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Playing by the Rules

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I have been trying to finish a multi-part blog post for so long now I’ll never blog again if I don’t pop in in the middle of it.  So, hello!  If your Facebook feed is anything like mine, you hear a lot of complaints like the ones by Sanders supporters in this article: Sanders is being cheated in this election.  In my feed, I saw  Wyoming’s delegate apportionment cited as evidence that Clinton was “buying the election,” right next to this extremely useful corrective from Josh Marshall, which argues (and I agree), that the structurally anti-democratic features of the primary race are on balance beneficial to Sanders.  Sanders supporters who are convinced the game is rigged against them are not exactly even-handed when they choose which features of the race to complain about.  When the Sanders campaign explicitly argued that superdelegates should flip to him, even if Clinton led in both the popular vote and in pledged delegates, there were crickets from people who a few weeks earlier were howling about the superdelegates’ affront to democracy.  If the situation were reversed, and Clinton were performing better in caucus states, and Sanders in primary states, we would not hear the end of it.  If Sanders supporters who are lodging these complaints have a deep passion for representative democracy in the primaries, the existence of caucuses should be their first target.

But I don’t just want to point out hypocrisy.   If Hillary Clinton wins the primary, it will be because more people voted for her.  Even if she loses the primary, more people likely will have voted for her.  There are a lot of financial barriers to viability as a candidate, but in a two-person race, when each candidate has money for advertising and GOTV, a Clinton victory will be a sign of the will of the majority of the Democratic electorate.  The complaining about rules (especially when blind to the ways the rules are tilted towards their guy) and the insistence that this primary is a rigged game is a distraction from the fact that they live in a big, diverse country, with a lot of different constituencies, and other people have different opinions from them — even people who might share their values in a lot of ways!  The work of electoral politics is organizing the people who agree with you and persuading the people who don’t.  It’s hard.  I lived in Wisconsin during the recall Walker movement and participated in the protests. After the recall it was common to hear Madisonians complaining that the recall failed because of money in politics.  I found this assertion baffling.  In that particular election, the left-wing critique of Walker could not have been louder or better covered in the media.  There were thousands of mobilized people who could be organized for GOTV.  The recall failed because a majority of the Wisconsin electorate, people with their own intelligence and consciousness and values, decided they supported Walker.  The activity of the protests did not persuade them otherwise.  The right lesson to take from that experience was: our strategy did not achieve our goals.  What do we need to do differently?  The right lesson was not: it’s not fair! And similarly, the Sanders campaign has done remarkably well, but perhaps in the end, not well enough, at least for the goal of getting Sanders the nomination; it still will have accomplished some valuable left-wing muscle flexing either way.  People who are crushingly disappointed by that should be able to recognize that other Democrats just have different opinions than they do, and if they want a presidential nominee from the left wing of the party, they’re going to have to have to be better organized and more persuasive.  I fail to see how complaining that a fairly won election was rigged gets any closer to that goal.  It’s actually just insulting to the people voting for Clinton, whose votes are as valid as anyone else’s.  

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  • cleek

    losers complain about rules. winners win the game.

    • Murc

      Yeah, how dare people complain about things they think are unfair! It’s like they think they matter or something, am I right?

      • cleek

        the time to complain about the rules is before the game starts. presumably Sanders had time to study the rules of its nomination process before he joined the party.

        • rewenzo

          Like the OP, I don’t think Sanders has been particularly hurt by the rules, but it’s perfectly legitimate for people to complain about unfair rules at any stage in the process. I think it’s impractical to expect that Bernie Sanders or any candidate would have familiarized himself with the delegate apportionment rules of all 50 states and assorted territories before announcing his candidacy, especially when they change so frequently at the whims of the local party apparatus. I don’t think any one person has this knowledge even today.

          • cleek

            but it’s perfectly legitimate for people to complain about unfair rules at any stage in the process

            sure. but ‘unfair’ can’t just mean “works out better for Clinton”, which is what most of the complaining seems to be about.

            Team Sadners isn’t complaining about the ridiculous caucus process, after all.

            • alex284

              I think the OP and a lot of the comments here (like this one) would be a bit more convincing if the rest of us were able to block the memories of the epic whines coming from Clinton supporters in 2008.

              In 2008, it was “It’s soooooo unfair that MI’s delegates won’t be seated even though everyone knew that the rules said that if they moved their primary they would lose their delegates!” Now that she’s winning, it’s all “Only losers complain about the rules!”

              Like even the OP has a preemptive whine about how Clinton, if she loses, will have gotten the most votes. The primary is unfair in Sanders’s favor, sans exclamation point. But if Clinton were losing, something tells me the exclamation point would be there.

              Anyway, all these people (Clinton’s 2008 supporters and today’s Sanders supporters) were/are saying stupid things on the internet because they’re disappointed. I don’t see what’s so awful about that. Make fun of them, fine, but they’re not the devil and they’ll mostly come around.

              • Dilan Esper

                Yeah.

                Also, I think there were at least SOME rules that were unfair in Clinton’s favor. It certainly looks like, for instance, the field was cleared to benefit Clinton (that’s why the only serious challenger was a 74 year old non-member of the Party– it was made clear that any serious challenge to Clinton from any up and coming politician inside the party would be severely punished), and Debbie Wasserman Schultz engaged in a ham-handed attempt to rig the debates in HRC’s favor (which backfired).

                I mean, in the end, when Clinton wins (and she will), I think she’s completely legitimate as the nominee. But let’s not pretend there’s absolutely nothing that Sanders supporters can complain about it.

          • ForkyMcSpoon

            This is a fair complaint for Trump to make, but not really for Bernie Sanders.

            Delegates are assigned by state and CD by a formula that is the same everywhere but in the territories. The rules for allocating based on the vote are the same in every primary and mostly the same across caucuses. As far as the actual voting, this is what varies from state to state on the Dem side:

            *Party registration requirements (open, closed, etc.)
            *Registration deadlines
            *Primary or caucus process
            *Absentee rules
            *Caucus/voting hours

            And caucuses have been the most favorable aspect to Bernie, despite being the most complicated. So not buying that as hurting him.

            If you allocated all delegates strictly proportionately by statewide vote (no divisions by CD, no 15% threshold, etc.)… the net result is that Hillary’s lead would be 6 larger. So this aspect isn’t hurting Bernie either and probably isn’t worth gaming out.

            Getting rid of caucuses and closed primaries would probably put her further ahead (he gets a much larger benefit from caucuses than she does from closed contests).

            The Dem side is nothing like the GOP side in this regard. Coin flips in Iowa make caucuses look stupid, but had basically NO influence on the outcome.

            If you get your voters to the polls (and especially to the caucus!) or get them to vote absentee, you will win. Trying to game the rules beyond that isn’t worth your effort.

        • osceola

          Yes to what cleek said. Same in the GOP. Cruz got the Colorado delegates because he studied the state rules and planned accordingly. Trump thought all you had to do was win on election day, but you’ve also got to get asses in the seats at the local convention meetings.

          Ron Paul’s people understood this in 2012. They packed the district conventions, which got them a strong slate at the state conventions. The party regulars had to pull some parliamentary tricks to retain control. (Or so the Ron Paul cult says: these people have a strong conspiratorial bent.)

          Not knowing the rules is no excuse. As far as rewenzo’s “they change so frequently at the whims of the local party apparatus. I don’t think any one person has this knowledge even today.” That’s what recruiting a ground game is all about.

          • Murc

            Trump thought all you had to do was win on election day, but you’ve also got to get asses in the seats at the local convention meetings.

            And Trump supporters are absolutely justified in being mad as hell about that, as is Trump. The rules exist to serve the electorate and the candidates, not the other way around.

            • Morse Code for J

              Any system which awards delegates without regard for how the popular vote went is problematic, and yet they persist because of How It’s Always Been Done.

              I seriously hope the coin flip stories out of Iowa begin a reform of their primary election procedures.

              • Murc

                Any system which awards delegates without regard for how the popular vote went is problematic, and yet they persist because of How It’s Always Been Done.

                Also yes.

              • Breadbaker

                Why? It’s a political party, not a government. It exists to perpetuate itself, not the voters. If the voters want to reject it, they can at the ballot box in November, but the party is perfectly entitled to run itself as it wishes, even so as to crash and burn. This goes for both parties.

                • Murc

                  The party is indeed entitled to run itself however it wishes.

                  By the same token, people are free to say “no, that’s wrong/dumb/unethical/bad.”

                  I’m a people, so I will say these things when I think them to be so!

              • apogean

                The coin flips are, like, the least problematic feature of the Iowa caucuses. What’s another fair way to break a true tie?

                The fact that caucuses still exist in the first place is the real problem, and the “first in the nation” schedule that both drags out the primary season and leads to so much kowtowing to a highly unrepresentative state is deeply unpleasant.

              • Procopius

                The whole reason for convoluted rules is the Iron Law of Institutions. See also, Debbie Wasserman Schultz,for some unfathomable reason saying straight out that the reason for superdelegates is so the establishment doesn’t have to run against grass roots organizers. It’s really perfectly understandable, but it’s had bad unintended consequences, i.e. widespread voter anger against party establishments.

          • Exactly. If you are serious about competing you need a lawyer who is familiar with each state’s election law, and then you want to start recruiting lawyers in as many districts as possible. This is much more important than hiring someone to do your media purchases- even though media is what drives fundraising. Ideally your consultant has a good Rolodex. You can’t map a strategy without knowing the conditions of the engagement, and you can’t make tactical decisions without a strategy.

            I suspect that there is no one more surprised about what Bernie Sanders has accomplished than Bernie Sanders himself. That said, here in the Queen City of the Lakes the Sanders people have been out there and visible for quite some time, even though the local Democratic Party has been Team Hillary from sic ’em. From what I’ve seen he has a pretty good ground game going here, and that is impressive because it has grown, I think, as pretty much a pure grassroots phenomenon.

          • rewenzo

            Not knowing the rules is no excuse. As far as rewenzo’s “they change so frequently at the whims of the local party apparatus. I don’t think any one person has this knowledge even today.” That’s what recruiting a ground game is all about.

            I’m saying it’s not unreasonable for a person to complain about a byzantine and unfair process even if you would expect a sophisticated actor to be able to master the unfair process (or delegate others to master them) and plan accordingly. You can say this failure of Sanders to master the unfair process makes Sanders unsophisticated and unfit to be President but it’s perfectly legitimate for Sanders to complain about the unfair process being unfair, which is, in a way, what his campaign is kind of about.

            It’s like saying if you want to not be poor you have to master the tax code and the finance regulations and all the ways rich people have of building wealth even if it’s unfair and you’re not allowed to complain about how unfair such a system is.

            • ChrisTS

              But, you are begging the question: is the process unfair?

              • rewenzo

                Yes, I am assuming that it is unfair without answering the question.

                • ChrisTS

                  Ok, how is it unfair?

                • efgoldman

                  I am assuming that it is unfair without

                  Yes, it’s sooo unfair for over two million more voters to have chosen HRC.
                  Arithmetic is an unfair master.

        • delazeur

          I don’t think that’s a reasonable expectation to have of a candidate who began with a “let’s start a conversation” campaign that didn’t become a “we could win if we fight for it” campaign until much later.

    • losers complain about rules. winners win the game.

      …said every Republican in American in December 2000.

      Though some of them avoided the Trumpian “winners’ and “losers” language.

      • cleek

        …said every Republican in American in December 2000

        truth does not become fiction when idiots speak it.

        • Idiocy does not become truth because it’s momentarily convenient for your goals.

          “Winners and losers.” You really think like that, or you’re willing to fake it for right now.

          • cleek

            “Winners and losers.” You really think like that, or you’re willing to fake it for right now.

            i really think sore losers and crybabies are overrepresented on Team Sadners.

            i’m very sorry the long-established rules of the Democratic Party’s nomination process are so mean to him, but it was Bernie Sanders’ decision to abide by them. and his team’s constant petitioning of the supers to abide by Made Up Rule Of The Day #X is an embarrassment.

            • I think I stopped using language like “losers” and “crybabies” when I was twelve.

              You and Donald Trump, not so much.

              Your last paragraph has nothing to do with anything I wrote, and only serves to advertise that there is nothing else going on with you than RAH RAH MY CANDIDATE.

              I feel some RAH RAH for my candidate, too. It’s a point of pride for me that I don’t respond to the sensation by descending into playground taunts.

              • cleek

                It’s a point of pride for me that I don’t respond to the sensation by descending into playground taunts.

                oh, i’m sure. now that you’re all growed up you only use big boy taunts like “Trumpian”.

                • “Trumpian?” I’m supposed to feel bad about the “playground taunt” “Trumpian?”

                  I know you really wanted to have something to say, but damn that’s weak.

            • ChrisTS

              I do think we need to stress the ‘team,’ here. Devine is a puzzle, but Weaver just seems awful. As far I can tell, both Sanders and Devine say Sanders will support HRC if she is the nominee. Its Weaver who is on the war path.

              • kped

                True, Sanders has said that and I don’t doubt him. He did say some crap about contesting it a few sunday’s ago, and some gobbledygook about “most of her lead is from the South”, but I don’t see him dying on that hill. He’ll do what Clinton did for Obama because he’s well aware of what’s at stake.

            • And thinking back to 7th grade, I don’t think I ever bought into the notion that complaining about perceived injustice in the established system was, broadly and without any reference to any particular situation, something to be insulted as the whining of “losers.

              Nor can I remember ever believing that coming out on top under whatever rules the system set up was a sign of being a virtuous “winner.”

              Of course, you probably weren’t thinking about the actual meaning of losers complain about rules. winners win the game. when you wrote it. It was probably just a shallow little slam on those other people on the internet that bug you so much.

              Well, sorry, I actually thought about your comment and what it said. And it’s a pretty ugly sentiment.

        • ChrisTS

          truth does not become fiction when idiots speak it.

          I’m stealing this.

          • You’re going to need it.

            • ChrisTS

              I teach philosophy, Joe. I already need it.

              • efgoldman

                I teach philosophy

                Oh, you’re the one.

                • ChrisTS

                  Heh. I accept my culpability.

    • Chuchundra

      I’ll just leave this here.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BV-52l_LRFw

  • Murc

    I’ve been mulling primary systems recently for obvious reasons, and, gallingly, have come to the conclusion that the superdelegates might not be an entirely bad way of dealing with potential failure states.

    Aside from completely nationalizing the party, which is pretty much impossible, we have to deal with the Democratic Party as being made up of fifty sub-units. Now, we could adopt a primary system that used something like STV or whatnot, just completely do away with the delegate system.

    That seems like a big lift, tho. In the absence of that, “hey, in the event that you guys can’t select a clear winner, the people who actually work, professionally, as Democratic operatives and office-holders will pick between the people who came up short of a win.”

    (Having said that, I would be royally honked off if the superdelegates ever ignored someone who clearly had a very strong plurality in favor of someone who clearly didn’t. They’re for breaking ties or picking between a gaggle of people who all got like 20% or so, not turning a loser into a winner.)

    • Well, there was a scenario type joe and I discussed a ways back. Here’s a concrete variant:

      Let’s say that Candidate 1 racks up huge numbers of delegates through Super Tuesday, but it seems primarily on the strength of name recognition.

      Let’s say that Super Tuesday clears the field except for Candidate 2, who now becomes increasingly better known and starts doing better and better. Let’s say by the last primaries, is just winning everything 60-40, but this isn’t enough to overcome Candidate 1’s early lead.

      Furthermore, let’s say that current polling in the early states mirrors results in the late states, i.e., if the early primaries were reheld, 2 would crush it. And let’s say that it’s pretty stable.

      Finally, let’s say that neither 1 nor 2 has an outright majority in pledged.

      You’re a superdelegate. For whom do you vote?

      I’m inclined to Candidate 2. And I think that would be a more legitimate result than confirming Candidate 1’s plurality of pledged delegates, though it is tricky.

      • Lasker

        Superdelegates seem like a reasonable idea to me for the very reason, although there should probably be fewer of them, and they certainly shouldn’t be included in totals before the convention. I would argue that a significant lead in national polls might be a better proxy for the strength of Candidate 2 than re-polling early states.

        If the Republicans had superdelegates, this would actually be a potential scenario for them this year.

      • EliHawk

        If you reversed the candidates from 2008, such that Clinton had that 100 delegate lead early, but Obama won most of the states in the last month (and big states like Texas and Ohio and Pennsylvania), you would have had that scenario, more or less. That’s still not a good reason to overturn the lead, because as we’ve learned in the last two Democratic nominating cycles, momentum is largely a fiction and the underlying demographics of each candidate’s coalition and advantages in different electoral systems (i.e. primary vs. caucus, open vs. closed) matter a lot. Barring an exogenous, John Edwards-like scandal, you just don’t end up with that ‘Oh, we really would have voted for the other guy!” scenario. It’s creating a lot of assumptions here that don’t seem likely to exist in the real world.

        • momentum is largely a fiction

          Note that I wasn’t making a momentum argument. My scenario is that Candidate 2 *stably* is more electable. I.e., we have strong confidence that if the primary were held at the convention, Candidate 2 would win.

          Trajectory and momentum arguments are different. Trajectory says that “Given some underlying dynamic, this is where we expect to be”. Momentum says that the underlying dynamic is the momentum itself (i.e., wins begat wins). There’s some truth to this, in the sense that under performing in some key area might cause money to dry up (esp. with big donors) or the reverse. But absent a collapse, a “few wins in a row” generally is either a schedule artefact or swamped by other factors.

      • ChrisTS

        It seems to me that we have a significant, and possibly intractable, problem in that our primaries are so spread out.

        I wonder if there could be some, genuinely fair, way of having everyone vote on the same day or in the same week. As someone said, above, we would have to have a strong national party to even get started on such a scheme.

        • Anon21

          As someone said, above, we would have to have a strong national party to even get started on such a scheme.

          Except that a single national primary would dramatically weaken national parties. The way that parties exert influence over the nomination now is by controlling access to resources and favorable coverage over a long primary calendar. If you consolidate to one date, you increase the odds that an interloper with no real ties to the party rides a wave of overheated coverage to the nomination.

          • ChrisTS

            Hmm. Sigh.

          • efgoldman

            If you consolidate to one date, you increase the odds that an interloper with no real ties to the party rides a wave of overheated coverage to the nomination.

            You also make it much, much more difficult for a relatively unknown or insurgent candidate to run at all.
            As much as I hate that two small, totally unrepresentative states start the process, it gives the less-known candidate a chance to get going for relatively little money. A national or regional primary would require huge amounts of money and organization up front.

            • ColBatGuano

              Yeah, but maybe they could try some other small states that were just a teensy bit more representative. How about Delaware?

