Why the drama of elections is fascinating if you hate politics

Here's my take on the appeal of the current U.S. primaries and caucuses:
It’s like a less rational version of The Apprentice, with guns and lawyers. And right now, we don’t know how one of the finalists is going to get picked.

I think part of the appeal of elections is that, unlike a TV show, we don’t really know what’s going to happen.

I mean, who predicted the California Democratic party primary of June 5th 1968 would end with the front-runner gunned down? Depending on who you believe, even Sirhan Sirhan didn’t see that one coming.

[Thanks Jackie D for triggering that one]

What now?

After the drama of the other day, it all dribbles away for a bit.

Saturday 8 March - Arkansas Democratic Special State Convention and Wyoming Democratic County Caucuses

Tuesday 11 March - Mississippi Democratic Primary

Saturday 15 March - Democrats Abroad Democratic Regional Caucuses

Thursday 3 April - District of Columbia State Party Committee

There is a multitude of smaller events until the next big state primary: Pennsylvania on April 22. There are 45 days between the Mississippi and Pennsylvania primaries.

For hardcore election nerds, check out this complete listing.

Lots of idle hands to make mischief over the next six weeks!


I guess he or she found what they wanted

Glad to be of service.

Opposite result, same effect: Super Tuesday 2 post mortem

I may not have been very brave in my predictions yesterday, but they have been fairly well vindicated. This Super Tuesday to follow the Super Duper Tuesday of February 4 has failed to produce a knock-out blow for the favorite, this time Senator Barack Obama (Illinois). Instead it is Senator Hillary Clinton (New York) who is relatively better off after last night's efforts.

Here's how it ended up:
1) Vermont called first, giving Obama a 12th win on the trot. Some people in Ohio and texas may still have been voting when the news came out, which is naughty.
Obama: 91,829 votes; 59%; 9 delegates
Clinton: 59,854 votes; 39%; 6 delegates

2) Then came Rhode Island. Clinton's first win in a month.
Clinton: 106,471 votes; 58%; 13 delegates
Obama: 73,609 votes; 40%; 8 delegates

N.B. At this stage Clinton is narrowing the gap: 166,325 to 165,438 or by less than 1,000, but it is a start. Two net delegate gains are handy too.

3) Ohio. Zogby tried to make it look close. For a variety of reasons, it wasn't.
Clinton: 1,212,077 votes; 54%; 75 delegates
Obama: 982,172 votes; 44%; 52 delegates

N.B. At this stage Texas is no longer crucial: as long as it's close and with the strange bias in the caucuses held immediately after the primary, Clinton has broken the losing streak and can narrow the gap.

4) Texas. The primary was a Clinton victory, as in Ohio, Obama spent a lot more. This time, with negative advertising, she spent smarter.
Clinton: 1,453,139 votes; 51%; 65 delegates
Obama: 1,354,672 votes; 47%; 61 delegates

N.B. If it stopped here, all would be sweetness and light for Clinton. But now the caucuses kick in, with the sort of racial gerrymandering that old time Democrats in the Deep South would do. I'm surprised they didn't do "literacy tests" for Latinos at the caucuses. I guess they didn't have to.

Kos, who wishes Clinton would quit gracefully, sums up his version of events here:
Based on the Obama math, Clinton netted a gain of four delegates Tuesday. My own count based on official sources and projections based on the early TX caucus results peg the number at nine delegates. This cycle, Obama's numbers have been solid (and have matched up with the Clinton numbers), so my count is likely to shrink as the official results catch up with the campaign's projections.

A four-delegate gain is far less than what the Clinton campaign needed.

This is a sure recipe for lawyers. That'll be cheap!

Overall, the Green Papers has Clinton ahead in both popular vote (but this includes Florida and Michigan) and in some caluclations of delegates. Real Clear Politics gives Obama a lead of 97 or 136, depending on definition. The latter estimate is close enough to discourage quitting but big enough to make overtaking hard to do, if at all likely.

