Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Are the primaries over yet?

It Could Be Worse, Maybe

with one comment

I got to thinking last night on Twitter that while it would probably be possible to design a worse system than the one U.S. political parties use to select their nominees, it definitely wouldn’t be easy.

  • We start off with weekly contests in individual states, none of which are representative of the demographics of the nation as a whole. The early states vote in an arbitrary order, but this order stays the same every year.
  • Then, all of a sudden, several states start going all on the same day. Soon after, we have “Super Tuesday,” on which a huge number of states vote. After this the process is expected to be effectively concluded, even though the majority of the states have yet to do anything.
  • Each state generates its own internal processes for selecting a candidate. Some are caucuses, some are primaries; some allow cross-over voting, some don’t; some allow early voting, some don’t; some are winner-take-all, some aren’t. Some of the results are just straw polls that don’t even count. As a result, no outcome in any state is directly comparable to any other.
  • The assignation of delegates is likewise almost totally arbitrary, both in terms of representality at the convention—there’s no direct relationship between delegates and population—but also in terms of the rules for how the delegates are to be assigned within each particular state. Nearly every state allows the vote total and the delegate count to diverge, some quite seriously. Some states bind their delegates to the vote results, others don’t. And then there are a large number of superdelegates who are chosen through other, even more arcane procedures.
  • And the whole process takes two years, with the vast majority of the debates happening months before any votes are cast and almost no debates happening during the time people are actually supposed to be making their decisions. The meaningful voting, Iowa to Super Tuesday, takes place over about a two-month stretch of this span.

This is nuts.

Written by gerrycanavan

February 29, 2012 at 10:24 am

Sunday Night Links 1

leave a comment »

Sunday night links.

* Is Twitter the Drudge Killer? We can only dare to hope.

* The Art of the Movie Poster. (Thanks, Ron!)

* Accusations from the left that Obama was behind Honduras’s coup seem completely unfounded.

* Sanford says he won’t resign. Okay, then, impeachment.

* Steve Benen against bipartisanship. Also at Washington Monthly: early movement towards fixing the Democratic primaries for 2012 and beyond.

* Krugman has had a very good series of posts this weekend trying to bash denialist talking points on climate change. Here’s the chart that dismantles the “we’ve been cooling since 1998” canard:

Written by gerrycanavan

June 29, 2009 at 2:37 am

Thursday! Again!

leave a comment »

Thursday again! How does this keep happening?

* Today is the 20th anniversary of Tiananmen Square. MetaFilter remembers.

* Planetary #27 finally on its way. October.

* New Hampshire officially passes marriage equality. It looked for a while like nitpicking from the governor’s office might actually kill this; very glad it didn’t.

* Country first: Lindsey Graham admits he puts the Republican Party before the good of the nation.

* In the wake of Dr. George Tiller’s assassination, a frequent Fox News guest has put photos and addresses for the last two late-term abortion providers in the country on the Web.

* Obama speaks in Cairo.

* E.J. Dionne on the corporate media’s continued rightward slant. More from Steve Benen.

* The recession: a global view. It’s important to remember how good America actually has it—and that the current level of hardship in the States is, relatively speaking, not even all that bad.

* Here comes heath care. Donkeylicious says Team Edwards has something to crow about here. Maybe, but the health-care justification for Edwards’s (and later Hillary Clinton’s) candidacy long past viability was always weak—the plan you campaign on is never the plan that gets passed.

* And sad news: Bill, killed. Early reports declare David Carradine a suicide.

Okay, a Few More

leave a comment »

Okay, a few more.

* Carteret Islands evacuated due to the islands’ sinking against rising sea level.

* Advantage Canavan: Joe Trippi says there’s no truth to the rumors that Edwards staffers had a secret plan to bring down the candidate.

* 90% of Brazil’s Atlantic Rainforest has been destroyed.

* My Pitches for Political-Satire Skits Playing on President Obama’s Foibles Keep Getting Shot Down. At McSweeney’s.

* Photographs by blind photographers.

* Life as a New Yorker writer, twittered. Read this version for chronological clarity.

* Raised by anthropologists: Profile of Ursula K. Le Guin.

