March 28, 2008

According to Newsweek, "it's only fair to conclude" that the Obama campaign is not trying to flip Texas county convention delegates.

Newsweek blogger Andrew Romano looks into the evidence I brought up in this post yesterday — that my son (who is a Clinton delegate) and the 2 Clinton delegates he happens to know about, were sent a mailing by the Obama campaign urging them to vote for Obama at the county convention. Romano writes:
So I did some digging. This morning, I finally got to the bottom of the brouhaha--or as close to bottom, it seems, as anyone can get.
This better be good! MSM does "some digging" and gets kinda close to "the bottom" of it. I was just blogging the facts that I knew, by the way. It was Romano who wrote: "Apparently, Obama has mailed these postcards to all Texas county delegates, not just his own." (Boldface added here and below.) Now, Romano has this:
Turns out that the Obama campaign was correct to claim that the Clinton delegate in question, Christopher Cohen, was misidentified on their working list as an Obama supporter. I have obtained a copy of the spreadsheet and double-checked his entry. Not only that, but three other Clinton supporters who have contacted me to complain about receiving Obama postcards are ALSO identified on the aforementioned spreadsheet as Obama delegates. So the Obama campaign was, in fact, working off a flawed list, and that explains why Cohen and his fellow Clintonites received Obama postcards, which the Obama camp maintains were intended only for their own delegates.
So you got a copy of a spreadsheet from the Obama campaign, and according to that, my son and those 2 other persons — just those 3! — are incorrectly coded. What are the odds?!
That said, Cohen and the two of the other delegates in question are listed correctly--that is, as pro-Clinton, not pro-Obama--on the website of the Travis County Democrats. Why the discrepancy? Blame the middleman. According to spokesman Hector Nieto of the Texas Democratic Party, "the information that we gave to the campaigns was information given to us by the individual precincts. We then sent that information to a contractor to key it in to a spreadsheet. There's a possibility that an error was made when the information was keyed in." In other words, the precincts reported the correct candidate affiliations to the state party, but an outside contractor likely screwed up when entering those affiliations into a single spreadsheet -- meaning that the Clinton and Obama campaigns received lists that incorrectly displayed at least a few Clinton delegates pledged to Obama (and perhaps vice versa).
So Nieto is just guessing.
I was basing my original item on the affiliations posted to the Travis County Democrats website, which list Cohen (and two other delegates who received Obama postcards) as Clinton supporters; at the time, it appeared that Obama was knowingly asking his rival's delegates for support. But now it's clear that the Obama campaign received a spreadsheet indicating that these three delegates were pro-Obama, and thus it's only fair to conclude that Obama is not, as my headline suggested, playing the passive delegate-'poaching' game. Only Clinton--with her robocalls, which started in Iowa and continue in Texas--is on the prowl.
How did we get from Nieto guessing to clarity? This is really the closest "anyone" can get to the bottom of things?

***

Relevant cautionary tale: "Los Angeles Times to Examine Its Report on Attack on Rapper."

46 comments:

Revenant said...

I would be surprised if both campaigns weren't pulling stunts like this. It sounds like standard low-level political shenanigans to me.

madawaskan said...

The deal is-

Who has been winning the caucuses?

Obama or Clinton?

I think that Clinton has only won one and that was Nevada.

The Nevada second round convention had to be cancelled-because it was a mess.

Now how do you win caucuses?

Well I think it helps to have more money that is for sure and that is where Obama might win-just by the organizational power afforded by having more money.

But is it coincidental that the caucus that Hillary won, and the first step of the Texas two step that Hillary also won seems to get messy on the second go around?

Has the inverse of that happened?

A caucus that Hillary lost gets ugly in the second go around of the conventions?

Is there a trend?

rhhardin said...

It's only fair to is a cliche.

The Democratic party has only customs and traditions, as do the media.

It's customary and traditional to is the phrase he wanted.

Joe said...

From the article:

We then sent that information to a contractor to key it in to a spreadsheet.