              • ForkyMcSpoon

                The idea that came to my mind was ordering the states by Electoral Vote-weighted lean from D+0.

                So, for example, the 2012 election had a 3.9% margin. The state closest to this margin was Virginia (which almost hit it on the nose). As such, its weighted lean is by far the smallest.

                This would’ve made the early, February states the following:

                Virginia
                New Hampshire
                Iowa
                Colorado

                Combine this with getting rid of caucuses, this would’ve given some swing states immediately, that are also regionally quite different actually but none so large as to be huge swings. Follow that up with a Super Tuesday that combines some states from different categories (medium-size/smaller states, blue/purple/red states, different regions, etc.).

                Finally, bigger states are more worthy of standing alone and can come after Super Tuesday.

                This particular ordering would not have helped Bernie in terms of generating a positive narrative for him, though.

                Alternatively, yes, we could prioritize some smaller states with demographics more similar to the Democratic Party as a whole. This would definitely not put Iowa and New Hampshire first in that case.

                • That’s an interesting schedule!

                  I think positive narratives per se are not super important. I think that could potentially still give scope for a lessor know to be well known enough to be competitive. Esp. if there’s some starter funding/org available.

                • ForkyMcSpoon

                  Alternatively, you could do away with the weighting by Electoral Votes and just use population/overall votes. This would bias this measure even more towards small states.

                  However, Virginia was literally less than 300 votes away from exactly matching the national Obama-Romney margin. So even though it’s a large state, it would always go first by any form of this metric based on 2012. (You could average this measure across the past 2-4 elections instead though.)

                  Yeah, although Virginia is a more expensive market to start with, it’s the swingiest swing state at this particular moment, so it’s not ridiculous to put it first. Or perhaps second.

        • It seems to me that we have a significant, and possibly intractable, problem in that our primaries are so spread out.

          Well, it has pluses. Unknowns have a chance to get known. Candidates have a chance to develop campaigns “on the small and cheap” before having to go big. Sometimes, it takes a couple cycles to build up to a win, but having the chance to try it out before having to have $50million on hand is good.

          I’d prefer that early states were more demographically diverse and more like the composition of the party as a whole.

          But otherwise, I think it’s not so bad. We’re really talking about the margins here. Add early voting, same ballot registration, and a slightly better schedule, kill caucuses, and the democratic primary system doesn’t seem too bad. Not perfectly democratic, but likely to produce 1) good general election candidates and 2) ones which aren’t too far from being acceptable to the members. That’s pretty good.

          • JG

            The long campaign is a good test for the general election and the grueling trials of the presidency. If you can survive the primary death march than you might survive the White House. If you flounder then you have no business in the Oval Office.

      • bender

        I think it’s good for superdelegates or some other version of the smoke filled room to have a role in choosing the nominee, for a different reason.

        Professional politicians have opportunities to see how other professional politicians behave in private, and to observe them over a long time. The pros have information the public does not have by which to assess a candidate’s temperament and character, sense of humor, how she treats her subordinates, how loyal he is to people who have helped him, etc. These qualities have a bearing on whether a person will make a good President. Even with our very long campaigns, candidates can put up a better front to the voters than to people who have spent time around them.

    • rewenzo

      The primary system is like the draft in sports. Instead of devising ever more complicated rube goldberg fixes to address every new unfairness that sticks out, it’s really best just to scrap the whole system.

      • elm

        To be replaced by what? Parties need some mechanism to choose their candidates after all.

        • rewenzo

          Just have one big national vote. If you want, you can have runoffs.

          • Just one big national vote tilts the race towards prominent, already-powerful national politicians. A series of contests, which take place on a small scale, allows candidates who don’t start out as the prominent frontrunner to build support over time.

            Even if the one national primary were to take place at what we now consider the end of the primary season, it wouldn’t be taking place at the end of a months-long process to which people pay increasing attention throughout. Everyone except political fanatics would start paying attention just a couple of weeks before the one big primary.

            I think the basic idea of a strung-out primary calendar makes sense. I think that starting off with small, individual states and then mixing in some multi-state contests later makes sense. If I could make one change, I’d set up a system in which the order of states varies from year to year (except for making sure the first 4 or so are individual small states for the reason given above), with random distribution to avoid front- or back-loading any particular grouping of states.

            • The Lorax

              Amen to all this.

            • rewenzo

              Just one big national vote tilts the race towards prominent, already-powerful national politicians.

              Even if this a problem, this is already what happens. It just takes a very very very long time. Our elections are two year processes. It’s not like our primary process has a history of producing bona fide anti-establishment revolutionaries.

              Plenty of other countries don’t feel the need to nominate leaders via a series of strung out byzantine local elections divided by arbitrarily drawn borders and get along just fine.

              • Even if this a problem, this is already what happens. It just takes a very very very long time.

                Not really. Bill Clinton in 1992 was a distant also-ran at the beginning of the campaign. There’s also Obama in 2008.

                I’m not talking about “anti-establishment revolutionaries” but about options within the existing parameters. I’m talking about the entire field having their shot, and the voters of the entire country getting a better process before making their decision.

                And plenty of countries that don’t have our primary system are wracked by violence, poverty and corruption. I really don’t see why that’s either here or there.

                • rewenzo

                  Not really. Bill Clinton in 1992 was a distant also-ran at the beginning of the campaign. There’s also Obama in 2008.

                  I was only 5 in 1992, but Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas for over ten years and gave a nationally televised opening address (I was one at the time) at the 1988 convention. He wasn’t a nobody.

                  Barack Obama was a famous politician, US Senator, and also gave an important speech at the 2004 convention.

                  They were both nationally known figures who started off not in first place but still won. Why is it necessary for each state to vote in sequence for that to occur?

                  I’m not talking about “anti-establishment revolutionaries” but about options within the existing parameters. I’m talking about the entire field having their shot, and the voters of the entire country getting a better process before making their decision.

                  You can still do this. I’m not saying “only Iowa votes.” The whole country gets to vote once, at the same time, on the same day. The process can run for 3 months if you want. Why isn’t that enough time?

                  And plenty of countries that don’t have our primary system are wracked by violence, poverty and corruption. I really don’t see why that’s either here or there.

                  I apologize if I was unclear but by “get along just fine” I didn’t mean “are wracked by violence, poverty and corruption.” Canada is a fine country and their parties are perfectly capable of nominating national leaders without holding a primary in each province.

                • I was only 5 in 1992, but Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas for over ten years and gave a nationally televised opening address (I was one at the time) at the 1988 convention. He wasn’t a nobody.

                  He wasn’t a nobody, but he was in the low single-digits when the race began. It was his performance over the course of the campaign that allowed him to win the race.

                  Similarly, Barack Obama entered the 2008 race some 30 points behind Hillary Clinton.

                  Again, I’m not talking about extreme revolutionaries or political nobodies. I’m talking about the primary fields as they already exist. I realize that both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama entered the race as credible challengers with some national exposure (well, not really Clinton. He was 11th early on). I’m talking about whether or not we’ll have a process that allows such early also-rans to emerge.

                  Why is it necessary for each state to vote in sequence for that to occur?

                  Each state doesn’t vote in sequence; there are several multi-state contests. It is necessary to have a strung-out primary calendar for the reason I’ve already stated – to provide a longer period of people paying attention and seeing the candidates perform during the campaign, and to allow for some contests that are small enough for a candidate who doesn’t enter the race with a massive bank account to compete on a level playing field and have a chance to establish themselves with the voting public.

                  The process can run for 3 months if you want. Why isn’t that enough time?

                  Canada is a fine country and their parties are perfectly capable of nominating national leaders without holding a primary in each province.

                  And when they do so, they reliably choose an already-prominent party leader or other well-established figure, and back-benchers have no opportunity to seriously compete. I’m quite sure that we’d be able to establish a system in which we pull that off, too. I don’t want to, because I consider it a good thing for there to be a meaningful chance for a relatively-unknown candidate who starts out in the cellar to emerge. I would have thought that would be a widely-shared opinion, but perhaps it’s not.

                  ETA – and also, Canada has a Parliamentary system with multiple parties. You really do elect “Labor” or some other party, and the chief executive’s power is based on his power in the party. In the USA, we don’t elect a “party leader.” We elect a President.

                • rewenzo

                  And when they do so, they reliably choose an already-prominent party leader or other well-established figure, and back-benchers have no opportunity to seriously compete.

                  But, again this is what our system does, too. You really haven’t come up with any examples of our process producing back bencher nominees. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were prominent Democrats and well-established figures – they were not back benchers, despite Bill Clinton initially polling in 11th place briefly. Clinton was a plausible candidate in 1988.

                  Bernie Sanders is doing well in a two person race, but I don’t think you’ve proved this has anything to do with the fact that the contest is staggered by region.

                  Two, non-staggered systems can also produce back benchers, like Jeremy Corbyn.

                • But, again this is what our system does, too.

                  But, again, I just provided two very-recent examples of our system not doing this. Your insistence on narrowly reading the word “backbenchers” doesn’t make Bill Clinton and Barack Obama into anything but distant competitors at the beginning of the campaign. Prominence is, obviously, a range, and noting that our system doesn’t allow for actual nobodies to win completely ignores everything I’ve argued so far, such as I’m not talking about “anti-establishment revolutionaries” but about options within the existing parameters. I’m talking about the entire field having their shot

                  Noting that Bill Clinton was within the range of the plausible “field” at the beginning of 1992 does not make his extreme distance from the top, his relative lack of broad national recognition, or the other disadvantages with which he began the campaign vanish. Even if you can come up with some definition of “backbencher” that excludes him.

                  And it doesn’t address at all the argument about choice within the field, as opposed to some argument about broadening the field that you keep trying to assign to me.

                  Bill Clinton would have had zero chance in a single national primary in 1992. Barack Obama would have had close to a zero chance in 2008. It was the extended primary calendar, and the capacity to compete in some small individual state contests early on, which produced an effect on later voters, that made both their victories possible. No New Hampshire 1992, no Comeback Kid. No Iowa 2008, no dawning realization among the black electorate that white Democrats really would vote for a black candidate. Both of their victories depended upon a story that played out over time.

                • Hogan

                  Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas for over ten years and gave a nationally televised opening address (I was one at the time) at the 1988 convention.

                  And that opening address was a total bomb. (That’s a bomb, not da bomb.)

                • efgoldman

                  Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas for over ten years and gave a nationally televised opening address (I was one at the time) at the 1988 convention.

                  I was 33 at the time, I saw the speech. It was terrible, possibly the worst major speech of his career. He appeared extremely nervous and not at all ready for prime time. While I voted for him twice, i was extremely surprised that he was a viable candidate in ’92, let alone that he won the nomination and the election.

                • In addition to what everyone else has said about Bill’s 1988 speech:

                  I remember how the title “Governor of Arkansas” was pronounced with a snicker by political pundits in 1992. It was most certainly not treated as a position of prominence and importance, a plausible stepping stone to the presidency.

              • JG

                Other countries always end up choosing the overwhelming establishment favorites in their primaries (though parliamentary systems also heavily favor this scenario) so that is not necessarily the best model to follow. Of course Jeremy is the exception. Democratic primaries are also a fairly new thing in Europe.

                And just because France has a national primary doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for the US. The US is much bigger and regionally-split so a state-by-state primary system makes sense for us.

            • ChrisTS

              Huh. I hadn’t thought of this. As I said to Bijan, I find the strung out process problematic, but perhaps you are correct about built-in favorability.

            • Murc

              I think the basic idea of a strung-out primary calendar makes sense.

              God, no. If anything the primary process needs to start much later and be far more compressed.

              The current Presidential campaign basically started, and has been sucking up all the air in the room, since July 2015. The election is in November 2016. And realistically speaking, it started last spring.

              That’s insane. It’s insane, and it isn’t healthy. Our election craziness needs to be much more compressed than it is now. It just does. Primaries in the summer, election in the fall.

              • Anon21

                That’s insane. It’s insane, and it isn’t healthy. Our election craziness needs to be much more compressed than it is now. It just does. Primaries in the summer, election in the fall.

                What’s your actual argument, though? Choosing a national leader is one of the most important things that parties do. It makes sense that it would take a long time, and allow for input from many different groups.

                I think American political coverage and activism is definitely too oriented towards presidential campaigns, but I don’t see how (attempting to) truncate the presidential primary process would change that. The problem seems to be that it’s impossible to get the mass public to care about down-ballot elections, not that the duration of the presidential primary process somehow drives out coverage of Senate, gubernatorial, and House campaigns.

                • searunner

                  The problem seems to be that it’s impossible to get the mass public to care about down-ballot elections, not that the duration of the presidential primary process somehow drives out coverage of Senate, gubernatorial, and House campaigns.

                  Perhaps one reason people don’t seem to care about down ballot races is that we have too many elections. Maybe what we need to do is consolidate the number of election days to better focus voter attention.

              • “It just does” isn’t much of a rebuttal to the argument I made about a longer calendar allowing lesser-known candidates to emerge.

                What does “sucking up the oxygen” mean? Too much news about politics instead of Kardashians?

                • Murc

                  What does “sucking up the oxygen” mean?

                  It means that it is was already very difficult to govern during election cycles, and the longer those election cycles grow, the more difficult governing during them becomes. Congress and the White House should be able to function a year and a half before the damn election without everyone wondering “how will this effect the campaign.”

                  I mean, fuck me, it was a truism back in the 90s that a President and their party only really got two years to govern; the year after they were elected, and then the year after after the midterms, with a possible option for two more years if they won re-election. And that was with an actual functional Congress as opposed to today’s clown show.

                  I mean… it isn’t like your point about an extended primary calendar is wrong, per se. But the fact that it can be a over a year before an election and still “too late” for someone to start running (as we discussed re: Biden last October) and that we enter the fever swamps earlier and earlier each cycle just seems like it’s a more pressing concern.

                  The republic functioned perfectly well with a much shorter process for many years. Granted, it was also a much less democratic process. But surely we can have both?

                • Well, now you’ve gone from arguing for a one-day national primary to arguing against a years-long process. But those are really two distinct concepts.

                  We used to have nominating contests, featuring the same type of calendar of multiple contests over multiple months during the election year, without “the election season” starting a year before the first contest. The lengthening of the “election season” isn’t really a consequence of having multiple contests instead of just one.

                  I don’t think switching to a single national primary would have much of an effect on that problem.

                • Murc

                  Well, now you’ve gone from arguing for a one-day national primary

                  … I made this argument? I mean, I’m not instantly against the idea of a one-day national primary, but I don’t recall arguing affirmatively for it either, as compressing everything down to just one day is something I haven’t though deeply enough about to wholeheartedly endorse it

                  You may be confusing me with rewenzo.

                  The lengthening of the “election season” isn’t really a consequence of having multiple contests instead of just one.

                  This is absolutely true, but I think it is, at least, partially a consequence of the first contest being nine months before the election and the extended calendar of multiple contests lasting four to five months. Moving things up to a June to August schedule with a September convention might not solve the issue but I can’t see how it wouldn’t help.

                  (Upside: not having to traipse through New Hampshire in the middle of winter. Downside: the south in July.)

                • Hogan

                  Downside: the south in July.

                  Other downside: lots of people on vacation and away from their polling places after Memorial Day.

                • Murc

                  Other downside: lots of people on vacation and away from their polling places after Memorial Day.

                  Well, if we’re talking about fantasy systems anyway, there’d also be vote-by-mail in addition to in-person balloting.

              • nixnutz

                I think there’s definitely room to compress it quite a bit, particularly these late primaries seem spread out beyond any real benefit, three months instead of 4 1/2 could be good. But I would really like to see the schedule change more often, I’m sick of crazy libertarian New Hampshire having so much influence.

              • efgoldman

                The current Presidential campaign basically started, and has been sucking up all the air in the room, since July 2015.

                And compressing and postponing the schedule won’t change that, because it is as much a creation of the media as it is of the system. Much as we may hate it, yelling at CNN not to start running polls 16 months before the election won’t make them stop.

                • Murc

                  Here’s the thing, though. They’re not. They’re running them six months before the election; that is, the elections that happen in Iowa and New Hampshire.

                  That, in and of itself, is not too crazy, although it’s still a very long window. But they’d be a lot less able to get away with that shit a full year out. “We’re here with our Summer 2015 coverage of the Summer 2016 primaries” is just a bit too ridiculous even for cable news.

              • djw

                I’m not sure if a compressed, later calendar would put that particular genie back in the bottle, though. What’s to stop candidates from starting early, and the media from covering them? (Maybe some very strict spending limits, but speaking of genies not returning to bottles…)

                • Murc

                  What’s to stop candidates from starting early, and the media from covering them?

                  Well, I mean… by this logic, we’re just fucked, and eventually we’ll be in a continuous, unending election cycle that starts the day after the previous one ends.

                  More seriously, there does seem to be a period before which you look comical if you’re campaigning. Right now that window is six or seven months before the first nominating contest, with an additional window of about three to four months before that where you ramp up, so moving stuff forward would seem to be helpful.

            • kped

              Yup, agreed. It’s why i said I don’t support moving NY or California to the beginning of the primary. Iowa and NH may not be ideal, but it at least allows someone like Bernie to compete early and maybe build something.

              I’ve seen some people propose grouping states into 4 by region and rotating their order every 4 years. So one year the south votes early, the next it’s the NE, the next NW. But even then it would be best to break out 3 or 4 smaller states in each group before the bigger block votes.

              And get rid of caucuses. If you are keeping them, and are running them by the state, make improvements to allow more voting. Like giving anyone who wants to vote a mailer where they can rank their choices. They need to be more democratic.

  • Cheerful

    I think Bernie supporters have a valid complaint that media outlets should stop reporting the superdelegates as simply added to pledged delegate counts. It distorts the actual playing field and doesn’t take into account the fact superdelegates can change their mind right up to the convention (unlike pledged delegates).

    But that’s a fault of the media, not the DNC. I suppose one could also believe that as a matter of principle, superdelegates should simply refrain from announcing an endorsement until the convention, but given the number who are politicians, with opinions, it would be difficult for any such group to keep their mouths shut.

    And there’s also a complaint about having superdelegates at all, and perhaps there are too many, but this particular campaign provides good reason why having such a tool is an useful thing. And it’s not just Trump. Imagine a candidate who does well early, but then is subject to some scandal mid-campaign that should disqualify them (e.g. bribery) but continue on to the convention regardless. The party as an institution run by people who have been working within it for some time should have some capacity to control who is the candidate.

    • djw

      I think Bernie supporters have a valid complaint that media outlets should stop reporting the superdelegates as simply added to pledged delegate counts.

      I agree, but that’s a valid complaint against those particular media outlets, not “the Democratic Party” or “the Establishment” or what have you.

    • Most of the ones I follow either do that up front, or break it out later in the text.

