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So, who won the popular vote in the Democrat Primary?

  1. Jun 5, 2008 #1

    chemisttree

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    Hillary? Obama? Who knows?

    Real Clear Politics has Obama winning the popular vote total (excluding MI, WA, NV, IA, ME) by a margin of roughly 152,000. Since WA, NV, IA, and ME haven't released the popular vote tally yet and there is some dispute about MI, those totals must be examined separately. RCP estimated WA, NV, IA, and ME and reports that Clinton won by roughly 176,000. If MI is included in that tally, that total rises to about 287,000. Only by assinging all of the uncommitted MI votes to Obama does Obama win by a slim 62,000 votes.

    When will we know the popular vote results in the Democrat Primary?
     
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  3. Jun 5, 2008 #2

    mgb_phys

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    I think the question is meaningless because it wasn't a popular vote contest.

    If it had been then the two candidates would have campaigned differently and voters would have voted differently. In those states where th eprimariy didn't count you can't simply add the non-existent votes for a candidate that wasn't on the ballot.
     
  4. Jun 5, 2008 #3

    lisab

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    I live in Washington, a caucus state, and I understand the popular vote wasn't calculated state-wide, only at the precinct level. I guess someone could get those records and tally them all, but I don't know what the point would be. Only the delegates count.
     
  5. Jun 5, 2008 #4
    Who won the popular vote in the Democratic primary?

    Who cares? What bearing does it have on anything? I can understand when people get worked up about the popular vote in an actual election, but in a primary? Many of those votes aren't going to count for anything in the general election, if they come from solidly red states, and others are going to count a whole lot, if they come from swing states. Unless the general election were to switch to use the popular vote (and there's zero chance of that), the popular vote in a primary is not interesting.
     
  6. Jun 5, 2008 #5

    turbo

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    We will never know the real popular vote results because this result is not relevant in caucus states. Popular vote was Clinton's last refuge after she had lost by all other metrics.

    Citing the popular vote (counted by her fuzzy math) was extremely dishonest in part because Clinton's name recognition and the heavily elderly population guaranteed her a landslide in FL, absent any active campaigning by Obama. He closed or erased her lead in any state in which he campaigned and he followed the rules and did not campaign there. Also, his name was not even on the MI ballot and he and his staff did not campaign there. Clinton need both of those lopsided "wins" to put her "ahead" in the popular vote. Desperation is an ugly thing and she was willing to try to lie and spin to justify her claim to be "electable". To Obama's credit, he let her dig herself into her own hole without calling her on the lies publicly.
     
  7. Jun 5, 2008 #6

    Ivan Seeking

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    No way to assign an absolute number. In any case it was a virtual tie, with BOTH getting more votes than any previous primary election candidate. What cost Hillary the election was that Obama out-thought her and employed a better strategy. Too late Hillary realized that it would go past February; too late she realized the power of the internet; too late she realized the importance of the caucus States. She was too late and too slow too many times. Obama won because he is smarter.

    Hillary can hardly complain. Obama won while playing by the rules that some of Hillary's people wrote.
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2008
  8. Jun 9, 2008 #7

    chemisttree

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    So the popular vote in the General isn't interesting either? At this point the popular vote in the primary isn't going to decide anything. I understand that. It is very interesting, though.
     
  9. Jun 9, 2008 #8
    Not particularly, no. The reason, again, is that because the popular vote is not used to decide the outcome, campaign strategies aren't geared towards winning the popular vote. So looking at who won by some measure that neither candidate is trying to maximize is obtuse. It's like running a footrace, and then after one runner wins, asking who took the most steps.
     
  10. Jun 9, 2008 #9

    turbo

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    Good analogy quad. Early in the Clinton campaign, Harold Ickes took Tim Russert to task, telling him that winning states or winning popular votes doesn't decide nominations, only winning delegates. When Clinton got in trouble, suddenly the popular vote turned out to be the only "democratic" way to select a nominee. Our general elections are built around a very flawed electoral college in which winners of a state gets ALL its electoral votes. I'd love to see us move to a popular vote system. Delegates no longer have to trek by days or weeks to DC on horseback or carriage to cast the votes of their districts - we could decide a winner by the closing of the last polls or shortly thereafter. All the gerrymandering, posturing and wrangling to throw a state to one candidate or another would be moot if we elected the president by popular vote.
     
  11. Jun 9, 2008 #10
    Incidentally, it's up to the individual states to decide how to apportion their electors. There is no federal law forcing them to give all their votes to the winner of the popular vote in that state (which is what's usually done now). Originally, the states didn't even let the people vote on it; it was just decided by the state legislatures. Also, note that Maine and Nebraska do not give all of their electors to the winner of the state popular vote; instead they are apportioned by district. There have been various proposals in other states to change the way electors are apportioned, for example by making them proportional to the popular vote in that state. But these never go anywhere, for the obvious reason that they would dillute the state's contribution to whichever party happens to be popular there (i.e., the state legislatures tend to be controlled by the same party that the state tends to vote for).