Is Texas still in the stone age? Seriously, what moron designs a system in 2008 that requires a contractor from the central office to manually enter information? Hell, I used easy to set up automated phone systems 20 years ago that could have handled this automatically.

vet66 said...

Next we will be talking about opposition research, dirty tricks, and Obama staffers joining the Clinton team.

Sorry, we are already talking about these topics. These people are either incompetent or plying the plumber trade of Nixon years. Anyone seen Chuck Colson lately?

Revenant said...

Is Texas still in the stone age? Seriously, what moron designs a system in 2008 that requires a contractor from the central office to manually enter information?

I'd guess that their data collection system is outdated for the same reason that California doesn't require voter ID -- it makes fraud easier.

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

Who is this independent contractor who entered in Obama instead of Clinton for a randomly selected three Clinton delegates, and why should we trust this person's account of how this information was done, and for what reason? Maybe the contractor accidentally double-coded everybody. And I'd frankly have to see it for myself to know that Romana isn't misinterpreting the charts that have been sent to him from the Obama campaign.

I'm not saying I won't leave open the possibility that it was a mistake, but I don't think this explains everything. We'll see.

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

Maybe it was done accidentally-on-purpose.

Middle Class Guy said...

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...
Maybe it was done accidentally-on-purpose.


Texas+Politics. You may want to read about LBJ and his various campaigns. Things are just more sophisticated now. Then you may understand why things are so, how can I say it, effed up.

But, if you want a real education, read Chicago political history. Makes Texas look like pikers.

ZPS said...

Moot:

-of little or no practical value or meaning; purely academic.

-not actual; theoretical; hypothetical.

While I can see the value in dissecting the way Texas caucuses work (or don't work)...it's been over for weeks...Hillary lost the nomination.

If I were advising Obama, I would tell him to demand, daily, that Hillary drop out of the race. He has all the facts and stats on his side...there's no way she can win.

Obama! are you listening...make it part of your daily stump speech: "Senator Clinton has been a worthy opponent, but it's time she leave this race as the voters have already decided."

Balfegor said...

But now it's clear that the Obama campaign received a spreadsheet indicating that these three delegates were pro-Obama, and thus it's only fair to conclude that Obama is not, as my headline suggested, playing the passive delegate-'poaching' game.

I'd want to see the emails in which the spreadsheet was transmitted from the contractor. And the metadata on that spreadsheet. As it happens, you can edit the attachments on emails you receive, but this typically shows up on the metadata. Romano is a little too quick to exonerate here.

"The contractor screwed up" is not a particularly compelling excuse, when all the contractor is doing is copying data -- available in digital form! -- into a spreadsheet.

JohnTaylor88 said...

Maybe it was done accidentally-on-purpose.

Maybe you are grasping at straws.

Middle Class Guy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Middle Class Guy said...

From Andrew Sullivan; Clinton's new campaign strategy:

From Sullivan

Middle Class Guy said...

ZPS said...
If I were advising Obama, I would tell him to demand, daily, that Hillary drop out of the race. He has all the facts and stats on his side...there's no way she can win.

Man, then the public would see the real Hillary in all her frothing, screeching, shrilling rage. She would make Keith Olbermann look like a tea cup poodle. Uncle Festus would be out there pointing his fingers, jumping up and down, in that offended pissed off twang of his, demanding his Hillary get the nod.

Christ, you would subject us to that? On a daily basis? I thought you were against torture.

Slim999 said...

"I was just blogging the facts that I knew, by the way."

Ahem ... that's some serious crawfishing, ma'am, that I'm unaccustomed to you allowing in others.

You weren't just reporting the facts, you were out and out suggesting that the "facts" as you reported them revealed election fraud on the part of the Obama campaign - a quite serious charge, especially when unsubstantiated.

I quote your own headlines:

"In Texas, the Obama campaign tries to win over Clinton's county convention delegates"

You presented some anecdotal "evidence," that wouldn't hold up in any court, and then you said: " ... this mailing shows that the Obama campaign is fighting to flip Clinton delegates in Texas."