* The fallacy of authorial intent: The director and writer of The Usual Suspects disagree on what happened in the film.


leave a comment »

John Edwards’s presidential staffers are apparently now pretending they would have sabotaged his doomed candidacy if it ever seemed like he might win. Of course they would have! Kudos to George Stephanopoulos for pretending to buy this story.

Written by gerrycanavan

May 10, 2009 at 4:32 pm


leave a comment »

My very first use of the “Barack Obama” tag was on August 30, 2007, when I wrote of some now-vanished article concerning some saber-rattling HRC comments on Iran:

Hillary Clinton, working as hard as ever to make it impossible to support the Democrats in 2008.

A few months later, in December, I was more explicit:

God save us from the Clintons.

So you can imagine how happy I am to see Hillary Clinton apparently being offered, and accepting, Secretary of State.

I see the logic of it, accept the political wisdom of it, but good lord, this is not what I had in mind.

Written by gerrycanavan

November 18, 2008 at 1:23 am

Are the primaries over yet? Liveblogging

leave a comment »

10:37 PM: In our country, I have found that this cooperation happens not because we agree on everything, but because behind all the labels and false divisions and categories that define us; beyond all the petty bickering and point-scoring in Washington, Americans are a decent, generous, compassionate people, united by common challenges and common hopes. And every so often, there are moments which call on that fundamental goodness to make this country great again.

So it was for that band of patriots who declared in a Philadelphia hall the formation of a more perfect union; and for all those who gave on the fields of Gettysburg and Antietam their last full measure of devotion to save that same union.

So it was for the Greatest Generation that conquered fear itself, and liberated a continent from tyranny, and made this country home to untold opportunity and prosperity.

So it was for the workers who stood out on the picket lines; the women who shattered glass ceilings; the children who braved a Selma bridge for freedom’s cause.

So it has been for every generation that faced down the greatest challenges and the most improbable odds to leave their children a world that’s better, and kinder, and more just.

And so it must be for us.

America, this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past. Our time to bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction for the country we love.

The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment – this was the time – when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals. Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

10:22 PM: Good line from Obama on McCain: In just a few short months, the Republican Party will arrive in St. Paul with a very different agenda. They will come here to nominate John McCain, a man who has served this country heroically. I honor that service, and I respect his many accomplishments, even if he chooses to deny mine.

10:17 PM: Reaching out to Clinton’s supporters now, being far more gracious than I think I could be in similar circumstances.

There are those who say that this primary has somehow left us weaker and more divided. Well I say that because of this primary, there are millions of Americans who have cast their ballot for the very first time. There are Independents and Republicans who understand that this election isn’t just about the party in charge of Washington, it’s about the need to change Washington. There are young people, and African-Americans, and Latinos, and women of all ages who have voted in numbers that have broken records and inspired a nation.

All of you chose to support a candidate you believe in deeply. But at the end of the day, we aren’t the reason you came out and waited in lines that stretched block after block to make your voice heard. You didn’t do that because of me or Senator Clinton or anyone else. You did it because you know in your hearts that at this moment – a moment that will define a generation – we cannot afford to keep doing what we’ve been doing. We owe our children a better future. We owe our country a better future. And for all those who dream of that future tonight, I say – let us begin the work together. Let us unite in common effort to chart a new course for America.

10:15 PM: The nominee.

10:13 PM: Obama thanks his grandmother, and gets a little bit misty-eyed about it.

10:08 PM: Obama taking the stage now.

10:00 PM: Obama wins Montana.

9:59 PM: Last word on Clinton tonight: It may be that nobody in America has more invested in Obama winning now that Hillary Clinton does. If he loses, the bulk of the Democratic Party will point to what she said (and didn’t say) tonight, and we will not forget.

9:55 PM: Olbermann reporting now that Clinton gave her speech in a basement with no TVs and no cell phone service, perhaps deliberately so, so that no one in her audience would know she’s already lost.

I suspect those people already knew, and, like Clinton, they just don’t care.

9:53 PM: Yglesias: I probably shouldn’t write any more about this woman and her staff. Suffice it to say that I’ve found her behavior over the past couple of months to be utterly unconscionable and this speech is no different. I think if I were to try to express how I really feel about the people who’ve been enabling her behavior, I’d say something deeply unwise. Suffice it to say, that for quite a while now all of John McCain’s most effective allies have been on Hillary Clinton’s payroll. Yes. Yes.

