Happy Super Tuesday!

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february 5 the washington note.jpgTruth be told. . .I hate the whole concept of Super Tuesday. I feel that it’s adding on to a number of incremental shifts that are undermining our democracy.
Americans should have a chance to think about a candidate and tilt one direction and then redo it if they change their minds or learn more about a candidate that would alter their support — which is why we have preferred historically such a long primary season.
But, as far as today goes — I think that there is no choice but to enjoy the ride and VOTE. I don’t get to. I live in DC — and even then, I don’t get to vote as I’m a registered Independent.
So, I’m both envious and happy for those of you participating.
Happy Super Tuesday, he grumbles. . .
— Steve Clemons

Comments

20 comments on “Happy Super Tuesday!

  1. Ajaz says:

    Obama v Clinton
    This is a crucial day for the Democrats. Either Obama or Clinton could establish a narrow lead in the number of delegates thus establishing a slight advantage in the remaining states.
    Obama has really caught up since the South Carolina primary. No doubt endorsements from Ted Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy and Maria Shriver have helped tremendously. If Obama could have pulled off endorsements from Al Gore and John Edwards this week that would have been a tremendous advantage. John Edwards, no doubt has an important role to play in a Democratic Administration and so have many other Democrats. For instance Joe Biden will make an excellent Secretary of State, Bill Richardson Secretary of Energy and so on.
    Obama has energized the voters like no one ever before, a 20 point Clinton lead in California has been turned to zero. I wish he had paid more attention to New York. It is also nice to see that Bill Clinton is making nice again, being nasty does not suit him at all. If Obama wins nomination and Presidency, wouldn’t it be monumental if on Day One, he appoints Bill Clinton as the Middle East peace envoy to settle Palestinian/Israeli dispute once and for all. Every other President has left this to their last year in office. Achieving Middle East peace during first year in office will give Obama tremendous credibility as a world leader.
    The Democrats must keep the momentum going in order to ensure success in November. These are exciting times.

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  2. Linda says:

    Carroll,
    I’m hoping for something even more from him that is just a guess and a hope–surely not anything that Obama or anyone would say as a campaign message. Well, perhaps Kuchinich might as he was the second plaintiff in this case:
    http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/ratner.htm
    Do read the entire list of plaintiffs, all then member of Congress closely. This lawsuit, Campbell v. Clinton, was dismissed and was about Clinton’s exceeding his powers by not asking Congress to approve military action in Kosovo. Tom Campbell, a moderate Republican no longer in Congress, was taught Constitutional law at Harvard by Laurence Tribe (as was Obama), was on the Harvard Law Review (but not editor as Obama was years later), and clerked for Whizzer White.
    Bob Barr was about as far right as any member of Congress, and is no longer in Congress, but Steve has posted some of his op-eds because Barr often now writes about protecting our rights and how this Administration has abused its power.
    I turn 69 years old later this week, and we’ve had a lot of war and military actions in my lifetime, but the only one declared by Congress was in 1941. That was a clear emergency and need to take military action. And even without jet air travel, Congress could convene and act quickly. Our military at Pearl Harbor didn’t need the President or anyone’s approval to try to defend themselves when surprise attacked.
    Congress should be consulted and not lied to and asked more questions for every other time we’ve gone to war. I really don’t understand the War Powers Act, but the Gulf of Tonkin and surely the build-up to Iraq were phony. And some historians think the same for Korean War.
    I’m pretty sure that Obama would change the national defense guidance policy back away from the preemptive war one written by Wolfowitz and Khalizad. And I hope he examines this whole interface between Executive and Legislative branches on military action, opens it up for public debate, and makes some positive changes.
    I have the audacity to hope he might do that. I don’t think Hillary would because Bill didn’t ask Congress about Kosovo. And I happened to agree that we should have intervened there and in Rwanda when he didn’t. And I think the checks and balances between the Executive and Legislative Branches should be respected by the President for all such actions.