    • John Selmer Dix

      I suppose one could also believe that as a matter of principle, superdelegates should simply refrain from announcing an endorsement until the convention, but given the number who are politicians, with opinions, it would be difficult for any such group to keep their mouths shut.

      I don’t see why it’s so unreasonable that Sanders supporters are upset that most superdelegates have announced for Clinton… They’re endorsing the other guy, and as politicians they supposedly swayed by public opinion to some extent, the kvetching might have a practical purpose.

      • randy khan

        I find what the Sanders supporters are doing with the superdelegates mostly to be naïve, rather than unreasonable. The kvetching – and phone calls! – will have no effect other than to annoy the supers unless Bernie starts winning primaries in big states. As it stands today, his biggest wins are Washington (74 of 101 delegates), Michigan (67 of 130 delegates), and Wisconsin (48 of 86 delegates). Clinton has won more than 74 delegates in Ohio, Illinois, Florida and Texas and between 48 and 74 delegates in Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia. In other words, she’s won the 4 biggest states in delegate terms so far and 7 of the top 10, and in most cases her wins have been pretty big, and the supers aren’t going to ignore that.

      • ChrisTS

        Would it put Senators, Governors, etc. who are super-delegates in an odd position to not be able to endorse anyone early on? (I’m assuming it would be absurd to say one endorses Q but is not pledging to vote for Q.)

        • djw

          I think the argument is you should report the delegates where the relevant actors are no longer free to change their minds. A polling of the superdelegates today doesn’t tell us where their votes will actually go in July, as 2008 demonstrated. States that have already voted are locked in.*

          *Well, except for delegate selection shenanigans, but that seems like a different category than a superdelegate changing her mind.

    • randy khan

      It’s remarkably hard to find reporting right after primaries and caucuses that’s really clear about whether totals include superdelegates or not. I had an extended (but polite) discussion with a friend of mine on Facebook who supports Sanders after the Wyoming caucuses about whether the reported tie in delegates included the Wyoming supers or not. It turned out it didn’t, but several outlets seemed to suggest that it did – and everyone was reporting the same 7-7 split.

      (538 is my go to on this, but usually doesn’t update its totals until the day after a caucus or primary, so you can’t use it right away.)

    • The Lorax

      I don’t understand why superdelegates are allowed to support a candidate publicly before any primary votes are cast.

      • randy khan

        Because of the First Amendment. (Yes, I know it doesn’t apply to private organizations, but it seems pretty bad to say someone can’t say who she supports.)

        More practically, you’d just get campaigns leaking the information and secret lists circulating, so it wouldn’t make much difference.

  • Greg

    How about a rule that says the Democratic nominee is the person who wins the most votes nationwide? It makes superdelegates irrelevant, and it creates a strong incentive for states to switch to primaries. It also obviously has a strong presumption of democratic legitimacy.

    • Murc

      The problem with that is it doesn’t cope well with the failure state of someone who wins a plurality but not a majority, especially if that plurality is really low, like 35% or something. STV would handle that, tho.

      • kped

        Yeah, there hasn’t been a competitive 3 or 4 candidate Dem primary in recent history, so that hasn’t come to pass, but I can see it’s value in that case.

        Although even in Trumps case, he is liketly to be within 30 or 40 delegates to an outright majority, so even taking it away from him would be a little distasteful, no matter how repulsive he is.

        • Murc

          Yeah, there hasn’t been a competitive 3 or 4 candidate Dem primary in recent history, so that hasn’t come to pass, but I can see it’s value in that case.

          This is true, but the past fifteen or years or so have taught me that one should always at least try to plan for the failure state.

          Really, representative democracy as a whole is basically an answer to the failure state of “what happens when your government has lost legitimacy in the eyes of those it rules?” The traditional answer to that question has been “there’s a war, or a coup, or brutal repression.” Representative democracy institutes procedures for determining if the loss of legitimacy has occurred (elections) and then transferring power in a peaceful fashion.

          Right now our government is in the midst of dealing with a failure state that the people who designed it didn’t forsee, namely, “what happens when ideological cleavage is so intense political compromise isn’t possible, because at least one faction has determined that burning the motherfucker down is preferable than allowing changes they deem repugnant to go through.”

          So… yeah. As long as we’re spitballing ways to redesign our primary process, I think they need to account for as many failure states as reasonably possible. Especially since the system we have now is designed around a convention that was once intended to select a leader, but now exists merely to coronate one, but still has a bunch of mechanisms in place for mischief if it ever suddenly becomes relevant to the selection process again.

          The Republicans are having all sorts of problems with this but it could have been us if 2008 had been just a little bit different. And it might be us again in the future.

          • This is true, but the past fifteen or years or so have taught me that one should always at least try to plan for the failure state.

            The Republicans are way ahead of you on that! … Oh, wait, “failure state”, not “failed state”. Got it.

          • EliHawk

            Yeah, a block of superdelegates that has demonstrated that it follows the Democratic will vis a vis pledged delegates (as in ratifying Mondale’s large plurality in ’84, or Obama’s narrow majority in ’08) and can act with flexibility in those kinds of failure states is actually a pretty good thing, instead of trying to create hard rules that can be fucked up with the wrong math.

    • rea

      Also, doesn’t deal with the differences among open primaries, closed primaries, and caucuses of various forms.

      • Murc

        I think we can all agree caucuses need to die in a fire. Fuck them.

        • cleek

          hear, hear!

        • Patrick

          I vote in every damn election, including random March school levies. My state has caucuses. I skipped them because I don’t want to spend my Saturday just to hear crazy people speechify for hours.

          • ChrisTS

            I can’t stand that I would have to announce (so to speak) my vote. Caucuses are also unfair to people who cannot meet at the assigned time, who have family responsibilities, who are ill, and so on.

          • cleek

            i wouldn’t caucus, if NC had them.

            i don’t want to deal with other people trying to argue me out of my choice. i don’t want to hear the speeches. i don’t want to deal with all the process.

    • Breadbaker

      Why? The Democrats award delegates to states based on a number of factors, essentially based on Democratic success in those states. What principle says this shouldn’t be so? States with more Democratic officeholders are more likely to go Democratic in the election. Shouldn’t they have more say in the nomination process than states that are unlikely to?

      • Murc

        The Democrats award delegates to states based on a number of factors, essentially based on Democratic success in those states. What principle says this shouldn’t be so?

        One man, one vote. If it’s good enough for the country, it’s good enough for us.

  • Joe_JP

    Some Clinton supporters were upset in 2008, right?

    • Duvall

      Yes. They were roundly mocked and then ignored.

  • sam

    Another example of a thing that should be reformed but not proof that the system is rigged against Bernie – the NY registration rules.

    The rules themselves are terrible – We who live here all acknowledge that the early registration deadlines, and even earlier party-switching deadlines, are terrible.

    But nobody ever pays attention to them because New York typically “doesn’t matter” – the primary occurs so late in the process that the nomination is considered a done deal by the time it gets to us (except this year!), and we’re such a blue state in the national elections that no on really pays attention if a few thousand people couldn’t get their act together to register on time.

    BUT. These rules have existed for my entire 42 years on this earth, and I’ve somehow managed to vote in (almost) every primary and general election since I turned 18 (there have been a few uncontested local elections that I didn’t turn up for, and I lived overseas for a bit and forgot to apply for an absentee ballot one year).

    The deadline for NEW registrations was March 25.

    Hillary’s had her New York campaign headquarters open for at least a year.

    Bernie opened his literally THE DAY AFTER THE DEADLINE. Regardless of whether the NY system needs to be reformed generally, that is f**king amateur hour.

    • Cheerful

      I’ve heard the reason for the early registration date is to prevent newcomers from swamping some of the minor parties who have a ballot line but also endorse major candidates. But I wonder how much of a problem that is, really.

      And the effect of shutting at least some people out of the primary is significant. Anything that requires focused thought and action more than six months before an event is going to trip up a chunk of the population.

      • ChrisTS

        Anything that requires focused thought and action more than six months before an event is going to trip up a chunk of the population.

        I understand that this is descriptive, not normative, but it depresses me.

      • Richard Gadsden

        Aside from anything else, anyone who moves house after the deadline will not be able to vote at their new address, and may not be able to vote at the old one either.

    • cleek

      i suspect Sanders wasn’t expecting to be in the race this long.

    • Murc

      But nobody ever pays attention to them because New York typically “doesn’t matter” – the primary occurs so late in the process that the nomination is considered a done deal by the time it gets to us (except this year!)

      Also 2008. We were part of Super Tuesday that year!

      That said, New York and California need to move their shit earlier. Those two states are reliably blue and provide nearly a third of the electoral votes Democrats use to win the White House, and notwithstanding that a really huge number of people live in them. They should be the ones with an enormous voice in the candidate selection process, not fucking Iowa and New Hampshire and Nevada.

      • kped

        One argument against them early is they are so expensive to advertise in it knocks out smaller candidates (people like Bernie) before the race starts, and that would suck.

        I think you need a small state that is a bit more representative. Or a medium state with decently affordable advertising rates. A state like Iowa and NH are small enough that you don’t have to put too much in to be competitive. They just suck at telling you anything about the broad democratic coalition.

        • Lasker

          Yeah, I think that is an important consideration. But still, it would be good to get at least one good-sized state that is demographically closer to Dem voters as a whole earlier in the process. Maybe Michigan or Ohio? Though those are still pretty expensive.

        • EliHawk

          When you raise $100 million dollars, you aren’t a “smaller candidate.” O’Malley’s someone who would have been screwed by NY going early, but it’s not like he was helped by Iowa either, because the same early money that would have helped Sanders be able to compete in early New York helped drive coverage and press attention that rendered him the alternative to Clinton and O’Malley the afterthought. I think the last two cycles really show the limit of the old “Camp Out in Iowa and New Hampshire” strategy, at least in narrow fields.

        • ChrisTS

          One argument against them early is they are so expensive to advertise in it knocks out smaller candidates

          Huh. The states have some say in when they hold their primaries. So, are NY and CA holding off out of concern for smaller/less well-known candidates?

          • kped

            Not sure. New York went much earlier last time, Super Tuesday 2 i think. Do they rotate the primaries at all (apart from the early Iowa, NH or course)? It’s an interesting question.

            • ChrisTS

              I have no idea. This is not my bailiwick.

      • Duvall

        They should be the ones with an enormous voice in the candidate selection process, not fucking Iowa and New Hampshire and Nevada.

        Yes, there’s no reason at all for Nevada to have a significant role in the nomination process. Certainly not a demographic one.

      • Alex.S

        Democratic delegate rules give bonus delegates to states that hold primaries later on and to congressional districts that are reliably democratic.

        • Murc

          Which is nuts in its own right. Your influence should be based on how many people you have. People matter, not land or scheduling.

          • randy khan

            I don’t know about timing, but I do think it’s a good idea to give more influence to states that elect people from the party.

          • Alex.S

            The scheduling bonus was done to discourage states from trying to leapfrog up the schedule, which happened in 2008 to the point that Michigan was kicked out of the primary.

            Without that, all the incentives are built around going earlier in the process.

            ——-

            The weighing based on past voting is done because the vote is usually broken down by congressional district or otherwise smaller districts. Because the total population includes Republicans, the easiest way to split out “How many people here vote for Democrats and therefore should be in our primary” is based on how many voted for Democrats in the past.

            The GOP does not do this, so there’s potential for some crazy campaigning in heavily Democratic districts for a very small number of voters that elect an outsized number of delegates versus other Republican voters.

          • JG

            NY should definitely get more say than Florida even though Florida has slightly more people.

    • JG

      The October switching deadline was ridiculous but I don’t really have a problem with closed primaries. There probably should be some consistency for the whole process, though.

      Speaking of Bernie’s offices- A few weeks ago I went to the Manhattan kickoff event and they were scrounging for a Manhattan office and begging the audience for help finding one. And two days ago I went to the East Side “office” and it was a complete joke. Fortunately the main Brooklyn one is professional but they only had one Brooklyn office till this week, I believe. That is way too long for the biggest political unit in the state especially since the campaign has pretty much ignored South Brooklyn till this week.

      • sam

        it’s even *more* ridiculous in a non-presidential primary year, because the actual rule is that you have to switch X number of days before the general election.

        New York’s “normal” primary is in September, and we only hold and earlier “special” primary for presidential elections because September is way too late for the conventions.

        In other words, in any other year, if you want to vote in a NY primary (say, for governor or mayor), you have to have switched parties ELEVEN MONTHS ahead of the primary. For presidentials it’s only about six.

        But as I said in my original post, no one gives a shit about New York’s actually quite onerous registration and voting requirements (we like to get on our liberal high horse about all sorts of things, but we don’t even have early voting!) because we’re not usually thought of as a competitive state.

  • kped

    Probably the most annoying thing I’ve seen is Bernie supporters whine about Clinton wanting a coronation, and then turning around and saying that even if he loses the popular vote and the pledged delegate count, he should win the nomination for vague “reasons”. They don’t seem to connect the fact that they are the ones in face demanding a coronation (and are egged on by the Sanders campaign in doing so…but hey, they are the last pure campaign around, so maybe asking for a coronation is OK…just this once..)

    • cleek

      and insulting a huge region of the country isn’t really a good way to get the supers from that region to switch.

      he’s just not very good at this.

      • John Selmer Dix

        he’s just not very good at this.

        This is insane. Sanders may be many things, but this campaign has show he is an incredibly able campaigner. Clinton started with a historic lead, and Sanders is still right behind her, taking states that everyone considered safely Clinton. All while calling himself a socialist.

        I could write many paragraphs about what Sanders did wrong, but that’s also the case with Clinton and anyone else who’s ever run for office.

        • cleek

          part of the Democratic nomination process is winning superdelegates.

          he is not very good at that. first of all, not being an actual Democrat until it was convenient hurts him with the supers. not seeming too interested in helping downticket races hurts him. the ‘not qualified’ shit hurts him. complaining that the system is unfair hurts him. casting shade on 1/4 of the country is not going to help him, either.

          • kped

            Even then, I don’t know if it’s so much he isn’t “good” at winning super delegates as his career vs Clinton’s career pretty much made it impossible. The comments about the south certainly won’t help (and some of his supporters seem to echo that, smirking about the “confederacy” voting for Clinton.)

            His only shot at winning SD’s was winning the popular vote and PD’s.

            • ChrisTS

              Well, he’s also on record saying shit, in general, about the party and its members, for years. I don’t imagine many super-delegates like being told that they are identical to Republicans.

            • djw

              Even then, I don’t know if it’s so much he isn’t “good” at winning super delegates as his career vs Clinton’s career pretty much made it impossible.

              Indeed. Or, put rather differently, “Loyal members of organization prefer to led by fellow loyal member of said organization than by person who reaps many of the benefits of membership will refusing it for personal branding reasons” is not exactly a man bites dog scenario.

              • kped

                And short of a time machine, there is nothing Sanders could do to fix that.

        • randy khan

          It’s not insane. It’s pretty clear that Sanders either didn’t plan to be in this long or didn’t think the process through. Either is a sign that he wasn’t very good at running a national campaign.

          A campaign is not just getting people fired up to vote for you or articulating your positions. A Presidential campaign, in particular, is a war of attrition that requires good logistics as part of the overall strategy.

          And, honestly, I think the last person standing against Clinton was going to win some primaries and poll about as well as Sanders almost no matter what. There are people in the party who don’t trust her (I disagree with them, but they clearly exist) and they are motivated to vote for some alternative. That’s pretty much the entire premise of the Martin O’Malley campaign, but it turned out he was too boring for it to work for him.

          Also too: Compare and contrast to Obama in 2008.

          • kped

            I don’t think anyone to her right would poll this well, but Biden likely would have done as well as Sanders, or better in certain swing states.

            • JG

              He’d peel off a little more establishment support but he would never be able to draw the support Bernie is getting. It would be hard for him to make a case as the left-wing challenger so he would have to campaign on “I’m nice!” and maybe he could criticize Hillary for being too hawkish as he has semi-publicly many times.

          • It’s pretty clear that Sanders either didn’t plan to be in this long or didn’t think the process through. Either is a sign that he wasn’t very good at running a national campaign.

            When we have these arguments, I think people talk past each other a bit. For example, Clinton clearly is a hugely able campaign, but best at the invisible primary and having laid a lot of other groundwork (e.g., her relation to the black community). She’s better this time around with her picking support staff, but before was truly awful. She often takes a long time to get comfortable on the stuff and has the odd misstep that she can’t easily afford.

            Bernie started superlate and has had to do a lot of catch up. But *in the time frame* and *given rational expectations in January* he’s done an incredible job. Even logistically. It’s a truly amazing campaign.

            A Presidential campaign, in particular, is a war of attrition that requires good logistics as part of the overall strategy.

            He’s going to be able to go the distance with no megadonors. That’s pretty amazing logistics.

            And, honestly, I think the last person standing against Clinton was going to win some primaries and poll about as well as Sanders almost no matter what.

            This is an excellent point. Bernie benefited from the clear field, for sure. But it’s unclear how much of the success is his campaign, the clear field, clinton derangement, or the outsider wave. But it’s clear that his campaign is quite good because he can take advantage of the other three, which is not trivial.

            • randy khan

              Starting “superlate” is a reason you need to have a better run campaign, not an excuse for having one that doesn’t have its act together.

              Or, put differently, where the heck are his tax returns? I don’t expect anything bad in them, but it’s very strange that the campaign can’t manage to procure them. (For instance, by printing out copies from TurboTax, which is what I did when I refinanced my house.)

              That said, he didn’t start superlate. He announced in late May. That’s before O’Malley (not by a lot, but still ahead). And I presume he was prepping for it for a while.

              • That said, he didn’t start superlate.

                Compared to Clinton he did.

                I mean, we’re in kind of an unusual situation with Clinton being so strong going in and the close runner up vis-a-vis 2008.

                Starting “superlate” is a reason you need to have a better run campaign, not an excuse for having one that doesn’t have its act together.

                It’s really hard to see how his campaign, in a general way, doesn’t have its act together. Compare with Trump’s. Tax returns don’t seem that much of a tell.

                • randy khan

                  So what you mean is that Clinton started very early, not that he started late.

                  Trump’s is kind of an anti-campaign, consciously violating the norms, so it’s probably not a valid comparison to anyone.

                  As for having its act together (and, actually, the tax return thing is a tell – everybody knows that a serious Presidential candidate has to release tax returns, so not being ready to do it is just strange), consider things like opening the New York office the day after voter registration ended and the huge number of staffers in South Carolina (where he had no chance). Those suggest a very ad hoc organization.

                • So what you mean is that Clinton started very early, not that he started late.

                  Yes, that’s a much better way to put it. Thanks.

