November 05, 2003
BROKERED CONVENTION?....Tom Spencer reprinted a Gene Lyons column today that contained an interesting factoid about how the Democratic primaries are going to work:
hasn't yet sunk in among journalists covering the race is the likely
impact of the amazingly complicated rule changes the party has imposed
on itself for 2004 in the interest of "fairness." Massive confusion
appears likelier. There are no winner-take-all primaries. Instead,
delegates will be awarded proportionally to all candidates receiving
more than 15 percent of the vote in each congressional district, from
sea to shining sea.
Now, this is old news to
political animals, I'm sure, but it's new news to me, and what it means
is that every single congressional district is a separate race. Even if
you poll a mere 1% of the vote in a given state, if you poll 15% in a
couple of districts you'll get a few delegates. This means that minor
candidates are likely to get a few percent of the delegates even if they
never manage to break the 15% barrier in a single state.
As Lyons points out, the reason this matters is that it makes a
brokered convention more likely. I've been discounting this possibility
myself, but mostly based on the lazy reasoning that it hasn't happened
for 50 years, so it's probably not going to happen this year either.
But this rule change, combined with a shortened primary season that
prevents candidates from building momentum slowly and then dominating
the big final primaries, might very well produce a convention where no
one has a majority of the delegates going in. After all, within a mere
six weeks of New Hampshire we have the massive March 2 "Super Tuesday" that
includes New York, California, Massachussetts, Georgia, and Ohio.
Virtually the entire game will be played out in those six weeks.
I think I still have to bet against this scenario, but understanding
this rule change makes me a little less sure of myself. And that brings
up an interesting question that no one has been asking so far: in a
brokered convention, which candidate would be in the best position?
Endorsements and party insider support are traditionally just window
dressing that don't translate into votes, but they might very well
translate into convention support. And my first guess is that this
would favor John Kerry.
Gotta think about this a bit more.
Posted by Kevin Drum at November 5, 2003 11:01 PM
My guess is that the ticket comes about when two of the top three get
together, and the one with fewer delegates agrees to swing his support
to the other for the VP seat.
This could very well result in a Clark/Dean or Dean/Clark ticket.
That would probably be a very good thing.
When thinking just doesn't do it for me, I consult The Magic Eight-Ball. Like right now [shake shake shake]...
It says, "You can drive yourself crazy considering every plausible
option, or you can go with the money." [granted, it's a precocious
Hey! I opened a fortune cookie last weekend that said the same darned thing! Whatdoyaknow?
maybe this is what Clark & Dean discussed a while back when there
were (brief) reports of them getting together & talking about
wouldn`t surprise me to find out that they had already outlined an "arrangement" in case this sort of thing comes about
"...If everybody voted, the Republicans would lose every time..." - Jim McDermott (D-WA)
I've often wondered about a brokered convention myself. If the status
of the nominee is still up in the air past April it is deeply, deeply
bad news. There would be too much sniping and not enough unifying
against the enemy. I hope this doesn't come to pass.
Howard Dean is doomed in a brokered convention because of the
superdelegates. Ruy Teixeira at DonkeyRising points out that there are
about 800 of these guys and they, by definition, are the party
establishment. If they voted as a block for the an establishment
candidate -- and my money would be on Kerry at this point -- any other
candidate would have to pull 60% of all other delegates. These
superdelegates are what will force another first ballot decision and
avoid the debacle of a brokered convention.
Here's the link to the Teixeira article:
This is bad news for my guy John Edwards. My feeling is Edwards will be offered the VP or a choice cabinet slot.
Why Kerry? I don't get your reasoning.
Not to put words in Kevin's mouth, but Kerry's been around the Senate
a long time, he's a war vet, and he's a known quantity without the
"once voted for Republican X" baggage that Clark has. Dean's a governor
with the anti-war baggage that delegates who want to win won't like.
Lieberman is old-shoe and didn't help Al garner too many votes last
time. Gephardt? Well, maybe. Edwards might be thought of as too
unseasoned. Who've I left out?
Brokered convention = Hillary.
Kevin Murphy = Needs to stop reading Newsmax, and the Free Rubpublic.
I like Kerry. I think he's got a good mix of smarts and likeability
and (and some other word like gravitas, but not, because that's
I don't think of Dukakis when I look at him either, despite the northeastern bushy eyebrow look.
But in reality, I haven't been following the primaries at all.
Lacking a TV, I just found out, for instance, that Dean is not tall.
That's what I'm told, at least.
Uh... what the hell is a brokered convention?
Only in your fever dreams, Kevin.