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  3. rich says:

    Dan,
    I’m pretty clear. The current arrangement is hardly democratic enough. And it was not designed to ‘improve’ the ‘democratic-ness’ of the system.
    Don’t know how that was lost on ya.
    The logical conclusion to this mode of ‘thinkin” would have had us all waking up to headlines blaring that Obama had won Super Tuesday with 75% of the vote. No, I don’t jest.
    http://tinyurl.com/24rjmy
    Obama the Choice of Democrats Indonesia
    Isn’t that the next step? Declaring Obama the winner because at ten minutes past midnight, we ‘know’ 75% of expatriate Dems went for the Senator from Illinois with 11 years of experience?
    The same type of rationale used to justify gaming the system by changing primary dates would call the general election when polls in California have barely opened–let alone closed. It’s reasonable to think ‘declaring a winner’ will suppress turnout.
    There are lots of ways to improve elections. Super Tuesday and gaming the primary schedule aren’t legitimate means to make the process more democratic.

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  4. Dan Kervick says:

    Rich, I can’t really understand your criticisms because I don’t understand what alternative or alternatives you are proposing to take the place of the current arrangement. And I can’t figure out if you are complaining that the current arrangement is too democratic or not democratic enough.

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  5. Carroll says:

    I hate our elections system. We shouldn’t have primaries or party nominations.
    We should have public financing and let any one who wants to run for president run right up to the general election where people can vote for whoever.
    But that’s too democratic.
    As a note, I heard Obama last night and felt better about his Hope deal because he did say and elaborate on not expecting Hope to make the lions lay down with the lambs without some severe whipping applied to the lions.
    It may be that Obama has some “street smarts” to cope with the political tricks of the biz as usual crowd. I sure as hell hope so.
    Anyway if he gets nomination I now see a flicker of hope he would use his sharp witty sword to hack the war,war, war battery powered robot McCain to shreds instead of visa versa.

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  6. rich says:

    Hi Dan,
    I can’t do justice to your long post until tonight. However, you write:
    “The current arrangement is a response to long-running complaints about the outsized importance of Iowa and my own state of New Hampshire . . ”
    I disagree that such complaints have any validity whatsoever, conflating as they do being first in sequence with undue influence. Replacing Iowa or NH with some other state merely repeats the problem, and both states have superior judgment to coastal states, Florida, or Texas (& yeah, I do geography).
    The mismatch between scheduled primaries and this supposedly overlong media coverage isn’t the fault of voters. It’s not a burden to ask that public debate occur, and campaigning occur, concurrent with and focused on their state.
    Super Tuesday increased the role of obscenely large wads of cash and pre-existing organizations. THIS setup winnowed the fields in both parties down to, realistically, two candidates. After ONE primary and ONE caucus. Huckabee and Edwards hung on for a few more states. That’s just an egregiously poor setup.
    No one is looking for a “NH-style” primary: wouldn’t want it.
    “Now a bunch of states are participating in a very important electoral event, and their citizens have an importance in the nominating process that they haven’t had in years .. ”
    That’s nonsense. They were “participating in a very important electoral event” all along. And their eagerness to butt ahead in line or bunch up in an influence grab always–always–must come at the expense of other states. If voters are really being shortchanged, overhaul the undemocratic aspects of the system, which are endemic: ensure delegates are distributed proportionally to actual voting results. That way frontrunners must deal in good faith with other contenders, barring an outright win.
    “Who would ever have thought by this date Democratic candidates would be actively campaigning in places like Idaho and Delaware, and drawing huge crowds?”
    I would.
    There’s more to be gained than mere delegates. I wouldn’t be averse to pairing Delaware with Maryland or Idaho with Montana. But no further. Is it Super to bunch states together to create undue influence and amass greater power and attention? Or just stupid? Doesn’t seem like there’s a sound argument for saying it’s a positive or constructive step.
    You never know who’s gonna be in it when the race goes down to the wire, and when/if that happens, Idaho’s and Delaware’s votes (delegates) can swing things just as easily as any other state. NH or Iowa could cry the same tears at the convention. Wah! We’ve only got a few delegates! We’re only one of 50 states! Nature of the beast. But it doesn’t mean anybody has more influence. If more people voted their conscience and the system were designed to be competitive throughout, there wouldn’t be a problem. But fix THAT, rather than blatantly distort the process. Or attempt to justify that distortion with bad arguments.

