Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Unpledged Add-On Delegates

Well, we can thank the lengthy and competitive race for the Democratic nomination for bringing to light any number of rules and political players during this current nomination season. I mean, who among you was talking about the primary/caucus in Texas in 2004? Did Al Gore even care that there were superdelegates in 2000? And what about the timing of nominating contests? That never warranted any discussion before this year. Well, I suppose that has been discussed some (here and elsewhere).

As we glance forward at the race post-North Carolina/Indiana there are a couple of related questions that come readily to mind: 1) What are the numbers? and 2) Is it over? I'll leave the latter to the pundits and Hillary Clinton. The former, however, has been covered and seems to point toward the affirmative on the latter (See, the pundits are already at work.). If you are Hillary Clinton and her campaign, though, you are trying to find a way to cobble together an unlikely coalition of delegates to somehow pull this thing out. We all know the math on the pledged delegates and the superdelegates, but what about these mysterious unpledged, add-on delegates? Could this potentially be a hidden bastion of support that Clinton could use to get her close enough to Obama's tally; close enough that legitimately begin making the electability arguments again?

Possibly, but it's doubtful. There are only 76 add-ons (81 if you count Florida and Michigan's) and this group insn't going to act anymore monolitically than any other group of Democratic delegates. In fact, Obama already has a lead among those add-ons that have been selected. Most are selected at state conventions (others by committees of state party leaders) to represent their states as unpledged delegates to the national convention. Only a hanful have been chosen thus far but more will follow as the process transitions into the state convention phase for both caucus states and primary states.

Want more? If the link to 2008 Democratic Convention Watch isn't enough, NPR ran a story on the add-ons just last week as well.

Recent Posts:
Kansas is Back in for 2012! But for How Long?

The Electoral College Maps (5/7/08)

Identity Politics (Brazile v. Begala)


Robert said...

I heard a Clinton clip on NPR this morning. She was making the point that she was better at getting working-class votes than Obama. When asked about single-digit results with African Americans, she indicated that they would always vote Democrat. That seems to be fairly elitist to me, you insult them (or at least get your husband to) and then take them for granted. Talk about getting thrown under the bus. Where is Charley Rangel in all of this?

Josh Putnam said...

Here's the link to the NPR story Rob referenced above.

Josh Putnam said...

I don't know Rob. I listened to her comments and didn't really take it that way. She did stress the importance of African Americans to the Democratic Party.

I can see where that could be interpreted as elitist and this subject is one that we've spoken about extensively in the discussion group. Is she taking them for granted? I'm sure it may be portrayed that way.

The flip side is that she is acknowledging the political acumen of African American voters and the reality of the political environment. Both she and African American voters know that too much is on the line in this election for a majority of that group to stay home in November. Now, would they turn out in as high a proportion as they would if Obama was the nominee? No, but I doubt we would see a huge drop off. African Americans just don't have an alternative to turn to.

Plus, she probably won't win the nomination and their aren't that many African American voters in the remaining states. So that won't hurt her in the short term.

Long term? It just fits in with the sullied image the Clintons have inadvertently cultivated among the black community during this cycle. We are talking about someone who was called the first black president. It is amazing that his wife is now performing at Republican levels among African American voters in these contests. My, how the mighty have fallen.

Robert said...

I admit to being overly sensitive, but I don't think she realizes how deeply she and Bill have alienated the African-American community. I think there will be a price paid for those elected professionals who supported her, particularly African-Americans. I agree that it will not hurt her in the short term, but she will have fences to mend before her next Senate race or the one for Governor. Look for an up-and-coming African American, perhaps a woman, to challenge her in the primary. I still believe that if the two of them had handled SC better, she would be capturing 25-30% of the African-American vote and would be the candidate Obama was trying to catch if not the presumptive nominee.

Robert said...

Did you see the USA Today comments? They are cited by CNN.

I think her statement could finish her as a credible candidate for anything, even in New York.

Josh Putnam said...

Here's that link.

Josh Putnam said...

If the media keeps playing it up, it could very well be the end for her. Those comments have not been received well. Overly sensitive or not, I think you were right on, Rob.

How many feet in the mouth do the Clintons need on this issue before they zip it for good? As the commercial for Tootsie Pops (when referring to how many licks it took to get to the center) used to say, "The world may never know."

Robert said...

The media is not putting much heat on as far as I can see. I only found one piece on the day's offerings that takes her to task

and she is getting support from some unlikely quarters

Al Sharpton is calling on her to get out, but I don't see anything yet from Charley Rangle or other Clinton loyalists in the African- American community. Very strange.

Josh Putnam said...

Here are those links from Rob:
Desperate Clinton is Danger to the Party

The Hillary Democrats

Don't kick someone while they're down? That's the only thing I can think of that could rationally explain it.

As I've said, she has earned the right to compete through the end of primary season. She may have lost the right to attack Obama at all costs with her performance on Tuesday, but she has enough delegates and votes nationwide to stay in. That's about all she has left, though.

Robert said...

Not to kick her while she is down is probably Obama's best strategy. I have a feeling that Clinton herself or Karl Rove would be as tolerant.