In this scenario, I'd expect the Dems to turn to Gore. The classy way
he finally conceded in 2000 provides him with a bit of a honeymoon with
the electorate. His non-entrance into the race thus far would make him
the "reluctant prince" showing heart and doing the right thing by the
party, rather than the robot with the lifelong ambition (his portrayal
in 2000). Compared to the existing slate the guy looks like JFK for
crissake. If the Dems get to a brokered convention, it will indicate an
even more damaged party with likely relatively less financial resources
than usual and Hillary's gonna pass. Gore covers several bases. His
presence would inspire those who feel he was robbed and is Clinton's
rightful heir, he was around during the terrorism's rise in the 90's and
can speak to that credibly, choosing someone outside the nine will
alienate everybody else's supporters to a lesser degree, since nobody
they've been campaigning against is being chosen over them and he's
expendable if the Dems believe they are gonna get slaughtered and are
looking for a Mondale. Pair him with Clarke or Dean to give them
national campaign experience/exposure (which both would do to be
prepared for '08, and makes Hillary work hard to stay even for '08) and
tell Edwards, Sharpton and Braun that if they want their calls returned
they'd better campaign hard for him. Tell Kerry and Gep that cabinet
appointments depend on them working hard too, Lieberman naturally falls
into line. Bury Kucinich out back behind the old oak tree and the Dems
come out of the gate after Labor Day not so bad.
One question though. By the time of the convention who is/are playing
Kingmaker? Who are the grand old men/women to whom the party turns?
Presumably, given the last month's results and those of 2002,
McCauliffe, Pelosi and Daschle aren't credible as party leaders anymore.
Bill Clinton presumably is viewed as partisan to Hillary and what's
best for her...so who are the people of influence outside the
candidates? Feinstein? Chris Dodd? Who?
No way are the superdelegates going to go for Kerry. His fundraising
is drying up and his staff are leaving him for the Clark campaign. Also
no way on Gore. He's the past and he's baggage; it's not fair but there
it is. My bet is that the establishment guys will go for Clark, but
they'll give Dean something to recognize the staggering number of people
and level of organization he's bringing to the plate. I don't think
Dean would work as VP (I say this as a Dean supporter). Maybe HHS with
assignment to create a healthcare plan that will get passed?
Shit, make Dean the DNC chairman and Trippi the DNC tech guru. Move
the entire Dean staff into the DNC offices and take over. We'd see some
Bill Clinton presumably is viewed as partisan to Hillary and what's best for her
SP67 - forget that. Bill and Hillary have already thrown significant
support to Clark, and Hillary simply will not run this year.
They won't pick anybody who isn't running and who doesn't already
have a significant number of delegates. Otherwise, it's hard to put
together a majority coalition. So no Al or Hillary. A brokered
convention works to Dean's disadvantage, and maybe to the advantage of
Kerry or Clark.
I've read some Dean supporters on some of these message boards
claiming that if Dean gets more delegates than anybody else, the party
will have to name him or they'll start griping about a subversion of
But this is sort of like a multiparty parliamentary election, where
the party with the most votes has an advantage but is not guaranteed to
be even be in the ruling coalition. It's up to the individual
candidates to put one together.
But I think this is how many of them would react.
I actually attended a brokered convention, as a relative of mine was a
delegate for a congressional candidate. Man, it was cool. I don't know
if it was good for the party, but it was fun to watch.
The top four candidates, with the most delegates, managed to wipe each
other out with vindictive voting, and the candidate who was seventh in
number of delegates ended up winning the nomination. Yes, seventh.
Brokered conventions can go very crazy. The advantage is that you get new blood in to run for office.
The only wild card here are the superdelegates. Does anyone here know who they are, and who appoints them?
Superdelegates are likely to already have split their support among
several candidates. Jesse Jackson, Jr., for example, is unlikely to vote
the same way as Zell Miller, both of whom are superdelegates. (Yeah,
maybe we should change the rules for Zell.)
If the leading candidate is reasonably close to a majority, it would
be unseemly and extremely divisive not to go with that candidate. And I
think the horse-trading will begin for that long before anyone gets to
A "magical candidate", like Gore or Hillary, would have to draw votes
from at least a few of the top delegate-holders, which seems unlikely.
It would be a great convention, but not a very good omen for the general election.
zell miller is a superdelegate? doesn't saying publicly that you will
vote for a republican can that option? What are the democrats thinking?
