March 11, 2008

Those chaotic caucuses. (Just another opportunity for Hillary to be sleazy?)

So let's look at that Josh Marshall post:
Caucuses rarely if at all vote directly for national convention delegates (I'm going to hedge here a bit because I don't know the ins and outs of every states rules.) Generally speaking, they choose delegates to a state convention, which in turn chooses delegates to the national convention. In some states I think there are even intervening county conventions.
Yeah, like Texas. I know that because my son Chris is a county delegate — he's for Hillary — as was just about everyone else that didn't sign in and walk right out on caucus night. Read his description of the chaotic process that got these people chosen on this post of mine.

Back to Josh:
[U]nlike in primaries where the delegates really get picked on primary night, that's not what happens with caucuses. When you have a caucus in state such-and-such and they say Obama got X number of delegates, that's just an estimate. He doesn't really have them yet. What it really means is that he got X number of delegates and if they all go to the state convention and vote for Obama then he'll get the estimated number of delegates, or something very close to that number.

The point is that there's a lot of potential haggling and funny-business possible between what's actually set in stone now and what people are expecting come convention time....

[W]ay down at the county convention level we're talking really big numbers of delegates. You don't know these people quite as well. Some of them may be new to politics. You've got to be certain they all show up at the different conventions... [I]f at any point one campaign or another can't manage or control their delegates, they can lose some national delegates.
Kos has more.

It's going to get uglier. I hope when it's all over, the ridiculous caucus system is abandoned.

7 comments:

Tim said...

"The point is that there's a lot of potential haggling and funny-business possible between what's actually set in stone now and what people are expecting come convention time...."

That's not an accident.

Otherwise, Blue on Blue. Love it.

PatCA said...

I agree it's a system that's designed to be rigged, but what's an alternative, a straight vote?
The party leaders will never let the electorate decide--the folks loved McGovern, and the party was defeated.

Paul Zrimsek said...

A nice bit of buckshot for those foolish enough to believe that the superdelegates are somehow contaminating the democratic Purity Of Essence of the pledged delegates.

T J Sawyer said...

Congatulations, Ann. You are the first blogger/media person to show some understanding of the caucus system.

This really gives some useful background to people who only read the numbers reported by the media. When they say "Obama has 1589 pledged delegates" they really mean, "Obama has about 1600 delegates plus or minus a hundred." Of course the media could never bring themselves to admit any uncertainty.

My experience in the Minnesota caucus system (admittedly dated by some twenty years since I was thrown out of the republican party for taking a sinful position on a lottery) is that you have no chance of being a delegate to anything unless you are willing to do literature drops for the party etc.

SteveR said...

I hope when it's all over, the ridiculous caucus system is abandoned.

And that long overdue event would start with the elimination of the tedious Iowa Caucus process, no offense to Iowans, just that whole stupid thing.

Paul Zrimsek said...

I second Steve's motion to eliminate the Iowa caucus. A couple of months ago I would have held out for the elimination of Iowa, but time heals all wounds.

Mitch H. said...

Now that I think about it, why should we be surprised that the party of more government would construct for itself an epic, appalling bureaucratic edifice of byzantine complexity?

The Texas Democratic Party's system reminds me of something out of Tales From Topographic Oceans. Maybe "The Ritual". The version with all the chanting and reedy bellowing.