Thursday, January 31, 2008

Who's getting the big superdelegates

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We've been closely tracking superdelegate endorsements since early this month, and a clear trend has been observed. If I had written this post yesterday, Obama would have gained 25 superdelegates since January 12, and Clinton gained 23 delegates, pretty even. But Obama surged ahead today, with 6 more superdelegates, now showing a gain of 31 vs. 23 for Clinton. But even more interesting is where the gains have come from:

Obama has gained 20 endorsements from Congress and Governors since Jan 12:
Governors Sebelius and Napolitano, Senators Ben Nelson, McCaskill, Kennedy, and Leahy, and 14 Representatives.

Clinton has gained only 10 endorsements from Congress and Governors since Jan 12:
Governor Rendell, Senators Murray and Bill Nelson (FL - so not included in above numbers), and 7 Representatives.

While these superdelegates get the same single vote as other superdelegates, I think it's fair to say that Obama is getting a significantly larger share of "known" superdelegates. That's something that should help him next week, and may also indicate a growing preference among established national Democrats over who they want their nominee to be.

The first online primary - Democrats Abroad to decide delegates online on Super Tuesday

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For the first time ever on February 5th Americans living outside of the United States will be able to vote for their favorite Democratic candidates over the Internet. Super Tuesday starts abroad this election cycle.

Thailand:

About 1,500 expatriate Americans are expected to cast ballots at voting centres here or via the internet in a presidential primary for Americans living abroad.

Five hundred Democrat supporters in Bangkok are expected to cast ballots, while another 1,000 living elsewhere in the country are likely to exercise their rights via the internet, in what is being billed as the first hi-tech primary vote for Democrats abroad, said Philip Robertson, chair of Democrats Abroad Thailand (Dat).

Democrats Abroad, a branch of the party representing overseas voters, will hold its first global presidential preference primary from Feb 5 to 12, with expatriates selecting the candidate of their choice by internet, fax, mail and drop-in ballots at polling places in more than 100 countries. The Democrats Abroad global primary will determine which presidential candidates the 22 delegates of Democrats Abroad support when they go to the Democratic National Convention in the US in August. In Thailand, poll centres will open in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Nong Khai and Udon Thani. - Bangkok Post
Canada:

Come Feb. 5, the mega primary day in the U.S. election, Toronto resident and American citizen Anne Borden can vote in the first ever global online presidential primary for overseas Democrats.

At the Democratic national convention in August, the expatriate cyber votes will be represented by delegates of Democrats Abroad.

"They helped me register to vote. I didn't even know I could vote," says Borden, a copy writer who moved to Canada in 2003.

The online primary is part of the Democrats' get-out-the-vote campaign, no matter where the voters live. The presidential election in 2000, when the Florida count was so close, showed that every vote matters. - Toronto Star

Italy:
Thanks to the Internet, Americans who belong to the Democratic Party are getting a voice of their own in the presidential nomination, as the party has agreed to allow expatriates to choose 22 delegates to the national convention as part of the so-called Super Tuesday voting next month.

Everyone Counts, a company based in San Diego that specializes in online voting, is running the Internet voting for the Democrat primary for overseas residents. Everyone Counts handled the voting by Internet for local elections in British cities in 2003 and 2007 as well as the online voting for the Australian election in November, handling voting by soldiers stationed in Iraq and other spots overseas.

The Democratic primary for Americans abroad will start Feb. 5, the Tuesday when 21 states will hold primaries, and run until Feb. 12. In addition to voting by Internet, people can also cast ballots by mail, fax or - in 34 countries - they can vote in person. - International Herald

India:

Americans in Delhi who are registered Democrats will trek to Ploof Restaurant in Lodhi Colony on February 5, when there will be a showdown across the US between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton that may point to the eventual winner of the Democratic presidential nomination.

February 5 is known here as “Super Tuesday” because that day 24 states, including the more populous ones like California and New York, will choose their delegates to the nominating national convention of either party.

American Democrats in Delhi who wish to cast their ballots at the voting station in Lodhi Colony have been asked to bring their passports or any other proof of US citizenship.

Americans living elsewhere in India have been asked to register to vote and join Democrats Abroad by January 31. A ballot, a secure ID and instructions for voting will then be sent to them so that they can vote online in the Democratic Global Primary on February 5 and 6. - The Telegraph

Democrats Abroad have a total of 22 delegates but each vote only counts for 1/2 a vote. The delegation will be staying at the Red Lion Inn Denver Central just outside of downtown Denver during the convention.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Edwards out

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John Edwards is dropping out of the race today. What happens to his delegates? First, all of his superdelegates go back into the no endorsement pool. Second, his 4 delegates from New Hampshire and his 8 delegates from South Carolina will go to the convention as Uncommitted. And finally, his delegates from Iowa don't exist anymore, but will be replaced with Clinton or Obama delegates. That's because delegates to the national convention haven't actually been picked yet in Iowa. There are Congressional District (CD) and state conventions still to come, and all his delegates to the CD conventions will have to vote for one of the remaining candidates to the state level convention. We'll get the delegate trackers updated as the day goes on.

Update 1: The post above has gotten a lot of play around the net, but one thing must be corrected.

Iowa: Edwards received 14 delegates from Iowa, but they were split. 5 were state-level delegates, and 9 were CD-level delegates. The CD-level delegates are basically history. First, there are county conventions, and then CD conventions. Since Edwards won't meet the 15% threshold at the county conventions, he won't have any representation at the CD conventions, and won't get any CD-level delegates. Where they go at this point is impossible to say. But he will keep his 5 state-level delegates. By keep, what I mean is that his campaign gets to choose the 5 delegates. Who they end up voting is still up in the air. We'll update the Delegate Tracker.

Update 1A: Turns out I was right in the first place. The state-level delegates are chosen in the state convention, and as Edwards won't meet the 15% threshold, he won't get any state-level delegates either.

Update 2: The South Carolina situation is a bit confusing. But reading the South Carolina Delegate Selection Plan, they essentially have a system similar to Iowa's, except the final number of delegates selected for each candidate have to match the numbers out of the primary. There's no mention of a candidate "releasing" his delegates, so for now, we'll assume Edwards gets to name his 8 delegates. (Who they end up voting for at the convention is another matter).

Update 3: a non-incremental version of this post can be found at MyDD. Also note the following:

There is no first-ballot "vote for your candidate" rule at the Democratic Convention. Technically, any delegate is free to vote for any candidate on any ballot. (There may be state rules mandating a vote - we're still looking into that). Therefore, there is no such thing as a "legal" release of delegates. There is a political "release" - almost all delegates will vote for their candidate unless their candidate tells them they don't have to. But from a Rules point of view, a "release" of delegates mean nothing.

And therefore, it doesn't matter whether Edwards "ended" his campaign or "suspended" it as far as his delegates go. My guess is he will tell any delegates he has left that they can vote for who they want, or he could endorse someone and tell his delegates to vote for that person. But it doesn't matter from a rules point of view. They can vote for anybody at any time anyway, regardless of what Edwards did or say today or does in the future.

Original Update: Before we remove John Edwards' endorsements and numbers I wanted to add them to this post so we have a record of where things stood when he dropped out.