    Well, then, you must live in a state with a large population. Because a popular vote system would effectively disenfranchize everyone outside of New York, California, Texas, Florida and a few other populace states. Campaigns would be conducted entirely in large cities, maybe dropping fliers over rural areas as they flew overhead. The whole point of the electoral college is to make each state's representation in the presidential election match its representation in Congress, which is itself constructed to give low-population states an extra say. This is important, as otherwise they have little incentive to remain part of a federal union that is guaranteed to overrule them in any conflict of interests.

    That's not why the electoral college was introduced, although it does seem to be a popular myth amongst high-school civics teachers. A popular vote would never have been any more complicated than the electoral college: just send those guys on horseback with lists of how many votes were cast for each candidate, then add them all up once they get to Washington. Easy as pie.

    True, although most of the gerrymandering is done to secure seats in Congress, and so wouldn't go away.
     
  12. Jun 9, 2008 #11

    turbo

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    No, I live in a fairly large low-population state. My desire for a popular vote system is based on the (perhaps naive) hope that candidates would craft their campaigns around "what do the people want" instead of "can I pull off a narrow win in state x and y and afford to lose z". In such campaigns (as we have now) we often don't know what the candidates stand for on national issues because they spend so much energy triangulating to achieve marginal wins in key states.
     
  13. Jun 9, 2008 #12

    turbo

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    When votes were taken, there was no way to know who had voted for whom in other parts of the country. Sending trusted electoral delegates was a way of allowing the flexibility and leverage to influence more favorable outcomes for their districts in the event that your home district was ending up on the losing side of an election. We no longer have the travel-time/communication constraints that prompted the electoral college and it should be abolished.
     
  14. Jun 9, 2008 #13

    Ivan Seeking

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    It wasn't just that. It was decided that the President and Vice-President should be elected by a "Confederation of States", which gets back to the fundamental premise of States' autonomy. So each state holds a popular election and then votes as a whole. There was also the idea of giving small States a slight advantage in represenation, or they would always be subject to the will of the large population centers. This is in part why each State has two Senators, but representation in the House according to the population of the State. And the electorates for a State are equal to the number of Representatives and Senators. So the electoral delegate system is yet another hybrid of skewed representation for the smaller States. In the deepest sense possible, it is a completely American idea.
     
  15. Jun 9, 2008 #14
    I don't follow you... what can the elector do to influence the outcome other than cast the vote he's instructed to? I suppose theoretically they can horse-trade and cast their vote for a different candidate, but I don't know of that ever happening, and I can't see why anyone would want to buy delegates in an election that they're already going to win...

    No, that was never a factor in motivating the electoral college. As I mentioned previously, it would be just as easy to send the delegates with a list of vote totals for each state. Indeed, when this stuff was being hashed out by the Founding Fathers, a large faction of them wanted a popular vote. Logistics was never an important concern in these decisions.
     
  16. Jun 9, 2008 #15

    Ivan Seeking

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    It is also a safety valve.
     
  17. Jun 9, 2008 #16

    turbo

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    Electors could be "unfaithful" and pool their votes to influence the outcome of an election if they felt that it was beneficial to their districts. They were sent to the capitol with a mandate, but not a binding obligation. Horse-trading was high political art.
     
  18. Jun 9, 2008 #17

    Ivan Seeking

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    Yes, and can you imagine the result if they violated the vote of their State now? There may be a few example of single electors going against the vote of their State over the years, but I'm not aware that it has ever been a problem. I have heard for years that they might, but do they;ever?

    It is a safety valve - checks and balances, checks and balances.
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2008
  19. Jun 9, 2008 #18

    Ivan Seeking

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    Many people have tried to blame statistical aberrations on the electory college - that the electors went against the popular vote - but that was simply the small States throwing their weight around, just as it is supposed to work.
     
  20. Jun 10, 2008 #19
    Wikipedia has an article on faithless electors.

    If no candidate wins a majority in the electoral college, and this has happened in the past, then the electors no longer get to choose the president. Instead, what happens is essentially a run-off election between the top three electoral vote getters in which each state counts as one vote, Wyoming as powerful as California. Dakota, Carolina, and Virginia get two votes each.
     
  21. Jun 10, 2008 #20

    turbo

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    Nice timing! Senator Bill Nelson (D) FL has proposed an amendment to abolish the electoral college and elect our president by popular vote. He also suggests splitting the US into primary regions and holding several large multi-state primaries instead of lots of individual state primaries. The regions would rotate primary dates, so that each region would get its turn to be part of the first primary in the country.

    http://billnelson.senate.gov/news/details.cfm?id=298907&
     
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