One of the definitions of a Zugzwang in chess, is that the player who has in fact lost, may not realise it for a while. Each move is making the position inexorably weaker. But the defeated player may persist in the delusion of salvaging something. I still think we're at this stage.

With a stronger Republican candidate (15-20 years younger, better at fundraising, better at motivating conservatives), this election would now be a formality.

How not to build bridges

O.K. so I said:
On a different note, there is NO WAY Mrs Clinton quits the contest if she narrows the Obama delegate lead, winning three states in the process. A legal argument over who won Texas is as good as a win for these purposes.

Put it this way. I don't think I'm more self-delusional about my own importance to the world than Hillary Clinton is, but speaking as an election candidate myself, in her shoes I wouldn't quit now.

There is no mistaking the fight in the email I reproduce below, but... doesn't John McCain just have to read this out in the televised debates to win in November? I've highlighted some juicy bits. I got this from RealClearPolitics but the highlights are my own. Sorry, but I don't seem to be on Mark Penn's email list these days!

March 5, 2008

To: Interested Parties

From: Harold Ickes

Mark Penn

Re: The Path to the Presidency

With last night's victories in Ohio and Texas, one thing is clear: the momentum has swung back to Hillary Clinton. Voters in both states agreed that Hillary Clinton would be the best Commander-in-Chief and the strongest steward of our economy. In fact, according to last night's polls, those who decided who to vote for in the last three days overwhelmingly favored Hillary [CNN exit polls, 3/4/08]. Its time for a second look.

1. Ohio is the barometer: Hillary was successful in Ohio, the state that for the last quarter century has picked our president. As everyone knows: As Ohio goes, so goes our country. Historically, it's one of the bellwether states and it decided the last election. And the demographics of the upcoming contests in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana and Kentucky closely mirror those in Ohio. Hillary looks strong in all four states.

- In recent years, every President has won two of the three following states: Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. Hillary has already won two of those and, according to all polls, is leading in the third - Pennsylvania.

2. This race is extremely close and more than 5 million Democrats are likely to vote. After 28 million votes have been counted, the popular vote contest in the Democratic primary is within one-tenth of one percent. Applying the same level of turnout to the remaining contests, there are still more than 5 million Democratic voters - 17 percent of the total - who are likely to participate in this contested primary race. After 41 primaries and caucuses, the delegate count is within roughly 2 percent.

3. In the primaries, Hillary has demonstrated that she is the best positioned candidate to carry the core battleground states essential to a general election victory -- particularly the large industrial states of Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and the critical swing contests in Florida, New Mexico, Nevada, and New Jersey.

4. The vetting of Obama has just begun. The press has only begun to scrutinize Senator Obama and his record. The corruption trial of Tony Rezko is getting underway this week, yet many questions about Obama's relationship with him remain unanswered. Hillary, on the other hand, has withstood fifteen years of substantial media and Republican scrutiny, including many months of sharper scrutiny as the front-runner. If the primary contest ends prematurely and Obama is the nominee, Democrats may have a nominee who will be a lightening rod of controversy.

5. Several of Hillary's base constituencies (women, Hispanic, labor, elderly and under $75,000) are key to a Democratic victory in November. Senator Obama has not brought these voters out in the same numbers.

- The two groups that fueled President Bush's victory in '04 were women and Hispanics, and they are among Hillary Clinton's strongest supporters. From 2000 to 2004, Bush's support among Hispanics rose from 35% to 44%. And Bush's support among women rose from 43% to 48%. That five point gain among women and nine point gain among Latinos gave Bush his victory in 2004.

- Women reached an all-time presidential election high of 54% of voters in '04. As a factual matter, an outpouring of women for the first woman president alone can win the election. Hillary leads all candidates among women.

- These political and demographic trends project positively into the general election and strongly favor Hillary.

6. The Red States: The central strategic argument of the Obama campaign is flawed. Senator Obama argues that his success in Democratic primary contests held in long-time Red States means he will carry those states in a general election. In reality, there are no "Red States" in a Democratic primary - there are only Democratic voters who live in Republican states and represent a small percentage of the general election population.