Endorsements:
Edwards
Rep. Bob Etheridge (NC)
Rep. Mike McIntyre (NC)
Rep. Brad Miller (NC)
Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (SD)
Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (TX)
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX)
Rep. Jim Oberstar (MN)
Rep. David Obey (WI)
Rep. David Price (NC)
Rep. Heath Shuler (NC)
Rep. Bart Stupak (MI)
Rep. Mel Watt (NC)
Rep. Michael Michaud (ME)
Rep. Bruce Braley (IA)
DNC Joe Wineke (WI)
DNC Sarah Swisher (IA)
DNC Nancy Larson (MN)
DNC Mary Jo Neville (MD)
DNC Muriel Offerman (NC)
DNC Elisa Parker (TN)
DNC Carol Peterson (NC)
DNC C Richard Cranwell (VA)
DNC Diane Saxe (MA)
DNC Jim Frasier (OK)
DNC Richard Machacek (IA)
DNC John Knutson (ME)
DNC Vince Powers (NE)
DNC John Perez (CA)

How Green Will The Convention Be?

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I listened to a great interview yesterday on Colorado Public Radio about the unprecedented work being done to "green" the convention. Andrea Robinson, the Director of Greening for the DNCC and Parry Burnap, the Greening Coordinator for the Host Committee

Click here to listen

More information on greening can be found in this Denver Post Article

Come Aug. 25 (or sooner), some 35,000 Democrats and members of the news media will flood into Denver, where they will eat at local restaurants, explore the metro area's cultural establishments, and be entertained at more than 1,000 parties and events. But while they're adding an estimated $160 million to the area's coffers, will they also be adding to its traffic congestion, air pollution and carbon footprint?

The city of Denver and the Democratic National Committee hope not, so they have joined together as the DNC Host Committee to "green" the convention and create a permanent legacy of environmental improvements for the city.

The committee has established 10 task forces to ease the environmental impact of the convention. One group will focus on educating hotels, restaurants and event planners. Last week, workshops underwritten by the Environmental Protection Agency attracted 150 people from the Colorado Restaurant Association, where they learned how they can minimize water use, offset electricity use, and buy food grown locally to reduce energy used for transportation. Parry Burnap, greening director for the committee, says similar workshops are planned for the hotel industry. - Denver Post

Denver: We'll pay you to stay off the roads

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Lets get those bicycles working:

Those who work in downtown Denver could get money or perks for taking public transportation or riding bikes during the month of the 2008 Democratic National Convention, courtesy of federal taxpayers.

Gift cards for $100, free and unlimited transit passes for the month of August, and even free bike locks, helmets and secure parking all are under consideration.

The Downtown Denver Partnership, which advocates for the area, has won a $173,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation that it plans to match with $43,000 to offer the program.

The goal is to "take advantage of the fear of extra traffic and added congestion" as well as the convention's "green" theme to spur the 110,000 downtown workers into alternative transportation, according to the partnership's project description.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Florida primaries today

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The Florida primaries, whose 210 delegates were disqualified for Democrats, take place today. The DNC stripped Florida of its delegates after the state moved its primary before February 5th.

Florida's Democratic Chairperson Karen L. Thurman posted this note on the Florida Democratic Party website.

Dear Florida Democrat,

Florida is in the driver's seat. Despite what the Washington skeptics and pre-programmed pundits predicted, the nation's eyes are turning to our January 29th Presidential Primary. It is important to vote in this election.

There's been a lot of fuss about delegates, but it's time to forget all that and just vote. The nationally respected RealClearPolitics website noted today that the Florida Democratic Primary will "include all the candidates on the ballot, and the entire media universe will be watching the outcome, guaranteeing the Sunshine State a big impact on the presidential race as it hurtles toward a critical moment the following week on Tsunami Tuesday."

...

Make no mistake, Florida Democrats will be heard on January 29th. The energy and momentum is on the Democratic Party's side nationwide, and Florida is no different. Thousands upon thousands of Florida Democrats are heading to the polls to make their voice heard in the final primary in the country before February 5th (the potentially decisive "Tsunami" or "Super Duper" Tuesday when more than 20 states will hold primaries or caucuses).

Update: Clinton obviously won, and McCain is now in the driver's seat for the GOP nomination. If anyone has Florida Democratic delegate estimates, please let us know. Also, the email at right is now working again.

Update 2: One estimate for the statewide delegates only is Clinton 38, Obama 26. There are 121 other delegates to be allocated by Congressional District.

Update 3: From the Green Papers, but it's a rough estimate as vote by CD was not available: Clinton 108, Obama 77. Note that Edwards received 14.76% of the vote, so did not meet the 15% threshold to get any state-wide delegates. (He missed by 4,000 votes - anyone for a Florida recount?). He will surely get delegates at the CD level when the CD votes and delegates are available. A quick estimate would give him 12-15 delegates, coming from both Clinton and Obama.

Another superdelegate switches from Edwards to Obama

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Arizona Representative Raul Grijalva switched his endorsement from John Edwards to Brack Obama today.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona is endorsing Barack Obama after earlier backing John Edwards in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Grijalva cited Obama's electability and his intention to "fundamentally change the rules of the game" in Washington, according to a statement obtained by The Associated Press in advance of a planned Tuesday conference call with reporters.

...

Grijalva had endorsed Edwards on May 3, saying the former senator from North Carolina "has shown principled leadership on the way in Iraq and on economic opportunity in America."
In the statement explaining his switch to Obama, Grijalva said it "was not a repudiation of Senator Edwards, rather the understanding that Senator Barack Obama is the future."
"The best opportunity to win in November rests with Senator Obama," Grijalva added. "I am proud to support Senator Obama as we move forward toward the nomination. This election is not merely about moving the pieces around in Washington D.C., but to fundamentally change the rules of the game. I am proud to help Senator Obama work toward that change."
Grijalva is the second superdelegate to switch from Edwards to Obama. Rep. G.K. Butterfield (NC) switched earlier this month.

We may see more of John Edwards' endorsers jumping ship in the near future.

Update: Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius has endorsed Obama

Update II: Representative Maxine Waters (CA) endorsed Clinton today.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Superdelegates Are People Too - Jenny Greenleaf (OR)

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Over the last two months we have looked at the dark and mysterious world of the superdelegates. Some people have called their power tyrannical and others think their very existence is undemocratic. Last week I entered this dark world and spoke to one of these "undemocratic tyrants".

Jenny Greenleaf is one of us. She's not a demon bent on the end of our democracy. She has no intention of denying American citizens of their right to choose their preferred candidate.

And as one of Oregon's 13 superdelegates, Greenleaf will be able to choose who she wants to be nominated as the next President of the United States.

After seeing the following comment on MyDD, I had to talk to her:

I'm a DNC committeeperson from Oregon, which makes me a superdelegate.

I get a call from two or three media organizations every week. I politely explain that I am not endorsing any of our great candidates yet. They then ask if I am leaning toward anyone, and I say no. (Because I'm an officer of the state party, and we don't want the state party to be seen as providing more or better services to one candidate or another, I plan to stay neutral until Oregon's late primary in May.