They should make everyone take a loyalty oath (joke) like the
republicans do, or at least hand out better bribes.--aimai
every four years about this time i hear the same speculation about a
brokered convention. The delegate rules are not significantly different
this time than before. Even with the truncated schedule (maybe even
more so)the candidates coming out of Iowa and NH with momentum will
probably be successful during the next set of primaries. Past history
also suggests that the Superdelegates (being politicians) know which way
the wind is blowing and quickly line up with the frontrunner. Again,
with such a long period of time between the main primaries and the
convention, i would expect the party to gravitate around a frontrunner
long before the convention started. For a brokered convention to be
even possible you would need such an even split among four or five
candidates that it just won't happen despite what all the political
junkies want (and salivate about).
a non first ballot convention would nominate the leading non-Dean candidate, be that Kerry, Edwards, Gephardt, or Clark.
it's an unlikely outcome, but quite a bit more likely than it has been in a generation.
I will admit I am clueless about these democratic "super delegates,"
but if they are congressman and senators, that could help Gephardt,
right? He is getting most of the congressional democrats behind him (or
what makes the non-first ballot convention more likely than usual this year is the polarizing nature of the Dean candidacy.
Dean is going to have extreme trouble getting 50% numbers in
primaries. but his financial warchest and hardcore support, along with
the large field, means that other candidates are also going to have
trouble getting 50%.
and without 50% of votes, you don't get the 50% of the delegates necessary for a first ballot victory.
if this year's rules had been in effect in '72, McGovern wouldn't
have had enough support on first ballot, and that convention would have
How would the public react if Dean had the most delegates going into
the convention but party insiders threw the nomination to Clark anyway?
While the ratings would probably be extremely high and it would be fun
to watch, I have to think that it would torpedo Clarks overall chances
immediately. There is nothing that turns off moderate voters like the
idea that a backroom deal is what got someone elected.
if Dean wants the nomination, he'd better show up in Boston with 50%+1 of the delegates. otherwise, he's a dead duck.
and a brokered convention means doom for the party, no matter who walks out with the nod.
that's why i'm hoping the consensus ABD candidate gets determined
earlier, rather than later. my fear is that Kerry, Clark, Gephardt, and
Edwards will all hang around fighting for the 65% ABD vote, while Dean
wins primary after primary with 35%.
that's how we get to a brokered convention, and that's how we get to four more years of el busho.
I went to the Dean Meet-Up last night (I'm still undecided, but am
leaning about 60% Dean to 40% the rest of them, in varying degrees), and
this very matter was a topic of discussion.
There was much talk about going to Democratic Party meetings, joining up, and influencing delegate selection.
The Dean people I met were so young and good-hearted. The Democratic
Party needs those people as activists. The Republicans have built
themselves a grass-roots, and only Dean among the Dems is anteing up.
As a Kerry fan, the good news I see for Kerry here is that
non-winners get delegates. Kerry's not leading in a single state, but
he's doing well in various. I'd thought Kerry was dead, as I noted at
Kos, now I'm not sure. I like that.
mark: Kerry has 21 Congressional endorsements.
Theresa in Oakland: "No way are the superdelegates going to go for
Kerry. His fundraising is drying up and his staff are leaving him for
the Clark campaign."
Those are interesting allegations I haven't heard before, O Dean fan. Perhaps you have links to go with them?
Don't give Dick "If Hillary Runs, Maybe People Will Pay Attention To Me" Morris any ideas for his next column.
If it is a brokered convention, does that mean that Bill Hemrick of CNN has to do math?
Is there a rule of thumb for how many delegates a state has?
Actually, anyone have a page listing more details of the primary process
If the electors in the Electoral College were apportioned on a
(congressional) district basis, assigning delegates to the convention on
a congressional district basis might make some sense. The electors
aren't apportioned on that basis, so assigning delegates on that basis
doesn't make any sense, either.
Unless people who made up the rules for the convention wanted to increase the likelihood of a deadlock at the convention.
Column in the Boston Globe about some fall-out in Boston from the Tues. rock the vote extravaganza.
One thing Bush had going for him were proxies campaigning for him. So
many people trusted Powell, for example, that they put aside the fact
that Bush is (perceived as) an idiot.
I wonder if the Dems could do something like that.
Clark / Dean ticket; Edwards to replace Ashcroft; Bill Clinton as Sec. State; Sam Nunn as Sec. Def.
Your dream team?
Here's another possible outcome of this: Sharpton as kingmaker.
He'll easily get +15% in the 35-45 congressional districts that have
large African American populations. Perhaps up to 30-40% in some cases.
This could give him a nice bloc of delegates going into the
convention...making it highly unlikely that he drops out of the race,
and forcing the presumptive candidate to tilt left on platform issues
right when he should be moving back to the center.
