News from the Votemaster
Rudy Giuliani dropped out yesterday after dismal showings in primary after primary. He endorsed John McCain. He wasn't a factor at all and his disappearance will hardly be noticed. In future elections, consultants will point to his campaign as the consequence of ignoring Iowa and New Hampshire. It is unlikely any candidate will try that strategy again soon.
Far more surprising, John Edwards dropped out yesterday, too. No one expected this. It was unlikely that he could have won the nomination, but since all Democratic primaries are proportional, he could have won maybe 500 delegates. If Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton each came into the convention a bit short of 50%, Edwards could have extracted major concessions from one of them in return for his support. Why he didn't do this is a complete mystery. He couldn't have been king but he could have been kingmaker.
Speaking of dropping out, another Republican congressman has thrown in the towel, and this one is very important. Rep. Tom Davis (VA-11) is not running for reelection in 2008. He hails from northern Virginia, which is rapidly trending Democratic. This seat could easily flip in 2008 (especially if Virginia's Sen. Jim Webb is the Democratic Veep nominee). It will certainly be the site of a fierce battle. There are now so many retirees, that this site will track them on a special page from now on. Click on "Data galore" above and then look under the heading "The House." That page will be updated as congresspersons contine to drop.
Here is an attempt to outline what is going to happen next Tuesday. It is not perfect, but it gives you an idea. The reason it is not perfect is that the rules differ from state to state in subtle ways. In 2007, each state party submitted a Delegate Selection Plan to the DNC or RNC, which then approved it or sent it back for modifications. State parties could proposed pretty much anything they wanted to and if the national committee bought it, they were in. For example, here are the rules for California Democrats.
The simplest plan imaginable was a statewide primary with the winner getting all the delegates. But even that is not so simple. Remember, delegates are actual human beings. Come August, you can probably get a list of them if you try hard enough. Suppose John McCain won all of Arizona's 53 delegates. Somebody has to pick 53 McCain supporters to go to the convention. The Arizona Republican party could have said "We'll let McCain pick 53 of his best friends" but that might mean a senator, four congressmen, and various county chairmen might not get to go to the convention. Ditto for all the other states. So all the plans have some delegates chosen at the primary or caucus, but often a second event later in the year to select more delegates. Furthermore, all states some some delegates chosen by county or congressional district and others chosen statewide. In addition all states reserve some seats for governors, senators, representatives, DNC/RNC members, and often county chairs. The rules differ wildly how these are chosen and whether they are pledged to a candidate or free spirits. If you notice the list below, in the Republican table, states that tend to vote Republican get bonus delegates as a reward. The Democrats don't do this.
To make matters more fun, some states have proportional representation and others have WTA (Winner Take All), but these rules may or may not apply to the at-large delegates, PLEOS, or unpledged delegates (usually not). Furthermore, many states have multiple rounds, in which the people elected or the slots reserved Feb. 5 relate to a later state caucus or convention, where the actual DNC/RNC delegates are chosen. Further complicating the matter is that some states have lower and upper bounds. If you get fewer than X% of the vote you don't get any delegates and if you get more than Y% (usually 67%) you get all the delegates. Finally, in some states the election Feb. 5 is really a "beauty contest:" no actual delegates are selected and no seats are reserved. A subsequent caucus or convention can honor or not honor the vote, as it wishes. If you REALLY want to learn the ins and outs for your state party, try to get a copy of its delegate selection plan, where the rules are spelled out.
Another issue that differs from state to state is who can vote. In a closed primary, only party members can vote. In an open one, anyone can vote. In a semiopen one, there are special rules, such as independents (but not members of the other party) can vote but only if they specifically request a ballot. There are also other state-by-state restrictions. The whole system is a a crazy-quilt pattern because it is done bottom up, state by state, with a peculiar mixture of party rules and state law. Here is a link to some explanation of this material.
Democratic Primaries and Caucuses Feb. 5, 2008
Republican Primaries and Caucuses Feb. 5, 2008
CNN is keeping track of the delegates for the Democrats and for the Republicans. Note that other sources may differ because CNN is trying to count the PLEOs (Party Leaders and Elected Officials) and other unpledged delegates. When different reporters call a PLEO and hear "Well, I like Hillary, but Barack has his charms too" they may score it differently. Here is CNN's count:
-- The Votemaster