So, ABC, NBC, CNN, CBS/New York Times call the superdelegates constantly. I suspect that when the reporters count up the superdelegates, they are using slightly different ways of deciding if someone is a supporter or not. It depends on whether they count the leaners. And how many people they managed to reach for that particular poll.

Greenleaf isn't a life-long party member. Like many people she became politically active in 2002. After being laid off from a tech job she wanted to work on something that would make a difference. Her goal was to make the Democratic Party less mysterious and more efficient.

She started out doing fundraisers and moved on to help the Dean and Kerry campaigns in 2004. Jenny was selected as a delegate and attended the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. At the time she was a regular blogger on American Street. She told me that the delegates were really just extras on the convention floor and that she spent a lot of time hanging out in the nose-bleed seats with the other bloggers. Greenleaf won her DNC seat in Dec. '04, and thus became a superdelegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

The media calls her at least once a week asking for her preference. The Oregon Democratic Party has decided not to make endorsements yet, so she remains Uncommitted. The Clinton, Edwards and Obama campaigns call to ask for an endorsement about every other week. Greenleaf mentioned that the Clinton campaign has made the most calls.

We will continue to follow our Oregon superdelegate through the convention and bring you more proof that superdelegates are people too.

Update: Jenny Greenleaf left a comment to this story on MyDD

I am not undemocratic. I work really hard to make sure the Party is transparent. I got involved because I thought the Party needed to change. I personally find the processes we use to elect our leaders to be Byzantine, to say the least. I'm not going to defend it, but I do believe you have to understand how it works to try to change it. I've been on a mission to do that since I got started in 2002.

Let me see if I can clear up some misconceptions about the superdelegates. For the most part, they are elected in one fashion or another. The congress members and governors were elected by the people in their states. Most of the DNC members are elected by their parties. Others are elected by organizations, such as the Democratic Secretaries of State. A few were appointed by Governor Dean.

I worked my tail off in the 2002 and 2004 campaigns. That's how I got on the DNC....it certainly wasn't decided in a smoke-filled room. The people who elected me to the DNC were elected to the state party from their county parties. Our county parties contain the most progressive activists in our state, and it's those folks who elect the DNC members.

While campaigns do call us with requests for endorsement, nobody has tried to twist my arm or offer me an ambassadorship to New Zealand. Nobody has been anything but polite. I have received no calls from any dark, shadowy bodies informing me that they've chosen the candidate. It's all quite above board.

Some of you have said that a superdelegate vote counts more than yours. Again, not defending the status quo, it is true that the superdelegates could make a difference if they vote in a monolithic bloc. I don't know the congresspeople real well, but I do know that DNC members have a widely varied set of backgrounds, allegiances, and preferences. I expect their votes will be as varied. by Jenny Greenleaf on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 01:13:42 PM MST

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Superdelegates: The Invisible Primary

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The NY Times gives us its view of the superdelegate race:

The superdelegates are the target of something of an invisible primary as the rival campaigns woo them for endorsements, for the political connections such public backing can bring and for their actual support at the convention, should it be needed. The superdelegates can also be influenced by the primaries. An aide to Senator Barbara Boxer of California said Ms. Boxer would cast her superdelegate vote for the winner of the California primary on Feb. 5.

Superdelegates were created after the 1980 election and were intended to restore some of the power over the nomination process to party insiders, keeping a lid on the zeal of party activists. They immediately came in handy for Mr. Mondale in his 1984 presidential bid, when they gave him a cushion over the upstart campaign of Gary Hart.
...
According to a recent telephone survey of superdelegates by The New York Times and CBS News, about one-third have expressed no preference in the 2008 race, about 25 percent support Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and about 10 percent favor Senator Barack Obama. The remainder did not return calls or refused to comment.

But nothing in the rules binds any of the superdelegates, and they are free to shift positions, unlike pledged delegates who are committed to support a particular candidate at least through an initial convention vote. That creates a situation that political aficionados dream about: a deadlocked convention up for grabs until a bloc of superdelegates comes together and anoints a nominee.
Two comments. First, the note about Boxer is very interesting. It's a safe tactic to take, and one that would make critics of the superdelegate system happy. We'll keep an eye out for other superdelegates who commit in the same way.

Second, the Times says that pledged delegates "are committed to support a particular candidate at least through an initial convention vote." There is nothing in the convention rules that say that. As far as the national party is concerned, delegates are supposed to vote for the candidate they were elected for, but there is no binding requirement to do so. (Although we have heard that there are state rules that may bind delegates - but that needs more research).

How would the Florida and Michigan delegates actually be seated?

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With all the controversy surrounding the seating of the Florida and Michigan delegations at the Democratic Convention, it's worth taking a look at how the process would actually work.

First, what rule did Florida and Michigan break? Section 11A of the Delegate Selection Rules of the 2008 Democratic National Convention:

No meetings, caucuses, conventions or primaries which constitute the first determining stage in the presidential nomination process (the date of the primary in primary states, and the date of the first tier caucus in caucus states) may be held prior to the first Tuesday in February or after the second Tuesday in June in the calendar year of the national convention. [Except for Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina].
On Aug 26, 2007, the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee stripped Florida (and later Michigan), of all its delegates:
Donna Brazile, a member of the rules committee who argued for a swift and harsh punishment for Florida, said states' desire to be more relevant in the nominating process does not excuse violations of rules intended to make the system fair for everyone.

"I understand how states crave to be first. I understand that they're envious of the role that Iowa and New Hampshiree have traditionally played," said Brazile, who was Al Gore's campaign manager in 2000. "The truth is, we had a process. . . . We're going to back these rules.
Now the Call for the 2008 Democratic National Convention ("the Call") states in section II-(B):
Only delegates and alternates selected under a delegate selection procedure approved by the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee and in accordance with the rules shall be placed on the Temporary Roll of the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
So Michigan and Florida will not be placed on the Temporary Roll. And then it's in the hands of the 2008 Democratic Convention Credentials Committee. From The Call, section VII-(J)(1,2,3):
The Credentials Committee shall determine and resolve questions concerning the seating of delegates and alternates to the Convention pursuant to the resolution entitled the “Relationship Between the 2008 Rules of Procedure of the Credentials Committee and the 2008 Delegate Selection Rules,” which includes the “Rules of Procedure of the Credentials Committee of the 2008 Democratic National Convention” hereby approved and adopted by the Democratic National Committee, and set forth in full in the Appendix to this Call. The committee shall report to the Convention for final determination and resolution of all such questions.

Challenges to the seating of any delegate or alternate shall be in accordance with the Rules of Procedure of the Credentials Committee. Any challenge to the seating of a delegate or alternate that is not made in conformity with these rules shall be deemed waived.

Upon the request of members representing twenty percent (20%) of the total votes of the Credentials Committee, a minority report shall be prepared for distribution to the Convention delegates and alternates as part of the committee’s report.
And here's where we diverge if the seating is contested or not. If it's not contested, someone will challenge the non-seating of the delegates, the Credentials Committee will likely unanimously approve the challenge, the Committee will recommend in its main report that the delegates should be seated, the convention will approve the seating, and the Michigan and Florida delegates will march onto the floor with great ceremony.

But if the seating is contested, a Minority Report will be issued by the Credentials Committee.

