Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Rules Proposed by DNC

Those of you who followed the previous incarnation of this blog during the primaries will remember that I was livid over the role of superdelegates in the Democratic presidential nominating process.  As things stand now, one third of all voting delegates are superdelegates, Democratic political hacks.  They are Representatives in the US House, US Senators, Governors and members of the DNC.  They have no obligation to vote for the same candidate the voters in their constituencies select at the polls.  Since Clinton had a commanding lead in superdelegates early on, shy might well have been nominated against the stated will of the voters had the polling been just a little closer.  The DNC may change that.

bribery_and_corruption Jerome Armstrong of MyDD has a piece about the proposed new changes in the DNC process that should make some small inroads into the deeply flawed system we all saw last year:

This seems like a significant change of rules for the DNC nominating process. If adopted, the superdelegates would remain with the status of being a delegate (there is not a decrease in number), but they would no longer be able to decide who to vote for based on their own, but instead rely upon the contests in their states.

The reform would increase the amount of delegates to the winning candidate in the contest. This is much needed. It was not a good system that produced results like the NV caucus, where the candidate who had the most popular votes did not also lead in the delegates. It's also a fault of the nominating system, that a candidate can win a contest by a good margin 5-10% margin, but not gain much in the way of delegate advantage from winning.

The winner-take-all system, as was California in the disaster of '72 for Democrats, and still is that way in many Republican states (they await their disaster in '12 imo), gave way to the proportional system, but adding back the superdelegates from their states to a winner-take-all scenario strikes a nice balance.

The only question I have about it though is the preponderance of superdelegates from nearby DC states (MD & VA) and DC itself. I don't know the exact numbers, but its a lot. Is DC going to become a megastate because of its bulk of superdelegates?

I don't expect the Rules committee to take this recommendation without some resistance. It's a committee that's packed with people that like to exert influence, and this will take away their being able to play phone tag with the Presidential candidates in the future. Hopefully, that's a moot point because Kaine and Obama are on board… [emphasis original]

Inserted from <Crooks and Liars>

My problem was not that Clinton might be nominated, per se.  My demand was that the voters’ choice needs to become the party nominee, and party insiders ought not have the ability to override the party members’ will, regardless of the candidates involved.  Not only is it anti-democratic, but also, it opens the door for corruption.  I agree that the number of superdelegates from the DC area need to be reduced.  Otherwise I fully support this proposal.


Lisa G. said...

I agree with you on this TC. Remind us again why the delegates and the Electoral College are still here? These are leftovers from a time that has long since passed and it's time for them both to go. The will of the people should decide both the primaries and the elections. Period.

TomCat said...

Lisa, actually this is two separate issues. Delegates have to do with party nomination of the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates. Other impottant business is also transacted at the conventions, like setting the party platform. Prior to 1972, not all states had elected delegates. Party bosses held sway in most states. This is what led to the demonstration at the Chicago Democratic Convention. I helped organize that one and demonstrated there.

The electoral college is a holdover from horse and buggy days. Presidents were chosen by representatives from each state. Changing it requires a Constitutional Amendment. That will not happen, because the electoral college stacks the deck in favor of less populous states. Since they are more numerous, they would not vote away their advantage.

Does that help?

Anonymous said...

By what your saying you shouldn't be concerned wether or not Clinton would win, you should be concerned Obama won.

Obama only had 103 more pledged delegates then Clinton but he had almost 200 more super delegates. The super delegates decided the election.

However, thats old news what we need is a total delegate reform. How was it in that so many states where Clinton won the popular vote that she gained less delegates than Obama? The popular vote was arguably won narrowly by Hillary and arguably won narrowly by Obama. So it doesn't make sense that Obama's victory was as descesive as it was.

The democratic primary system is not built for a long is built for the frontrunner to win right away however when 2 candidates start competiting, the role and the will of the actual voters can get over turned as we have seen. We need a total reform.

TomCat said...

Welcome 6po?!!? What the heck do we call you, friend? At the end, once Obama's advantage in pledged delegates was sure, superdelegates switched sides. But it is not superdelegates that decided the election, because they echoed the decision by pledged delegates. If Clinton had won the pledged delegates and the superdelegates had tipped it for Obama, then they would have decided the election.