Is the Dem leadership really dumb enough to pick Kerry? No one except
Lieberman has had such disappointing buzz. He just doesn't seem to
light enough people on fire, and his distortion of Dean's Confederacy
comment looked more like spite than a pitch for votes. It's clear he's
going to be behind fellow New Englander Dean. The Vietnam Vet deal is
getting a little stale, too.
there's a formula that depends on how many electors a state has, multiplied by how reliably Democratic the state votes.
so New York has somewhat more weight per elector, compared to Alabama.
The fastest way to lose would be to throw it to the guy with fewer votes.
Democrats really don't like that.
Is the Dem leadership really dumb enough to pick Dean? No one among
the serious candidates would run a weaker race against el busho. His
supporters' blind fervor is getting a little stale too.
Happily, I think the answer is no.
raj: I was admiring the twisted logic in that Globe piece you link
to. My favorite moment: "But because his rhetoric got lazy, and because
he is threatening Richard Gephardt in Iowa and Kerry in New Hampshire,
he now has Sharpton stopping just short of calling him a racist."
Who knew that Gephardt and Kerry had Sharpton bought and paid for? The
Globe: your source for timely campaign info. Then I got to the byline:
Andrew: I agree, Kerry should stop being a Vietnam vet.
So, lert me get this straight:
In the democratic convention, if no candidate gets 50% of the
delegates, it becomes a "brokered convention," and thus turns into a
On one hand, it sounds like a dream to political buffs. On the
other, it sounds like the official return to the "smoke-filled room"
days of the Pendergast gang, which could very well piss off a few of the
candidates (I am thinking mainly Dean).
Coming this August:
Survivor, The Democratic Convention!
Who will be brokered in? Who will be brokered out? Follow the
candidates through the Primary Season when they rhetorically flog each
other (could this come to blows?!?). Will Dean and Clark form a
coalition against Kerry and Edwards? Will Sharpton raise the rhetorical
bar to a fever pitch? Will Mosely-Braun shed her polite demeanor and
really mix it up? And what about Hillary?
Don't miss the best Survivor since the first one!
This proportional delegate thing combined with the acclerated
primaries is really going to keep marginal candidates in the race longer
than they would have been in past years. When there are 6 candidates
pulling significant support through super tuesday its going to be nearly
impossible to get above 50% overall. Getting 50% in any state is going
to be exceedingly hard. Plus- this system will keep there from being
any kind of consensus pick because no one will be able to build up a
if no candidate has 50%+1 of the delegates on the first ballot, all
delegates become free to vote for any candidate, and ballots continue as
long as necessary until someone gets 50%+1.
IMHO, it's a good rule. it forces candidates to achieve majority support in the party in order to get the nod.
Not that it matters this year, is the republican's system the same?
Proportional delegates, Super delegates, and a potential brokered
I've done some analysis, and I think this situation actually favors yours truly.
John I (and others):
No, I meant -- what would be your dream team? Would your dream campaign team be different than your dream governing team?
Slightly off-topic, but Dean is asking his supporters to vote on
whether or not to accept funding (and the spending cap that goes with
it), or forego the funding and raise as much as he can. I just received
an e-ballot this morning- the buzz is that there is overhwelming
support among the faithful to go for it- the campaign thinks it can
raise $200 million....
There are no "superdelegates" in the republican system. It is also, I believe, winner take all for each state primary.
The GOP doesn't impose as much uniformity on the state parties as the
Dems do with theirs, so they don't have as many nationwide rules for
primaries as the Dems. So there are some states that are proportional,
others that are more winner-take-all. The overall effect is that the
GOP delegate selection system is less proportional than the Democratic
delegate selection system.
Also, I don't believe that the GOP uses "super delegates." The Dems
imposed the superdelegate rule sometime during the 80s, and from what I
remember of it, the CW said it was because party insiders were worried
about the primary electorate producing candidates too far to the left,
so they created the rule (which essentially means that congressmen,
Senators and state officeholders are automatically delegates to the
convention) to try to impose some order and restraint. Its never really
mattered much (at least in terms of nominating candidate, perhaps it
has in terms of coming up with a platform) as one candidate has always
come to the convention with a majority.
the buzz is that there is overhwelming support among the faithful to go for it.
don't you folks ever get tired of the cynical, manipulative doublespeak that comes out of Joe Trippi?
SRock is right about the states, I forgot that. There are winner-take-all, and some proportional.
For those who want to read through what looks to be like an extremely boring document, I present the 2000 RNC rules:
until the recent 'reforms', the Democratic party was the same way.
I heard something about Florida wanting to hold a straw poll instead
of a primary to determine the delegates. Why is florida allowed to do
that if every other state is tied to the same rules?
'straw poll' means that the results don't count.
Damn this could be fun! And Al Gore as the brokered nominee?
Think of the slogans: "Re-Elect Gore in 2004" ; "The PEOPLE'S Choice"
Bring it on.