Of the eleven core Republican states that have gone to the polls, Sen. Obama has won ten: Utah, Idaho, Nebraska, North Dakota, Alabama, Alaska, Kansas, South Carolina, Georgia, and Louisiana. John Kerry lost each of these states by fifteen points or more.

- The last time a Democratic nominee won Utah, Idaho, Nebraska, North Dakota, Kansas, and Alaska in the general election was 1964.

- Even if Obama is "transcendent," as his campaign has argued, the historic electoral trends and the current political environment suggest that translating those primary wins into November success will be close to impossible.

- In short: Hillary is better positioned to carry the battle ground states that Democrats need to win in November and Obama's victories in deep red states do not .

7. Hillary is the only Democrat with the strength, leadership, and experience to defeat John McCain. Senator Clinton is seen as the best prepared to be Commander-in-Chief.

- Nationally, 57% say Hillary Clinton is best prepared to be president, 39% Obama [CBS/ NYT, February 24]

- Hillary Clinton is seen as best able to take on the Republicans on their own turf - national security and terrorism. She is seen as a strong and decisive leader (a seven point advantage over Obama nationally).

- Hillary is seen as the one who can get the job done - leading Obama nationally by 13 points [USA Today/ Gallup, 2/24].

- Hillary is seen as the candidate to solve the country's problems, leading Obama by 10 points [USA Today/ Gallup, 2/24].

8. John McCain will diminish any perceived advantage Obama has with independents. As has been widely discussed, one of John McCain's key constituents is independents. And against McCain, Obama will be framed by the Republicans as too liberal (he was ranked by the National Journal as the most liberal Senator); untested on national security; and vulnerable on issues that would make him unelectable in November. These issues may be surmountable in a Democratic primary but will be an Achilles heel with independents in a general election.

9. The McCain Roadmap: McCain has already foreshadowed his campaign's construct against Obama: His vulnerability is experience and judgment on national security.

- McCain: Obama's 'meet, talk and hope approach' is 'dangerously naïve in international diplomacy.' "Meet, talk, and hope may be a sound approach in a state legislature, but it is dangerously naive in international diplomacy where the oppressed look to America for hope and adversaries wish us ill." [McCain, NYT's The Caucus, 2/22/08]

- McCain: Obama is an 'inexperienced candidate who once suggested bombing our ally, Pakistan, and suggested sitting down without preconditions or clear purpose with enemies who support terrorists.' "Each event poses a challenge and an opportunity. Will the next president have the experience -- the judgment, experience informs and the strength of purpose to respond to each of these developments in ways that strengthen our security and advance the global progress of our ideals? Or will we risk the confused leadership of an inexperienced candidate who once suggested bombing our ally, Pakistan, and suggested sitting down without preconditions or clear purpose with enemies who support terrorists and are intent on destabilizing the world by acquiring nuclear weapons? I think you know the answer to that question." [Post-Wisconsin Primary Victory Speech, 2/19/08]

10. Steward of the economy. Hillary Clinton leads both John McCain and Barack Obama on the economy and health care. In the latest LA Times/Bloomberg poll (1/22), Hillary leads McCain 52/28 on health care and 43/34 on the economy.

- Hillary leads Barack Obama on health care by 21 points nationally [USA Today/Gallup, 2/24].

11. Florida. There is an additional reality that must be considered - the 1.75 million voters in Florida whose votes will not be represented at the Democratic convention. How we handle this swing state will affect our Party's potential of carrying it in November (Democrats lost Florida in 2004). This is a state where the playing field was level - all of the candidates had their names on the ballot and none campaigned in the state.

12. Michigan. Nearly 600,000 Democrats voted in Michigan, but right now their votes are not being counted. Democrats barely carried Michigan in 2004 (by only 3% -- 51 to 48). If our party refuses to let them participate in the convention, we will provide a political opportunity for the Republicans to win both Florida and Michigan. Recognizing their importance to Democratic success in November, Hillary has called for the delegates of both states to be seated at the convention.

13. Hillary has the money to compete. In February, the Clinton campaign raised approximately $35 million - averaging more than a million dollars a day. This deep level of support gives Hillary the resources she needs to compete between now and the Convention.

On the last two highlighted points, nothing beats a BIG FAT LIE. Hillary Clinton can pretend that attending a public event which is televised in Florida is not campaigning, but that's baloney. And when she somehow didn't manage to get her name removed from the ballot in Michigan (others somehow managed it, is she that incompetent? No) the lie then was that "it won't matter, these votes don't count."

That said, the kernel of truth is that the Michigan and Florida fiascos are good for McCain. It would be very handy for him to have a war between the local Democrats and the their presidential candidate over this. And if the lawyers, to use the expression beloved of Al Gore fans in 2000 "award" the candidacy to Senator Clinton, how can that stand up in the face of public decency?

Liveblogging OH/RI/TX/VT

I'm turning in. At this stage it looks survivable for Clinton, which is therefore a moral victory. A bit like Super Duper Tuesday (a month ago!) was the moment when Obama survived the Clinton juggernaught (which ground to a halt until today). This time it's Obama's relentless thrust that has been blocked. A very good night for John McCain.
Latest projection: Texas close, Ohio Clinton, Rhode Island Clinton, Vermont Obama. Apart from the Texas caucus, Clinton closes gap. But that caucus is key. Too good for Obama and the lawyers will be in, I reckon.

Ohio looks solid for Clinton, especially with the Governor on-side and all the "cleric errors" apparently hitting Obama voters.
Clinton 323,055 votes 58%
Obama 223,666 votes 40%
24% of precincts reported

As I was saying a couple of minutes ago:
Obama 606,941 51%
Clinton 566,035 48%
7% [same source as below]

Gap closing in Texas:
Obama 586,586 votes 52%
Clinton 522,565 votes 47%
6% precincts reporting, sez ABC.

Ron Gunzburger finds less than fraternal love on the Republican side:
P2008 - GOP. In a sign that John McCain still has a way to go to build party unity, check out these comments by US Senator John Cornyn (R-TX). Speaking this past weekend at a GOP dinner, Cornyn said McCain wasn't his "first choice ... or second, third or fourth choice" for the Presidential nomination. "I sort of liken it to a grieving process. You come to acceptance," said Cornyn in his speech, according to the Dallas Morning News. Still, Cornyn said he thought McCain was "head and shoulders above Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton" -- as he said he feared the election of either could lead to a "socialist regime" in the US.

From the Hill (the publication, not the TV show):
Clinton cries foul in Texas; Obama lawyer hijacks call
By Sam Youngman
Posted: 03/04/08 09:10 PM [ET]
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) campaign charged rival Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) campaign with breaking several rules in the Texas caucuses.

The Clinton campaign called an “emergency” conference call with reporters that was interrupted by Obama’s chief counsel Bob Bauer, who called in and said the Clinton campaign only criticized the caucus process when it was losing.

Texas looks ridiculously good for Obama, considering the polls, so I'm guessing the distribution of precincts reporting so far is not representative of the whole. But Ohio's looking good for Clinton.
Figures going round on Drudge: OBAMA 530,214 54%, CLINTON 448,702 45%

My view on a prolongation of the civil war presidential primary campaign? From an email I sent earlier:
think of the wasted cash, the insults, the hate, the venom, the lifelong friendships ruined, the stabbings.
I love it!

If I were a Democrat, I'd be praying for a big Obama win in Texas and a decent delegate allocation elsewhere.

Clinton wins Rhode Island, Obama has Vermont. Huckabee has quit leaving Ron Paul the only challenger to McCain. ;-)

Bad weather reported in Cleveland in the North and in Cincinnati in the South West of Ohio. Who does it hurt most?

HEH. Just spotted this:

Bush to endorse McCain
by kos
Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 05:36:01 PM PST

According to CNN, the McCain campaign is all excited that if they can close the deal tonight, that Bush will endorse him tomorrow.

They're excited about it.

So am I.

I hope there's lots of pictures and video.