                  As for having its act together (and, actually, the tax return thing is a tell – everybody knows that a serious Presidential candidate has to release tax returns, so not being ready to do it is just strange), consider things like opening the New York office the day after voter registration ended and the huge number of staffers in South Carolina (where he had no chance). Those suggest a very ad hoc organization.

                  Hmm. Maybe? I don’t know.

                  Lots of campaigns make all sorts of stumbles. It’s clear that Bernie’s has had to do catch up. But it’s also clear that he started closer to zero (since not a party insider). I don’t know how much that’s affecting things and without knowing the baseline, it’s hard to judge how good the campaign is. (If you just don’t have enough staff, there’s little you can do.)

                  ETA: If you consider his never having run for president before and never having being involved in democratic nation campaigns (I think), and being something of a surprise at all, then seen first as a mere protest candidate, the organisation he’s put together is amazing. Flawed, for sure, but still, raising incredible amounts of small donor money, not being systematically discombobulated (is the NY office thing representative?) is pretty good.

                • ForkyMcSpoon

                  I wonder if the SC thing was him drinking his supporters’ Kool-Aid about how African-Americans were inevitably going to flock to him once they got to know him and once they saw that picture from that one time 50 years ago.

                  And thinking that Cornel West was actually a good surrogate to have.

          • JG

            The people who wanted an alternative to Hillary (like me) didn’t just want any alternative: we wanted a leftist. That’s why I think Biden would have flopped against Hillary.

        • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

          Read the Yahoo! long piece on their ground games in South Carolina. The Sanders camp made some shocking missteps, while Hillary basically didn’t miss a trick.

    • Well, there’s are 2 non-coronation versions.

      You could think that the way to do primaries is to try to eliminate “non-functional” aspects of candidates as much as possible. Name recognition isn’t really a functional aspect of a politician, but it has an enormous effect, esp. early in the race. That effect could distort the pledge delegate and total vote count. In other words, starting with a lead isn’t the same as properly winning.

      You could also think that, assuming a reasonably close primary races, that electability should matter and Bernie has the electability edge (given current head to head general polling). That’s not a coronation argument, I don’t think.

      • kped

        That sounds more like trying to sugar coat a coronation. In your first scenario, you are ignoring the early states for “reasons”. You can dress those reasons up with fancy language, but you are saying “eh, your votes don’t count as much as the later votes” (and that gets particularly ugly when you look at the racial makeup of those votes…3/5ths springs to mind).

        For 2…sure? If it’s razor thin, 100K votes maybe? 2 pledged delegates? I don’t know, you’d have to really be so close to even think of trying that.

        But that’s not what the Sanders campaign is even saying (and will unlikely be able to say given the state of the race and how it will likely end). They are saying “unless you have 2383 Pledged delegates, all bets are off, anoint Bernie the nominee!” And that is a coronation.

        • That sounds more like trying to sugar coat a coronation.

          It really isn’t.

          In your first scenario, you are ignoring the early states for “reasons”.

          No, for *reasons*, to wit, the people in those states, by the best available evidence, have changed their minds upon exposure to Candidate 2. (That’s why it’s important that you have good polling of the early states for my scenario)

          You can dress those reasons up with fancy language,

          What fancy language? I mean, did you read what I wrote?

          but you are saying “eh, your votes don’t count as much as the later votes” (and that gets particularly ugly when you look at the racial makeup of those votes…3/5ths springs to mind).

          Who on earth are you arguing with. I’m not saying anything about the current schedule. Make whatever schedule you want with any voter composition. Make it more clear, have Candidate 2 *enter late* after Super Tuesday. The voters before hand *didn’t have a choice* and if the polling is reliably saying 80-20 (let’s say) for Candidate 2, you are giving them *more* of a voice by overturning the *old* election.

          I mean, *really*. 3/5ths compromise? That’s what you’re accusing me of?

          For 2…sure? If it’s razor thin, 100K votes maybe? 2 pledged delegates? I don’t know, you’d have to really be so close to even think of trying that.

          That’s the hard bit. But my point was that those are non-coronation scenarios.

          But that’s not what the Sanders campaign is even saying (and will unlikely be able to say given the state of the race and how it will likely end). They are saying “unless you have 2383 Pledged delegates, all bets are off, anoint Bernie the nominee!” And that is a coronation.

          If they believe that either of the scenarios I mentioned are the case, then they aren’t arguing for a coronation. Indeed, in general, as long as they are arguing on the basis of election performance (even with a finger on the thumb) it’s non-coronation. The coronation idea is that someone doesn’t even have to compete. That’s not what’s going on here.

          • DEJL

            Relying on polling rather than votes is reaallllly problematic. Why have the elections at all then?

            • kped

              Yeah, what are these hypothetical super polls that allow you to even make this argument? It’s all so theoretical that it shows how bad the case you make is.

            • Relying on polling rather than votes is reaallllly problematic.

              Nope.

              And, of course, I’m not relying solely on polling.

              Why have the elections at all then?

              If we had a nationwide simultaneous primary, then none of this would matter. This is a particular scenario. Polling is one bit of evidence mobilised in that scenario.

              Polling potentially is fairer than voting (voting is just a kind of sampling, in the end, since we don’t get everyone to vote, not even close). I’d be very open to sample based elections (I mean, uniform sampling of <1% of the electorate rather than the self-selected sampling of 47% of the electorate). Cheaper, more likely to be accurate, etc.. You'd want large samples, of course.

              • kped

                Lol, “Nope”. That’s all you have to say? You want to ignore actual votes for a sample poll?

                This is so absurd! I can’t take you seriously.

                At this point, I’m sure you are trolling hoping one of the front pagers picks up your argument to put on the front page to mock so you can be a martyr. This is just awful.

                • Lol, “Nope”. That’s all you have to say?

                  The rest of my comment argues otherwise.

                  Of course, I’m responding to such elaborate content as “Relying on polling rather than votes is reaallllly problematic.” I mean, that’s not an argument.

                  You want to ignore actual votes for a sample poll?

                  Actual votes in our democracy are just a form of sample based polling. Not all voters turn out. Not all properly eligible voters are allowed to vote.

                  This reminds me of Republicans complaining about the census wanting to use statistical techniques to estimate various portions of the population who are undercounted by enumerative methods (poor people, homeless people, etc.) The statistical adjustments would be more accurate but by gum only head counting is REALLY REALLY RIGHT.

                  This is so absurd!

                  Nope.

                  I can’t take you seriously.

                  Your incapacity isn’t really reflective of the quality of my argument.

                  At this point, I’m sure you are trolling hoping one of the front pagers picks up your argument to put on the front page to mock so you can be a martyr.

                  Nope.

                  This is just awful.

                  Really not.

              • cleek

                I’d be very open to sample based elections

                screw that. there’s way too much potential for abuse.

                • Our current system is rife with abuse. Start with voter suppression. Lack of a national holiday. Registration! (Why do we have to register at all!?) Voter turnout hovers between 50% and 60% since 1962. That is awful. And we *know* turnout isn’t uniformly distributed through subgroups of the electorate. So it distorts outcomes.

                  Well done sampling could undistort that. It would be *easier* to police in a lot of ways, since it would be smaller scale.

                  (I’m not saying it’s problem free, but people tend to have a status quo bias about voting which tends to understate the deep technical issues with it.)

                • cleek

                  we don’t need a national holiday. turnout and schedule issues can be handled just fine with adequate early voting.

                  turnout is a whole different issue : apathy. and sampling wouldn’t change that. random sampling would just ensure that people who deliberately don’t pay attention to politics get a pretty big say in how the country is run. and even worse, it would give everyone an excuse to join that group. the odds of being ‘sampled’ would be low enough that essentially nobody would waste their time on something that they could expect to have no influence over.

                  why pay attention to what happens in DC if you can expect to literally have no say at all in it?

                • we don’t need a national holiday. turnout and schedule issues can be handled just fine with adequate early voting.

                  This is true. And mail in voting. A national holiday would help, I think, though.

                  turnout is a whole different issue : apathy.

                  It’s clearly not merely apathy.

                  and sampling wouldn’t change that.

                  Apathy? Yes, it wouldn’t change that.

                  random sampling would just ensure that people who deliberately don’t pay attention to politics get a pretty big say in how the country is run.

                  Which they deserve.

                  and even worse, it would give everyone an excuse to join that group. the odds of being ‘sampled’ would be low enough that essentially nobody would waste their time on something that they could expect to have no influence over.

                  But…this is true now. The vast majority of voters are not heavily informed about policy. Plus, with relatively small sampling, you could give them time and briefing books. :)

                  You wouldn’t run it like a snapshot telephone poll. You’d select the sample and give them some time to make their decision.

                  why pay attention to what happens in DC if you can expect to literally have no say at all in it?

                  Well, the sampled voter would know they had a great deal of say :)

                  That’s a technical problem with the proposal, if you give sampled voters time to make a decision, they are targets. If you sequester them or something, you end up with a caucus (though uniformed sampled caucuses are better than self sampled caucuses).

                  Ah well. There are always issues with any alternative.

              • DEJL

                The nationwide simultaneous primary would be worse, though, right? Because the candidate with the better name recognition, etc. would just win outright.

                It doesn’t matter how accurate polling may be. Democracy requires the active participation of citizens. Polling is passive. I think voting should be as easy a process as possible, but it’s got to require some effort on the part of the votes.

                • kped

                  Vote by mail like Oregon. Best system.

                • The nationwide simultaneous primary would be worse, though, right?

                  Yeah, it does have problems.

                  Because the candidate with the better name recognition, etc. would just win outright.

                  Well, not if you had a long campaign. But then you wouldn’t have the winnowing effect, so yeah, it might be a wash.

                  It doesn’t matter how accurate polling may be.

                  Really?!

                  Democracy requires the active participation of citizens.

                  Why? I mean, why is going to the polling place “more active”? Aren’t mail in votes ok?

                  Polling is passive.

                  Er..you’re saying that if we ran elections by sending census like people door to door to collect votes, this would be wrong? That can’t be what you’re arguing, but I can’t figure out what you mean.

                  If you are going to argue against sample based polling, it has to be something like the very individual act of voting has some force so that *extrapolating* to other people would be wrong. I feel some of that, because of how we’ve set up voting for forever.

                  But for me, voting primarily and information gathering method. We want to know which candidate a majority of the polity prefer. Having them traipse out to a polling booth is one method, but has a lot of flaws. Polling (perhaps by mail, but maybe using census like mixed techniques) would be another and has a different set of pluses and minus.

                  I think voting should be as easy a process as possible, but it’s got to require some effort on the part of the votes.

                  I want it to be *accurate* as well as easy.

          • kped

            Name recognition isn’t really a functional aspect of a politician, but it has an enormous effect, esp. early in the race. That effect could distort the pledge delegate and total vote count. In other words, starting with a lead isn’t the same as properly winning.

            That’s what you said. We are talking about how SD’s going against the PD’s is a coronation, correct? So your argument, block quoted above as a way to say that wouldn’t be a coronation, is explicitly saying that the early part of the race and the actual voting isn’t as important as later voting. Now you are adding in super polls that are as accurate as voting to make it sound better, but that’s such a stretch that it shows your entire argument is bunk.

            I’m not accusing you of using 3/5ths compromise. I’m saying that if that argument was used to take the election away, to invalidate the votes of those states and those people, it would look an awful lot like that. I’m applying your argument to the actual race, not a hypothetical. Now, if you actually believe that argument, if you actually believe the early votes should be ignored…

            And yes, it is a coronation. You had a democratic election. People have spoken. They are demanding the voters are ignored. Or certain voters are. “nice democracy you have there, we let you play, now we choose the loser anyway”. It turns the actual votes into a show vote.

            • That’s what you said. We are talking about how SD’s going against the PD’s is a coronation, correct?

              Or not a coronation, yes.

              So your argument, block quoted above as a way to say that wouldn’t be a coronation, is explicitly saying that the early part of the race and the actual voting isn’t as important as later voting.

              Nope. And of course later voting *is* actual voting.

              Now you are adding in super polls that are as accurate as voting to make it sound better, but that’s such a stretch that it shows your entire argument is bunk.

              Nope.

              I care about rigorous polling because you really want very good evidence before making such a move. Good polling isn’t impossible by any means, though it’s typically expensive and unlikely to happen in real life. Hence this being a scenario, not a description of the current situation.

              ’m not accusing you of using 3/5ths compromise. I’m saying that if that argument was used to take the election away, to invalidate the votes of those states and those people, it would look an awful lot like that.

              “I’m not saying you are doing anything like the 3/5ths compromise; just that your proposal looks an awful lot like it.”

              This is both wrong and obviously offensive. I mean, literally incoherent. The 3/5s compromise gave extra weight to southern votes by counting people deprived of a vote. Where are even the points of analogy here?

              I’m applying your argument to the actual race, not a hypothetical.

              In the actual race, my argument wouldn’t follow because there’s no evidence of buyer’s remorse by the early state voters. (Certainly not at significant enough levels to make a difference, as far as I know.)

              So you are not applying my argument.

              Now, if you actually believe that argument, if you actually believe the early votes should be ignored…

              Well, if you apply your argument, whatever it is, that is like the 3/5s compromise, then I guess it will be like the 3/5s compromise. This has nothing to do with my argument. At all.

              • kped

                3/5ths comes in because you are treating a vote as worth less than another vote. I understand how the 3/5th compromise actually gave the south more votes. But i use it here only in that you are saying it’s OK to dilute the early votes.

                Again, this has nothing to do with my original point about Sanders supporters. But on the whole, its all very sloppy and absurd.

                • 3/5ths comes in because you are treating a vote as worth less than another vote.

                  This already happens since delegates aren’t perfectly proportionally allocated.

                  But i use it here only in that you are saying it’s OK to dilute the early votes.

                  Yes, because it’s much clearer to say ‘It’s like the 3/5’s compromise” than to say “You are diluting early votes”.

                  This isn’t stunningly honest.

                  Again, this has nothing to do with my original point about Sanders supporters.

                  That’s my line.

                  But on the whole, its all very sloppy and absurd.

                  I’ve been very precise throughout. In your original comment, it certainly seem to be the case that you argued that *merely* overturning the pledged delegate count was “coronating”:

                  I’ve seen is Bernie supporters whine about Clinton wanting a coronation, and then turning around and saying that even if he loses the popular vote and the pledged delegate count, he should win the nomination for vague “reasons”.

                  Schedule distortion and electability are not vague nor are they “reasons”. They are reasons. They may not apply in this case, but then you can just show that they don’t apply. They aren’t bonkers or illegitimate. Electability is a bit undemocratic, but also reasonable for a party. Wanting to smooth out schedule distortion isn’t undemocratic: Schedule distortion is a problem. Maybe a necessary problem, but a problem nonetheless.

                  If super delegates buy either argument and vote to put Bernie over the top, then he won by the rules.

                  Now, i do think that the circumstances would need to be far more extreme than they are before I’d agree with such a move. But it’s understandable how Bernie supporters would be more easily convinced we’re in the extreme circumstances.

          • searunner

            The voters before hand *didn’t have a choice*

            So all those Sanders votes on Super Tuesday were write-in votes? Was he left off the ballot? How can you argue that voters in the early states “didn’t have a choice”?

            • kped

              Apparently this is a shell game where he isn’t but is talking about Sanders maybe or maybe not…it makes sense in his head.

              • searunner

                He seems to be playing with clear shells, so, not he’s doing it very well.

                • As ouchthats wrote people, what I actually wrote is:

                  I’m not saying anything about the current schedule. Make whatever schedule you want with any voter composition. Make it more clear, have Candidate 2 *enter late* after Super Tuesday. The voters before hand *didn’t have a choice* and if the polling is reliably saying 80-20 (let’s say) for Candidate 2, you are giving them *more* of a voice by overturning the *old* election.

                  There’s no shell game. I’ve no idea why you decided to leap in with the silly. kped’s a little more understandable I guess, because I did riff off her comment. I made it pretty clear what I was riffing off, but it seems that they cannot handle that.

            • Ok, first please remember that I’m not talking about the current race. I set up a hypothetical situation where the behind candidate came in after super tuesday.

              • searunner

                Then that candidate made a terrible decision. And does not get a make-up poll to help him.

                And no, I’m not buying the line that this is some hypothetical that isn’t meant to illustrate how Sanders is the real, deserving nominee.

                • Then that candidate made a terrible decision. And does not get a make-up poll to help him.

                  Why not?

                  And no, I’m not buying the line that this is some hypothetical that isn’t meant to illustrate how Sanders is the real, deserving nominee.

                  Why not? I mean…why? I’m genuinely puzzled that you would doubt my sincerity. I posted this hypothetical above in reply to Murc before this thread below came up.

                • searunner

                  Why not?

                  Because the candidate is an adult and should be able to make timely decisions. Late entering candidates don’t get to play by special rules because they are special. And finally polling is not an acceptable replacement for an actual election.

                • Why not? I mean…why? I’m genuinely puzzled that you would doubt my sincerity. I posted this hypothetical above in reply to Murc before this thread below came up.

                  I’ve been in this position before, Bijan.

                  That lack of belief that someone could actually have a position that isn’t just a proxy for Sanders vs. Clinton isn’t a reflection on you or anything you’ve written, but on your respondents.

                • Because the candidate is an adult and should be able to make timely decisions.

                  What does this have to do with the preferences of the electorate?

                  Late entering candidates don’t get to play by special rules because they are special.

                  Why do early entering candidates get to have special rules? I mean, these are all just rules. We can make them as we see fit.

                  And finally polling is not an acceptable replacement for an actual election.

                  Well, in this scenario, I didn’t say it was. It was a supplement.

                  Elsewhere, I discuss how it might be used to replace our current system. Your mere assertion that it’s bad is not very convincing.

                • kped

                  There’s an obvious reason why to his question: He was responding to a specific criticism about this race. Of course his response will be interpreted with those facts in mind. “How dare you!” doesn’t really work in the conversation.

                  That Joe decdides to give his less than 2 cents isn’t a shock, hacks gotta hack and all.

                • There’s an obvious reason why to his question: He was responding to a specific criticism about this race. Of course his response will be interpreted with those facts in mind. “How dare you!” doesn’t really work in the conversation.

                  To the degree I can decipher this, I think you are saying that I shouldn’t be shocked at being misread. I guess not, but I did try to make it clear that I was taking about the structure of the argument. The evidence that that’s true is the fact that I brought up my hypothetical well before you made your comment. I perhaps should have bridged things better, but I don’t think I was wildly unclear.

                  It’s unfortunately that my attempts to clarify are being read as *changing* my argument. But this isn’t true and evidence that it isn’t exists in multiple places in this very thread.

                • That Joe decdides to give his less than 2 cents isn’t a shock, hacks gotta hack and all.