I think Clark/Dean is the most likely outcome of a brokered
convention. This may be wishful thinking on my part, but I think that's
our strongest ticket as far as electability. If they go for someone
insider-y Gephardt strikes me as more likely than Kerry. I go to school
in Mass and it's amazing how little support Kerry has on my
campus--Clark and Dean groups are much, much more active & both
contain people who were planning to/did work for Kerry at one point. (I
did, and he's dropped to my fourth choice. He just has not run a good
It's sort of fun to think about, but it would be bad for the party.
Even if it doesn't create anger between insiders and outsiders, our
nominee will come out bruised and broke in July.
It's worth noting that the campaigns are not acting like they expect a
brokered convention. (Or they'd be focusing much more on NY and
California and Texas and Illinois, which I think all may be on Super
Tuesday this year.)
I suggest that we throw our support behind "generic" democrat. This
candidate consistently polls best in one-on-one matchups with bush.
Preference for the imagined over the real characterizes the oughts. Michael Moore's "fictitious times."
Kevin, what you and any poster speculating here about a brokered
convention are ignoring is the reality that the serious candidates who
don't win any or enough early primaries will be forced to drop out for
that fact and for the consequent drying up of money. In fact, the money
factor will likely make two or three of the serious candidacies ready
to dry up before we even get to March 2.
The idea that a steady winner of primaries, whomever it may be, is
going to take only pluralities of delegates out of those wins just
doesn't accord with the reality that candidates who don't win are forced
to drop out quickly. The media and the fundraisers see to that.
That's the backstory (as Josh Marshall would say) history behind the
lack of a brokered convention in the modern primary era. There have
been no second-ballot conventions, let alone brokered ones, since voters
began to take the nomination of presidential candidates out of the
hands of political bosses starting about 1960.
neither party has ever had a straight proportional primary system before.
as mentioned earlier, if this year's rules had been in effect in '72,
McGovern would not have had a majority on the first ballot.
i can easily see 3 strong candidates surviving through March 3, and if that happens, we're something unusual.
all that said, if i were a betting man, i'd bet against a brokered
convention, but i do think the chances are much higher than you suppose.
Steady- Plus look at it from Sharpton's perspective. Lets say he
stays in the race until the end. His campaign costs are not as high as
the rest of the candidates so he could do it. He could easily win 5% of
the delegates without winning a single state. That 5% could possibly
be enough to push Dean over the top for the nomination. That gives
Sharpton a LOT of power. The fact that you can win delegates without
ever winning a state really should serve as a major incentive to say in
as long as possible. Plus, there is only 6 weeks between New Hampshire
and Super Tuesday. (do I have that right?) Thats not a long time to
keep your head above water especially considering that the longer you
stay in the less likely it is that anyone will pull 50%. If you are
still in at the end and there is a brokered convention then anything can
one slight point. after the 1st ballot, delegates are free to vote
anyway they like. Sharpton can tell his delegates to vote for some
other candidate, but they are free to listen or not.
Steady Eddie's missing two things: one, the foreshortened primary
period; two, the fact that for all his "frontrunner" status elsewhere,
Dean polls in single digits in the South and parts of the Midwest. Hence
by mid-March, there will likely be three or four candidates who have
won significant primaries. Granted, candidates who have won none will
come under considerable pressure to drop out, but only the "serious"
candidates who aren't going anywhere. If I had to guess today, I'd say
two among Edwards, Kerry, possibly Smokin' Joe Lieberman. But with,
purely for the sake of argument, three or four still standing post-Super
Tuesday, anybody comes close to 50% with proportional voting.
Likelihood of a strong anybody but Dean movement gaining force simply
for pragamatic reasons. Hard to see him winning the general election.
I really always like your posts and pretty much always agree with
you. Can you tell me why you are supporting Kerry? I'm from MA, born and
bred, and I really pay attention to politics and I can't stand him. Of
my circle of aquaintances in the state only people who *don't* pay
attention to politics ask me if they should support him, and that is
only because they know he is running but don't know, or don't care, what
he says he is running for. People who are marginally following politics
here, or seriously following it, prefer either dean or clark. That's
just my personal poll, but I've been truly surprised by the lack of
local support for Kerry. I'm not surprised that I don't support him--he
has consistently done really stupid things, contradicted stances he has
taken publicly, and done things his own constituents don't want him to
do on Iraq. He has postured and trimmed to fit what he thought was the
prevailing wind instead of standing up for anything. In saying that, I
don't accuse him of "being a politician" but of being a damned
incompetent one. I'm really sorry, because I think his career had great
promise at one point.
But my question is: what do *you* like about the guy, and why do you
think he is electable if he can't even get his own state to vote for
I heard something about Florida wanting to hold a straw poll
instead of a primary to determine the delegates. Why is florida allowed
to do that if every other state is tied to the same rules?
(1) The "straw poll" wouldn't determine delegates, it would be a
non-binding effort to get the state some clout by having an early event.
(2) "every other state" isn't tied to the same rules, that's why some have primaries, and some have caucuses.
Yeah, the compressed sched means there's less incentive for
candidates to drop out. And if, say, Kucinich, CMB and Sharpton stay in
and look like they could parlay repeated 5% performances into any
position of power at the convention then mainstream candidates might
stay in as well. If things go helter-skelter the influcence of those
folks grows (and pressur will rise on all the candidates to stay in and
stick up for the wishes of their supporters).
Hah! Nice to kick of an interesting debate. I thought petey had the
best points, though I still mostly disagree (speaking as someone who wanted a brokered convention in the four Dem conventions prior to 1992).
Damon -- it's not yet clear that Sharpton is going to pull numbers
anything like Jesse Jackson did in 1988, let alone 1984. It's no
coincidence Sharpton has said what he has against Dean ever since JJJ
gave his endorsement last week. But there have in every Dem primary
campaign been non-serious candidates who held on to a block of delegates
through the convention, which ended up being inconsequential to the
result because serious candidates who didn't win enough released their
delegates for the sake of party unity.
aloysius -- the foreshortened primary season is very unlikely to
change fundamentally the reality of money and media as forces that will
push out serious candidates without more than a win or two after March
2. Not enough wins, no money, no paid media, no free media attention...
you're out of there. Your point about Dean -- or for that matter,
anyone else -- polling in single digits in various states is similarly
insignificant, because early winners of multiple primaries/caucuses
always pick up dramatically in the subsequent contests. In fact, almost
everyone is polling in single or low teens at most in most states,
which is about as significant as Lieberman's current polling in those
states or nationally... name recognition at best, which becomes
relatively trivial in the face of early contest results, where the
front-runners get both unpaid and money for paid media that guarantees
their name recognition.
petey -- valid point about pure proportional, but the reality (as I
mentioned above) is that you need a bunch of consistent wins to stay in
the race with the money to compete -- the front-loading doesn't change
that -- and even the serious also-rans who accumulate substantial
delegates but don't overtake the front-runner on sheer win totals come
under great pressure to release their delegates and support the
front-runner. Happens every time. That's why the superdelegates thing
ultimately doesn't change things either, because they've got to respect
the candidate who wins in their states. Relatively few superdelegates
have committed yet, they're not being spread disproportionately to any
candidate, and they routinely change commitments to back the
Eddie's right. Keep in mind, too, the Feiler Faster Thesis that
Mickey Kaus has established. The compression of the news cycle means
that the compression of the primaries still gives a frontrunner time to
emerge and gain momentum.
Is there any question that the powers that be, whoever they are, are
putting up roadblocks to stop a Dean nomination. When where the primary
procedures changed? Isn't it clear to all the savvy that Clark's late
entry was purely anti-Dean insider-driven strategy?
Kerry's a cold-fish dead duck, give it up!
The elite don't want Dean, which is ONE good reason that a rank and
file YELLOW DOG DEMOCRAT, like myself, does! Look what those dipshits in
charge of the party have done since 1996. The response Dean has
mustered is as much about the failings of the party leadership as it is
about his particular candidacy. In fact, he is too conservative for many
of us, but he seems to inspire the sheeple.
I don't think the party leadership really believe that Dean is
comparable to Dukakis. I remember that debacle well. I supported
Gephardt initially and was loyal when the convention went otherwise.
While I voted for him , it was difficult to be an avid and vocal
Whatever unfolds, Dean won't go quietly into the night, and that I can support with gusto.
DEAN won't make it because he's an outsider, and he doesn't have a political State structure in place, in all 50 States.
CLARK's faded from the radar screen. Big, early swoon. Quick
recovery. Baggage of the Clinton's? Probably. Given that the Clinton's
knew this was going to be a bad year for democrats. And, Hillary is
trying to figure out where her best safe harbor, up ahead, will be,
during these "perfect storms."
My guess is that she doesn't even challenge the republicans in 2008,
for the White House. But either chooses to keep running for her Senate
seat. Or, she saddles a run on both, with a run for the governor's
mansion in New York. Either/or. She can't win the White House. And, NY
could even be a toss up if Guiliani is her competitor in the race ahead
which she must make. To keep her seat in the senate. Or to move on.
(Will Bill Clinton become Mayor of NY?) The Clinton's aren't dead,
politically. But higher office for the democrats has probably been
cancelled for decades. Not just years.