And then we get to the convention. The report of the Credentials Committee is the very first piece of real business to occur at the convention. The Call, VIII-(C)(1)(a,b):
a. The Temporary Chair shall recognize the Chair of the Credentials Committee for up to thirty (30) minutes to present the committee’s report unless a longer period of time shall be provided in a special order of business agreed upon by the Convention. The Chair of the committee may present committee amendments, yield part of his or her time to others and may yield for the presentation and disposition of minority reports without losing the right to the floor.

b. The Temporary Chair shall arrange for the orderly presentation of amendments and of minority reports offered at the direction of the committee. Twenty (20) minutes shall be allowed for the presentation of each committee amendment or minority report unless a longer period for any committee amendment or minority report is provided in special orders of business agreed to by the Convention. Time shall be allotted equally to proponents and opponents of each committee amendment or minority report. The questions shall be put on each committee
amendment or minority report immediately following its presentation without intervening motion.
And we have a vote, state-by-state, the first meaningful state-by-state roll call at a Democratic Convention since 1980. Clinton would need a majority of the delegates (not including Florida and Michigan) to approve the Minority Report.

And then reality strikes. If Clinton can get a majority of delegates to support the Minority Report, than she has a majority of the delegates supporting her anyway, and she doesn't need Michigan and Florida.

But if she doesn't have a majority of the delegates supporting her, its hard to see why delegates supporting other candidates would vote to seat the two delegations, essentially helping her out. After fighting for the nomination for 2 years, why would Obama or Edwards and their delegates give up the fight in this way. It's just not going to happen. The delegations will NOT be seated if the nomination is contested.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Obama wins South Carolina easily

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Latest results here, still waiting for final delegate counts.

Update: Obama 25, Clinton 12, Edwards 8. Delegate Trackers have been updated.

Missing superdelegate endorsements

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As our regular readers know, we only count a superdelegate for a candidate if there is a public record of support for the candidate. That puts our numbers lower then some media organizations, which use a much lower bar for their numbers.

We know that we have avid supporters from all the campaigns posting and sending us tips about endorsements, so we're asking for your help. The AP provides a state-by-state breakdown of their delegate count. We've compared it with our state-by-state breakdown, and we've identified the states where we are missing some superdelegate endorsements. We've listed below every state where the AP shows 2 or more superdelegates than we do. Go out and hit Google or Lexus-Nexus, and find our missing superdelegates. Remember, we need publicly available sources.

Clinton: Alabama - 2, Guam - 2, Kentucky - 2, Louisiana - 2, Massachusetts - 3, New York - 6, Pennsylvania - 5, West Virginia - 2.

Obama: California - 4, DC - 2, Illinois - 3, Massachusetts - 2, South Dakota - 2.

Edwards: California - 2, North Carolina - 3.

(In case you're wondering why the numbers may not add up, there are states where we have more superdelegate endorsements than the AP. We have 4 for Clinton from MO, the AP has 2. We have 3 for Clinton from Puerto Rico, the AP has zippo. Not bad for a small blog compared to the biggest media organization in the world).

Major Media starts looking at superdelegates

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On Friday night Keith Olbermann did a story on superdelegates and how they may be the key to a candidate getting the nomination. Crooks and Liars is hosting the video in a post called Forget Super Tuesday Or Even Tsunami Tuesday, It’s All About The Super-Delegates

video

If Keith needs some help with superdelegates Matt and I would be happy to help him.

Update: Keith, here's some help. There are not 386 superdelegates being elected or selected on super Tuesday. The superdelegates are already chosen by virtue of their position. and to imply otherwise is very misleading. Also, Keith combines the 720 unpledged PLEOs (Party Leaders and Elected Officials), with the unpledged add-ons. There are 76 of these unpledged add-ons, 1-5 per state, and they get selected at the various state conventions. We're not tracking them here, yet, because we don't know who they are.

And one interesting thing: According to the Call of the Democratic Convention, there are, as I stated above, 720 PLEOs + 76 add-ons, giving 796 total superdelegates. But twice Keith mentions that there are 797 superdelegates. Does he know something that the DNC doesn't even know?

Is Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin still a superdelegate?

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A commenter tipped us off to the fact that Providence Mayor David Cicilline was elected yesterday to head the National Conference of Democratic Mayors. Mayor Cicilline takes over for Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin. From everything we've heard from the DNC, this position comes with superdelegate status.

Here's where things get interesting. If Mayor Franklin loses her superdelegate status (which we will try to confirm on Monday) Barack Obama loses one of his endorsers. Mayor Cicilline on the other hand backs Clinton adding a superdelegate to her tally. For now we will leave Franklin on Obama's list but I have linked her name to the article above.

As a reminder, we will only add an endorsement once it's official and can be proven by a press release or news article. Thanks to all of the readers who are helping to make our lists and our numbers the most accurate ones available.

Conventional Wisdom

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South Carolina Primary Today

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South Carolina holds its Democratic primary today. This is the last (binding) primary for the Democrats before Super Tuesday on February 5th. Polls opened at 7 am and will close at 7 pm.

South Carolina residents can find their polling places at SCVotes.org

Results will be posted at the South Carolina Democrats Website

After the diversions, distractions, and debates that have roiled the campaign in recent weeks, Democrats will finally cast their ballots in the South Carolina presidential primary Saturday.

The polls, if they can be believed, indicate a strong victory ahead for Barack Obama over Hillary Ciinton and John Edwards, on the strength of his support from African-Americans, who probably will be a majority of the Democratic electorate. An NBC survey released Thursday night found that Obama had 38 percent, Clinton 30, and Edwards 19, with blacks overwhelmingly backing Obama and whites split between Edwards and Clinton.

Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and former Senator John Edwards(D-NC) attend a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) rally to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day, in Columbia, South Carolina, January 21, 2008.
Obama, Clinton and Edwards attend a NAACP rally to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day, in South Carolina.
(Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images)

The three main candidates have sparred, sometimes angrily, over a variety of issues, including the Iraq war, healthcare, and how to overcome special interests in Washington. But much of the talk in the past few days has focused on former President Bill Clinton, who has gone on the attack against Obama, prompting some of his ex-advisers and friends to say he is going too far with his harsh tone. - US News & World Report

CBS: Obama over 100 superdelegates

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Just a quick note that CBS now has Obama at 106 superdelegates, the first time any media organization has had him over 100. We've got him at 85 public superdelegates, so there are 21 Obama delegates, as well as 26 Clinton and 11 Edwards delegates, that are hiding out there. (We'll have Sen. Bill Nelson's endorsement of Clinton on the list when its announced on Tuesday).

Friday, January 25, 2008

Clinton wants Florida and Michigan delegates counted

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We've been tracking the controversy over the Florida and Michigan delegates to the Democratic Convention, and today it took center stage in the Democratic race:

In a bit of political theater, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Florida Democratic Party clamored to restore convention delegates that had been stripped by the national party. At stake: 185 delegates in a state where Clinton leads almost 2-to-1.

The presidential candidate said Friday — just four days before Florida's primary — that she wants the convention delegates from Florida and Michigan reinstated. The national party eliminated all the delegates from those states — more than 350 in all — because they broke party rules against holding their primaries before Feb. 5. All the major Democratic candidates also made pledges not to campaign in those states before their primaries.

