Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The DA Global Primary and realities

Image: Democrats Abroad, http://www.democratsabroad.org/global_presidential_primary_results
Democrats Abroad, the group representing US citizens who support the Democratic Party and who live outside the USA, have announced the results of their 2016 Global Primary. The headline result is that Bernie Sanders received 69% of the vote and Hillary Clinton received 31% (see chart). But it’s far more interesting than that alone.

34,570 votes were cast in 170 countries throughout the world, which, the group says, is up 50% on 2008’s turnout. That’s impressive, and as much as anything else, that’s clearly a testament to the successful “get out the vote” effort by Democrats Abroad. I know that I certainly heard more about it this year than any year previously, and I was impressed by their promotional efforts.

As a result of the Global Primary, Bernie Sanders receives nine pledged delegates and Hillary Clinton receives four. There are also four uncommitted “superdelates” made up of eight members of the Democratic National Committee who each receive half a vote. I think that how they got to the numbers of committed delegates is interesting.

First, delegates are awarded by region: Americas, both candidates got one each, as they also did in the Asia-Pacific Region (which New Zealand is part of). In what they call EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), Sanders got three delegates to Clinton’s two. Put another way, they were pretty even on the regional vote.

Sanders’ other four delegates came from apportioned delegates: One Party Leader/Elected Official (PLEO) delegate, as well as three at-large delegates. The results posted on their site says, “The remaining four delegates are allocated to achieve the proportion of the overall global vote each candidate received.” So, of the 13 committed delegates at stake, Sanders was entitled to about 8.94 delegates and Clinton 4.02, based on their share of the popular vote. Since a person can’t be cut into pieces, they round, as you’d expect.

US Democrats living in New Zealand cast 539 votes, 476 for Sanders and 63 for Clinton. This amounted to 1.56% of the total votes cast in the Global Primary. Among countries I write about, the results were: Australia 873 votes (635 Sanders, 237 Clinton, 1 O’Malley) for 2.53% of the total; Canada 3272 votes (2171 Sanders, 1087 Clinton, 2 O’Malley, and 12 Uncommitted) for 9.46% of the total; the United Kingdom 4610 votes (2874 Sanders, 1726 Clinton, 4 O’Malley, 1 De La Fuente, 5 Uncommitted) for 13.34% of the total vote. None of which is important, but it’s kind of interesting (the website has a complete breakdown by country/region).

Globally, Clinton won in only two countries: Nigeria (she got four votes to Sanders’ one), and the Dominican Republic, which was a total outlier: Clinton got 350 votes to Sanders’ 53. I have no idea why.

I often say that when evaluating things reported by the news media (both mainstream and alternative, left or right), it’s important to check original sources whenever possible. A good example of that is the reporting on CNN:

The contest marks the Vermont senator's 10th win so far this campaign season and his first victory since winning the Michigan primary on March 8. Clinton, who swept the primaries in Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio last week, has won 19 contests overall.

Well, sort of: As CNN reports two paragraphs later, “Voting was held from March 1 through March 8,” which means voting closed the same day as Michigan, so the one really has little to do with the other. During that voting period, Sanders won more delegates in eight states: Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Vermont, Nebraska, Kansas, and Maine, as well as Michigan. Meanwhile, Clinton got more delegates in nine states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

The results of the Global Primary, then, have little to do with Michigan, which was just one of the states contested in that period, and, technically, Sanders won the DA Global Primary on the same day he won Michigan—it’s just that we didn’t know about it at the time. Still, it may serve as a psychological boost for Sanders’ supporters, and that may be what CNN meant to say.

It’s important to remember that there’s still a primary season to complete between now and the final primary in the District of Columbia on June 14. At the moment, Clinton has a lead of only some 300 delegates among those won in contests, and it’s only because of her massive lead in superdelegates (467 to Sanders’ 26) that she currently leads him nearly 2 to 1 in the total number of delegates. This is why the Sanders supporters say the contest isn’t over, and Sanders may still win the nomination.

On the other hand, as pundits keep pointing out, Clinton only needs 752 more delegates to win the nomination, while Sanders needs 1,512. Pundits also say that the remaining contests are more favourable for Clinton than Sanders, based on the demographic breakdowns of the voting so far.

I think that both sides are correct, however, there’s also clearly a LOT more work for Sanders’ campaign to do to win the nomination than there is for Clinton’s campaign. Nothing is certain for either candidate, however.

I also think that Sanders should stay in the race, not just because leaving would be premature, but also because of common sense: Having a race means that there will be at least some media attention given to the Democrats, though just as a brief interruption of the news networks’ new reality TV obsession, “The Drumpf Show”. Once the Democratic nomination is decided—and regardless of who wins—the networks will focus only on Drumpf.

I know this is an unpopular opinion, but from the “any publicity is good publicity” perspective, even the discussions of whether Bernie has a chance, whether he should drop out, whether Hillary’s supporters are jumping the gun in saying he should go, all of that is good for Democrats—as long as the party unifies behind whoever the nominee is, of course. There’s a slogan gaining ground on social media, “I’m voting Blue, no matter who” to signal one’s intention to vote for whoever the eventual nominee is (as I’ve repeatedly pledged, too).

I think the Global Primary result was interesting, and related to both politics and expat issues, so a natural topic for me. Even so, I still won’t say who I voted for in the Illinois Democratic Primary (I didn’t take part in the Global Primary), and that’s because I don’t think it’s important. After all, come November, “I’m voting Blue, no matter who”.

No comments: