Wednesday, April 23, 2008

It Ain't Over Til It's Over

I just learnt a brand new word today - "Punditocracy" - and how unrelated it is to actual voting reality.

From Salon.com:

"A fascinating wrinkle buried in the Pennsylvania exit polls is that Democratic voters do not appear to believe that Obama's nomination is a foregone conclusion. Given Obama's purportedly unassailable delegate lead, it was stunning that 43 percent of Pennsylvania voters said they believed that Clinton would be the Democratic nominee. Clearly, we have identified that proportion of the Pennsylvania electorate who never, ever turn on a cable TV news show.

In short, the easiest way for Democrats to end the long march through the primaries is simply by deciding en masse to vote for Barack Obama. But that did not happen in Tuesday night's primary, nor did it occur in Ohio and Texas (though Obama won the late-night caucuses there) seven weeks ago. As Obama is learning the hard way, hope and uplift are no substitute for a majority vote in a big-state primary."
I was really turned off by those talking heads who kept chirping that Clinton remaining in the race is "bad for the party". As if completing a democratic process is not something self-avowed Democrats should do. The fact that the people in those States with late primaries finally get a real chance to pick a Presidential nominee and partake in making history seem to irritate those who have had their chance to do the same earlier in the year, as if they just couldn't countenance the idea that others may think differently from them and would like to have their say too. The Obama-biased Huffington Post even went as far as declaring John McCain as the winner just because Clinton won the Pennsylvannian primary by a decisive margin (54% to Obama's 45%), and many pundits decry Clinton's temerity to remain in the race as "scorched earth tactics", as if she should just pack it in like Edwards did or else she is a traitor to her party for daring to give voters a choice. Nobody see such shrill calls for Clinton's withdrawal as actually showing Obama in a very bad light - as someone who has no confidence that he would win over the rest of the country if everyone gets to have their say, given how fearful his campaign is of actual voters just simply voting. The fact remains that he still doesn't have the margin in delegate count needed to lock in his nomination, and I would have thought that if Obama is really confident, he would simply say to Clinton, "Bring it on".
In truth, the premature demand that Clinton hoist the white flag runs against both political history (every trailing candidate in her situation has taken the fight to the convention) and the competitive spirit. For all the scorn heaped on the institution of superdelegates (795 party leaders who go to the convention automatically without pledging to a candidate in the primaries or caucuses), Obama mathematically cannot come close to reaching a majority without a significant boost from these political free agents. (Salon.com)
Make no mistake - the only people hurting the Democrats are the over-zealous Obamaboids and lazy pundits who kept complaining that Democrats are not behaving like Republicans - step in line behind a single candidate as early as possible for the sake of the party, and participatory democracy be damned.

Again, quotes from actual flesh-and-blood voters:

And even the Obama fans in the crowd were anxious for the race to stay competitive. Lori Felker, a 29-year-old teacher from Chicago, was visiting her native Bethlehem along with Adam Strohm. Felker said she was happy that Clinton was visiting her hometown, and was anxious to hear how she would address local concerns. Both Felker and Strohm are Obama supporters, but Felker said, "I'm not at all anti-Hillary. If she were nominated, I would be excited to vote for her in the general election." Moreover, she added, she does not believe Clinton should drop out. "Everyone should stay in to the end," said Felker. "No way should she give up."

[...]

Further down the line, I asked 6-year-old Melina Heffner whom she was supporting. She paused. "If you say McCain," said Melina's mother, Lori, 47, "you gotta go live with Grandma." Lori Heffner, who works in healthcare, said her family is split -- along gender lines -- between Clinton and Obama, and that she is loving the Democratic race. "But let me tell you," she said, "no one's ever told a man to drop out of a race before the end because he's messing it up. This is our choice, to the end. So we'll have a convention, not a coronation; that's a good thing. I remember conventions when it went to four ballots to pick a president. It's our right to make this choice; this is history happening in front of us, this is what we fought for, and we'd better get to make the full choice available to us."

And from a forum thread where an Obama volunteer reacts to the news of the Clinton win:

lajuperouge wrote:
NBC has already projected Clinton as the winner in PA.

I just saw :(

I really hope that if Clinton wins the nomination, we will get the Obama folks to come out and support her. There was so much enthusiasm that I'd hate to see them walk away after this.

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6 Comments:

At Wed Apr 23, 06:52:00 p.m. IST, Blogger laichungleung said...

The pundits were right when they predicted Clinton would win despite on a shrinking margin. But they are not always right. As you so eloquently stated and argued, there is no good reason for the Clinton camp to quit prematurely just for the sake of so called party unity, for that would be a disservice to other States and a mockery of the democratic process. I say let it run its course and see who's bitter at the end of the day.

 
At Wed Apr 23, 07:07:00 p.m. IST, Blogger Snowdrops said...

The pundits were right in predicting her win, but they were very disparaging about what her margin of the win was going to be, claiming that she would only narrowly defeat Obama and she should just pack it in. The 10 point margin was not something that they thought she could achieve.

Re: bitter. I thought that was a stupid soundbite and should not have been used to attack Obama. However, in the context of what you wrote regarding the outcome of the context, I also don't think anybody would be bitter (except Repugs) when either candidate wins the nomination, as both are much better presidential materials in their own rights than McCain ever could be.

 
At Wed Apr 23, 07:08:00 p.m. IST, Blogger Snowdrops said...

Oops, "outcome of the contEST" rather than "outcome of the context".

 
At Wed Apr 23, 07:59:00 p.m. IST, Blogger laichungleung said...

Yes, it's a bit stupid of me to harp on the "bitter" comment. I think there are a whole lot of truth to his bitter comment but it probably isn't the smartest thing to say, so he misspoke.

 
At Thu Apr 24, 04:52:00 a.m. IST, Blogger Sidney Sweet said...

It's rather sad that Democratic Party delegates are equally split between Clinton and Obama, and the decision to pick a nominee [purportedly on the basis of electability vis-à-vis McCain] then left to the superdelegates.

Until recently, Clinton and Obama have been attacking each other more ferociously than what the Republican hawks are known to be capable of doing. The Dems are wearing out party resources and a sense of partisanship or comradeship [the Clintons resent very much people whom they'd helped but who now turn their backs on them] in the nomination process.

Perhaps this is the price to pay for democracy within the party. I hope it's not a heavy one.

 
At Sun Apr 27, 12:21:00 p.m. IST, Blogger Snowdrops said...

Thanks Sydney for visiting, and sorry for my delay in responding to your comment. I actually thought the mutual attacks by the two candidates against each other have been rather tame, which were more about convenient political point-scoring than the kind of full-on malicious swift-boating specialised by the Repugs. I do agree however with your point that the Dems have been wearing out their sense of comradeship in this process. To me, this was mostly because of some overzealous Obamabots, many of whom were turn-coat Republicans in the first place who hated Clinton with a passion. They have managed to turn what should be normal political jousting into a with-me-or-against-me contest between two sides.

Anyway, let see what comes out in June (if not in May).

 

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