Clinton could claim most of the Michigan delegates because she won that state's primary after the other major candidates pulled their names from the ballot.
...
In an earlier statement, Clinton said, "I believe our nominee will need the enthusiastic support of Democrats in these states to win the general election, and so I will ask my Democratic convention delegates to support seating the delegations from Florida and Michigan," she said.

The Obama campaign responded:

"Senator Clinton's own campaign has repeatedly said that this is a contest for delegates, and Florida is a contest that offers zero," Plouffe said. "Whether it is Barack Obama's record, her position on Social Security, or even the meaning of the Florida Primary, it seems like Hillary Clinton will do or say anything to win an election."

Many Democratic insiders believe the eventual nominee — whoever it is — will work to reinstate the delegates at the convention to promote party unity going into the general election, despite two overwhelming votes by the party's rules panel to strip them.

Under the rules for the Democratic convention, the candidate with the most delegates at the convention will control who gets seated — if the delegates follow the candidate's wishes.

Not true. A majority of the other delegates gets to decide whether to seat Florida and Michigan, not just the candidate with the most delegates. If Clinton has an actual majority of the delegates, then she has the nomination, and the question of Florida and Michigan is moot anyway.

In reality, this is really just a political position by Clinton, as she already has a large majority of the delegates in Michigan, and she hopes this stand will attract undecided voters in Florida. It's just really hard to construct a scenario that seats the two delegations if Clinton doesn't have a majority of the delegates going into the convention.

Denver Public Schools won't delay start

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We finally have an answer from Denver Public Schools as to whether or not they will delay opening schools due to security concerns from the convention.

Students in Denver Public Schools will return to classes as usual in August, after school board members on Thursday vetoed a plan to delay the school start date for the Democratic National Convention.

Board members voted 5-2 to start school on Aug. 18 this fall, rather than wait until Sept 2. The DNC is scheduled to bring 35,000 visitors to Denver between Aug. 25 and 28.

Earlier this month, DPS Security Chief Ed Ray and Justin DeMello, head of the city's Office of Emergency Management, told board members that the city and district could better share resources in the event of a DNC emergency if schools were not in session.

But a survey of parents, students, teachers and community members found 57 percent preferred the earlier start. Only one group - parents - came out in favor of the later return. - RMN

You can read our previous stories on the possible delay by using our Tag List on the right and choosing security. I guess they figured the chance of "mass casualties" at the convention were too slim to delay opening schools.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Kucinich drops out

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Dennis Kucinich has ended his campaign for the presidency.


For more coverage of Dennis Kucinich, go to the Openers blog.

We'll put Kucinich and his lone superdelegate supporter Jon Ausman (FL) back into the not endorsing list and will remove him from our trackers.

Kucinich said he will not endorse another candidate in the primary.

NY Times/CBS Superdelegate survey

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The New York Times and CBS News just completed their latest survey of superdelegates for the 2008 Democratic Convention:

In an indication of where Democratic Party leaders are leaning, the telephone survey of the party’s superdelegates found about one-third of them undecided, 25 percent favoring Mrs. Clinton and about 10 percent supporting Mr. Obama. In an earlier survey completed by The Times and CBS News in November, more of the party leaders were undecided, though they supported Mrs. Clinton over Mr. Obama then as well.

Clinton: 202
Obama: 96
Edwards: 33
Kucinich: 1
Undecided: 274.5
No answer: 189.5

Survey conducted Jan 1-17. Florida & Michigan not included. (Democrats Abroad get 1/2 vote per delegate).
A couple of notes:
The CBS News election website still has the old numbers.
Edwards number went down from 41 to 33, but is now in line with the other media surveys. (See tracker at left).
Almost a quarter of the superdelegates refused to answer or were not reachable.
There are 464 superdelegate votes still up for grabs.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Convention volunteer hopefuls be on the lookout for an email to update your profile

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Just got this from the Host Committee. If you plan on volunteering for the convention it looks like you'll need to reapply so that you are entered into their new system.

The Host Committee is enhancing its volunteer file. Over the next several weeks each volunteer in our data base will receive an email asking him/her to go to a linked web site. This email will include instructions on how to log in and how to add information to our files. A few volunteers have already been contacted to test this new system. Now we are ready to phase in all our volunteers, but not all at once.

Watch for your email and when it comes, it is important to follow directions and fill out the new volunteer profile form. It will allow you to let us know what type of jobs you're interested in and what days and time of day you're generally available.

It also allows the Host Committee's volunteer coordinators to match volunteers, like Marie Baumunk shown above working the Host Committee's office phones, with jobs that suit them as well as fill jobs deemed critical by the Host Commitee.

This is an important step we're taking to organize the volunteer base. So remember, keep an eye out for that email and respond as soon as you can.
It doesn't say exactly when they plan on sending the emails but I would say if you don't get one in the next few weeks you might want to check into it.

Obama and Clinton each get a Former DNC Chair's Endorsement

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If you read Matt's Distinguished Party Leaders post a couple weeks ago you'll remember that all former DNC Chairmen are superdelegates. Today we can cross off two of the DPL's from our non-endorse list and move them to the endorsement list.

Pennsylvania Governor (and former DNC Chair) Ed Rendell endorsed Hillary Clinton today. He is considered a DPL in the superdelegate world and not a Governor. Barack Obama followed up with a lesser known DPL when Former DNC Chairman Fred Harris from New Mexico endorsed him.

Rendell served as DNC Chairman from 1999 to 2001 and Harris served from 1969 to 1970.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Delegate counts all over the place

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Everyone's got 2008 Democratic Convention delegate counts, and just about everybody's count is different. Why? Well, it's not the pledged delegates. Most media organizations (CNN, CBS, AP and NBC) are consistent, showing Obama with 38, Clinton with 36 and Edwards with 18 pledged delegates. Then there's the NY Times, which is not including Iowa or Nevada as they haven't selected actual national delegates yet. And then there are outlets reporting numbers with Michigan and Florida included, which greatly increases Clinton's lead. The GreenPapers and MyDD are tracking this way, and we've got both sets of numbers in the sidebar.

But even assuming no delegates for Florida and Michigan, the superdelegate numbers are different everywhere. As seen on our Superdelegate Tracker (as of 1/22), CNN has it 174/85/34, CBS has it 195/88/41, and the AP, via the Chicago Tribune, has it 200/98/34.