The states Clinton won were mostly small states with less delegates by small margins. Obama won larger states, with more delegates bu large margins. Frankly, I think Clinton could have won had her handlers not ignored the caucus states.

mvymvy said...

Tom Cat:
The normal way of changing the method of electing the President is not a federal constitutional amendment, but changes in state law. The U.S. Constitution gives "exclusive" and "plenary" control to the states over the appointment of presidential electors.

Historically, virtually all of the previous major changes in the method of electing the President have come about by state legislative action. For example, the people had no vote for President in most states in the nation's first election in 1789. However, nowadays, as a result of changes in the state laws governing the appointment of presidential electors, the people have the right to vote for presidential electors in 100% of the states.

In 1789, only 3 states used the winner-take-all rule (awarding all of a state's electoral vote to the candidate who gets the most votes in the state). However, as a result of changes in state laws, the winner-take-all rule is now currently used by 48 of the 50 states.

In other words, neither of the two most important features of the current system of electing the President (namely, that the voters may vote and the winner-take-all rule) are in the U.S. Constitution. Neither was the choice of the Founders when they went back to their states to organize the nation's first presidential election.

In 1789, it was necessary to own a substantial amount of property in order to vote; however, as a result of changes in state laws, there are now no property requirements for voting in any state.

The normal process of effecting change in the method of electing the President is specified in the U.S. Constitution, namely action by the state legislatures. This is how the current system was created, and this is the built-in method that the Constitution provides for making changes. The abnormal process is to go outside the Constitution, and amend it.

What the current U.S. Constitution says is "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors . . ." The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the state legislatures over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as "plenary" and "exclusive."

mvymvy said...

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections.

The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes--that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

The Constitution gives every state the power to allocate its electoral votes for president, as well as to change state law on how those votes are awarded.

The bill is currently endorsed by over 1,659 state legislators (in 48 states) who have sponsored and/or cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.

In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. This national result is similar to recent polls in closely divided battleground states: Colorado-- 68%, Iowa --75%, Michigan-- 73%, Missouri-- 70%, New Hampshire-- 69%, Nevada-- 72%, New Mexico-- 76%, North Carolina-- 74%, Ohio-- 70%, Pennsylvania -- 78%, Virginia -- 74%, and Wisconsin -- 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): Delaware --75%, Maine -- 77%, Nebraska -- 74%, New Hampshire --69%, Nevada -- 72%, New Mexico -- 76%, Rhode Island -- 74%, and Vermont -- 75%; in Southern and border states: Arkansas --80%, Kentucky -- 80%, Mississippi --77%, Missouri -- 70%, North Carolina -- 74%, and Virginia -- 74%; and in other states polled: California -- 70%, Connecticut -- 74% , Massachusetts -- 73%, New York -- 79%, and Washington -- 77%. Support is strong in every partisan and demographic group surveyed.

The National Popular Vote bill has passed 29 state legislative chambers, in 19 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Oregon, and both houses in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, and Washington. These five states possess 61 electoral votes -- 23% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.


mvymvy said...

The small states are the most disadvantaged of all under the current system of electing the President. Political clout comes from being a closely divided battleground state, not the two-vote bonus.

Small states are almost invariably non-competitive, and ignored, in presidential elections. Only 1 of the 13 smallest states are battleground states (and only 5 of the 25 smallest states are battlegrounds).

Of the 13 smallest states, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Alaska regularly vote Republican, and Rhode Island, Delaware, Hawaii, Vermont, Maine, and DC regularly vote Democratic. These 12 states together contain 11 million people. Because of the two electoral-vote bonus that each state receives, the 12 non-competitive small states have 40 electoral votes. However, the two-vote bonus is an entirely illusory advantage to the small states. Ohio has 11 million people and has "only" 20 electoral votes. As we all know, the 11 million people in Ohio are the center of attention in presidential campaigns, while the 11 million people in the 12 non-competitive small states are utterly irrelevant. Nationwide election of the President would make each of the voters in the 12 smallest states as important as an Ohio voter.

The concept of a national popular vote for President is far from being politically "radioactive" in small states, because the small states recognize they are the most disadvantaged group of states under the current system.

In small states, the National Popular Vote bill already has been approved by eight state legislative chambers, including one house in Delaware and Maine and both houses in Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Vermont. It has been enacted by Hawaii.