USA Politics

Re: USA Elections: Candidates Comparison

Alright.  In the not-too distant past, primaries were extremely important because of the lack of a nation-wide media system and instant telecommunications.  This usually meant that each state conducted their caucuses and primaries somewhat in secret, the delegates were sent to the convention, and then began the ballot procedure until a presidential candidate was named.

Since the advent of mass media and the invention of instant telecommunications it has become a major media thingy to win Iowa and New Hampshire, because they are the first states to be done.  Each state runs its own caucus or primary because the party says each state gets X number of delegates, based on their population and current standing within the Democratic or Republican party.

Here's where it gets tricky.  States get two types of delegations: pledged and non-pledged.  Pledged delegates are determined based on the outcomes of the primaries.  Non-pledged delegates are other politicians - IE, Democratic or Republican congresspeople, senators, governors, etc.  High-up party officials are delegates as well.  I *believe* former POTUS's are delegates as well, but I can't be sure.  These people are not obliged to vote in any particular way based on any votes.  Usually the number of "unpledged" delegates is around 1/4th of the delegates total.

So, when the Convention comes, all the delegates show up and start voting.  The reason why, recently, the winner is known well in advance is because most people drop out of the race as it heats up after Iowa and New Hampshire.  On February 5th, something like 1/2 of all states will have their primaries and caucuses.  After that, only the closest of close races would really require a further commitment.  Because of the cost of elections, usually parties will stop and wait for the convention.

Now, I can explain why this year's Democratic race will be extremely interesting.

The Republican Party, in most states, uses a Winner Take All (WTA) form of giving the delegates, or a modified version therein.  IE, if Huckabee has the plurality of votes, he gets all the delegates from the state.  Some do a WTA by district and then WTA for at-large delegates (each state in the Republican party gets 10 bonus delegates to ensure everyone has some amount of representation, these are called at-large delegates).  Some do WTA by district and proportional for at-large delegates.  Anyway.  The general theme is that the plurality winner gets most if not all of the delegates from a state.  This is *extremely* powerful when you consider that although Rudy Guiliani may only win 40% of the vote in California, he will get all 450 or so delegates, around 1/8th of the total delegates.

This year, the Democratic nomination is going to be proportional.  Any candidate who passes a 15% voting threshold will receive a portion of the state's delegates.  For instance, even though Barack Obama won last night, he will receive votes from only 16 of Iowa's 45 "pledged" delegates.  Edwards will get 14 and Clinton will get 15 due to some sort of technicality on districting or something.  So, in reality, Obama gets the public relations victory, but currently only has a lead of one vote that matters.

NOW.  Add in the known voting figures of the non-pledged delegates, and you can see why Obama and Edwards badly needed to beat Hillary last night.  These figures are from Wikipedia.  Currently 77 non-pledged delegates have voiced their support for Hillary, including Hillary herself.  Obama has 31 including himself, and Edwards has 16.  So, knowing these figures, Obama and Edwards still have lots of ground to make up.

Hillary is polling ahead in New Hampshire, and it is highly likely that the drop of Biden and Dodd from the race will change nothing at all.  So she will likely win there.  However, none of her victories are likely to guarantee her the presidential ballot because of the proportional method of allocating votes.  In fact, Obama is likely to win one of the largest states (Illinois) in a rather dominating landslide.  Similarly, a lot of southern states will vote for Edwards.  While Hillary will likely win a lot of New York and California's votes, this one might be the first race to come down to the Convention.  Unless someone does a deal to deliver delegates, this very well should be a three-way race to the end.
Re: USA Elections: Candidates Comparison

Mitt Romney won the Wyoming Republican caucuses today in a trouncing landslide.  Wyoming quietly moved its Republican caucus up to the 5th and held the vote with few candidates paying any attention.  Mike Huckabee barely showed on the radar, while Fred Thompson (Arthur Branch from Law and Order) came in a very weak second.  While the candidates seem to have concentrated entirely on Iowa and New Hampshire, CNN did run a front-page story on Romney's win.  This seems likely to reinforce Romney's status to New Hampshirians (New Hampshirites?  New Hampshiretonians?) with a 2nd place finish in Iowa and a first place win in Wyoming.  I expect Romney will butcher all comers in New Hampshire.

