US Elections Update

Author: Karl Howe
Issue: 25 – May 2008

US Elections Update
The U.S. primary election cycle continues going into May for the Democrats. That being the case, though, there is a winner: Hillary Clinton.

Clinton has regained momentum after her 10 percentage point win over Obama in Pennsylvania on April 22. This win in Pennsylvania adds to Clintons streak of winning the big, Democrat states that are essential for a Democrat to win in November. notes that Clinton has also gained a lead in the overall popular vote with 15.1 Million votes to Obamas 14.9 Million votes when counting her Michigan and Florida totals.

Ah, Michigan and Florida. Expect to hear more about these states as we inch closer to the Democratic National convention in late August. As it sits now, the delegates from both states forfeited their say at the conventions by moving their primaries into January to make a larger impact on the momentum of the primary race. With neither delegate slate allowed to have seats at the convention Obama opted to not compete in either state, even going so far as to not have his name on the ballot in Michigan (a state tin which he would have expected to do reasonably well given the 81% black population in Detroit). Clinton won both primaries by substantial margins and gained the lions share of the ghost delegates. In a normal election year, when the nominee would have been decided by March at the latest, the consequences of not having a states delegation vote at the convention would be minimal. This year, it will be critical.
How will this be resolved? The possibility was explored that both states might run a do-over primary but it proved too expensive and too cumbersome to facilitate. The question remains: will the Democrats allow Michigans and Floridas delegates to vote or will they be shut out of the convention? If they are shut out, as it stands now, they will be abiding by the deal they entered into but will be negating the outcome of the free and fair elections in both states. This would certainly favor Obama at the convention but how democratic is the outcome when two populous states votes are not counted? If they are counted (advantage Clinton), does that mean that the rules do not have to be followed? Didnt the state Democrats in both instances sign up to not have their votes counted how can they change the rules now?

The situation from the Republican standpoint is rich with irony after the Election in 2000 where they felt the Democrats did not like the outcome so they worked to change the rules in order that all the votes would be counted. There is a sense of smugness now that a similar situation has the Democrats fighting each other about the same issues in an election year that should have been more of a coronation than an election.

With that backdrop, the overarching themes of race and gender and the coarsening tone from both camps continue to create deep and personal fissures within the Democratic Party. For those who have waited for either a black presidential candidate or a woman presidential candidate: this is their year! The activists who have been working and waiting since 1968 for their President can not be denied but, in this election, one group is headed for disappointment. As the months roll on and the rhetoric gets hotter and hotter there is a sense that while this has moved from coronation to election, it may continue to degenerate from election to street fights to all-out riots.

Denver has made preparations to import police from other Colorado cities to help manage the situation and maintain order while protestors plan their descent on the city. Former Presidential candidate and Obama supporter Al Sharpton has stated that if Clinton was selected in some backroom deal over Obama that you not only would see people like me demonstrating, you may see us talking about whether or not we can support that ticket. While Sharpton implies his will be peaceful demonstrations, other groups have begun invoking the notorious 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, where clashes between protestors and police took center stage, as the guide for what awaits Denver.

One such group, the Re-create 68 Alliance (Website: suggests that Denver could face a dangerous situation. An organizer for the group, Glenn Spagnuolo, stated after not receiving a city permit to protest the convention that when things blow up because the police have to enforce a permit that the Democrats got, dont blame us for that. Blame the Democrats for trying to silence dissent in the city of Denver.
In the meantime, the next primaries in North Carolina, Indiana, and West Virginia are expected to be split with neither candidate able to proclaim victory for too long knowing that nothing will be settled for some time. We will have to see how the campaign continues but the intense circumstances may well lead one to believe that it will only continue to get more heated.




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