Smintheus at Daily Kos has a useful preview of Rhode Island for those of who only know it as the smallest U.S. state by size.

John McCain will reach the number of delegates required for nomination as Republican candidate. The same may not be the case for a Democrat for, let me see... six months if the lawyers get involved?

All polls for primaries closed... BUT! Texas has caucuses starting soon to determine who gets up to 67 delegates in a series of caucus across the Lone Star state.
For comparison, this is more than double the total number of delegates available in Rhode Island, and nearly five times the number from Vermont.

Polls close in Ohio, Rhode Island, I'm checking Texas. Exit polls in these states published earlier will miss some late deciders, which this time, looks like helping Clinton not Obama. Beware a New Hampshire style snafu!

Sandusky County is the hold up in Ohio. Court orders polls to stay open until 02:00 GMT, according to The Green Papers, and that's a detail I trust them with.

01:40 GMT
Vermont is so friendly! Here's what the Vermont Secretary of State has to say tonight:

Official Presidential Primary Results from the March 4, 2008 will not be available on this website until Tuesday, March 11th at 11:00 a.m. We do not release unofficial results so please do not call our office.

01:32 GMT
Welcome Samizdatistas!
Voting is still going on in Rhode Island and part of Texas. With the caucus element in Texas, that could create delays, to say nothing of confusion. Any projections in those states must be pretty unreliable if not deliberate attempts to sway the result.

01:06 GMT
Checking in for the night. Early projections show a comfortable Obama win in Vermont, as expected, but Matt Drudge's headline implies a close race everywhere else "EXIT POLLS: DEADLOCK IN TX, OH, RI".
So that would put the balance against Clinton, if true and confirmed by later returns. I'm not commenting on that until I've had a sniff around.
Here's ABC on Vermont (15 delegates to select):
Candidate Votes Vote % Delegates Projected Winner
Obama 3,769 59% 3 Winner
Clinton 2,532 39% 2
[this will probably look bad until I fix a table template later on.]


Super Tuesday, Take Number 2!


Head on the block time. My gut predictions:

Texas is a popular vote win for Senator Hillary Clinton (New York) over Senator Barack Obama (Illinois), but the delegate count won't reflect it.

Ohio is a Clinton win. But, if it turns out very close, credit should go to the Quinnipiac poll, which is the only one showing Clinton's lead dipping towards the end.

Vermont and Rhode Island are straightforward: Obama gets a win in the former, Clinton the latter. Crucially, if the margins are similar, Clinton should benefit: Rhode Island, though smaller in size, has more people and twice as many delegates (32 to 15), up for grabs.

If I'm right, the winner is Senator John McCain (Arizona), the troubled Republican candidate.

At the moment McCain has A LOT less money than the Democrats and while he probably can beat Clinton, Obama is right now out of his league. Every penny spent by them against each other is not held back for October/November. There is also the chance of such bitterness between the two camps that the Democratic party cannot unite in time. It is the best, and cheapest (in every sense of the word) shot McCain has right now. Who knows, both sides may dig up slime that the Republicans can pretend to hold their noses against, while dangling it in front of the electorate. The NAFTA and the Rezko case, for instance.

On a different note, there is NO WAY Mrs Clinton quits the contest if she narrows the Obama delegate lead, winning three states in the process. A legal argument over who won Texas is as good as a win for these purposes.

Put it this way. I don't think I'm more self-delusional about my own importance to the world than Hillary Clinton is, but speaking as an election candidate myself, in her shoes I wouldn't quit now. She loses Texas and Ohio? Maybe.

I hope to live-blog the voting and results later.

ZOGBY says Clinton wins Texas!

So either it was something I said, or Senator Hillary Clinton (New York) is now the left-wing candidate.

Joking aside, the only media ferociously battling for Clinton that I'm aware of was Fox News. The only pundits talking her up were Rush Limbaugh and people who loathe the Republican party candidate (Arizona Senator John McCain), such as Darwin-basher Ann Coulter.