However, the race in New Hampshire between Obama, Clinton, and Edwards is still anyone's game.  Recent polls according to CNN and NBC suggest that Obama has surged ahead about 10 points, to tie with Clinton.  Most of these votes are coming from undecideds.  However, the Votemaster at suggests that there are a huge amount of independent voters in NH who can choose EITHER a Democratic or a Republican ballot.  That may tip the balance since these independents are likely to be moderates who would vote either for McCain on the Republican side or Obama on the Democrat side...we shall see soon.
Re: USA Elections: Candidates Comparison

Angry Clinton rounds on Obama in tetchy TV debate

Clinton on Obama: 'He's likeable, but I don't think I'm that bad'
Edwards refuses to side with Clinton
McCain attacks Romney in Republican debate

Hillary Clinton last night tried to halt Barack Obama's gathering momentum in the Democratic presidential race with a series of sharp attacks in which she accused him of "raising false hopes in our country about what can be delivered".

The televised debate represented her sole opportunity to go head-to-head with Mr Obama before Tuesday's New Hampshire primary election – where she cannot afford Mr Obama to score a second decisive victory following his triumph in Iowa's caucuses last week.

Mrs Clinton repeatedly sought to draw a distinction between her experience and Mr Obama's promise of change, saying she had a "long record" of turning talk into reality. "Words are not actions" she said, no matter how "beautifully presented and passionately felt as they are".

Mr Obama, who according to New Hampshire polls yesterday has drawn level with the long-standing Democratic frontrunner, responded by saying: “Words do inspire. Don’t discount that power.”

After being criticised over his health policy – and then effectively accused of hypocrisy on his position towards lobbyists – he gently chided Mrs Clinton for distorting his record. "What I think the people of America are looking for are folks who are going to be straight about the issues, and are going to be interested in solving problems and bringing people together."

Mrs Clinton was asked to explain why voters found her less likable than Mr Obama, a key factor in her third-place finish in Iowa where she picked relatively few second choice votes. “Well, that hurts my feelings - I’ll try to go on,” she said, in a rare public display of humour. “He’s very likable, I agree with that. But I don’t think I’m that bad.”

When Mr Obama responded that she was “likable enough,” Mrs Clinton gave him a frosty, "I appreciate that", before comparing his candidacy to that of George Bush eight years ago.

“In 2000, we unfortunately ended up with a president who people said they wanted to have a beer with, who said he wanted to be a uniter not a divider — who said that he had his intuition and, you know, really come into the White House and transform the country,” she said. “And you know, at least I think there are the majority of Americans who think that was not the right choice.”

The Clinton campaign is running scared of Mr Obama, whose soaring rhetoric, relative youth and African heritage has come to symbolise a sense of hope among many Democratic voters. Last night she said: “It’s not about a speech you make. It is about working hard - we don’t need to be raising the false hopes of our country about what can be delivered.”

At one stage in the debate she attempted to enlist John Edwards, who finished narrowly ahead of her in Iowa, as an ally – saying he had been attacked unfairly by Mr Obama.

But Mr Edwards provided no comfort, dramatically throwing such overtures back in her face. "Any time you speak out powerfully for change, the forces of status quo attack," he said, waving an arm in Mrs Clinton's direction. “He believes deeply in change, and I believe deeply in change. And any time you’re fighting for that – I mean – I didn’t hear these kinds of attacks from Senator Clinton when she was ahead.”

She later suggested that both Mr Edwards and Mr Obama were getting an easy ride from a media which has often been hostile to her. Calling for a "reality check" on her rivals' records, she said: "I think it's important that all of us be held to the same standard - that we're all held accountable."

One poll yesterday suggested Mr Obama had even closed the gap among women voters. And perhaps with this in mind, Mrs Clinton – who is usually calm and assured in debates – revealed a glimpse of anger last night. "I think I am an agent of change," she shouted. "I embody change. I think having the first woman president is a huge change, with consequences across the country and the world."

The rise of Mr Obama in the Democratic contest even cast a shadow over an earlier debate between the six leading Republican contenders last night, when candidates were asked how they would take on his agenda of change in a general election race.

Mitt Romney suggested that the party should heed a message from voters that "Washington is broken." That prompted a scathing answer from John McCain who, referring to claims that the former Massachusetts governor had "flip-flopped" on key issues, said: "I agree that you are the candidate of change."

