Tag Archives: Hillary Clinton

The Supreme Fillibuster

US SenateWhen Justice Antonin Scalia died, Senate Republicans announced that they would not hold hearings because of their belief — not supported by any precedent — that a lame duck president should not get to fill a vacancy during his last year in office.   Earlier this week, in a classic gaffe (i.e. he mistakenly told the truth), Senator John McCain announced that Senate Republicans intend to block any nominee that President Hillary Clinton might put forward.  While Senator McCain has attempted to walk back this statement, he revealed what many of us have known to be true all along — the Republicans do not have any problem with any specific nominee that President Obama has or that President Clinton might put forward; there problem is with losing the majority on the Supreme Court.

If the Republicans can keep their current Senate majority, the process of blocking all nominees is simple — although with potential political consequences.  They simply vote down any nominee.  Their problem is if, as current polls suggest, the Democrats regain the Senate majority for the next two years.  If that happens, we are potentially looking at the next conflict over the filibuster.

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The Republican Leaning Voter

VotingBoothImage_0In theory, this election should pose a significant dilemma for the Republican or the Republican-leaning voter.  A plurality of the Republican party has foisted on the voters of America someone who is unfit for any office.  If voters voted for the candidate who was closest to their position, Trump would be struggling to break 25% and would be potentially looking at losing every state.  Instead he is looking at getting around 75-80% of the vote from Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (those who identify as independents but vote Republican in most races).  There are multiple reasons for Trump’s ability to hold onto most Republican voters (which explain why the Republican Party is not yet at the point of splitting).

The first and most significant is party loyalty.  Especially among those who opt to vote in the primaries, there is an investment in the party and its future.  Participating in a primary is an implicit agreement with other members of your party that, as a group, you will put together a ticket — top to bottom — that will represent the party in the elections.  The exact platform that the party will pursue in office will depend on the mix of candidates.  If other factions do well in the primaries, that platform may not suit your faction’s wishes perfectly, but you will live with that and try to do better in the next cycle of primaries.  It takes a dramatic change in the types of candidates who get elected (and typically several cycles) for a person to came to the conclusion that their party is no longer the party that they originally joined and that, on the issues that matter most to them, their policy preferences have no place in that party.

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The Greatest Debate Ever?

fireworksOn Monday, Hofstra University will host the first of this year’s three presidential debates.  Since 1992, the Commission on Presidential Debates has held three presidential debates and one vice-presidential debate.  It is unclear how much impact the debates actually have on the general election.  While candidates who do “better” in a debate tend to have a bounce in the polls, that bounce tends to be temporary.

In most election cycles, a large number of voters are not that familiar with the candidates (particularly those who are running for President for the first time).  For swing voters, the debates (and the post-debate coverage of the “highlights”) can either confirm the negatives or the positives associated with a  candidate.  This year, the two candidates are probably better known than in most cycles (or at least the names are more familiar).  As such, it seems likely that it will be much more difficult for either candidate to change how voters see them.  However, the candidates will still try.

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Convention Committees

While most of the media attention is currently focused on whom might or might not still be in consideration for vice-president, a key activity over the next several weeks will be the work of the convention committees.

Because the Democrats give candidates a key role in selecting their delegates (and here in Missouri we had a bit of an uproar at our state convention due to the Sanders campaign exercising its right to trim the number of candidates for at-large delegates), the Rules Committee and the Credentials Committee tend not to be that important.  The fight this year was in the Platform Committee which wrapped up its work yesterday in Orlando.  There were several changes to the draft platform adopted at the full committee meeting in Orlando, and the revised draft has not yet been posted on the convention’s website (which does have the original version of the draft platform.)  There were some issues on which the committee had significant splits between Clinton and Sanders delegates.  It is unclear if any of these splits will lead to a minority report and debates on the floor.

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Delegate Math — Week of June 13

The end is finally here.

On the Republican side, the voting is over and the only delegate selection still to come is the South Dakota state convention starting on June 24.  Depending upon which count you use, Trump has slightly over 1,440 delegates who are bound to him by current Republican Party rules (and another 80 who are officially uncommitted who have pledged to support him).  Of course, every time Trump opens his mouth, some senior figure in the party begins longingly considering the power of the Rules Committee and the Convention to change those rules.  Whether Trump has enough loyal delegates to survive himself is unclear (and it is unlikely that the Republicans would take this extreme step), but Trump is the exact type of candidate who would justify throwing the rules out the window to save the party.

The Democratic side still has a little more work to do.  With the caveat that the count in California is not yet final, Secretary Clinton currently has around 2,180 pledged delegates to 1,797 delegates for Senator Sanders — a clear majority of pledged delegates (even if Sanders wins every delegate still theoretically up for grabs, he would still be approximately 300 delegates behind Secretary Clinton).

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Delegate Math Week of June 6 — Part 2 (California)

As discussed in part 1, the math in both parties has been relentless.  After last night’s results in the U. S. Virgin Islands, the Greenpapers has Clinton only 85 votes short of clinching the nomination in its “soft” count.  Barring a large number of superdelegates endorsing Clinton over the next forty-eight hours, today’s primary in Puerto Rico does not have enough delegates at stake (60 total) to put Clinton over the top, but the states discussed in Part 1 (New Jersey, South Dakota, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Montana) have more than enough delegates to put Clinton over the top.  Sanders is urging the media to remember that superdelegates can change their minds and depart from past practice by not declaring Clinton the nominee unless she wins enough pledged delegates to put her over the top (almost impossible).