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  7. Mr.Murder says:

    *repus Tuesday*
    The reverse of “super,” being the operative word.

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  8. BSR says:

    We should have about 6 regional primaries in different parts of the country, spaced a few weeks apart (SE, NE, Midwest, etc…) This would allow the candidates to concentrate on one area of the country at a time. IA and NH would not receive the crazy amount of attention they currently get, and states that are hardly visited now might see some more campaigning.
    If you leave CA to the final group, odds are better there will still be a real contest down to the last primary (at least there would be in this election cycle).
    Primaries should be on Saturdays. All parties should have their elections on the same day in each state that is up for that region’s day.

    Reply

  9. Dan Kervick says:

    Hi Rich,
    The current arrangement is a response to long-running complaints about the outsized importance of Iowa and my own state of New Hampshire, and I think things have worked out extremely well for people who had those concerns.
    We had four single state primaries or caucuses in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and and South Carolina. These states represent four different regions of the country, and are small enough for the door-to-door retail politicking, house parties, town meetings etc. All four events saw very active campaigning over many months, and all four were heavily covered by the media, with the results considered important.
    That process winnowed the field, but still left two viable candidates on the Democratic side. Now a bunch of states are participating in a very important electoral event, and their citizens have an importance in the nominating process that they haven’t had in years – or indeed ever. Who would ever have thought by this date Democratic candidates would be actively campaigning in places like Idaho and Delaware, and drawing huge crowds.?
    It’s true that the campaigns in these states are more compressed – even though the candidates have organizations that have been working in those states for months – but on the other hand the voters in states have benefited from many, many months of intense media coverage of the race. I think the average voter in Connecticut, for example, should be by now just as well-informed as voters in Iowa and New Hampshire were. Or at least they have had ample opportunity to become that well-informed. There is an enormous amount of available information out their on candidate records, positions, past behavior etc. This year we also had a really huge number of debates, so many that the candidates can barely find anything new to talk about.
    I think it is a mistake to think that if the primaries around the nation were all strung out in succession, each state would get a chance for its own separately important New Hampshire-style primary. Instead we would see the same phenomena we’ve seen in earlier years. After two, three or four states had voted, a front-runner would emerge, and then the party leadership and major donors would quickly coalesce around that leader, dry up the money and leadership support for the other competitors and drive those other competitors out of the race. In the end, the voters in only a handful of states, maybe about 5% of the population, would have played a significant role in choosing the nominee. In this year’s nominating pricess, many many more states are playing an important role than have played a role in the past.
    Also, for that longer string of individual state races, the nominating calendar would have to be extremely long, which increases the role of money and pre-existing organization. Our nominating campaigns are already absurdly long, in my opinion. We have had two Senators running around the country for over a year, and neither one of them has been able to devote the time necessary to their actual jobs as effectively as they could otherwise.
    Once upon a time, there were few binding primaries, and states just sent delegates to the conventions and the nominees were selected by negotiation among a small group of party leaders. Over the past several decades we have a system with much more voter participation in the nominating process though binding primaries. But the system has been plagued by the outsized importance of the early states. And this year I think we have a much higher percentage of voters playing a significant role than ever before.

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  10. Linda says:

    rollingmyeyes,
    Sure, I know a couple others–Perot, Bloomberg.

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  11. rollingmyeyes says:

    As long as money is speech ever richer men and women will attempt to buy the Presidency. Romney has proved that it is uncertain to try buying the nomination of an existing party. Far more certain is creating your own party (know anyone who would do that?) and nominating yourself.

    Reply

  12. JohnH says:

    Super Tuesday say a lot about what is wrong with our election process. By front loading it gave the overwhelming advantage to those with name recognition or money to buy name recognition: party insiders beholden to Big Money. So what did we get? McCain (nationally recognized), Clinton (recognized with lots of money), Romney (personally wealthy) and Obama. The system was specifically designed to disenfranchise the grassroots and to exclude insurgents, the Obamas of the political world. It may still work as designed.
    Or it may not. What designer of this bizarre system could ever have anticipated that someone like Obama could raise this much money this fast and achieve this much name recognition? It says a lot about the Obama campaign and about the media that constantly positioned him as the only alternative to Clinton.