And then there's NBC, which doesn't seem to acknowledge the existence of superdelegates:

"I don't understand why people haven't allocated the superdelegates," [director of surveys for CBS News, Kathy] Frankovic said. "Certainly, they'll be counted as much" as those selected state by state, she said.
But lets focus on those organizations that do acknowledge superdelegates. Here we count only publicly announced endorsements, and so have it at 173/80/28. Why do CBS and the AP have higher numbers?
"It's very good to stay scientific as much as you can, but you've got to apply reporters' intelligence," a former political director at ABC News, Hal Bruno, said. "My hunch is everybody is so oriented to computers now that all they can do is crunch numbers. You've got to do the reporting. The reporting is as important as the number crunching."
...
Mr. Bruno, who headed ABC's political shop for 19 years, said he used to hire a well-connected Democrat and a well-connected Republican for the presidential election year to work contacts in each state. "A lot of superdelegates say they're uncommitted and it's untrue," he said, adding that reporting could usually establish at least that a delegate was leaning toward one candidate or another. The former journalist said he also checked in regularly with people the campaigns hired or assigned to tally delegates.
...
Mr. Bruno said that at different times during the campaign season he produced separate tallies of "hatched," "unhatched," "leaning," and "firm" delegates, though he acknowledged that the numbers were usually blended together before being broadcast.
I'm sure that the many of the unannounced endorsements assumed by the media organizations are accurate, but there's no way to know, as they don't publish any information. So we'll continue to publish only sourced endorsements, we'll note the media counts as a comparison, and we'll keep tracking the numbers until only one candidate is left standing, whether that's sometime this spring, or in Denver in late August.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Convention vendor directory surpasses 1000 businesses

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Over 1000 vendors are now listed in the DNCC's vendor directory.

Among the hopeful vendors are 255 minority-owned businesses, 22 businesses owned by persons with disabilities, 68 "green businesses" and 410 women-owned businesses.

"The vendor directory is one of the quickest and easiest ways for area businesses to market themselves to the 35,000 attendees of the convention," Elbra Wedgeworth, president and chair of the host committee said in a statement. "The level of participation this early on has exceeded our expectations, and we hope that more and more businesses take advantage of this service." - Denver Business Journal

You can find anything from searchlights to an Uncle Sam stilt walker in the list.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Could Edwards be a Kingmaker?

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There's been talk of Edwards playing kingmaker at the convention, sending his delegates one way or another for whatever reason. But I think this assumes a time gone by, when delegates would march in lockstep for their state bosses and/or their candidate. The Politco agrees:

And his delegates won’t automatically follow his lead, and might instead shift to a media-anointed front-runner.

“Nobody’s bound to him. You guys, the media, are the ones who will decide,” said one veteran of past delegate processes who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he supports one of Edwards’ rivals.
Edwards could make a deal or an endorsement, but we shouldn't assume that his delegates would follow blindly in line.

Convention delegates not bound to candidates

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at http://www.DemocraticConventionWatch.com

To our loyal readers: Oreo and I have been invited to post on occasion to MyDD. Oreo made his first post on Friday (can you guess the subject), and I just made my first one today, which is also below. Be assured we will continue to provide you the most deep and detailed coverage of the convention and the nominating process right here at 2008 Democratic Convention Watch.

For those of us who have been around a while, the last time a Democratic Convention had even a little suspense was 1980, in Madison Square Garden, New York. Ted Kennedy was making a last attempt to try and get the nomination from President Carter. The problem: Rule F(3)(c), which officially bound delegates to the candidate they had been elected for on the first ballot. But with a weak Carter campaign on the horizon, Kennedy thought that if the delegates were released from their pledges, he could get enough votes to get the nomination. The problem was, Carter still had a majority of the delegates, and they voted not to overturn the rule, and Kennedy's campaign was over.

But subsequently, the rules were changed, and now convention delegates are free to vote for whomever they want to. The Call for the 2008 Democratic National Convention states:

VIII C(7)(c) Delegates may vote for the candidate of their choice whether or not the name of such candidate was placed in nomination.
The Delegate Selection Rules state:
12 I: No delegate at any level of the delegate selection process shall be mandated by law or Party rule to vote contrary to that person’s presidential choice as expressed at the time the delegate is elected.

12 J. Delegates elected to the national convention pledged to a presidential candidate shall in all good conscience reflect the sentiments of those who elected them.
But nowhere does it state that delegates are bound, either legally, or by rule, to vote for the candidate they were elected for, whether on the first ballot, or any subsequent ballot.

Now lets be realistic. The campaigns who put the delegate slates together are not going to put anybody but the most committed loyalists on the ballot. But once those delegates get to the convention they are free to vote for whomever they want. In reality the only way for a candidate to lose those delegates would be for some major political damage to happen to a candidate between the time he or she secures a majority of votes and the convention, and for the candidate to refuse to withdraw. In that scenario, you could see delegates being pressured to change their vote, and they would be able to under the rules. The 796 superdelegates would also be under the same pressure to revoke any endorsements they had made. It's an unlikely scenario, but, the point is, it is possible. Delegates are not bound to the candidates.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Nevada delegate controversy

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While Clinton won the Nevada caucus with more votes today, the delegate situation has gotten all muddled. First, the news media gave Clinton 13 and Obama 12. Then, they changed to it Obama 13, Clinton 12, based on Obama gaining a couple of delegates in rural areas, but likely with small vote margins. Then, the Nevada Democratic Party said, wait a minute, no one got delegates, its a 3 step process.

A couple of things. Nevada sounds no different than Iowa. Both have these 3-stage processes of electing delegates, so estimates of national delegates for both states are the same. If you accepted the Iowa delegates counts, you have to accept Nevada.

Also, there are a lot of people (i.e., Obama supporters), saying, isn't it the delegates that matter? Well, we're talking about only 1 delegate difference in a pool of over 4,000. And then there are a lot of other people (i.e., Clinton supporters), saying, we won the popular vote - that should be what matters. Well, as Al Gore saw in 2000, winning the popular vote in an election is only worth something if it actually wins you the election.

Update: The Nevada Democratic Party has backtracked a little, realizing they were delegitimizing their whole caucus by saying that no national delegates were selected today:

If the delegate preferences remain unchanged between now and April 2008, the calculations of national convention delegates being circulated by the Associated Press [Obama 13, Clinton 12] are correct.

Campaigns preparing for brokered convention

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Delegate tracking operations? Brokered Convention Madness has broken out in the campaigns:

Still, the prospect of serious wrangling in Denver remains a distinct possibility, and the leading campaigns say they’ve begun to focus on the prospect of running the kind of delegate operations that were common in the 1980s, when campaigns would employ a dozen or more staffers, each assigned to minding a set of delegates.

“The most likely scenario now after the fifth of February is that Obama and Clinton will basically split the delegates,” said [Tad Devine, a veteran Democratic consultant who ran Michael Dukakis’s delegate-tracking operation in 1988].

“The only real question is will there be a third candidate who can win between 10 and 20 percent of the delegates, and become a serious force.”
Forgetting the question of why Mike Dukakis needed a delegate tracking operation in 1988 in Atlanta, I'm still of the belief that this will be decided before the convention. But if it isn't, we are in for a great summer.

Update: Even Kos is catching Brokered Convention Madness:
What's interesting about this whole affair is that neither Clinton nor Barack are delivering knockout blows. Hillary will likely emerge with a couple more delegates than Barack, but nothing to essentially knock him out of the race. He's got plenty of cash to go on. She certainly does. This race can drag out for a long time.

Two brokered conventions in the same year? Wouldn't that be something!

Meet your convention delegates

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I promise we won't do this for all the delegates, but New Hampshire was the first state to select actual Democratic National Convention delegates, and here are four of them:

Four area residents are among those named by the New Hampshire Democratic Party as delegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver.

