they aren't bound by any state's popular vote and don't have to say how they'll vote until the convention. Super delegates "include all of the members of the Democratic National Committee and elected officials such as members of Congress and governors."

Some states, like Florida and Michigan, have (ostensibly) been penalized by the respective parties for holding their primaries too early. Depending on how this plays out, the delegate counts could change.

Gonna be some serious dealing in the proverbial smoke-filled rooms, I'd imagine. Given the change in social mores, I wonder what they'll use in lieu of tobacco.


Anonymous said...

I'm not an expert or a progressive, but how can we commit delegates and super-delegates when the delegate elections are still weeks away. Delegates are under no obligation to follow the popular vote, and the plans of the supers are unfathomable right now.

bjkeefe said...

I'm no expert, either, but it is my understanding that commitment works in several ways.

In some cases, delegates are formally bound to a particular candidate; i.e., they must vote according to the popular vote.

In others, there isn't a formal requirement, but there is a long-standing tradition. This is reinforced, I would imagine, by the reality that delegates are cogs in a political machine, and are subject to swift replacement upon misbehavior.

Super delegates, I think, just give their word, much in the way many other political deals are made. Here, the loss of position in response to straying is less likely, but the political cost for going back on one's word would be enormous. Or so I speculate.

Anonymous said...

The other problem is what I believe Bob Wright and Mickey Kaus brought up on the latest bhTV. Various news outlets are contacting delegates and supers for quotes and numbers, and getting different results. So, with a Dem race tightly contested, there's different spin about whether Obama or Clinton is winning. If one condones the media benefiting for itself from the election, spinning is inevitable. But, the media outlets are running their own election based on their right to broadcast and attract voters. Tim Russert smacks his lips about "an early Christmas", but when were issues debated last in this election season. Healthcare and Iraq have vanished from view.

bjkeefe said...

Well said. On the other hand, the media is not solely to blame.

First, many media consumers, including me, love the horse-race coverage.

Second, there is only so much to talk about -- while covering the primaries -- concerning policy differences. Obama and Clinton are quite similar on almost everything. Once you note that difference on the mandate in the health care plans and the historical disparity of views of the Iraq invasion, what's left to say?

I think this will change in the general. At least I hope it will. I am especially concerned that Iraq seems to have fallen off the radar for many people. The optimist in me says anyone who's against the war and for a speedy withdrawal has ceased to think there's anything left to say about Iraq; e.g., "Iraq bad. Case closed." These people are going to vote Dem in November no matter what. The pessimist in me says people are obsessing over their short-term financial concerns, and will make bad choices in the primaries because of this.

A pity you and I aren't Supreme Editors for the nation's news, isn't it?