9:50 PM: The question is, “Where do we go from here?” This has been a long campaign and I will be making no decisions tonight. Followed by a plea for donations at

Anyone who primaries Hillary Clinton in 2012 is getting a check from me.

9:48 PM: She’s got the crowd chanting “Denver” now. JESUS CHRIST.

9:45 PM: georgia10 takes us back in time to October 2007.

9:40 PM: Okay, now she’s seemingly dialing it back again. The beginning and end of this speech sounded a lot like a dignified concession—only the middle third sounded like damn the torpedoes. I honestly don’t know what to make of it.

9:39 PM: Seriously, she’s taking this further? Seriously?

9:37 PM: I was just typing that this is Hillary’s “Mountaintop” speech—she may not get there with us, but she has shown her supporters the Promised Land.

Then she started in with this stronger candidate / popular vote bullshit.

She’s got her crowd booing now at the thought that this is over. My God. The horror. The horror.

9:35 PM: Reporting from the future, TPM Election Central has the full text of Obama’s speech tonight in Minneapolis.

Tonight, I can stand before you and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.

9:32 PM: Hillary coming out now.

9:19 PM: Fox has called South Dakota for Clinton, which hopefully won’t give her reason to declare herself the nominee tonight as well. (We were already playing under “next vote wins” rules.)

Much of the discussion on MSNBC is centering around this absurd kabuki dance currently being played out over whether or not Clinton merely wants to be asked to be VP, or if she would actually take it if asked. Dear God, Obama, do not ask Clinton to be your VP under any circumstances.

9:16 PM: Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC says that Clinton is demanding a private sitdown with Obama before she’ll concede or embrace his candidacy. Matthews calls super-double bullshit on this: “Why are they telling the media they want a secret meeting? Why not just have one?”

9:04 PM: Jesse Taylor, having returned to Pandagon after a years-long absence, gives Srinivas a run for his money on the definitive word on McCain’s speech: McCain’s speech was inspiring. Literally dozens of people standing in a room, booing things.

Meanwhile, MSNBC has had its mind totally blown by Obama’s victory, almost as if no one could believe this was happening even as it seemed inevitable over the last few months. Chris Matthews is even comparing this moment to the fall of apartheid in South Africa, which is a stretch, but not by all that much.

9:00:01 PM: MSNBC cuts into McCain’s speech to report that Barack Obama, winning Montana, is the presumptive nominee of the Democratic party. History: made.

[Ed: He’ll win Montana, but the polls are still open there. MSNBC is actually just projecting that he’ll be pushed over the 2118 line no matter how he finishes tonight.]

8:59 PM: Srinivas, my old political co-blogger from ’04, has the definitive line on McCain’s speech in Google Chat: so where was all this the last 5 years johnny boy

8:57 PM: Good points from Matt here.

Marc Ambinder writes about an RNC memo “that portrays the Democratic Party in a state of disarray and claims that legions of Hillary Clinton voters are poised to jump to John McCain.” As Marc says, “privately, many Democrats would agree that that ‘united’ is not the best adjective to describe the party right now.” If anything, though, I think this ought to give McCain serious pause. How is it that he’s in a dead heat with an opponent who’s party is an a maximum state of disunity?

8:53 PM: TPM’s got the ever-growing list of the dozens of late-to-the-party supers who endorsed Obama today.

Meanwhile, McCain drones on. “My friends, that’s not change we can believe in.” How long until he’s reduced to chanting “No, we can’t!”?

8:49 PM: Is that Bush getting booed at a McCain event?

8:46 PM: Now he’s after Obama, in a rather ham-fisted way. He’s actually coming across as pretty smarmy—mean-spirited, petty, and nasty.

I’m actually surprised McCain decided to give another speech on the same night as Obama. I thought he wasn’t going to do this anymore, as the contrast is just too stark to do McCain any favors.

8:35 PM: Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno.
—John McCain, 1998

He’s on TV now, shamelessly sucking up to Clinton’s supporters. Pathetic.

8:30 PM: Tonight’s the night. The AP has already reported that Obama has the nomination cinched tonight—his speech tonight in Minneapolis (at the site of the 2008 RNC Convention) should be one for the ages. Keep watching.

Written by gerrycanavan

June 4, 2008 at 12:39 am