Hilariously, or should that be another word to avoid accusations of rotten puns, newspapers across the U.S.A. are publishing op-eds written a day or two ago before the polls suddenly shifted in Sen Clinton's direction. How daft headlines such as these will look if the Sen Barack Obama (Illinois) delegate lead is cut?
Hillary Should Save Dems - From Herself - Margery Eagan, Boston Herald
Clinton Campaign's Dying Light - Jonathan Chait, Los Angeles Times

For the record, here's the new Zogby bias, against Obama!
Reuters/CSpan/Zogby. Polling dates: from 03/01 to 03/03. Sample size: 855 Likely Voters. Clinton 47% Obama 44%. Lead: Clinton +3.0%.
[Big Hat Tip: RealClearPolitics]


Battleground March 4

Since I now have a crude map template, here's where the action is. This time both parties are having their contests in the same states.

Ohio (OH), Rhode Island (RI), Texas (TX) and Vermont (VT).

The delegate allocations are different for each party and the same type of election may not even be happening. But I can give the number of Electoral college votes and how significant they were in the last election.

Ohio: 20 EC votes (seventh largest out of 50 plus Washington D.C.), Republican in 2004 by 2.1%.

Texas: 34 EC votes (second largest after California 55, third is New York 31), Republican in 2004 by 22.87%.

Rhode Island: 4 EC votes (joint 39th largest), Democratic in 2004 by 20.75%.

Vermont: 3 EC votes (smallest possible along with six other states and Washington D.C.), Democratic in 2004 by 20.14%.

N.B. I've got a feeling these percentages are slightly different than some I've published elsewhere. These ones include the presence of third party candidates, which can change things. I generally compare only the two leading parties.

For example, if the Democrat gets 45%, the Republican 40%, and others get 5%, the majority is 5%. But if I only compare the 450,000 votes of a Democrat, with the 400,000 votes of a Republican, ignoring the rest, the margin is 50k out of 950k, so about 5,26%. I'll try to make sure I keep clear which calculation I'm making.

For the Republicans, Texas and Ohio make sense to worry about as a candidate. For the Democrats, Ohio is the one I would want to show myself as a strong contender. But there are more delegates in Texas... and it's a close race.

Pending the appeal

The opinion polls are closing... and I should have put down my misgivings.


In my view, the least reliable opinion pollster is Zogby: let's just say that the next time one of his polls overstates the conservative vote please send me a copy so I can frame it.

Guess who predicted, most loudly, that Hillary Clinton had lost New Hampshire? Until the New York Senator came back and won, that is.

And who has been talking up the Barack Obama lead in Texas, and the gap narrowing in Ohio?

OK, here's evidence:
1) Reuters Zogby poll: February 16 Obama leads Clinton by 14%.
AP/Ipsos has Clinton +5% on the 10th.
Hotline/FD has Clinton +2% on the 17th.

2) Reuters Zogby poll: January 13 Clinton leads Obama by only 1%.
Same day: USA Today/Gallup says Clinton +12%.
Pew Research say Clinton +15%.

3) Eight opinion poll margins between Clinton and Obama in Ohio, listed in date order by RealClearPolitics (survey dates range from February 26 to March 2).
Guess which is the Zogby poll?
a) Clinton +8%, b) Clinton +4%, c) Clinton +4%, d) Obama +2%, e) Clinton +10%, f) Clinton +9%, g) Clinton +12% and h) Clinton +6%.

Truth is: the real counting starts tomorrow. I don't know what will happen, but I don't see a landslide for Obama in votes this time. My other thought is the Democratic party has set up at least two opportunities for the loser to take this whole process to court, maybe three or more.

First, the absurd rules for delegate selection in Texas. Yes, I know the Clinton camp should have looked into it a long time before the middle of February THIS YEAR. But come on! We have two sets of rules and a weighting system which, if it benefited white people in Mississippi at the expense of blacks the way it benefits black people at the expense of Latinos in Texas, would have people asking if its 2008 or 1948. Mind you, some of the character sniping against Obama would look a lot less out place coming from George Wallace and Strom Thurmond's presidential campaigns than from the high priestess of political correctness's acolytes.