Among those who will be attending the convention are Exeter resident Russell Weatherspoon, Joshua Denton of Portsmouth, Joanne Dowdell of Portsmouth and Paul O'Connor of Exeter.

Weatherspoon will be a delegate in support of Sen. Hillary Clinton. He is the dean of residential life at Phillips Exeter Academy and an English and religion teacher.

Denton will be a delegate for former Sen. John Edwards. Capt. Denton is an Iraq War veteran.

Dowdell and O'Connor are New Hampshire delegates for Sen. Barack Obama. Dowdell is a vice president at Citizens Advisors Inc. and a member of the Seacoast African American Cultural Center and the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail. O'Connor is president of Metal Trades Council at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

In this group, 2 for Obama, 1 for Clinton and 1 for Edwards.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Nevada caucuses today

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Now that the lawsuit over the at-large caucuses on the Las Vegas strip has been settled we can take a look at what's going to happen today.

Nevada has a total of 33 delegates up for grabs. The breakdown according to the Green Papers is: 16 district / 6 at large; 3 Pledged PLEOs; 7 Unpledged PLEOs; 1 Unpledged add-on
(For those not paying attention in class a PLEO's are Party Leaders and Elected Officials)

From the Nevada Secretary of State website:

Democrats
Saturday, January 19, 2008

Detailed Caucus Information: www.nvdemscaucus.com

Eligible Participants: Open to all registered Democrats. If you are not already registered but eligible to vote, you may complete a registration form and participate on the day of the caucus. If you will be 18 by November 4, 2008 and are otherwise eligible to vote, you may participate in the caucus.

Caucus Locations: Check my Caucus Location

Sign-In: Arrive by 11:30 am

Basic Caucus Process: Caucus participants will indicate which candidate they support. The precinct caucus chair will then announce which candidates have the most support and which candidates do not have enough support to meet the “viability” threshold. Caucus participants who support a candidate who is not viable and has not met the threshold of support to continue will then realign themselves with their second choice candidate. Based on the size of the presidential preference groups in support of one candidate or another, the delegates to the county convention are apportioned. Additional Information

Absentee Voting: Not permitted

So for all of you East coasters... you won't have to stay up until 1am to get the results.

Update: You can get results from the Nevada Democratic Party here
Also... Mitt Romney has won the Nevada Republican caucus (event though Ron Paul was the only one to campaign there)
McCain has a 1% lead over Paul for second place.

Update II:
NBC News has declared Hillary Clinton the winner of the Nevada caucus

Update III: Huge delegate victory for Clinton. She received 13 delegates, while Obama was far behind with, uh, 12 delegates.

Update IV: Turns out, Obama got 13 delegates. No, turns out we have no idea how many delegates Clinton and Obama got.

23 States' Blogger credentials haven't been applied for

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According to the Democratic National Convention Committee's blog as of January 8th there are still 23 states that have no applications filed for blogger credentials. The DNCC will issue credentials to one blogger in each state.

Most surprisingly bordering states that are an easy drive to Denver are mostly open.
5 out of 7 of Colorado's neighbors have had no applications sent in for what may be a once in a lifetime opportunity.

To see a map of which states have no applications click here. States that already have applications are not necessarily out of reach as the final decision won't be made for at least a couple months.

For anyone interested you can get more information from the DNCC

2008 DemConvention State Blogger Corps
Recognizing the growth of more localized blogs, this pool is designed for those covering state and local politics. To qualify as a state blogger, the applicant’s blog must have been in existence six months prior to requesting credentials and have at least 120 politically related blog posts. Bloggers must submit their daily audience and list their authority based on Technorati stats. Bloggers may also provide examples of posts that make their blog stand out as an effective online organizing tool and/or agent of change.

Once the state bloggers have been identified for the DemConvention State Blogger Corps, the applications of those not selected for this program will all be transferred for consideration for the general blogger pool.
Update from Matt: And don't forget, if you want to follow the drive to find a blogger from Guam to cover the convention, check out Guam Loves Jason Rosenberg.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Want to be an Uncommitted Michigan delegate?

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So here's the question: how exactly do you pick an "Uncommitted" delegate? The Detroit News tries to figure it out:

Four in 10 voters in Tuesday's Michigan Democratic primary cast their ballots for nameless, faceless "uncommitted," which is undoubtedly unprecedented. So how many state party delegates will go to the Democratic National Convention in Denver this summer with an uncommitted tag -- and what will become of them once they get there?

Michiganians familiar with the mess that was the Democratic primary won't be surprised to learn the answer: Nobody is quite sure. "This is by far our largest uncommitted vote," said Mark Brewer, chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party. "I can't remember the last time we sent uncommitted delegates to a national convention based on a primary. We're in uncharted territory.

"We have party rules on this but it'll take a few weeks to figure it all out." It's no wonder. The party's delegation selection plan is 40 pages long. Here's the deal: New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, the only leading Democratic candidate on Tuesday's ballot, won 55 percent of the vote. Uncommitted finished second at 40 percent.
...
Technically, uncommitted delegates are not bound to any candidate. But in a practical sense, in order to be elected delegates at the state party's March 29 powwow, they'll likely have to promise to support one candidate or another, Brewer said.

How all this breaks out largely depends on which candidates are still in the running in late March, and how they're doing. The delegate selection process becomes more important if no clear leader has emerged and there's a possibility of a "brokered convention," meaning the nominee would actually be chosen at the convention and not known beforehand.

Of course, all this assumes Michigan's delegation will be seated at the convention. That's not a slam dunk. As it stands, the national party has stripped Michigan of its delegate votes because it broke party rules with the early primary date. But state party leaders are convinced the Michigan delegates ultimately will take their chairs on the floor.

Don't know if they'll be seated, but we'll keep you up-to-date no matter what happens.

When a superdelegate isn't so super

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At DemConWatch we strive to be the most accurate source for delegate counts.

While going over our numbers we realized that we had too many superdelegates listed. With the addition of the 76 add-on superdelegates that haven't been selected yet our total was greater than the 796 superdelegates available.

After a little digging we discovered that some superdelegates aren't as super as the others. Democrats Abroad, American Samoa, Guam, the Virgin Islands, Washington DC and Puerto Rico will all send delegates and superdelegates to the convention. However Democrats Abroad's superdelegates only count for 1/2 a vote.

Update: We incorrectly identified Guam, American Samoa and the Virgin Islands as having 1/2 votes. Democrats Abroad are the only ones whose superdelegates only have 1/2 a vote. Thanks to a commenter we have corrected this.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Convention Standing Committee Chairs Named

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Democratic Conventions have 3 Standing Committees: Credentials, Platform, and Rules. What does each of these committees do?