You upped the ante a couple of posts later with this headline: "Fraud in Texas?"

You're not just reporting facts in an uninterested way. The headlines, and your aside comments about those anecdotal experiences your son has had make it appear that you're pushing a certain reading of the facts that isn't even supported by those facts.

Now, someone else has looked into your allegations and judged them to be at best thin gruel

I tried to warn you of the dangers of yellow journalism. Facts sometimes have a tendency to get in the way of a good narrative.

You're overreaching with this one and should probably let it go until more facts appear that would support your already arrived at conclusion.

AJ Lynch said...

Yellow journalism Slim999?

Is that what you call it when the Newsweek journalist is too timid or too inexperienced to ask the the questions posed by Balfegor?

AJ Lynch said...

Ann:

True and pure neutrality requires you to do a post about Rev. Wright's 10,000 sf house.

ZPS said...

"Man, then the public would see the real Hillary in all her frothing, screeching, shrilling rage."

Well we've already seen her cry, cackle, and "misspeak"...why not see a little foaming at the mouth? I think this would be one of those ticking time bomb/imminent danger scenarios where torture would be acceptable!

AJ Lynch said...

MCG:

Re Sullivan and the Monty Python skit- a journalist or pundit has to be rabidly partisan to demand Clinton drop out.

Hell she is behind by only 3-4% and the leader, Obama, may yet stumble. So much as I don't like Clinton, I think it less than objective for the media to insist she quit.

S said...

Wait, so did the Clinton campaign get the same spreadsheet the Obama campaign did? Has anyone asked them what their copy looks like?

Chip Ahoy said...

Wasn't Chris's original complaint that they waited until just two days before the something something to tell delegates something something more something information to follow in the something something near something future? When they had nearly a year to plan something?

M. Simon said...

ZPS,

What ever happened to every vote counts?

Just a slogan? The Democrats didn't really mean it?

titusdance10looks3 said...

Can we get back to talking about tits please.

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

S, I'm trying to get that info from the Clinton campaign. They are fairly slow to respond to e-mails. Interesting that Andrew Romana seemed to get his info on what "both" candidates received from the Obama campaign.

Charlie Eklund said...

While I'm no Hillary fan, the suggestion that she should drop out because she can't get to 2025 delegates is preposterous due to the fact that the same is true of Obama.

If neither can get to 2025, then the game is far from over. As far as the rules for nominating the Democratic candidate are concerned, the popular vote total isn't germane. Also not germane is the number of states won by either candidate. The only number that matters is 2025. If that number isn't achieved, then the folks who devised this whole process are going to have to figure out what Plan B is.

I hope they do a better job with Plan B than they did with Plan A.

ZPS said...

In primary season, if every vote counted...Dodd, Biden, Richardson, and Edwards never would have dropped out. They knew it was mathematically impossible to win. The only thing that matters now is delegate count, and perhaps popular vote in terms of swaying superdelegates...and Obama's got both.

That Hillary doesn't realize this is a testament to her sheer arrogance, sense of entitlement, and all out bonkers-bonanza-craziness. She's almost kind of amazing...

or...Billary have something insane planned for Obama in May that will make Pastor Wright look like the teacup poodle that MCG suggested Keith Olbermann would look like if Hillary started frothing and screeching.

Tim said...

That was the best Newsweek article ever.

Middle Class Guy said...

AJ Lynch said...
MCG:

Re Sullivan and the Monty Python skit- a journalist or pundit has to be rabidly partisan to demand Clinton drop out.



AJ,
I just threw it in for humor.

blake said...

Chris--

You're on the right track. If it's a 3rd party contractor to blame BOTH parties would have the SAME wrong data.

Did any Obama delegates get solicited by Clinton? Isn't it odd that it only went one way?

Still could be error, but errors leave a trail.

And what the hell kind of entry system allows you to put in two conflicting pieces of data? Talk about stone-ages....

