Random musings on the "national primary"

  • Why on earth am I watching the news report of the returns live? This isn't like football, where you actually get to see interesting things happen that will affect the final outcome. It's just a bunch of chattering heads going on and on about incomplete information. And yet, this is how I choose to spend my evening.
  • Would ABC be doing wall-to-wall coverage all evening if there wasn't a writers' strike going on?
  • Charlie Gibson keeps calling the people in the various ballrooms around the country listening to the candidates speak the "followers" of this or that candidate. I find this irksome. Not that I have qualms with followership in general. But I don't see any of these candidates as leading, yet -- they're still applying for the job of leader. They need the votes and activism of their volunteers; they're not in a position to command. I like the L.A. affiliate's label of "supporters" a lot better.
  • Charlie Gibson keeps repeating over and over that it's not the state-by-state popular vote that matters, but the delegate count. But then they keep breaking in to whatever's going on to announce it every time the network analysts "call" a state for one candidate or another. All the hoopla over who takes what state directly contradicts the explicit disclaimer that it's the delegate count that's determinative. I call this irresponsible journalism.
  • The Huckabee campaign has got me wondering -- but not quite enough to go look it up -- whether the U.S. has ever elected a former clergyman to the presidency before. I'm thinking not. But what about VP? Cabinet positions? Supreme court? We've had some clergy in the Senate, but how few and far between? And have we ever elected a clergyman or religious who was not Protestant to any national office? What about at the state level?

    This isn't a question exactly about the right or the propriety of people of faith bringing their beliefs to bear on their participation in the electoral process, but about people pledged to leadership in their own religious communities also seeking/achieving positions of leadership in our democratic government. My hunch is that the whole separation of church and state thing has made clergy reluctant to seek office and voters reluctant to vote for them when they do. But I'd be interested to read about the history of actual cases of clergy candidates.

  • Is California or is we not a "Winner-Take-All" state for the Republicans? I heard newspeople on the national and local broadcasts flatly state contradictory answers to this question, so who's right?

    Both and neither, apparently -- turns out (if this source is to be trusted), it's WTA on a congressional district basis, with a handful of bonus delegates pledged WTA to the overall winner of the state popular vote. C'mon, newspeople -- is that so hard to explain? Especially with all your yammering about the significance of delegate counts?

  • It's a little disappointing to hear ABCNews call California on both sides so early in the evening. Okay, half past midnight on the east coast isn't exactly "early" for them, but we only had a fraction of the precincts counted! The polls had hardly been closed an hour! I was hoping for a tighter race in both parties, and that it would maybe even take a couple of days to get all the ballots counted.

    But maybe that's just because I want to imagine that my vote actually made a difference, in spite of my rudimentary understanding of statistics and fear of actually being partially responsible for whatever leader we get stuck with. I know my ballot hasn't been counted yet, since it's had to make a detour through the County Clerk's office to verify that I am, in fact, a registered voter in this county. Why they would send me a voter registration card without actually adding me to the rolls is a mystery to me, but California seems to have a pretty good provisional ballot system, so I'm trying not to freak out about disenfranchisement. They even gave me a tracking number for my particular ballot, so I can call in a few weeks and find out whether I really have cause to throw a royal fit about government incompetence. But I probably won't care by then.

  • As little as I'm looking forward to the campaign coverage dragging on indefinitely, I'm actually pleased and somewhat proud of the American electorate for refusing to award a clear-cut nomination to either party already. It seems only fair to those states who didn't jostle their way to the front of the queue to give them a say in things, too. And I like to think that we voters have resisted being railroaded into lining up neatly behind a single candidate on each side, in spite of the machinations of the party system and the media. Hooray for us for not being predictable!


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