  • The Credentials Committee is charged with coordinating issues around the selection of delegates and alternates to the Convention and will likely meet in the summer. The committee will issue a report that is the first official item of business at the Convention.
  • The Rules Committee is responsible for proposing the Permanent Rules for the Convention, adopting the proposed Convention agenda and making recommendations for permanent Convention officers - all addressed as the second official item of business at the Convention.
  • The Platform Committee is responsible for drafting and recommending a proposed National Platform for approval at the Convention.
Each committee, interestingly enough, has 3 chairs. So as we discuss whether the delegates for Michigan and Florida will be seated, lets see who is in charge of the Credentials Committee that will make the first recommendation:
  • Alexis Herman, no endorsement made, U.S. Secretary of Labor from 1997 to 2001, CEO of the 1992 Democratic National Convention. Since 2005, she has served as a Co-Chair of the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee and also served as a Co-Chair of the Commission on Presidential Nomination Timing and Scheduling. That would be the Commission that set the up the schedule that Florida and Michigan violated.
  • James Roosevelt, Jr, no endorsement made, Co-Chair of the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee
  • Eliseo Roques-Arroyo, no endorsement made, former Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Puerto Rico
Rules Committee:
  • Sunita Leeds,no endorsement made, Chair of the DNC Indo-American Leadership Council Advisory Board
  • Mary Rose Oakar, no endorsement made, former Congresswoman, President of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
  • David Walters,no endorsement made, former Governor of Oklahoma
Platform Committee:
  • Patricia Madrid, no endorsement made an Edwards supporter, served two terms as the Attorney General of New Mexico
  • Judith McHale, a Clinton supporter, the former President and CEO of Discovery Communications, Inc.
  • Deval Patrick, an Obama supporter, Governor of Massachusetts.
A number of other members of the committees have been named. A full list of committee members and biographies is available from the DNCC.

Convention Committee names production team

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This won't be your father's convention
The Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC) today announced that four seasoned professionals from the entertainment industry will help craft the overall look, sound and execution of the Convention program, including the stage and podium design, for the 2008 Democratic National Convention, to be held August 25-28 in Denver.

"From Olympic Games to Super Bowls and everything in between, this team has done it all," said Ricky Kirshner, executive producer for the Convention. "They are true veterans of the stage and screen, and we're fortunate to have them on board as we create the most engaging and inspiring Democratic National Convention our country has ever seen. Governor Howard Dean gave us a mandate for our Convention planning early on - to break the mold and take our thinking outside the box. This team is well suited to do just that, and their early work already reflects the cutting-edge approach we're applying to numerous elements throughout the Convention Hall."

The DNCC announced today that Bruce Rodgers will serve as production designer, Lisa Geers as line producer, Bob Dickinson as lighting designer and Pat Baltzell as audio designer. - Full Press Release
Be sure to read the entire press release. These guys have some serious experience.

Michigan Delegate Estimate

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The major media has decided unilaterally to not report the potential delegate totals of the Michigan primary. While officially Michigan has 0 delegates, such a decision can be overturned at the convention. So what were the results? Goobergunch over at MyDD was kind enough to run through the numbers and provide an estimate. This is extremely unofficial, but, it likely to be rather close to the final numbers:

Clinton: 73 delegates
Uncommitted: 55 delegates

We will update the delegate tracker.

Update: The GreenPapers has come up with the exact same estimate: 73 and 55.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Superdelegate madness: 1984 version

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Ah, the good old days:

On the morning of June 6, 1984, Walter Mondale's campaign aides woke the Democratic presidential candidate to inform him of a big problem. California and New Jersey had held primaries the day before. The former vice president had confidently scheduled a press conference to announce that he had finally amassed enough delegates to claim the nomination over Colorado Sen. Gary Hart.

There was just one glitch: Mondale was about 40 delegates short. Hart had won California; even worse, Mondale had not done well enough there to pick up as many delegates as the campaign had counted on. So frantic Mondale aides hit the phones to the superdelegates. These were the Democratic insiders who had been given a big new voice in the process, a change to party rules engineered by Mondale backers anticipating the need for just such a firewall.

Mondale managed to pull it off that day. Though the story may sound like ancient history, it remains relevant -- more relevant than it's been in years -- as a reminder of the importance of the arcane rules for choosing and allocating delegates.

Indeed, 2008 is looking like 1984 on steroids: For the poorly organized, underfinanced insurgent (Hart), substitute a candidate (Barack Obama) with the money and organization to compete with the establishment candidate (Hillary Clinton). For a front-runner about whom the party faithful are hardly enthusiastic (Mondale), substitute a candidate (Clinton) who has a loyal, energized following.

In addition, the biggest factor pointing to an extended, delegate-by-delegate slog is one that didn't exist in 1984: the relentless arithmetic of the party's proportional representation rules, in which candidates receive delegates according to their share of the vote in each congressional district and, for a smaller number, statewide. Although that provision was adopted in 1988, it has never become relevant, because a clear front-runner has emerged in every contest since.

However, in a close race, the rules make it difficult for a single candidate to pile up a big enough margin to amass the necessary number of delegates. Given the contours of this contest, that may well not happen in the supposed tsunami of voting on Feb. 5, at which point Democrats will have picked 1,818 delegates, 45 percent of the total.
It's only difficult in a 3 or more person race. In a 2 person race, it's hard to deny one of the candidates a majority.
If the race continues beyond Feb. 5, as the Mondale precedent suggests it might, superdelegates could come into play. These bigwigs -- governors, members of Congress, Democratic National Committee members -- account for 796, or nearly 20 percent, of the Democratic delegates. They are finger-in-the-wind fickle. But they could be decisive in a close contest, a factor that would tend to help Clinton, who has already amassed a superdelegate lead.

Then there are the graduate seminar-level questions that could arise if the contest becomes really close or even heads into the convention unsettled. One is the Edwards Factor. Former North Carolina senator John Edwards's path to the nomination seems blocked, but that does not necessarily render him irrelevant. Edwards can keep collecting delegates so long as he receives 15 percent of the vote in a congressional district or statewide.

If so, he could have sway over a potentially decisive share of delegates whom he could urge to back a particular candidate, and his inclination in Obama's direction seems clear. Edwards's delegates would not be obligated to follow his direction, but his view would be influential.

Similarly, and this one is for real rules junkies, there could be a convention fight over seating the Michigan and Florida delegations. Those states have supposedly been stripped of their delegates as punishment for accelerating their primaries to before Feb. 5, but it's not entirely fanciful to imagine that a challenge to their credentials could determine the outcome.
"Real rules junkies"? A convention fight over the Michigan and Florida delegations? Brokered convention madness is breaking out all over.

Security officials urge Denver School Board to delay opening

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at http://www.DemocraticConventionWatch.com

A decision on whether or not Denver schools will delay opening until after Labor Day is expected by next Thursday. An article in today's Denver Post quotes several DPS and city security officials on the importance of delaying the opening of schools close to the Pepsi Center.

We've followed the story of the proposed delayed opening from the beginning. Call me naive but I was thinking about heavy traffic and security causing the need for the delay. The Post article goes off on a whole new tangent.

"We don't know the threats," he said. "But there is going to be disruption. Any DPS facilty in the area will have disruption."

Any major incident involving the convention would affect the schools, because every city resource would be called in to assist, Ray said. That could leave the schools vulnerable. Plus, parents would likely rush to their children's schools, which would create even more problems, he said.

Schools also would be offered as alternate care sites if there were mass casualities, he said.

WOW! I plan on being in the midst of the convention madness... nobody told me there could be mass casualties! Duct tape and plastic wrap will be issued to anyone entering the downtown area and the alert level will be raised to magenta.
At least they didn't say anything about a mile-wide radius lockdown.