                  Actually, kped, the person who misread Bijan and assumed that he was just pushing for Bernie says, “Thank you I did get that wrong.” Oopsie for you.

                  I wish to repeat a point I made above:

                  That lack of belief that someone could actually have a position that isn’t just a proxy for Sanders vs. Clinton isn’t a reflection on you or anything you’ve written, but on your respondents.

                  There actually are those of us who think, and even say, things about politics that aren’t merely proxies for Clinton vs. Sanders. It would be nice if you could avoid leaping in to turn discussions we’re engaged in into the proxy war that is all you still care about.

            • ouchthats

              Here’s the actual context in which that sentence occurs:

              I’m not saying anything about the current schedule. Make whatever schedule you want with any voter composition. Make it more clear, have Candidate 2 *enter late* after Super Tuesday. The voters before hand *didn’t have a choice* and if the polling is reliably saying 80-20 (let’s say) for Candidate 2, you are giving them *more* of a voice by overturning the *old* election.

              I don’t know how much clearer it could have been that that’s a hypothetical situation.

              • Apparently reading my actual words is less reliable than searunner’s reading my secret heart.

              • searunner

                Thank you I did get that wrong.

                Though it’s only purpose is to make a distinction from Bijan’s original scenario upthread.

                • Though it’s only purpose is to make a distinction from Bijan’s original scenario upthread.

                  ?? Yes, to make even clearer my point.

                  My original version:

                  You could think that the way to do primaries is to try to eliminate “non-functional” aspects of candidates as much as possible. Name recognition isn’t really a functional aspect of a politician, but it has an enormous effect, esp. early in the race. That effect could distort the pledge delegate and total vote count. In other words, starting with a lead isn’t the same as properly winning.

                  That wasn’t fully explicit so confused people. But my *original comment*, which was posted before any of these, is consistent with this hypothetical.

                  I’m sorry if I carried over assumptions from my first comment one the post into this thread that made it confusing. But I meant to continue that point, not do anything else.

          • efgoldman

            the people in those states, by the best available evidence, have changed their minds upon exposure to Candidate 2.

            You don’t get a do over. If we did, W would have been out the door.

            • Er…if I’m a super delegate trying to decide whether to override the pledge delegate lead, there can be a do over (in a sense). So why not?

            • Who’s talking about a do-over? No one is questioning that the candidates should keep their pledged delegates, and the assignment of pledged delegates are the only ones that are done.

              We’re talking about the pledged delegates’ very first “do.” They’re not tied to old state results. If they wish to represent the opinion of the voters in their state, or of the voters nationwide, why should they ignore a change in those voters’ opinion?

              • Whoops, typo. That second paragraph should begin “We’re talking about super delegates’ very first ‘do.'”

                In case it isn’t obvious from the context, I’m contrasting pledged delegates in the first ‘graph with supers in the second.

      • ChrisTS

        How could one eliminate name recognition? (Perhaps this is just a thought experiment.)

        • Well, mitigate it? Candidates get better known over the course of a campaign, hence a reason to favour results from later.

          The problem with just having a long campaign and then a national primary that no one gets winnowed, thus there’s no real chance for name recognition to be strongly mitigated.

          So, you want a staggered schedule. But perhaps the way you do it is have primaries for the primary :) I.e., earlier primaries only winnow, then you have a national vote on the survivors. That may be a bit twee, though.

          But, yes, it’s primarily a thought experiment. I doubt we’ll hit it in this primary. Bernie would have to pull *really* close on pledge delegates for it even to be reasonable to take seriously. Or Hillary’s polling would have to collapse utterly.

          (E.g., if she made a mis-statement like that about Nancy Reagan had cratered her support…that might trigger the situation. Hard to imagine that really happening though.)

          • ChrisTS

            So we could have both some compression but enough time for a less well-known candidate to get a fair hearing?

            • Roughly, yeah.

              Providing funds might help too, with a bump for less known candidates, maybe.

              • ChrisTS

                I wonder if the DNC would be happy to spend money just to get someone a fair hearing.

                I don’t say that as a DNC hater (I do detest DWS), but just in recognition that they usually have less money than the RNC and naturally want to spend it where they think there’s the best chance for a win. So, that sort of tilts them to waiting to see who has a chance.

                • Yeah, I’m not sure any of my suggestions are really all that practical. In the end, some tweaks to the schedule + caucus elimination may be as good as it gets.

                  And really, the Democratic one isn’t all that bad. Certainly this round doesn’t show that. Bernie is doing amazingly well, but Clinton has him pretty strongly beat at the moment.

                  But consider this graph. If I were a super delegate, and I though this poll average was reliable, I would wonder if I should go with the pledge delegates or this polling average. It’s tricky!

                  Now, when Clinton wraps up the nom, we’ll see if there’s a consolidation effect big enough to make this sort of reasoning obviously off.

    • Davis X. Machina

      …even if he loses the popular vote and the pledged delegate count, he should win the nomination for vague “reasons”

      I don’t think ‘because he’s right‘ and ‘everyone else is corrupt’ are vague reasons at all…

      We need ‘virtue take all’ primaries!

      • kped

        I’m game. Do we measure it by the scuffs on their shoes (dear god I wish I was making that up…but I’ve seen Bernie supporters post pictures of his shoes and say “look at those, those are a working mans shoes”.)

        • Davis X. Machina

          Well, there goes my vote. Imagine walking around shod, with a stranger’s shoes, while some working man goes barefoot

          He should give them back.

  • Davebo

    That effect could distort the pledge delegate and total vote count. In other words, starting with a lead isn’t the same as properly winning.

    No, ending with a lead is winning. This isn’t really a complicated idea.

    • kped

      Yeah, you don’t get to say those are just a warm up, they don’t count.

      • Yeah, you don’t get to say those are just a warm up, they don’t count.

        Sigh.

        If I am a super delegate and by the rules I have a free vote, and I notice that for the past month, the polling in SC *in all groups* (including Blacks) was 80-20 in favour of Bernie, to vote fore Bernie would not be saying that the primary results “were merely a warm up” it would be using my best knowledge to try to capture the will of the people as it has evolved.

        Now, that’s not the current situation, but it’s not a rule violation, betrayal of the voters, or undemocratic.

        And it’s distinct from an electability argument, i.e., looking at the general head to heads and deciding to override the current preferences of the primary voters in order to win the election. That’s arguably reasonable, but less democratic.

        • kped

          ? What SC polling? You are creating a hypothetical that is so absurd it isn’t even worth arguing.

          My point was about the actual arguments about the actual election that is actually happening. And how the same people whining about a coronation are demanding a coronation. You are throwing out hypothetical situations that just wouldn’t happen (why keep polling SC months after it voted? We can’t even get polling in states that have yet to vote).

          • ? What SC polling?

            They ones in my hypothetical.

            You are creating a hypothetical that is so absurd it isn’t even worth arguing.

            Then don’t argue it.

            My point was about the actual arguments about the actual election that is actually happening.

            My point is that there are arguments which, while they may be wrong in this circumstances, aren’t structurally “coronating”. You may not care about being correct about how people are wrong, but I do.

            You are throwing out hypothetical situations that just wouldn’t happen

            To make the structure of the arguments clear.

        • nixnutz

          If you’re a super delegate you can use whatever criteria you want. Personally I think you should just use your own preference, that’s the role of the super delegate, but if your conscience tells you to use the polls instead that’s up to you.

          I think the argument that the opinions of randos who still have land lines should outweigh those of voters who actually made the effort to record their vote is profoundly anti-democratic but I’m quite certain you’d just contort your reasoning to pick your favorite anyway. Since that’s entirely appropriate if you need to dress it up with this rococo theorizing, go ahead.

          • I think the argument that the opinions of randos who still have land lines should outweigh those of voters who actually made the effort to record their vote is profoundly anti-democratic

            Well, 1) that’s not what I’ve argued and 2) “random”? really?

            The idea that the results of the electorate should reflect the preferences of the entire electorate is profoundly anti-democratic? Ok!

            but I’m quite certain you’d just contort your reasoning to pick your favorite anyway.

            Why are you sure about that? I’ve not said anything about who I prefer. So I’m not trying to pick a favourite with any of this.

            Since that’s entirely appropriate if you need to dress it up with this rococo theorizing, go ahead.

            Actually, I don’t agree that supers should pick on their whim. When joe and I originally discussed it, we were trying to find a case where we would be ok with supers overriding the pledged. You’re in a different situation if you think that’s fine in arbitrary cases.

            • nixnutz

              The idea that the results of the electorate should reflect the preferences of the entire electorate is profoundly anti-democratic? Ok!

              My issue is that some voters’ votes would count more strongly than others. If you really don’t see a distinction between votes and opinion polls I don’t know what to say.

              Actually, I don’t agree that supers should pick on their whim.

              I don’t think that’s unreasonable, I think it might be best to eliminate them entirely but if they are to exist my preference is that they’re free to use their own judgment.

              • My issue is that some voters’ votes would count more strongly than others.

                Not exactly. In any election, everyone would have an equal chance for a vote. But only some people *in that election* would actually vote.

                If you really don’t see a distinction between votes and opinion polls I don’t know what to say.

                They wouldn’t be opinion polls. They would be votes where the goal is to have a voting procedure is more likely to closely reflect how the entire electorate would have voted if they had all come out to vote. (I.e., 100% turnout.)

                Our current method works rather poorly for that. Mandatory voting could help. But sampling (done properly, i.e., with *very* heroic efforts to get as close to uniform sample as possible…phone calls wouldn’t do it; social security numbers or tax returns would be much better) is another way.

                This is on the presumption that the goal of running an election is informative not performative. If we think that voting is primarily an individual act, then yes sampling means that lots more people don’t get to do that act. I have some sympathy for that pov.

                But our current system (and even improved ones that Gregor will tell us about) also have sets of sampling biases. Turnout is one. Wasted votes (i.e., votes over the threshold for winning in some race) are another. The paradox of voting is a big deal…the likelihood of your vote *mattering* is low and unevenly distributed. Smaller sampling could help mitigate that.

                There are possible costs e.g., greater apathy in more of the electorate. That’s a downside for sure.

                ETA: I started down this path because people are acting like polls are some fake thing while votes are some real thing. But that’s not true. Voting is biased sampled polling of a particular sort. You can vary the sampling method for better results.

              • Ronan

                Ive a related question to nixnutz’s points (just to add, ive enjoyed Bijan’s proposal laid out above, what the hell are you people getting so worked up about….?)

                Afaict nixnut and others want to draw a distinction between high information voters (us, and and Tea Party) and low information voters (the majority) But Is there any evidence to suggest you get ‘better’* political alternatives from high information voters ?
                (Leaving aside the two other arguments here, the democratic one (the majority should decide) and the fairness one (why should people who didnt bother even going to the polling station be counted as equal) )

                * ‘better’ for the purposes of this conversation I guess it means ‘more in line with the preferences of the commentariat here.

                • Ronan

                  Actually, phrased differently, do you get better *outcomes*. (From a broad, technocratic perspective)
                  People seem to value voters who vote (theoretically) on policy, rather than voters who vote much more explictly on feeling (their interests, who they like, what they value etc)
                  I dont know if that should be the case.

                • This is a great question.

                  I don’t know that tea partiers are high information. Plus high information doesn’t mean “gets the right policy description” I don’t think, but making decisions on the basis of policy.

                  A 1992 study found that in the absence of other information, voters used candidates’ physical attractiveness to draw inferences about their personal qualities and political ideology.[9] A study performed using logistic regression analysis on data from the 1986 through 1994 American National Election Studies found that low-information voters tend to assume female and black candidates are more liberal than male and white candidates of the same party.[10] A 2003 study that analyzed precinct-level data from city council elections held in Peoria, Illinois between 1983 and 1999 found that the placement of candidates’ names on the ballot was a point of influence for low-information voters.[11] An analysis concerned with the “puzzling finding” that incumbent legislators in mature democracies charged with corruption are not commonly punished in elections found that less-informed voters were significantly more likely to vote for incumbents accused of corruption than were their better-informed counterparts, presumably because they did not know about the allegations.[12]

                  So, there were high information Bush voters. So I’d be surprised if it made a difference.

                  To put it another way, my guess is that most “high” information voters have preferences first, then get informed (at least for repub vs. den) whereas low information swing depending on other factors. So it depends on how physically attractive our candidates are.

        • efgoldman

          but it’s not… undemocratic.

          It absolutely is. The vote is the vote; polling is guesswork (some models guess better than others.) That’s like the Mittserbot Republiklowns and their “skewed polls.”

          • kped

            Yes! I can’t believe this is even a debate. “well, if we make the polls big enough they’ll be accurate”. I mean, you can get a poll to a pretty good MOE with just a few thousand people asked, so sure let’s do that!

            I really can’t believe that this is a serious idea. It’s so bizarre and absurd (I keep using that word today…)

            • efgoldman

              “well, if we make the polls big enough they’ll be accurate”.

              If you make the poll big enough, it’s the election.

              • kped

                But those sometimes go to people I don’t like!

                Seriously, this is such an awful argument, clearly made by people trying to hold a coronation for their candidate. I mean, specific people stood in line, many for hours, and placed an actual vote. To say “well, there’s a poll of random people and it’s now different, so change it!” is just amazing. It’s the kind of disenfranchisement I expect from Republicans. I guess primary time people just lose their minds a bit. That’s my charitable interpretation at least.

            • Yes! I can’t believe this is even a debate.

              “well, if we make the polls big enough they’ll be accurate”.

              Well, you need a good sampling technique as well.

              I mean, you can get a poll to a pretty good MOE with just a few thousand people asked, so sure let’s do that!

              Yep. Why not?

              I really can’t believe that this is a serious idea.

              I don’t know why. It’s not really that outlandish.

              It’s so bizarre and absurd (I keep using that word today…)

              Again, why?

              Obviously, as a practical proposal, it has problems, the most obvious being 1) uniform sampling of the population is pretty hard and 2) a smallish sample could be vulnerable to direct tampering or influence. But you’ve never mentioned these, so I don’t see you have any principled, much less articulated, critique.

              One thing that makes polling dodgier is that you have to figure who will actual vote. It’s much easier to determine who is actually registered (or who is eligible) to vote. That turnout so strongly affects outcome is a real big problem with our current model.

          • It absolutely is.

            Nope. Consider Athenian democracy with random selection for office.

            The vote is the vote;

            Ok…what?

            polling is guesswork

            Sigh. There is really a lot of confusion here.

            If you use a sample to *predict* a property of a larger population, there is, depending on a lot of factors, various sorts and degree of error. Extra error can be introduced depending on your measurement technique.

            So if I have a 400 people selected by uniform random sampling from the electorate of the US, have them vote on Clinton vs. Trump, I will have a pretty reliable picture of how the population as the whole will vote. If I have 1800, I will have a more highly reliable picture. It doesn’t get dramatically better if I go to 18000.

            This is just statistics.

            Furthermore, if I make my sample 100 million (out of 200 million registered), that could be *less* reliable than my 1800, if that sample is biased. Self selection is a significant bias. But there will be measurement error in that 100 million. Counting all that is pretty hard (as we saw in Florida). Things like weather further alter the sampling, in non-uniform ways.

            Now either everyone’s voice counts, or it doesn’t. If you want to privilege the people who make it out to a polling place having registered to vote appropriately, ok. I don’t see why that’s particularly democratic. Barriers to voting are barriers to voting.

            (some models guess better than others.)

            Our current system is a sample based system except we decided that people outside the sample don’t count.

            That’s like the Mittserbot Republiklowns and their “skewed polls.”

            I sorta expected better from you. This has nothing to do with my argument. At all.

    • Oy. You’re right that this isn’t complicated, but I then don’t understand why you’re messing this up.

      If someone starts 100yards closer to the finish, and I cross the finish line 1 second after them, and the race allows their lead, then, duh, they won according to the rules of the race.

      But they didn’t run faster than me. Winning a handicapped contest isn’t the same as winning an unhandicapped one. The schedule affects the outcome.

      If you are trying to capture the *will of the electorate* then such effects probably make things worse. Consider the effect of results announcements before polls close. People see that “it’s over” so don’t vote which can affect the outcome. The person who wins that contest on that basis “won” but it’s not really a good capture of even *the people trying to vote*.

      • kped

        This wasn’t a handicapped contest. Each person got to present their cases to the voters in each state.

        And you need to take your idea to it’s logical conclusion – voter disenfranchisement. Why vote at all? Just hold a poll in July to see whose best and crown them!

        There is goal post shifting, and then there is…whatever this is.

        “Sure they voted one way…but I bet they really meant to vote another, see, I have a poll to show it!”

        • This wasn’t a handicapped contest. Each person got to present their cases to the voters in each state.

          Even then, it’s handicapped due to difference in name recognition early on. This is always true when one person has universal name recog and the other doesn’t. That accounts for a lot of polling dynamics.

          But again, I’m not arguing about this race yet. I’m trying to see if the logic is valid. If it is, then we can determine if the facts make it appropriate in this case. (Certainly not today.)

          And you need to take your idea to it’s logical conclusion – voter disenfranchisement.

          That isn’t the logical conclusion.

          Why vote at all? Just hold a poll in July to see whose best

          I describe some possibilities for a sampling based system above. It’s not so trivial, but I think you could make a valid version.

          Current elections are sampling based. Just self-selected, expensive, hard to do sampling. Turnout is ≈50-60. That’s a sample. But not a uniform sample, thus it’s distorted. As midterm show. I prefer that election outcomes reflect the will of the *whole* electorate, not just those who manage to get registered and to the polling station.

          Now there are practical problems with uniform sampling as well. But so too with any voting approach.

          and crown them!

          Whatevs.

          • efgoldman

            I’m trying to see if the logic is valid.

            No
            SATSQ

          • kped

            But again, I’m not arguing about this race yet. I’m trying to see if the logic is valid. If it is, then we can determine if the facts make it appropriate in this case. (Certainly not today.)

            If that’s what you are doing…no, it isn’t.

            That isn’t the logical conclusion.

            How is it not the logical conclusion? “You voted early, now a poll guesses you’d vote different, so we’re going to ignore what you actually said for this poll instead” would absolutely disenfranchise actual voters.

            Whatevs.

            Indeed.

            • If that’s what you are doing…no, it isn’t.

              You can continue to argue with your fantasy of what I’m saying, or try to engage with what I’m saying.

              How is it not the logical conclusion? “You voted early, now a poll guesses you’d vote different, so we’re going to ignore what you actually said for this poll instead” would absolutely disenfranchise actual voters.

              Again, as things are constituted now, super delegates are unbound. So they can choose to vote as they will. They, in fact, have more voting power than people who vote in a primary (esp. as I think they can vote in a primary).