To allow such a system to determine the outcome of the entire presidential candidate selection process, because that's effectively what Texas would come down to, is like having rival gangs of thugs outside Chicago City Hall deciding who gets past to choose the Mayor. It might have a vague coincidental similarity with the outcome one could have got in a free and fair election. Maybe.

So if the votes come out with an Obama victory in Texas, because of a screwy voting system, I expect the Warren Zevon cry to go out:
Send lawyers, guns and money/
The s*** has hit the fan
If the system is changed after tomorrow to "restore" balance, a different set of law firms move in: how can one change the rules after the race?

Second, now take Florida. There's an offer to have a re-run (cheeky, if you ask me). But if Florida can have a second vote, why can't Michigan? And if there's a good enough reason to deny a re-vote, why not let Senator Clinton have her Michigan delegates? Or half of them, like the Republicans did with their renegade states?

You try settling that lot of potential pitfalls without ending up in court.

The nightmare for the Democrats must be an inconclusive outcome tomorrow: Hillary Clinton wins the popular vote in both Texas and Ohio, and she gets Rhode Island, leaving Obama with Vermont. But Obama gets a disproportionate delegate allocation from Texas, and one of the camps demands a decision on Florida Governor Charlie Crist's (Republican) offer of a Florida re-run.

The NAFTA spin over Canada has hit Obama's credibility with the media. This in turn may trickle into the public arena.

What are the odds the Supreme Court of the United States (with a conservative majority - HEH!) Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and company get to rule on these issues (or worse, refuses to rule) some time in, say, September or October, on who the Democratic candidate is? As a precaution, will some states have to print ballot papers with BOTH Obama and Clinton, as well as McCain, to add to Nader and the Libertarian candidate? How divisive or confusing will that be?

I guess the televised debates would be tricky: John McCain has a go against each of them?

You want more confusing? Imagine both sides agree to have the other as vice president (Yeah, that shouldn't be hard to arrange!). So the ballot papers say "Clinton/Obama" and "Obama/Clinton" and "McCain/GOP-VP". But only one set of Democratic names counts, in some states. In others, both permutations count.
Pending the appeal.

Can I help (you dig your own grave)?

A nice offer of a compromise from Florida Governor Charlie Crist: the Republican Governor is offering to allow the state to pay for a re-run of the Democratic presidential primary. How nice!

Before opponents of wasting public money jump up (I'm one of them) it's worth pondering any possible ulterior motives.

"I think it's very important though that those delegates are seated," Gov Crist said.

Of course, the current allocation is that no one gets any delegates from Florida, but Senator Hillary Clinton would like the results of a January vote to stand, even though officially she didn't campaign there and though no one else really didn't campaign there.

If Sen Clinton gets her way, we get: Clinton, 113 extra delegates; Barack Obama, 71; and John Edwards, 13.

If Gov Crist gets his way, the whole Democratic civil war goes on for a couple of months longer until a primary can be held, the lawyers earn their fees and judges end up choosing the Democratic candidate.

Any ideas why the Republicans might be so helpful?


Republicans for Clinton

You don't have to be a genius to figure out that Senator Hillary Clinton is the candidate Republican strategists would rather face in November. She's the scarecrow candidate, the one person capable of mobilizing 40% of Democrat voters to come out in a blizzard to vote "uncommitted" in a Michigan primary. And that's when the effort is also going in from Daily Kos to get Democrats to go and vote instead for Mitt Romney "because the GOP deserves the worst."

Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter campaigning for Mrs Clinton (is the entire "vast right-wing conspiracy" really on her side?).

And now this:
Financial concerns have also played into a decision by Mrs. Clinton’s campaign to buy time on the Fox sports channel to broadcast across Texas a town-hall-style forum that she will hold Monday near Austin.

Her aides said the venue was chosen in part to reach white male voters who had moved steadily to Mr. Obama. But the bigger factor, they said, was that the channel was a relatively inexpensive outlet.

I like the idea that Mrs Clinton is funding Fox. I bet that plays well with Democratic voters.