If the journal-lousy'est-predictors have on handle on what the
democrats end up doing, the nod for the top ticket spot goes to
Gephardt. He wants it. He's on the inside. And, the machinery will work
Why would it work for Dean?
You already know Clark was sent out there to knock him down a peg or
two, don't you? What does that tell you about DNC headquarters?
Nationwide, what percentage of Democratic primary voters are black?
I see no sign that the situation in Iraq will improve by the time of
the convention. The war will be even less popular than it is now.
Given that, having voted for the war will be "baggage", which will hurt
Kerry and Gephardt. Kerry supporters are deluding themselves if they
The superdelegates are going to want a winner, and aren't likely to
back someone who came in third or worse in the primaries. At this point
I expect Dean and Clark to be the top two. The superdelegates might
feel more comfortable with Clark, if he improves as a campaigner and
looks strong. However, if Dean has by far the most massive pile of
money (because his followers vote to pass up matching funds, as I
expect, and then shower him with cash) as well as first place, it's
going to be very hard for the superdelegates to pick someone else. If
that someone else then loses, careers might be lost over this.
In any case, the superdelegates aren't going to be voting as a bloc;
they will split, reflecting the internal tensions in the party. A
Dean/Clark deal resulting in a combined ticket might settle the thing.
The article says there are 700-something superdelegates? Who exactly
(besides congressmen) ARE these superdelegates? Are they basically
officeholders, former officeholders, and/or party loyalists?
The most electable Democrat candidate is Lieberman, followed closely by
Clark and Dean. No one else on the Dem side will be able to win the
general election. Gephardt, if nominated, will lose the general election
for the same reason Dole did in '96 - he's a cynical career pol with
too much baggage. Kerry, like Gephardt, also has a lot of political
baggage weighing him down, and lacks charisma. Edwards doesn't have
enough name recognition or grassroots support, and comes off as a
nonentity. Sharpton, Braun, and Kucinich are no-hopers.
Lieberman is the most electable Dem candidate because he has the most
credibility on national security. The other Dems can try to build more
credibility on that front, but they will have to work hard. If the job
market picks up significantly before the election, then the Dems don't
have much of a chance, but so far I see no signs of that.
Lieberman is the most electable Dem candidate because he has the most credibility on national security.
(1) Its an open question whether National Security or the economy will be a bigger issue.
(2) Its an open question whether Lieberman is "most credible" on the issue, rather than just "most like Bush".
(3) Even if he is somewhat more credible, being
more like Bush gives people less reason to choose him over Bush. The
"Bush Lite" image -- accurate or not -- is going to have core Democratic
voters staying home or voting Green, and leave swing voters voting Bush
because, if you really aren't changing policies, why change leaders?
MattB: in the White House, I'd like Kerry/Richardson, or maybe
Kerry/Lewis. On campaign, I agree that Dean has outstanding strengths,
and also a couple of weaknesses.
aimai: someone in MA has been electing Kerry to the Senate for 18 years.
We differ in that I feel that Kerry pretty much always tries to say
what he thinks, stick to it, and do what he thinks is right. For
instance, voting for the Iraq resolution. Or, volunteering for two tours
in Vietnam, then coming back and founding Vietnam Veterans Against the
War. I agree that Kerry is muddy: I suspect that 18 years in the Senate
tends to breed waffle into people's bones.
My taste for Kerry is not unique, it is shared by RFK Jr. (environment),
Joe Wilson, William Perry, and Gary Hart (national security), Robert
Reich (economy), the AFL-CIO (90% voting record), the firemen's and
utility workers' unions, 21 members of the House, 4 of the 6 Democratic
state senators in NH, Jeanne Shaheen and Harold Ford Jr.
My two biggest problems with Kerry are his stiffness and his tendency to
finger-wag. He's no Clinton, but in 2004, he's my choice. I like him
quite a bit: a decent, slightly stiff man who's devoted his life to
service. I feel entirely confident about him in the White House deciding
the fate of the world. You go, boring John Kerry.
The stock market, today, had a big jump. The economy may not be the issue.
And, how the democrats view national security seems to be a foregone conclusion to most Americans, is that they just don't.
Keep it up. The democrats want to be the pacifists of the New
Century. While Bush manuevers as well as FDR ever did. Points to Bush.
I doubt if the democrats are heading to score anything. (If this
were a football game it would be so outrageously in Bush's favor, that
the quarterback could be resting on the bench, and the kid that sweeps
the locker rooms could be suited up to have his day in the sun.) In
athletics these moments are actually tiring. The audience, suspecting
the outcome is not in doubt begin leaving for the parking lot.