              So, they can vote against the winner of the SC primary now. Totally up to them. If they do so and that vote changes the outcome, then their candidate won. And the winner of the SC primary lost. That didn’t disenfranchise the SC actual voters (they still voted!). They just lost.

              There is an unsubtle difference between being forbidden to vote and losing a vote.

              Now, you can ask “On what basis should this super delegate vote?” Most of the time, esp. when there is a clear winner, I think they should confirm the winner. I sketched two different scenarios where I think there’s an argument that they should not. The electability argument *is* straight up anti-democratic, in the sense of preferring some other value to the will of the people. It may be the right move, but it’s not particularly democratic.

              A different argument is that in some circumstances, schedule effects distorted the outcome and the super delegate should try to correct for that with their vote. Polling is information that can help them determine whether there was a distorted outcome. If they reasonably determine that there’s a distortion, then arguably their vote to override the pledge improves the alignment between outcomes and the electorate’s will. Which I think is a more democratic outcome, though, obviously, people get cranky about it on procedural grounds. (Even though it’s procedurally permitted.) Then they complain about the fact that the super delegates have more voting power.

            • You can continue to argue with your fantasy of what I’m saying, or try to engage with what I’m saying.

              It’s funny how she thinks that a determined insistence that the argument is actually going a certain way will cause the argument to actually have gone that way.

              It’s frustrating to deal with someone like this, I know. Just try to remember, she isn’t actually fooling anyone. People can still read the thread and see what you actually wrote. Most of them can even see how she distorted what you wrote. Her writing “You said this, and you’ve been pwned” won’t actually make that true, or even look to true to anyone else.

              • It’s very weird.

                I find it interested that so many people are reflexively hostile to (rigorous) sample based voting. I guess it just feels wrong.

                I get some similar reaction to suggestions that for, say, paper acceptances, we do minimal vetting to weed out the unacceptable or perhaps three levels (awesome, acceptable, unacceptable) then use random selection to decide who gets in. It’s already fairly random since different reviewers use such wildly different criteria it really depends who you get whether you get it. But random selection would be cheap, fair, and produce comparable or even better outcomes. But people feel that it’s wrong…somehow.

                Don’t even THINK about suggesting something like that to students for their grades :) (To be fair, I think that one probably wouldn’t work very well :))

                • I can think of a couple of good arguments against using only sample-based voting, but they’re based on the effect of voting on the citizen and the citizenry as a whole.

                  It is good for everyone to have their say. It would be bad for everyone to conclude that they have no reason to follow elections because they almost certainly won’t be part of the sample anyway. It is good for people to go through the ritual of democracy.

                  It might be true that you could get a more accurate idea of the will of the overall demos through well-designed sample voting, but it would come at a social cost.

                • t would be bad for everyone to conclude that they have no reason to follow elections because they almost certainly won’t be part of the sample anyway. It is good for people to go through the ritual of democracy.

                  Well, I get that. I’m not sure how true it is in general.

                  But when I listen to people who have been disenfranchised, I feel differently. I want them to have their chance to pull the lever. So I do get it.

                  Mandatory voting with super easy mail in ballots might be sufficiently accurate and yet participatory.

          • JG

            Even then, it’s handicapped due to difference in name recognition early on.

            This is the whole point of Iowa and New Hampshire, though. They visit every damn restaurant in the state for six months so that every man, woman, and child knows the candidates in the early states. Lack of name recognition could hurt you on Super Tuesday but by then you should be flush with cash and have made some headlines about how your brilliant fifth place finish in South Carolina won the day.

            • That works most of the time. Yep. Iowa and NH being so demographically off makes it less than ideal. And it really takes time and ads to raise name recognition.

              • JG

                A win in one of the early three states is still the best way to get quick recognition and you can’t get the money you need for ads without a good early finish unless you were already flush with cash or very famous. No campaign can really afford consistently bad finishes in the first three.

                • Yep.

                  Thanks for joining in. I’m enjoying your comments.

      • If you are trying to capture the *will of the electorate* then such effects probably make things worse. Consider the effect of results announcements before polls close. People see that “it’s over” so don’t vote which can affect the outcome. The person who wins that contest on that basis “won” but it’s not really a good capture of even *the people trying to vote*.

        A very generous reading could characterize this as a dispute between the “formal system” and “culture/set of norms” understandings of democracy.

        But my spidey sense tells me that philosophical chestnut probably isn’t what’s actually driving the commentary here.

  • Lasker

    There are many unfair and silly things about the primary process but on the whole I think it has mostly balanced out.

    It is frustrating to me as a Sanders supporter that there is still a real chance that the nomination could end with Sanders ahead in national polls and behind in the pledged delegate count. But without the drawn out process, he would never have had the time to build up that support in the first place.

    And at the risk of beating a dead horse, caucuses really have to go. A close friend of mine who supports Clinton didn’t caucus in Seattle because she didn’t want to out herself as a Clinton supporter when everyone she knows (may of whom would be caucusing at the same site) is excited for Sanders. Call it silly if you want but this system needs to be kinder to introverts!

    • Rob in CT

      Caucuses really do seem to be ridiculous. I live in a primary state, so I can’t speak from experience, but they sound terrible.

      • Lasker

        I think some are better than others, and include at least the possibility of a secret paper ballot, but as far as I know most do not. Not as serious of an issue as what Murc describes, but not something a party in favor of easy access to the polls should be doing.

    • Murc

      I have a friend in Vegas. Politically engaged, from a family of politically engaged people. He worked on a few of Titus’ campaigns, in fact, and by “worked on” I mean something more substantial than “was some phone banker somewhere;” he was in her PR shop, albeit entry-level. His parents are old-school sixties-style activists.

      None of them caucused. Know why? Because said friend has an oxygen tank he needs at random times, and his parents are in their seventies and have a variety of health issues themselves. And none of them felt up to standing in a gym somewhere for hours and hours on end.

      In a primary they’d have been allowed to just show up and vote.

      • DEJL

        Has anyone ever brought an ADA lawsuit against caucuses?

        • Murc

          … your ideas intrigue me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

        • ChrisTS

          That would be an excellent effort.

        • Awesome!

        • djw

          +1. Make it impossible to justify the cost of the fight caucus.

      • The Lorax

        We desperately need to make it easier to vote. Instead we have caucuses.

        • kped

          Vote by mail!

          • tsam

            One of many reasons my state RULZ

      • cleek

        in NC (and probably other states), they could likely pull up to the polling place and vote without even getting out of their car: curbside voting!

    • Amanda in the South Bay

      What do you mean ahead in national polls? Do they trump pledged delegates? If he’s ahead in “national polls” then he’s done a shitty job of translating that into winning democratic primaries.

      • What do you mean ahead in national polls?

        What don’t you understand about “ahead in national polls?”

        Do they trump pledged delegates?

        Since national polls at the time of the convention reflect (sort kinds, polls can be off) the will of the public when the super delegates vote, while pledged delegate outcomes (sorta kinda, see Wyoming) reflect the will of the public at the time they voted, why not? If a leading candidate who won the pledged delegates had some horrible scandal happen a week after the last contest and dropped to 9% national support and a -40 net favorable, would you argue that the super delegates were required to vote for him?

        If he’s ahead in “national polls” then he’s done a shitty job of translating that into winning democratic primaries.

        So…you don’t understand that the polls change over time, and that he was behind in national polls when the early pledged delegates were chosen?

        • Amanda in the South Bay

          I assume ‘ahead in national polls’ involves a lot of cherry picking the right polls.

          • It is frustrating to me as a Sanders supporter that there is still a real chance that the nomination could end with Sanders ahead in national polls and behind in the pledged delegate count.

            It’s a statement about a conditional future. A likely one, but still, something that “could” happen.

        • kped

          They don’t reflect the will of the public though. They reflect the mood at a certain point of a specific sample of voters, but no actual votes.

          There are hack arguments…and then there is this.

          • Funny, you’ve been citing polls showing Clinton’s lead as evidence of the will of the public all along. What a surprise that you’d adopt a completely opposition position the moment it becomes useful. Now you’re going to project hawkishness onto me.

            Oh, look, I was right.

            • kped

              ? No, I cite Clinton’s poll numbers when talking about future primaries, like “she is up 13 in NY, 20 in PA”. If you can find me using them the way you just said, be my guest, I’ll gladly admit that I was wrong here.

              Is it fun to make up arguments and pretend you won? It’s not a good look.

              Anyway, what was your point again? That current polls should replace past election results. Please sir, your floor, convince me!

              I used to think I had to go to DailyKos to see Bernie shills make that kind of argument. Thank you for saving me a trip!

              • Nope, you’ve been citing Clinton’s national polling lead for months, as evidence of her current (well, historic) superior favorability. Don’t lie just because you’re in a tough spot.

                Anyway, what was your point again? That current polls should replace past election results.

                Nope. I’ve said no such thing. That’s an argument so absurd one could almost think it was a deliberate straw man by someone incapable of addressing the actual argument. The assignment of pledged delegates should absolutely not be changed. The past election results, which selected pledged delegates, should not be replaced with polling.

                We’re talking about election results that haven’t happened yet, so there is nothing to replace.

                • kped

                  No I haven’t. Recently, all i’ve been citing are her PD lead and her raw voter lead. If I’m talking future primaries, I’ll cite those specific polls. I have not said “she is winning the national poll, so elect her”. She is winning the Democratic Primary, that is why she should be elected. It’s pretty different, but again, you like two twist what people say.

                  We’re talking about election results that haven’t happened yet, so there is nothing to replace.

                  Wait…what? Please elaborate. It sounds like you are saying the elections going on have nothing to do with the picking of the candidate. I mean, that’s the only way I can read this with your other statements. You are trying to divorce the primary elections from the final convention act of choosing the candidate. Do I have that right? I’ll gladly admit error if I’ve misread you here.

                • Well, Yes you did No I didn’t isn’t going to get us anywhere. I’m happy to leave it as an excise for the reader, based on our relative levels of honesty throughout this campaign, to make up their minds.

                  It’s pretty different, but again, you like two twist what people say.

                  …says the character who just invented the argument that I wish to throw out the state primary results.

                  Wait…what? Please elaborate.

                  No. My argument is perfectly clear, and you’re in one of your moods.

                  When you get in these moods, you read things like

                  The assignment of pledged delegates should absolutely not be changed. The past election results, which selected pledged delegates, should not be replaced with polling.

                  and they “sound like” to you:

                  you are saying the elections going on have nothing to do with the picking of the candidate.

                  and there’s really not a lot of point in continuing.

                • kped

                  Invented? Dude, people can read your own words, on this very page, saying just that. I mean, if you are saying that you aren’t suggesting a poll be used to give one person the win despite the polling, than what have you been arguing?

                  Man, you should really walk away Joe…not only are you lying, but it’s on this very page.

                  Here again, first someone asks:

                  Do they trump pledged delegates?

                  And you say, in response right to that (you even blockquoted it)

                  Since national polls at the time of the convention reflect (sort kinds, polls can be off) the will of the public when the super delegates vote, while pledged delegate outcomes (sorta kinda, see Wyoming) reflect the will of the public at the time they voted, why not? If a leading candidate who won the pledged delegates had some horrible scandal happen a week after the last contest and dropped to 9% national support and a -40 net favorable, would you argue that the super delegates were required to vote for him?

                  I mean, I don’t even care if the person reading this likes me or likes you, it’s quite clear what we are arguing, and you are saying, fuck the election, let’s go to the new polls!

                  Just walk away joe.

                • Doubling down on “I’m too stupid to follow this point” will not actually make my argument into what you wish it to be.

                  The measure of whether I’ve made an argument is not whether you’re willing to admit error in your reading.

          • They don’t reflect the will of the public though. They reflect the mood at a certain point of a specific sample of voters

            As opposed to votes submitted on a specific day in January in a subset of states, which somehow don’t reflect a mood a specific sample of voters?

            I’m going to ask you a very easy question now. The available answers are yes and no. One of the answers will display a reality-based and honest approach, and the other will be an exercise in hackery and denial.

            If Bernie Sanders starts leading Hillary Clinton by 10 points in national polls this summer, will that demonstrate a change in the Democratic voters’ opinion from January?

            • kped

              No. It will represent a certain group who is polled’s opinion. It will not represent Joe in South Carolina who already voted opinion. It will not represent Carol in Florida who already voted opinion. It will be a new set of people, who may or may not have voted. Who may or may not be Dems.

              Ah Joe, this is great. I’m so glad you are making your hack-ishness more visible for everyone else. If they didn’t know already. But lets spell it out:

              YOU ARE SAYING THAT WE SHOULD IGNORE ACTUAL VOTES FOR A POLL.

              Just let that hang in the air. Read it a few times. Maybe go back and consider what you’ve become in your desire to elect Saint Bernard. I always thought the anger at voter suppression and disenfranchisement was universal among Democrats. You’ve thankfully shown me the error of my ways.

              You’re not even asking for a do-over election. You are seriously asking to overturn results based on a new random poll. I’m literally laughing out loud! This is fantastic to see someone lose it like you are. What a clown.

            • If Bernie Sanders starts leading Hillary Clinton by 10 points in national polls this summer, will that demonstrate a change in the Democratic voters’ opinion from January?

              No. It will represent a certain group who is polled’s opinion.

              OMFG.

              It will not represent Joe in South Carolina who already voted opinion. It will not represent Carol in Florida who already voted opinion.

              What a silly thing to claim. It wouldn’t be possible for Bernie Sanders go go up ten points on Hillary Clinton without a significant number of people who already voted for her changing their minds. Literally, mathematically impossible. I mean, perhaps some outlier poll could produce a bad result, but if the aggregate polling data produces that result, it cannot do so without there being an actual shift in public opinion.

              Oh, and no, “we should ignore actual results” is, once again, a position you’ve made up to attribute to me in place of addressing what I’ve written. It has nothing to do with any argument I’ve made, no matter how desperate you are for a victory dance.

              • kped

                I made up nothing Joe, your words are clear to see. You are saying clearly, over and again, that sure, polls at the convention should trump actual votes. Here, let me quote you:

                Since national polls at the time of the convention reflect (sort kinds, polls can be off) the will of the public when the super delegates vote, while pledged delegate outcomes (sorta kinda, see Wyoming) reflect the will of the public at the time they voted, why not?

                See sunshine, I’m not being disingenuous. That’s your position. You are pretending that the two things (people actually voting, and a random poll) are equivalent. They are not.

                I’m shocked you are fighting this so hard, it’s actually hilarious. This is quite possibly the lamest pro-Sanders argument I’ve heard.

                • kped

                  And it’s hilarious now, in an era where there have been so many polling misfires that Bernie shills, seeing his first 1 point lead, are suddenly saying “golly, maybe at the convention they should just give it to him since he is leading a new poll”.

                  This is a low point in the campaign.

                • Here, let me quote you:

                  The part where I discussed pledged delegates, and how they should vote? Pledged delegates who are not selected in state primaries? You’re citing that as your support for your claim that I don’t want the state primary results to count?

                  That is agonizingly lame.

                  You do these sort of things when you get into one of your moods. There’s really no point in continuing.

                  Carry on with some hyperbole about how awesome you’re doing. Perhaps someone with a brain will come by and respond to the actual argument.

                • kped

                  Pledged delegates are selected in state primaries. Super Delegates are not. You do understand how the primary works…don’t you?

                  Seriously, your hate of me is funny, you walked into this unwinnable position for what? To die on this hill, the “let’s ignore the election and choose Bernie please because of a new poll” hill. It’s such a dumb place to argue from.

                  (and this time, you really shouldn’t continue, this is by far the dumbest thing you said, you should instead ask a mod to wipe all of your comments from this thread and pretend it never happened)

                • Pledged delegates are selected in state primaries. Super Delegates are not. You do understand how the primary works…don’t you?

                  Not only do I understand that, it is precisely because super delegates are not chosen by state contests that your argument that super delegates voting differently from state contest results would be “overturning the election results” is so false.

                  Nice own-goal. If you would take a minute to think through your replies instead of immediately going into one of your I GOTCHA JOE! fits this might have occurred to you before you posted a comment gutting your own argument.

                • kped

                  Oh my god…you are still trying to win…how sad. You do understand, don’t you joe, that if the SD’s vote against the election results, against the PD’s, that they will be overturning the election results, don’t you? I mean, you do know that, right?

                  Hillary supporters are clear, time and again when they hear your side whining about SD’s, “They won’t determine the results, if Bernie takes the lead, they’ll go to him like they did for Obama”. I’ve made that very claim many times. But you are here, going on and on, about how a new random poll should be used by them to overturn the will of the actual voters.

                  Sorry dude, you really should have walked away from this one, it’s just sad. I know democracy isn’t always kind, but your being a child trying to win this one.

                  “gutting my own argument”…smh…you realize my argument from the start is that the actual elections that have taken place should be what decides the candidate, don’t you? It’s quite clear from every comment I’ve made.

                  Hack. Seriously, that’s all I can say. You are a hack.

                • You do understand, don’t you joe, that if the SD’s vote against the election results, against the PD’s, that they will be overturning the election results, don’t you? I mean, you do know that, right?

                  No. You’re wrong. You are factually in error.

                  As you just “explained,” after pretending I didn’t know this, super delegates’ votes are not determined by election results. The elections only selected pledged delegates. Therefore, overturning those election results would only mean changing the assignment of pledged delegates.

                  Hack. Seriously, that’s all I can say. You are a hack.

                  Yes, we’ve all noticed that’s all you can say. Whenever you try to branch out…I’ll just leave it there.

          • MyNameIsZweig

            They reflect the mood at a certain point of a specific sample of voters

            And in this they are different from elections how, exactly?

            • kped

              Ask the pollsters in Michigan how they are different sparky.

          • They don’t reflect the will of the public though.

            Why not?

            They reflect the mood at a certain point of a specific sample of voters, but no actual votes.

            This is exactly true of elections too. What’s the magic of “actual votes” that turns a primarily physical turnout sampled survey (to pick a neutral term) into a reflection of *will* whereas alternative survey mechanisms merely reflect the “mood”?

            Technically speaking, they are all surveys and they all have different biases and error profiles (relative to the “true preferences” of the people).

            Now, some features of current elections (the antecedent weight we assign to them, history and mythology, the kinds of questions we ask) do make them different, but not necessarily more reliable indicators of the will of the people as a whole.

            There are hack arguments…and then there is this.

            I only commented here because I enjoyed the irony of this statement. Put your first paragraph in block quotes and your comment becomes accurate and sensible, if a bit brusque.

        • ChrisTS

          Would there be a mechanism to ensure that the people polled really were not fakers from the other party?

          • Amanda in the South Bay

            Isn’t that just a closed primary then?

            • ChrisTS

              I guess.