Mr McCain, who has recently moved in New Hampshire polls, suggested he had better experience than Mr Obama by virtue of his many years' service on Capitol Hill. Mr Romney replied: "If you think you can make that argument because you know the Senate cloakroom better than he does, you will have to do better."

There is a growing personal animus towards Mr Romney among his Republican rivals, all of whom complain they have been subject to advertising attacks from him. Rudy Giuliani suggested Ronald Reagan, who is almost universally loved by Republicans these days, would have been hit by "one of Mitt's negative ads" for granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants in the 1980s.

And there were fresh clashes with Mike Huckabee, who beat the heavy-spending ex-Massachusetts governor into second place at the Iowa caucuses. Discussing an earlier row over foreign policy, Mr Romney accused Mr Huckabee of misrepresenting his position. "Which one?" said the former Arkansas governor with another contemptuous dig at alleged inconsistency.

Mr Romney did, however, have the consolation of capturing a majority of the delegates elected at last night's

Wyoming Republican caucuses, a contest widely ignored by the candidates who have concentrate their campaigns on the traditional "first in the nation" states of Iowa and New Hampshire


The TV debate was the last chance for Hillary Clinton to confront Barack Obama before the New Hampsire vote on Tuesday

If interested, watch the ABC New Hampshire Democratic Debate from 1/5/08 in 10 parts:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Re: USA Elections: Candidates Comparison

Fer fuck's sake, learn how to lose, Mrs Clinton.
Re: USA Elections: Candidates Comparison

I'm watching these "frosty" parts now.

At times, it's really Obama & Edwards vs Clinton

It looks like these guys have pretty much respect for eachother. Finally I got an impression of these people, debating. I'm surprised how polite they all are, and let eachother finish their monologues. They look like sweet puppets, compared to those aggressive commercials.

By the way, what was it all about?

Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change - Change
Re: USA Elections: Candidates Comparison

Change is a good message to bring.  Hillary is a gifted politician with a lot of experience.  But she has little interest in change - she'd be a change from Dubya's policies, but very similar to Bill's, and well.  Bill was a good president, but not the best.  Obama...I'm getting more faith in him every day.

I'm going to say this: he's the best speaker in American national politics since Jack Kennedy.
Re: USA Elections: Candidates Comparison

I agree with you about Obama's capabilities as a speaker.  I've currently part way through watching the YouTube links Forostar provided.  It seems to me that Clinton keeps using her experience as a cornerstone and implicitly saying her opponents will not do a good job because they're green in comparison.
Here's an addition.  I'm just listening to the "Iraq" question.  Both Edwards and Obama have answered that question adequately because they've used facts and extrapolated them to the future scenario.  Edwards mentioned the withdrawal of UK troops and how that had a positive effect.  Obama before that said that neither the Iraqi citizens nor Iraqi government will push for political change if they don't feel the pressure of USA withdrawal.  Whichever is the minority between Shiite and Sunni, as Obama stated, have the most to gain by pushing for change NOW, before USA leaves.  It is these sort of intelligent answers, not just the fact that both Edwards and Obama have been labeled as " the best agents of change", that I believe will lead one of them to the next presidency.

Richardson cannot answer questions on the spot.  His answers are often replies to different questions.  For example, he kept going back to heath care and education during the Iraq issue.  Keep to the issue at hand.  It seems like he is out of his element. 
Here's another update.  I have stated this at the begining of this thread and I'll say it again: I really like Edwards stance on lobbyists.  I believe in capitalism, but I don't believe in special privileges granted to corporations on the supposed benefit of the public.
Re: USA Elections: Candidates Comparison

An Obama/Edwards ticket might be the best possible combination from my point of view.  I think tempering Obama's strength on social issues with Edwards's opinions on infrastructure and corporations would be a great way to take the USA.

Hillary is really starting to scare me.  I don't think her record as a Senator is anything but mediocre, if that.  That's not the sort of "experience" the USA needs.  They really need a young, dynamic voice.
Re: USA Elections: Candidates Comparison

She already ran the country before, THAT's the experience she's talking about. Sure Bill was the President, but everybody knows it was Hillary pulling the strings :D
Re: USA Elections: Candidates Comparison

Hillary Clinton and John McCain were the winners in New Hampshire.