So, it's possible that Karl Rove keeps hoping the democrats just keep
doing what they're doing ... as it keeps the people in the stands
laughing. And, interested in watching the show.
Barbara Streisand's show, though, just bit the dust. I wonder what CBS executives are talking about these days?
Has anyone considered that, if it came down to a brokered convention, it WON'T MATTER who wins...
First of all, the media would portray the Democrats as in a state of
chaos, which is not helpful when you are trying to portray your party as
popular and together, and when you are trying to put out a coherent
message. Second, whoever the eventual nominee turns out to be will be
viewed as an extremely weak candidate... someone who couldn't even beat
the OTHER DEMS in the primary, let alone beating Bush, with his $200
million war chest. Finally, the Democrats would get absolutely killed
over the summer, since Bush would be able to use his $200 million to
promote himself, but the Dems wouldn't be able to use any money to
promote their candidate (since they wouldn't even know who that
I'm a right-winger, so take that analysis for what it is worth. But
if I were you, Dems, I'd be horrified at the prospect of going through
the entire summer without knowing who the candidate is.
I want to see it go down to the convention just for the spectacle. How long has it been since it went to a convention?
The cool thing about dean is his anger and passion. He'd make it interesting that is for sure.
There will be pressure to resolve the nomination as soon as possible.
Most likely scenario--Dean wins DC, IA and NH and runs the table, perhaps minus some 3 Feb states.
Next most likely--Gep wins Iowa and it takes Dean longer to close the deal.
Next most likely--Gep wins Iowa, but demonstrates serious weakness on
3 Feb. Edwards or more likely Clark emerges as the anti-Dean and Dean
volunteers and money don't hold-up against the perception he's lost the
mo. The anti-Dean gets the nomination and Dean withdraws late in the
It would take an unusual seesaw dynamic to lead to a brokered
convention. The Dems don't have the irreconcilable differences of
Humphrey and McCarthy in '68 or Wallace and McGovern in '72. The party
wants to coalesce behind a candidate and all of the major candidates are
It seems to me there is an important dimension to this that has been
missed. In fact, contrary to Al above, I think that a brokered
convention could *help* the democrats.
Remember Bush's strategy: raise $200 million. Wait until the end of
the primaries, when a winner emerges, battered and broke. Trash him for
all he's worth for months while he can't afford to respond. Coast to
But... what if THERE IS NO WINNER until mid-August? Then Bush needs
to either try to trash all of the frontrunners... or sit on his $200
million, which won't be good since (if I understand matters correctly)
as soon has *his* convention is over and he takes matching funds (as he
has said he will), spending limits kick in on him.
So that a brokered convention could hurt Karl Rove's chief strategy for 2004.
What do ya'll think? Kevin? Am I missing something here?
John Isbell: "My two biggest problems with Kerry are his stiffness and his tendency to finger-wag."
Better watch out - for a Presidential candidate, those are real
deal-killers. The candidate can't come off as too uncharismatic or
patronizing. Mondale, Dukakis, Dole, and Gore all suffered in this way.
That's why I think Lieberman, Clark, or Dean have a much better chance -
these are guys with real fire and ambition, who still come off as not
too patronizing to the average American voter.
Carol in California: "The stock market, today, had a big jump. The economy may not be the issue."
The stock market isn't the economy. Sure, the boost is nice for our
401(k) plans, but in the immediate future, the important economic factor
will be the availability good jobs. Job growth always seems to be 'just
around the corner' and a lot of people are getting really sick of it.
Productivity is skyrocketing, but salaries are stagnant and our best
jobs are being sent to India and China.
At the 2000 GOP convention they changed the party rules to have the
state party chairs and national committee members serve as
superdelegates. Members of Congress and other elected officials are not
superdelegates at the GOP convention
The Democrats have superdelegates for their members of congress,
senators and the state party chairs and national committee members. I
also believe that former democratic presidents are also superdelegates,
but I'm not 100% sure of that.
It is also of note that in some states primaries bind a delegate, but
the individual who actually serves as a delegate is selected at a state
convention. These delegates are probably more likely to be party
In other states the candidate to whom the delegate is bound gets to
select who the delegate will be (generally by submitting a slate of
delegates before the primary). These delegates are probably more likely
to be die hard supporters of that particular candidate.
Some people are trying (TRYING) to cause a brokered convention. They
are also using that strategy to line up superdelegates who would vote
for Gore on the second ballot.
To go to war with untrained people is tantamount to abandoning them.
That which does not kill us makes us stranger.
Men are close to one another by nature. They diverge as a result of repeated practice.
Gratitude is the most exquisite form of courtesy.
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