              • Even then, if we want same day registration, it’s a bit tricky to prevent registration switching. Possible, I guess, by requiring lead time to change though not to register. That might be enough.

    • efgoldman

      And at the risk of beating a dead horse, caucuses really have to go.

      Then voters in those states need to pressure their state legislatures to pay for primaries; it’s not necessarily the state parties’ choice.

      • JG

        Nevada kept their caucus because they were too cheap to change it to a primary. That is particularly disgraceful because they lobbied hard to get the 3rd/4th slot because they are a more “diverse” state. If you wanna be one of the winnow states then do it right, damnit.

    • Breadbaker

      I wasn’t allowed to caucus in Washington. “Leaving to visit your elderly mother” isn’t a sufficient excuse to get an absentee ballot according to the rules of the Washington State Democratic Party.

      I’m still waiting for the Sanders supporters who won my precinct handily to quit whining about other rules and suggest this one should be changed.

      • That’s really awful! I’m sorry that happened!

  • NewishLawyer

    My what if thought has always been about what would happen if all states had their primaries/caucuses on the same day and the conventions needed to be within 60 days of primary voting day.

    Superdelgates are probably here to stay. I’d bet money that the GOP will probably adopt their own version after this election based on the Trump clusterfuck.

    There is always probably going to be some or a lot of tension between the elites and the base in a political party. The Democratic leadership tends to be much more moderate than the base especially on economic issues. This includes people in the media who are not officially part of the Democratic leadership but can be seen as defacto spokespeople. Jay Carney went from being in the press to Obama’s Press Secretary to tech.

    The problem for the Bernie/Liberal-Wing of the Democratic Party is that they are too large to be ignored but not large enough to win anything but a handful of House seats and state legislative offices. Maybe they can throw a Senate race or two. So the Democratic Party can’t snub them completely but on the other hand feels or knows that exclusively courting to the liberal wing would be electoral disaster. As the GOP moves rabidly towards the right, many in the Democratic Party are doubling down on being moderate/centerists. Clintonian Triangulation still holds to a reasonable extent. This has been true for most of my life. I remember being in high school in the 1990s and having liberals rally around Paul Wellstone and venting steam about how centerist and moderate the Democratic Party was acting.

    The left has had their biggest victories in social politics. Look at how many Democratic cities and states are banning travel to states that pass hateful laws like North Carolina and Mississippi’s anti-LGBT laws. Liberals also seem to be starting to win on prison reform and drug law reform and potentially on the minimum wage but there are lots of Democratic voters who think the 15 dollar wage is a disaster waiting to happen.

    What I’ve gathered from the election is that the Bernie Bro thing is real or at least many Bernie supporters feel that HRC is nothing but a corporate panderer and insincere. The most loathsome example of this is the Bernie v. HRC meme where Bernie is cool and with it on all sorts of things from Radiohead to Jazz to Industrial Music to Comics to Star Wars and HRC is a clueless panderer. In reality, neither Bernie or HRC care about Skinny Puppy very much.

    Thought what I find off-putting about HRC supporters is that they often can be patronizing to liberal concerns and believe that they are the “adults in the room” and/or speakers of “hard truths.”

    • Lasker

      The most loathsome example of this is the Bernie v. HRC meme where Bernie is cool and with it on all sorts of things from Radiohead to Jazz to Industrial Music to Comics to Star Wars and HRC is a clueless panderer. In reality, neither Bernie or HRC care about Skinny Puppy very much.

      You do realize that the fact that Sanders obviously had no idea about any of those things either was part of the joke, right?

      • NewishLawyer

        Maybe originally but I think it has gotten out of hand. There are people who use them and then whine unironically about how much of a panderer HRC is.

    • The problem for the Bernie/Liberal-Wing of the Democratic Party is that they are too large to be ignored but not large enough to win anything but a handful of House seats and state legislative offices. Maybe they can throw a Senate race or two. So the Democratic Party can’t snub them completely but on the other hand feels or knows that exclusively courting to the liberal wing would be electoral disaster. As the GOP moves rabidly towards the right, many in the Democratic Party are doubling down on being moderate/centerists. Clintonian Triangulation still holds to a reasonable extent. This has been true for most of my life.

      Add in the element of time, though. It was a great deal more true in 1992 than in 2008, and more true in 2008 than today, and will be even less true going forward.

      • NewishLawyer

        Oh I agree. There are certainly elements of moving the party to the left. It was probably more frustrating to be a liberal in the Democratic Party from 1992-2000 than it is now. That being said, the problem with the Democratic Party is that the base is made up of different groups that really don’t talk to each other.

        Most of my friends and acquaintances are like me: college educated or above, generally grew up middle class or above, and generally professional. Because I am over 34, I know a lot of people who support HRC but also a lot of Bernie supporters.

        The Bernie supporters have a hard time understanding HRC’s fireall with African-American and Latino(a) voters. They can recognize that it is real (usually) but don’t understand why. The same happened in the Cuomo-Teachout primary. Teachout won her 30 percent from the suburbs and white, upper middle-class progressives. Cuomo won his 60 percent by staying strong in NYC and with minority voters.

        In the end, I think a lot of white, educated liberals just don’t know the African-American and Latino(a) bases of the Democratic Party. They also don’t understand retail politics and probably find retail politics vaguely distasteful because they don’t need retail politics to thrive socio-economically.

        To me, the average Bernie supporter seems to be white, college-educated and above, between 18-44, but with a strong dislike of finance and Wall Street. Nothing wrong with any of these things but they have different needs and wants than the African-Americans and Latino(a) communities that are still flocking to HRC largely.

        • JG

          Cuomo-Teachout is a bad comparison. Cuomo was a popular governor running for reelection and obviously part of a famous NY political dynasty. Teachout was a complete unknown who never held a political office in her life. Cuomo outspent her by about 40-1 and no one paid attention to the primary or expected it to be close. The fact that Teachout got such a high percentage was honestly stunning and a huge indictment of Cuomo from the left.

          Since barely anyone voted in that primary and no one knew who Teachout was, it’s hard to claim Cuomo had this big mandate from minority voters. I would wager that Blaz is much more popular with minorities than Cuomo and they are probably the only group that supports the mayor in the New York Cold War.

      • djw

        And furthermore, Sanders has flaws and Clinton has strengths that are independent of their policy ideas and the factions they represent; I think we’re pretty damn close to a situation where it’s possible someone who mostly substantively agrees with Sanders’ platform could beat the consensus establishment candidate right now. And, of course, the establishment won’t always have a consensus straight from the beginning. We’re already there. Sanders’ political platform can probably win now, with the right configuration of candidates.

        • ForkyMcSpoon

          I imagine Warren would be beating Andrew Cuomo and Joe Biden, for example…

    • JG

      I find it hard to see how we’re not moving left economically when a $15 wage is a viable (and successful!) movement, an open socialist is trading punches with the party colossus, the ACA is considered too moderate by many Dems, trade deals are a huge liability for Dem candidates, and deficit hawkery is a complete dead-letter for Dems. You could not even imagine these things being possibilities a few years ago.

  • wengler

    You seem to think that primary rules are similar in every state. In New York, you had to be registered as a Democrat last year to vote in April of this year. In Illinois you pick your party affiliation when you vote.

    Popular support and popular vote are not the same things and Bernie has had the deck stacked against him for the obvious reason that he is not a Democrat and has not been a Democrat his entire life. The fact that he has done so well in a Democratic primary/caucus system tells us that a lot of people are not happy with the status quo.

    • brewmn

      In Illinois you pick your party affiliation when you vote.

      Man, how I hate that aspect of primary voting here. Every primary, when they ask me “Democrat or Republican ballot?” I have to stifle the ruge to say “None f you fucking business.”

  • Alex.S

    I would take the Sanders’ complaints about the primary process lot more seriously if they were concerned about how caucuses make it more difficult for people to vote.

    Instead, the campaign is complaining about the timing of the election (the south distorts the election! Because it’s conservative! Also, check out our campaign’s momentum over the last month (while ignoring which state voted)!) Or open vs closed primaries. And are openly wooing superdelegates with arguments about how they should ignore the pledged delegate counts.

    Maybe if they mentioned how awful cacuses are for voting, I’d listed to the rest. But without that, their complaints about the election process don’t seem like complaints about the election process and more along the lines of whining about how they really should be winning and all of Hillary’s victories should have an asterisk after them.

    • apogean

      Basically it’s the same problem I always have when people raise valid concerns for self-serving reasons, which is that despite how much I agree with them it’s damned hard to take them seriously.

    • JG

      It’s annoying when I see some people claim that the South shouldn’t count. Or they say some stupid thing about, “Hillary is only popular in the old Confederacy. What does that tell you???” That line is actually pretty despicable when you consider who the voting bloc is in Southern Dem primaries.

  • apogean

    Per current RCP numbers, Clinton has won 57.4% of the popular vote in the contest, but only 55.4% of the pledged delegates.

    So while complaints about the terrible structure and procedure of the primary are valid and I am very sympathetic, it is inarguable that the process has done Sanders more good than harm, probably because of caucuses.

  • The argument was made upthread that super delegates who wish to represent the opinion of their state (or district, or the nation as a whole) should pay attention to contemporary public opinion data in determining the public’s opinion at the time of the convention, as opposed to what could be a six-months-old result from their state’s primary/caucus, since public opinion can change over the course of the campaign.

    So far, the only rebuttal to this point has been a claim that doing so would overturn the old elections, even though those old elections were held to select pledged delegates, and no one is talking about reassigning pledged delegates. So, obviously, that’s not going to do it.

    Can anyone do any better?

    • Here’s an attempt:

      A proper system would assign a winner based on cumulative vote totals. So, the further from that we get, the less democratic we are, and the worse the system.

      Pledged delegates are assign more or less proportionally, so are a slightly imperfect but pretty reasonable approximation of the votes cast in their states.

      Thus, super delegates should vote proportionally to the vote totals in their state, since any other outcome would *really* deviate from the best version. (So they shouldn’t ratify the leader in pledged delegates per se, they should proportionally allocate since there might be some disproportionate wins).

      I think this isn’t an absurd version of “not overturn the election”: The nomination should be determined on national vote share, and acting like pledged delegates from their state gets us closest.

      I don’t have a good argument that the vote people who managed to vote (in a fairly difficult to vote in situation) made in a strange schedule is to be super privileged. I do think it’s reasonable to suggest that the polling isn’t sufficiently good (i.e., you’d need a really big change to override).

      • kped

        And that is a much better argument then what you posted above. I’d be all for using a national method here and in the general election. But what you argued for above was a wee bit different than that. I completely agree with your statement here.

        (and of course Joe is lying about the above argument. No one said ‘reassign pledged delegates”, the argument was about ignoring election results to nominate the candidate based on a new poll. It’s overturning the results, not reassigning specific results, and is clear to anyone reading our little debate).

        • (and of course Joe is lying about the above argument. No one said ‘reassign pledged delegates”,

          That’s funny – you spent several comments accusing me of saying just that.

          • kped

            Show it. I’ve said you are advocating changing the result of the race based on polls, and that is disenfranchising voters.

            Although, i do see you said this:

            We’re talking about the pledged delegates’ very first “do.” They’re not tied to old state results. If they wish to represent the opinion of the voters in their state, or of the voters nationwide, why should they ignore a change in those voters’ opinion?

            Which sounds an awful lot like pledged delegates can do whatever they want…gosh you aren’t good at this…

            • Whoops, sorry about the typo. You’re right, I’m not very good at copy-editing. Still, from the context, it’s pretty clear that I’m not arguing what you claim.

              joe from Lowell says:
              April 14, 2016 at 6:38 pm
              Who’s talking about a do-over? No one is questioning that the candidates should keep their pledged delegates, and the assignment of pledged delegates are the only ones that are done.

              We’re talking about the pledged delegates’ very first “do.” They’re not tied to old state results. If they wish to represent the opinion of the voters in their state, or of the voters nationwide, why should they ignore a change in those voters’ opinion?

              Obviously, from the context, that “pledged” should be “super.” I mean, “they’re not tied to old state results” really should make it clear that I’m not talking about pledged delegates, who are tied to old state results. As well as the fact that I set up two different paragraphs, about two different types of delegates, in contrast to each other.

              As for “show it,” I’m perfectly happy to let the exchanges above, with your “overturn the election results” language, stand on their own.

        • And that is a much better argument then what you posted above.

          No, it’s a much better argument than *you* posted above.

          But what you argued for above was a wee bit different than that.

          Yes. I know. Here, I’m not making the same argument. I’m trying to construct the best response to my argument above. Of course you like this one better, because you agree with it. I *don’t* agree with it, I agree with my first argument.

          I completely agree with your statement here.

          Since you agree with the conclusion, I’m not surprised. Feel free to use this argument, since its considerably better than the ones you raised.

          However, please don’t be confused: I’ve not changed my mind from above. I’m just capable of constructing an argument (for the sake of discussion) that I don’t agree with. Because 1) I trained as a philosopher and 2) I really really really and truly am interesting in the structure of primary decision making and that’s what I’m discussing here. I’m not discussing, at this point, whether Bernie or Hillary should win the nomination. Not even a little bit. I *am* discussing whether it is necessarily the case that the super delegates overriding the pledge delegate winner is necessarily wrong or a mere “coronation” to use your word. I don’t think it necessarily is, for example, cf the hypothetical scenarios I’ve described at length. But I do think there are plenty of circumstances where it would be straight up illegit. So does Joe, btw.

          And I do think that the argument I sketched here is coherent. I just don’t think it’s the winner. I think current polling is a legitimate thing to consider for a super delegate, just as it is for late primary voters.

          • No, it’s a much better argument than *you* posted above.

            That’s gonna leave a mark.

            And yes, yes it is.

            • kped

              Ah, nice little circle jerk you got going.

              But no, it doesn’t leave a mark, because my argument above is sound (elections have consequences, the will of the voters should be respected), while you two clowns are arguing for using polls above, of having SD’s go against actual results to crown a winner.

              Bijan’s argument down here is at least coherent. It at least doesn’t rely on faulty polls (ask Scotland how good polls are at indicating the election, or Michigan if you want to get closer to home). At least a proportional system treats every vote exactly the same, but I’m seeing more and more that you lot don’t exactly appreciate all that messy democracy, with voters actually being able to go against the great Joe and Bijan’s wishes.

              • If I were you, I would get to whine about misogyny, racism, Bernie Bros, and whatever other campaign-approved talking points I’ve trained myself to spout when someone uses dirty imagery like that.

                I really can’t imagine why you think that your assertions about how good your argument is or how good other people’s arguments are is meaningful at all.

              • because my argument above is sound (elections have consequences, the will of the voters should be respected)

                You ignore that what’s in dispute is how we determine the “will of the voters”.

                while you two clowns are arguing for using polls above, of having SD’s go against actual results to crown a winner.

                I wish you’d put more effort either into your insults or to your attempts to understand the arguments. Improvement on either front would be welcome.

                Bijan’s argument down here is at least coherent.

                All my arguments here are coherent. The idea that uniform random sampling is more reliable than enumeration is pretty standard. The idea that the preferences of the entirely electorate matters is also pretty standard. It’s a brute fact that turnout in the US is poor. Put these together and a uniform random sample is more likely to correctly reflect the preferences of the electorate, where as enumeration with onerous conditions is not.

                Add the probability of schedule based distortion (time shifting issues with voting are also standard) and then you have the argument. it’s perfectly coherent. It may be erroneous, but it’s not incoherent.

                It at least doesn’t rely on faulty polls

                Neither did my previous argument.

                (ask Scotland how good polls are at indicating the election, or Michigan if you want to get closer to home)

                You need to read my comment about how turnout makes polls less predictive of *election* results, not of the preferences of the electorate.

                At least a proportional system treats every vote exactly the same,

                At the cost of ignoring lots of voters including ones that changed their mind. That might be worth it, but it’s a cost.

                but I’m seeing more and more that you lot don’t exactly appreciate all that messy democracy,

                This is very silly. I don’t like undemocratic features of our system. Low turnout, less informed elections are not particularly democratic. If you wanted to argue for a mandatory voting, same date, fully funded election as the better alternative, that would be sensible.

                with voters actually being able to go against the great Joe and Bijan’s wishes.

                This is really the contrary.

                Try, just a little, separating out your current political desires from this discussion. It’s not like the discussion is going to affect anything at all. No super delegate is reading. I’m certainly not trying to influence any vote at all here. So why does even the mere possibility of a hypothetical situation which Bernie might win become so weirdly offensive to you?

                If you don’t enjoy this sort of speculation, why try to squash it? Why not just not participate?

              • brewmn

                What’s really annoying is their certainty that Bernie’s polling means anything about the general election. I’m certain that Joe will cite name recognition numbers, but nobody who’s been to this rodeo a few times can honestly believe Sanders has been “vetted” by the media.

                Hell, they’re just starting to report that maybe, just maybe, Donald Trump doesn’t have a clue about what he’s actually talking about! If Sanders were to get the nomination, his Reverend Wright moment would come much closer to the general election than Obama’s did. And it could be disastrous.

                And, frankly, I find it disgusting that in a thread about an actual, ongoing primary election, someone could start suddenly talking about how opinion polls are every bit as democratic as actual voting. Although you have to admire the slippery way Bijan elided the fact that his whole “thought experiment” started out as a rationale for giving the nomination to Sanders, and only became hypothetical when people called him out on its real world implications.

                • What’s really annoying is their certainty that Bernie’s polling means anything about the general election. I’m certain that Joe will cite name recognition numbers, but nobody who’s been to this rodeo a few times can honestly believe Sanders has been “vetted” by the media.

                  It’s a difficult question. The numbers really are very strange, so one has to be careful about interpreting them.

                  nd, frankly, I find it disgusting that in a thread about an actual, ongoing primary election, someone could start suddenly talking about how opinion polls are every bit as democratic as actual voting.

                  I’m sorry you feel that way, but I don’t see why. I know people freak out about polls and about voting, but it’s worth thinking through what makes voting better than sample based voting (which is a better term than “opinion polls”) and how mismatches between current polling and current voting works. There’s lots of issues and they are interesting and worth thinking through.

                  Obviously, such speculation will have no effect, at all, on the primary. So I’m not sure why talking about it now is “disgusting”.

                  Although you have to admire the slippery way Bijan elided the fact that his whole “thought experiment” started out as a rationale for giving the nomination to Sanders, and only became hypothetical when people called him out on its real world implications.

                  I find it interesting how so many people are prepared to accuse me of dishonesty on absolutely no grounds. My first comment on this post, which you can confirm by timestamp was in reply to Murc. It recounts a discussion joe and I had earlier about exactly the hypothetical (you can look it up). So so your comment is provably factually inaccurate. It started out as an hypothetic, and never became a real world suggestion, and people have not called me out on the real world implications as they really don’t understand what’s going on.