Hillary won by 2-3%, but John McCain won by 7% over Mitt Romney.

The Democratic win was in direct opposition to the polls.  CNN believes that a rare showing of emotion and near-tears by Hillary the day before the primary caused many young women voters who were registered independents to vote for her.  Barack Obama had a strong turnout as well, but didn't get the results expected from a variety of college towns where he was supposed to have overwhelming support.

John McCain won New Hampshire in 2000 and now won it in 2008.  He's the kind of candidate New Hampshirgonians like - down to earth, honest, and sticks to his guns (except on immigration, but hey).  It was a big victory, though not as big over Romney as originally projected.

So what does this mean?  For the Republicans, the race is wide open.  Michigan is next, and it's a fairly big primary.  Romney and McCain are doing well there, but Mike Huckabee was polling at only 2 points back.  Mitt Romney needs a win in Michigan to keep his big name recognition rolling, as Wyoming sucks.  If McCain or Huckabee wins Michigan, the race will suddenly have a clear frontrunner.  Rudy Giuliani is ignoring the early states and concentrating on "big win" states like Florida, New York, and California.  He seems to have New York locked up, and will likely win all 101 delegates from there.  Florida's primary is on the 29th and we'll see if he can win.  That's the last big primary before Super Duper Tuesday, so winning one then will give Rudy a big boost.  Fred Thompson is likely toast.

For the Democrats, it means that we have yet again no clear front runner.  Nevada is next, and likely won't be much of a media buzz.  Clinton and Obama are tied in the polls there.  South Carolina, however, is going to be interesting.  John Edwards won the state in 2004, and he was raised there (born in North Carolina), but half the registered voters are African-American, a demographic very likely to vote for Barack Obama.  After South Carolina, it's Super Duper Tuesday, so it's likely that each major candidate could go into the 21 primaries with a major win under their belt, with someone tugging Nevada for bonus marks.
Re: USA Elections: Candidates Comparison

<sarcasm>A real nice democracy you got going on there. Electronic voting machines, that's the way to go. No way those can be manipulated.</sarcasm>

Ron Paul - in my opinion the best person to bring the much needed change to USA and thus the rest of the world - officially he got 0 votes in Sutton, N.H., and his local voters of course state that he should have received at least a couple of votes. Link.
Re: USA Elections: Candidates Comparison

I despise Ron Paul.  I think the man is not nearly the Constitutionalist he paints himself to be.  His ideas seem good but in reality are not feasible - Congress would block him in every way and shape.  He'd be a one-term, lame duck president, and keeping him in Congress is better for the country than having him as president.

Ron Paul's politics are straight out of 1931.  He has said some things I agree with, sure, but in general, handing powers back to the states and reducing federal judicial oversight is in violation of the powers granted to the federal government via the 14th Amendment and resultant Congressional acts upholding Congresses ability to enforce the legislation.  Besides, I don't like the idea of allowing Texas and Alabama to choose their own destinies.  I fear those destinies would soon involve ropes and trees.
Re: USA Elections: Candidates Comparison

The little of him that I know I like (mostly).  But I definitely to not agree with his "let states determine if abortion should be legal" stance. 
Re: USA Elections: Candidates Comparison

Well, I was thinking more in the lies of reducing government control over the people, abolishing the Patriot act, the IRS, the Federal reserve and the Central bank which is a private-owned corporation that prints money and then lends it to the country with interest (!), and so on.

To give power back to the people, because (to quote V for Vendetta), the government needs to be afraid of the people, not vice versa.
Re: USA Elections: Candidates Comparison

Texas already does pretty much what it wants, technically an independent republic which is part of the union. The Texan state flag is the ONLY flag allowed to fly at the same height of the U.S flag, due to that special status.
Re: USA Elections: Candidates Comparison

The problem is, I don't think Ron Paul can or would do any of that.  I think he talks a lot about doing such things, but they simply aren't in his power to do.  Congress mandated the creation of all of those institutions.  I think he'd be able to toss the PATRIOT act with no difficulties.  The Federal Reserve, IRS, and Central Bank would be significantly more difficult.  I think you'd see a serious filibuster from *someone* to stop that sort of move.

Reform is far more likely than abolition.
Re: USA Elections: Candidates Comparison

EDIT: I see where the confusion stems from... thanks for the link!