AJ Lynch said...

MCG:

In that case, what is your favorite color? Blue ..no red aaahhhh.

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knoxwhirled said...

Can we get back to talking about tits please.


Hm, not so thrilling for me, but even the Plame Affair is less boring than this latest clusterf*ck.

john said...

Well, its pretty obvious who is behind this, being Texas and all:

Third party contractor = messed up spreadsheets = skullduggery = Texas = something Rovian here: qed Halliburton.

ZPS needs to lay this on the Repubs. This is the way.

john said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Middle Class Guy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Richard Fagin said...

You'd think after the infamous "Box 13" incident in the 1948 election, when Lyndon Johnson stole the election for U.S. Senate, people would realize that there isn't a lot that's "fair" about Democratic politicking in Texas.

Tim said...

Unrelated comment: Guard play is the bane of slow, defensive oriented college basketball teams.

I'm just sayin'

Middle Class Guy said...

Angel Valenzuela,

?Donde esta dinero?

MTfromCC said...

I don't believe for a second that it was intentional trolling for Clinton delegates. I think the explanation that it is a mistake is far more credible.

After all, why would Obama's campaign, which is mathematically speaking prohibitively ahead in teh campaign, go after Clinton delegates and risk a storm of accusations about improprieties, when they don't need the extra delegates to emerge from teh elective process with more pledged delegates. THAT makes no sense, particularly for a campaign that, strategically, has run circles around the supposedly more established Clinton political magic. I see it as a matter of occum's razor - a theory should involve as few assumptions as possible. Conspiracy theories are more often wrong, and human error plays a huge part of everyday life.

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Daryl said...

Relevant cautionary tale: "Los Angeles Times to Examine Its Report on Attack on Rapper."

Why, because they both involve charismatic fraudsters peddling fake stories to the press impugning the reputation of a black superstar?

Is that really the parallel you want to assert?

Lisa said...

Ann, I think one should not always automatically assume an evil motive. Many people participating in the Texas caucus process are, like me, newbies to that process. I have lived in Texas for 20 years, voted for Democrats in Texas for 20 years, but never before was told of this caucus process (showing how totally ineffectual the Texas Democratic Party has been).

I am an Obama supporter who served as his Precinct Captain for my precinct, making 820 calls on his behalf before the primary and precinct caucus.

I was elected the "Precinct Chair" at my caucus and, since then, have received no guidance whatsoever from the Texas Democratic Party about what to do next. I properly submitted our precinct's information to the state and county offices of the Democratic Party, but again, have heard only crickets.

If you say that I or others have not done what we are supposed to do regarding next steps, blame the Texas state and county Democratic Party, not the Obama campaign. The party has done a crap job of informing people and needs to get better at this going forward.

Slim999 said...

Hmmmm,

Clinton campaign sends false emails to delegates claiming Texas convention has been cancelled:

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/5657703.html

"We have received reports from delegates who have received e-mails saying that conventions have been canceled," [Democratic Chairman Boyd] Richie said.

Convention delegates who had signed up for Clinton event notices on her Web site late Thursday received notices that their local convention had been canceled."

"Clinton state Chairman Garry Mauro said he did not know who was placing the robotic calls, but said he received one that purported to be from the Clinton campaign telling him to attend his convention at 1 p.m. He said that would cause him to miss the convention sign-in that gives him the ability to vote at the convention."

So maybe you're right here, Ann.

Maybe there is election fraud going on down in Texas.

Maybe the Clinton campaign is in fact engaged in such fraud.

Maybe Chris should start asking the Clinton campaign some tough questions.

bmoney said...

Ann,

I trust you will be posting an apology when it becomes clear the the error was on the part of the Texas Democratic Party itself, and not the Obama campaign?

Also, responding to this:
"Anyway, have fun at your convention."

with this:
"Yeah, have fun, kids. Play at your little democracy thing."

is just ridiculous - the guy's trying to be nice to you.