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  13. JohnH says:

    Super Tuesday say a lot about what is wrong with our election process. By front loading it gave the overwhelming advantage to those with name recognition or money to buy name recognition: party insiders beholden to Big Money. So what did we get? McCain (nationally recognized), Clinton (recognized with lots of money), Romney (personally wealthy) and Obama. The system was specifically designed to disenfranchise the grassroots and to exclude insurgents, the Obamas of the political world. It may yet work as designed.
    Or it may not. What designer of this bizarre system could ever have anticipated that someone like Obama could raise this much money this fast and achieve this much name recognition? It says a lot about the Obama campaign and about the media that constantly positioned him as the only alternative to Clinton.

    Reply

  14. rich says:

    Dan,
    That is true this year–but it’s also highly unusual and even more unlikely with this setup.
    Multiple primaries all stacked on one day makes it that much more difficult for a real debate in any one state—or a sustained conversation across multiple states as a longer conversation develops. How can California learn from New Jersey if they happen on the same day? How can two candidates realistically compete, when so much of the process overlaps?
    Also makes it much easier to game the system and muscle through a pigeon//shill as nominee before anyone realizes what’s happening.
    Were the primaries held in succession, voters would have the opportunity to learn from previous primaries. Candidates could make a sustained case in each state. Not so with this setup.

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  15. Linda says:

    This article surely helped me understand how complex and crazy the primary delegate selection rules are for the Democrats though they probably help Obama. The campaigns have to target Congressional districts with odd numbers of delegates over even ones.
    So much for Super Tuesday, but I surely would like to see Super Delegates eliminated. That concept is as outdated as picking candidates in smoke-filled rooms and is about party and political machines.
    http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/members-give-clinton-edge-2008-02-04.html
    Early voting in GA is rather limited. There are only three places to do it in metro Atlanta and only last week from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. ending on 2/1. No extended hours or weekend voting. AJC reports this morning that for this election early voting was five times greater than ever before.

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  16. Steve Clemons says:

    thanks for your note Dan.
    I think that the primary season is too stacked up front. There’s something about half the country bundled in a vote on one day that I don’t like.
    I think that this time is working out OK — but Super Tuesday in general will worsen the structural corruption of politics as the money needed for any candidate to be able to seriously compete in this many big states on the same day is enormous and too prohibitive for many good candidates.
    I think that the bundling on the first tuesday in February will mean that we get wealthy candidates, superstar celebs, and well known political franchises running.
    Obama is sort of an exception to what I’m saying but this year is an odd one with no heir apparent in either party.
    So, hope this clarifies….I’m not dug in on this….just very uncomfortable with the further constraints we are applying to our collective political choices.
    best, steve

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  17. Dan Kervick says:

    Actually, at least on the Democratic side, it is highly unlikely that a nominee will have been selected after today’s voting.

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  18. carsick says:

    I became a Democrat in 2004 so I could vote in the primary. Ohio is way back in the primary season but I still felt it important. I hadn’t voted in a primary since ’88.
    We need to reform the primary system starting in January 2009. It is ridiculous to end the “play-offs” in February when the “Super Bowl” is in November.

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  19. rich says:

    Agreed that Super Tuesday is one of the worst ideas dreamed up by too-clever pols and/or consultants. Voters in one state learn from candidate mistakes in prior primaries. With Super Tuesday, blooop!!; it’s over, here’s your nominee, and you’re gonna like it. Bad news.
    And—thanks for saying so. It’s crazy so many people tout it as somehow admirable.
    Now. What about mandating free candidate advertising on our publicly owned airwaves. Small price to pay, seems to me, for the right to a charter//license to broadcast over wavelengths in the public domain. Take the money right out of politics (yeh yeh) and free candidates up to a) campaign, and b) shape positions & talk about real issues in a way more likely to adhere to the public interest and the common good.

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  20. Dan Kervick says:

    I didn’t understand your criticism Steve. This primary season has been longer than any primary season ever. Are you saying that’s a good thing or a bad thing?

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