With so few contests left, it is all but certain that Clinton will win the pledged delegate count.   Even the attempt to win additional delegates in the later stages of caucus states is not going well.  While the Washington Democratic Party has only posted the names of the delegates elected by the Congressional Districts (not the candidates that they are supporting), they have announced the allocation for the state-wide delegates (which is based on the breakdown of the Congressional District delegates).  Based on that allocation, Clinton won between 17 and 19 delegates at the Congressional District level (post-precinct caucus estimates had her winning 18).    In the other states that have already held first-tier caucuses, there are only 48 delegates still at stake (with Sanders having a 28-20 advantage).    (6-2 in Idaho, 7-8 in Iowa, and 15-10 in Nebraska).  Gaining more than five delegates from these states is unlikely, and adding it to the potential gain of 1 in Washington, Clinton would still have a 261 delegate lead heading into Puerto Rico.  Since for reasons discussed previously, Sanders is probably going to have a net loss of delegates between Puerto Rico and the other states on Tuesday, Sander’s outside hope of significantly closing that gap come down to California.

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Delegate Math — Week of May 30th

The primary campaign enters the home stretch.  Depending upon which count you use, Donald Trump either has or is about to clinch the Republican nomination.  (The counts differ in their estimate of how many of the officially “uncommitted” delegates have pledged to support Trump.  Trump is 139 short by the “bound” delegate count.)  Because there are no Republican contests this week, the only thing that can change between now and the next (and final) Republican contests on June 7 will be additional pledges from uncommitted delegates.

This week the action is all on the Democratic side in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.  Between now and the Virgin Island’s contest, there will be some minor adjustments as results are certified from the April states and as superdelegates announce their support for one of the candidates.  However, barring a large number of superdelegates endorsing Clinton, the delegates up for stake this week should not be enough to clinch the nomination.  At the present time, Clinton is approximately 100 delegates short of clinching the nomination.

The Virgin Islands contest on June 4 is a little bit unusual.  At the territorial mass meeting, attendees from St. Croix will select three delegates.  Attendees from the other islands will select four delegates.  Assuming that both candidates meet the fifteen percent threshold, St. Croix will almost certainly split 2-1.  The other four delegates will either split 3-1 or 2-2.   As a result, the most likely outcomes are either a 5-2 or a 4-3 split (most likely in favor of Clinton).  At this stage of the race, the results in the Virgin Islands will not make much of a difference in the delegate count.  At most the Virgin Islands will play into any “momentum” argument that the Sanders campaign wants to make to the superdelegates.  (That argument is the same reason why Sanders is considering a recount in Kentucky even though such a recount would probably only change one delegate at most.)

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Preparing for 2020

While there is still plenty of time left in the 2016 election, discussion has already started about the rules for the 2020 election.  Changes to the delegate selection process tends to be driven by “fixing” what the party sees as the problem in the last election cycle.  For example, a lot of the changes on the Republican side (e.g., the binding rules, penalties for states violating the rules) were driven by what the party leadership thought went wrong in 2012 — Ron Paul doing better at state conventions than he did on caucus nights, states violating the timing and proportionality rules.

The two parties are at different stages of the process for modifying the procedures for 2020.  For the Republicans, the process for convening the next convention is part of the party rules .  Normally, the rules can only be amended at the convention.  In 2012, the convention granted limited “one time only” authority to the Republican National Committee to change the process.  Given the difficulty of making changes on the fly during a convention, it is likely that the Republicans might give the RNC this power again.  For the Democrats, the actual drafting of the rules for the next convention is done by the Democratic National Committee after the convention.  Typically, the most that has happened during the nomination process is an agreement to have a study commission to look at revisions to the rules.

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Delegate Math — Weeks of May 16 and May 23

As this week’s primaries showed, with Kasich and Cruz out, it’s only a matter of time until Trump gets to 1,237 delegates.  There are still pitfalls ahead for Trump, but those pitfalls are about the convention going rogue on the platform and the vice-presidential pick.  Whether that happens depends upon how much Trump wants to alter the 2012 platform (which is hard to tell given how vague Trump’s actual positions are) and whether Trump can find an acceptable vice-presidential candidate.   Over the next two week’s the Republicans will have primaries in Oregon (May 17) and Washington (May 24).    Oregon allocates its twenty-eight delegates proportionally with no winner-take-all provision; so Cruz and Kasich should get some delegates, but Trump should take twenty or more delegates.  Washington allocates thirty delegates by congressional district and fourteen delegates state-wide.    Given that Washington has a twenty percent threshold for winning delegates, Trump is likely to get all forty-four.   Including the uncommitted delegates who have pledged to support Trump, Washington should put Trump unofficially over the top.

For the Democratic Party, the next two weeks consists of two primaries (Oregon and Kentucky on May 17), the Nebraska county conventions spread out over the two weeks, the Washington Congressional District conventions on May 21, and the Wyoming state convention on May 28.

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Super Delegates 2016 — The Arguments

The two parties take very different approaches to the election of pledged delegates.  In the Republican Party, the influence of winner-take-all states and winner-take-most states allows a front runner to win the nomination while only getting a plurality of the vote.  In the Democratic Party, the fact that 14% of the delegates (officially unpledged party leader and elected officials, unofficially superdelegates) go to the convention as unpledged delegates and the pledged delegates are allocated proportionately, make it hard for even a clear front-runner with a majority of the votes to win enough pledged delegates unless the other candidates suspend their campaigns.   As a result, for the second competitive cycle in a row, both candidates need the support of at least some of the super delegates to win the nomination.

There are a lot of different arguments for what superdelegates should consider in making their decision.  The problem for Bernie Sanders and his supporters is that almost every argument favors Hillary Clinton.

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