                  There is a real world implication, i.e., that there is a race configuration where it would make sense to override a pledged delegate lead. But I really don’t think Bernie is going to get near the triggering conditions where it’d be even arguable. Bernie supporters who are arguing that now are engaged in wishful thinking.

                  Electability arguments have more legs but rely on current polling about head to heads in the general which have some uncertainties built it. (“Not being vetted” doesn’t mean that the polls are worthless per se, just that some care has to be taken.)

                  I believe my first comment in reply to kped wasn’t as clear as it could have been about this, but that hardly justifies your confusion at this late date. I explained myself clearly several times. I’ve pointed to the Murc reply several times. And I’ve consistently held to the fact that my argument is about the hypothetical circumstances.

                  Casually, and incorrectly, accusing someone of dishonesty on a blog isn’t a big wrongdoing, but it’s not good behaviour either.

                  ETA: If my arguments are wrong, they are wrong. I’m working out some of them as I go along, which…is fine, right? But people really aren’t replying substantively to my arguments. “BUT THE VOTES!! ARE VOTES!!!” isn’t an argument. I understand that people have strong emotional ties to the performative act of voting (I do too!), but there’s no harm in reflecting on what makes a particular voting regime legit. For me, the are most legit when the outcomes reflect the preferences (preferably the settled preferences) of the body politic (all people of voting age…and really all people). So I start with that as my metric in comparing systems. By that, well designed and executed sample based voting is likely to be better than our current system. It would be similarly accurate, those less “engaging” than mandatory, mail/tax return based voting. (The latter would be more expensive, probably.) Both would be much more legit than our current practices (even taking out extremer forms of Republican style suppression).

                • Oh, I was distracted by the factual error, but let’s say you had the facts right:

                  1) I sincerely proposed overriding the pledged delegates as the correct thing to do at this point in favour of Bernie.
                  2) Upon being refuted, I move to a related hypothetical situation to see whether *there* my argument works.

                  This isn’t “slippery” per se, it’s a perfectly reasonable move if you’re interested in understanding the arguments, not only scoring points.

                  It’s a pretty settled feature of my personality that I’m often interested in the structure of the arguments. Note that kped’s original comment suggested that any overriding was a “coronation” which is, I believe, a misclassification of the arguments and wrongly gauges their legitimacy.

                  So both your factual and evaluative basis for being disgusted were wrong. Now some people really don’t like hypotheticals (ask many of my friends) so perhaps there’s some transference?

      • A truly ideal democratic system wouldn’t involve cumulative vote totals at all, because everyone would be voting at the same time, yet doing so with the knowledge gained from watching a serial contest play out. Obviously, the ideal is impossible. Assigning a winner based on cumulative votes is a best-we-can-do system, not an ideal system, because the people voting at the beginning are dong so without the benefit of the knowledge the people voting at the end can gain over the course of the process.

        I agree your argument is not absurd, but it doesn’t address the core point – that voter preference can change from the beginning of the election contest to the end.

        It’s certainly true that public opinion data taken in July can fail to accurately capture the state of public opinion in July. Obviously, election results in January are to be privileged over public opinion data from January. No question there. But, then, election results from January can also fail to capture the state of public opinion in July. It seems to me that polling evidence would surpass election results as the better measure of public opinion over time.

        • I agree your argument is not absurd, but it doesn’t address the core point – that voter preference can change from the beginning of the election contest to the end.

          Well, yes. That’s why I don’t think the argument works :)

          But it wasn’t like anyone else was making it :)

          It seems to me that polling evidence would surpass election results as the better measure of public opinion over time.

          I think the big problem is quality of this polling. I would be surprised if currently we had good state level polling for past states (does anyone poll Iowa? :)) So it would require some investment.

          Going from the national polls is interesting. Cheaper to do and to do at higher/more principled sampling.

          • Yeah, national polling would be the only truly reliable set.

            But let’s not slice this too thin. The only time it would be appropriate for super delegates not to confirm the pledged delegate winner would be in the case of such a dramatic and undeniable shift in opinion that there isn’t really room to argue about whether the shift happened or whether it reached this state or that one. It should be a high bar to clear not to go with that default.

            • JG

              Yeah, it would have to be some really absurd shift. And a really absurd shift like that would probably come either from a scandal or a shocking event like a terror attack.

              • Well, look at the national polling now for the nomination, where some averages have them neck and neck. That’s pretty striking. If national polling puts Bernie 5 points ahead after NY, then…that seems pretty wacky. If he’s 10 points ahead at the convention, then what to do?

                Would you consider that an absurd shift? If feels pretty absurd to me. There’d be no consolidation effect for HRC?!

                If that happened (and I can’t rule it out happening right now! Not likely, but neither is the current polling!), then I think we’re close to the strange place.

              • Depends on the timeframe. It’s not difficult to imagine a shift of well over ten points happening between January and July. We’ve already seen a shift larger than that from January to April, come to think of it.

    • JG

      How many polls are you gonna get from a state that already voted? It would be ridiculous if one poll comes out from your state and you claim that is a more legitimate mandate than an actual election. The pollsters aren’t gonna do five different polls for each state months or weeks after they voted. And even five polls is a pretty weak sample.

      • Yes, a few unreliable polls wouldn’t be a sufficient basis. But see Joe and might comments just above this. (National polling would be better. Even then, it would have to be pretty overwhelming.)

      • Yeah, Bijan’s point about national polling being the only good set is true.

        Also, super delegates, from the conception of the process, have been about confirming a national winner.

        You’re right, talking about states is a dead end.

        • Yes, that was only part of the hypothetical and presumed good state polling. Which isn’t the real world.

    • searunner

      I think you are starting at the wrong place. I’d first do away with caucuses and establish uniform rules of allocation that do not vary state to state. I would also reduce the number of superdelegates or specifically bind certain categories of superdelegates – Senators are pledged to the overall state winner, Reps to CD winners, while Governors and others are free to back the candidate of their choice.

      I think some of the problems caused by Bijan’s scenario is a result of the number of delegates unbound to any candidate. To get to the magical 2383 total without the help of superdelegates a candidate needs to secure almost 59% of pledged delegates. If superdelegates, particularly those elected to Congress were bound in some manner that would alleviate some of the contention. Plus this would reward candidates who win States and Congressional districts that lean Democratic.

      Of course there is still the question of what to do if no candidate reaches a majority of pledged delegates, and I really don’t think there is a good answer. Unless there is a major scandal not nominating the candidate with the most pledged delegates is going to be problematic (assuming non-Trump-like delegate leader).

      • I think you are starting at the wrong place.

        Well, we are sorta trying to deal with the rough structure that we have. Starting from a clear slate is different.

        I’d first do away with caucuses and establish uniform rules of allocation that do not vary state to state.

        +5

        I would also reduce the number of superdelegates or specifically bind certain categories of superdelegates – Senators are pledged to the overall state winner, Reps to CD winners, while Governors and others are free to back the candidate of their choice.

        Start from another perspective: Do you think schedule effects unduly distort outcomes, at least often enough to need procedural safeguards? How about primary vs. general electorate mismatches? Do you think that we can have a candidate who’s very strong with primary voters but (predictably) poor in the general? If you don’t think at least one of these, why have super delegates (or delegates!) at all instead of straight cumulative vote?

        If you *do* think that one of those is significant, then how many superdelgates depends on how strongly you want to weigh their judgement in those matters.

        Of course there is still the question of what to do if no candidate reaches a majority of pledged delegates, and I really don’t think there is a good answer.

        Flip a weighted coin? Plurality wins? STV? Gregor! Design us a system! :)

        Nice comment, btw. I have to think more about the need for 59% pledged…I still think it’s orthogonal to my point, or rather it might just be playing with the threshold for an override.

        • searunner

          see below.

      • ForkyMcSpoon

        The Democratic primaries DO have uniform rules of allocation that don’t vary from state to state.

        And they DO allocate more delegates to Democratic congressional districts. You’d be increasing the weight towards them by binding their House members.

        If you got rid of caucuses, they would be pretty much uniform aside from voter registration differences (deadlines and party registration requirements).

        • searunner

          The Democratic primaries DO have uniform rules of allocation that don’t vary from state to state.

          Actually they don’t. The rules are more uniform than the GOP, but there are variations by state. For instance, Texas is divided into 31 state senate districts and not its 36 congressional districts. Oregon splits its 2nd congressional district into 2 and leaves the others whole. Additionally, states use different rounding thresholds to determine when to allocate an additional delegate.

          At the very least I would do away with the difference in rounding. It’ll have a marginal impact, but in a close primary scenario small differences might matter. I could be persuaded either way on how states determine the districts used to award delegates.

          For more detail see Josh Putnam: http://frontloading.blogspot.com/p/2016-democratic-delegate-allocation.html

          And they DO allocate more delegates to Democratic congressional districts. You’d be increasing the weight towards them by binding their House members.

          Yes I know that Democratic districts have more delegates. The proportional allocation isn’t really providing winners in Democratic areas with a bonus. Sure they are getting more delegates than other areas, but so are the other candidates. Additionally, binding House members gives winners of districts that are represented by a Democratic but not Democratic leaning districts a bonus.

          • ForkyMcSpoon

            Oh, I didn’t know that about Texas or Oregon. Whoops.

            However, that particular aspects don’t really meaningfully add to the complexity. How many delegates each district is worth is already compiled for you by the party. So all you have to do is get the right map.

            But still, it’s nothing like the GOP side in terms of mastering the rules. Once you have the basic principles for primaries down, it’s pretty much the same everywhere aside from how many delegates and in which districts.

            Given the proportional nature of the distribution of delegates to districts, really the biggest thing to game out would be even vs. odd districts. Even delegate swing districts aren’t worth putting extra effort into, whereas an odd delegate district nets you one delegate for getting 50.1%.

            But given that the finicky rounding errors account for only a 3 delegate deviation from perfectly proportional by state (making Hillary’s lead 6 delegates smaller than it would otherwise be) I wouldn’t be that concerned about it being unfair or whatever.

            The only reason to prefer perfectly proportional allocation is that it’s easier to understand, not that it’s way more fair. I suppose it also makes it harder to get a big boost from support that’s unusually geographically concentrated.

    • ForkyMcSpoon

      Three big problems:

      1. Polling bias. How do we know the polls aren’t systematically biased, as they have been in some years? For example, see the issues with landlines vs. cell phones…

      2. Responding to a poll is not the same as voting. The action itself.

      It’s not that opinions can’t change, they do. But poll numbers do not always indicate hard support. In a two-person race it’s a bit better (see the fluctuations and polling errors among the non-Trumps on the GOP side for comparison). But it’s also possible that some “supporters” in a late poll showing Bernie ahead or closer than expected may indicate “I’m annoyed with something Hillary is doing right now” or “I want Hillary to move left” rather than “I would actually prefer Bernie to be the nominee”.

      3. You open yourself up for Republican shenanigans if they’re not following the same rule and/or their nomination is not in question.

      How do you verify that someone is a Democrat or that they’re an independent that voted in the Democratic primary?

      And if you use some rules to limit the people you call to people who can be verified, wouldn’t this be itself a source of bias in your sample?

      • 1. Polling bias. How do we know the polls aren’t systematically biased, as they have been in some years? For example, see the issues with landlines vs. cell phones…

        To be clear, I don’t think a telephone based poll would be the way to go (for a voting system), hence my emphasis on proper uniform sampling.

        But another point to consider, current polling is often inaccurate at predicting how an election will go. One of the most common explanations is issues with the likely voter models: People who the pollster things will turn out, done.

        But that’s not a mismeasure of the *people*, but of the *people who turned out*. Turn out *IS* a biased sampling mechanism (it oversampled older, conservative people in off years).

        I don’t want to use uniform sample based voting to try to replicate the outcomes of turn out based voting, but to do *better*.

        That being said, it might be practically impossible. But using SS# or tax returns or census style records might get us close to uniform sampling, and expanding the size of the sample considerably will help with accuracy.

        It’s not that opinions can’t change, they do. But poll numbers do not always indicate hard support. In a two-person race it’s a bit better (see the fluctuations and polling errors among the non-Trumps on the GOP side for comparison). But it’s also possible that some “supporters” in a late poll showing Bernie ahead or closer than expected may indicate “I’m annoyed with something Hillary is doing right now” or “I want Hillary to move left” rather than “I would actually prefer Bernie to be the nominee”.

        I’m going to interpret this as applying to the “What should the super delegates do” not “what kind of voting system works best” context.

        I agree, but on the other hand, there are symmetrical problems with votes from two months ago in terms of voter information at the time. Ideally, you’d want the questions to reflect the fact that the polls might affect the outcome.

        But again, if Bernie were up 15%s in the national nomination polls in June, it’s hard to see that’s mere annoyance (given that Bernie would still be active).

        Though, it is tricky, no doubt! I wouldn’t personally bash a super delegate who didn’t decide on the basis of such polling, as I think it’s a hard, judgement based thing given current polling techniques.

        How do you verify that someone is a Democrat or that they’re an independent that voted in the Democratic primary?

        Good point! This is an issue with polls that had more procedural weight. I don’t have a ready answer for that.

        And if you use some rules to limit the people you call to people who can be verified, wouldn’t this be itself a source of bias in your sample?

        Yep! But not necessarily a bad one. It would really depend on the details. But part of the bias here is trying to get at the population that you want to now about (in the primary, democrats).

        But yes, this would be a new challenge if significant numbers of people sampled, started changing their response in order to ratfuck. (Of course, we have this in open primaries anyway, so it’s not entirely new.)

        • I think your last point is part of the general problem of “tamper resistance” which, I agree, is tricky for any new system, but small sample based voting is pretty vulnerable to.

          Relatedly, and probably the biggest practical obstacle, is perceived legitimacy. Any alternative voting system tends to meet massive resistance even if they are demonstrably superior. (Ask Gregor :)) Proper sampling has a *lot* of “magic” in it for most people and, as we’ve seen in this thread, the fact that many people wouldn’t cast an actual vote is very worrisome for people. I don’t know if any loser for the first 100 years of such system wouldn’t regard it as totally illegit.

          And of course many people, esp. Republicans, regard a system as legitimate and fair if it gets their preferred outcomes. So that’s going to be a problem no matter what. Thus even universal, easy voting isn’t a sure sell. (Heck, even in this thread, people were leaning toward a voting being “earned” by turning out. That’s, in my book, profoundly wrong *esp* in our system. But even the entitled, apathetic are citizens and their voice should weigh in.)

          • ForkyMcSpoon

            I don’t need to ask Gregor, I’ve spent time at rangevoting.org ;)

            I don’t happen to find this to be a huge problem, personally. Any time in which you’d have a huge shift late is one where there’s an obvious problem with the presumptive nominee (a huge scandal or health issue) and superdelegates are already a pretty good method for dealing with that. Some kind of special binding poll isn’t needed for superdelegates to deal with it.

            The other particular problems you seem to be thinking of are:

            1. A very late entrant. I don’t think this is something the rules need to be able to accommodate, honestly. If no good candidate has entered by the time of the first primaries, your party is probably fucked anyway.

            2. A fractured field allowing one candidate to get an early lead while having limited appeal. In other words… exactly the Trump scenario.

            That one is better addressed by changing the method of voting instead. For example, if the GOP used approval voting or IRV or even the Democratic rules, Trump never would’ve been a big issue. Trump probably would not have led in terms of approval at any point in 2015.

            Note that approval voting also decreases the need to “clear the field”. A clear frontrunner won’t be harmed by additional similar but inferior entrants. Splitting the vote is not a large concern in approval voting.

  • searunner

    Do you think schedule effects unduly distort outcomes, at least often enough to need procedural safeguards? How about primary vs. general electorate mismatches? Do you think that we can have a candidate who’s very strong with primary voters but (predictably) poor in the general? If you don’t think at least one of these, why have super delegates (or delegates!) at all instead of straight cumulative vote?

    I think demographics and electorate composition are bigger drivers in factor in candidate vote share than the primary calendar. So, no, I don’t schedule unduly distorts. I am open to consider arguments otherwise – possibly some hybrid of calendar and demographics?

    I think, absent a truly awful candidate, general election outcomes are more a result of election fundamentals (economy, satisfaction with the incumbent party, peace…). Candidates can matter on the edges, and that could possibly determine a close election. Even in that situation though, general election polls several months out should be taken with a large grain of salt.

    Trump and Trump-like candidates are why you have superdelegates and don’t rely on straight cumulative vote. A regional/factional candidate that manages to win a plurality of votes while also being unacceptable to 2/3rds of the party is why you don’t want to go with the cumulative vote winner.

    Flip a weighted coin? Plurality wins? STV? Gregor! Design us a system! :)

    I’ll support a fight to the death for the nomination between the candidates. Seriously though, STV wouldn’t be a bad option. Primary voters rank their candidate preference and that is used to reapportion delegates at the Convention when no candidate has a majority of pledged delegates. The previously bound superdelegates (Senators and Reps) that I suggested could then be free to vote for the candidate of their choice. Or they could be reapportioned as well.

    I have to think more about the need for 59% pledged…I still think it’s orthogonal to my point, or rather it might just be playing with the threshold for an override.

    I’m not sure what I think about the 59%. I mentioned because it seems like a good hurdle to have to clear without the help of superdelegates. At the sametime, it also seems like it could create an easily avoidable nomination controversy. I’d need to really think on it before leaning one way or the other.

    • I think demographics and electorate composition are bigger drivers in factor in candidate vote share than the primary calendar. So, no, I don’t schedule unduly distorts. I am open to consider arguments otherwise – possibly some hybrid of calendar and demographics?

      Well, before I’d actually want to rework, I’d ask how often this happens. I think Clinton/Sanders this year really is an unusual case. And it’s not like either outcome would be of a truly minority candidate or one that would be notably different in the general (afaict).

      Hard cases, bad law, etc.

      I think, absent a truly awful candidate, general election outcomes are more a result of election fundamentals (economy, satisfaction with the incumbent party, peace…). Candidates can matter on the edges, and that could possibly determine a close election. Even in that situation though, general election polls several months out should be taken with a large grain of salt.

      Yep, hence to make any hypothetical work, you really have to goose that knowledge. But that’s a reason not to get too worked up by the outcome of the primary at all except insofar as you prefer one candidate.

      I’ll support a fight to the death for the nomination between the candidates. Seriously though, STV wouldn’t be a bad option. Primary voters rank their candidate preference and that is used to reapportion delegates at the Convention when no candidate has a majority of pledged delegates. The previously bound superdelegates (Senators and Reps) that I suggested could then be free to vote for the candidate of their choice. Or they could be reapportioned as well.

      I support all of this :)

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