Through the primaries and caucuses of 19 February, the cumulative popular-vote standings of the candidates are as follows.
(Effective number = 2.24)
(Effective number = 3.40)
Yes, that is right: Obama is closing in on a majority of the popular vote and now leads Clinton by nearly five percentage points. So much for his winning streak resting on small states! Seems there are some Obama voters in the states Clinton is “winning,” too. Presumably they also count. Through Super Tuesday (5 Feb.) it was Clinton 46.55, Obama 47.08.
And that’s also right: McCain has yet to crack 40% of Republicans, and Huckabee’s percentage continues to grow. Through Super Tuesday it was McCain 38.32, Romney 32.56, Huckabee 18.99. Since Romney dropped out, Huckabee’s vote percentage has grown more than McCain’s.
Then again, the first-linked story tells us the voters are angry. So maybe their politicians should be just a little angry, too. Why leave anger to the populists? Al Gore (whose “people vs. the powerful” seemed oh so populist in its day but so timid now–so says the WaPo at the second link) once called himself a “raging moderate.” After all, his father had been way too much of an “absolutist.”
So, careful there, Barack and Hillary. This populism, anger thing is dangerous. I know because I keep reading it in the liberal media (or is that redundant?).
The calendar here in the United States of America says that today is President’s Day. I don’t observe this as a holiday. Some reasons…
1. We don’t have a Representatives’ Day, a Senators’ Day, or a Justices’ Day, nor (at least in my state) is there a Governor’s Day. Why, in a federal system of co-equal institutions of government, should the federal executive alone be accorded a Day?
2. Parliamentary systems don’t, to my knowledge, have a Prime Minister’s Day. What is so special about a presidential head of government? (Many monarchies have a royal day of some sort, but our head of state is manifestly not (supposed to be) a monarch, the evident wishes of Hamilton and Bush notwithstanding.)
3. The existence of this holiday, and its name, are sops to business interests and Southern separatists. Business interests wanted a single day, always a weekend extender, instead of one or two (we’ll get to the two) that “move,” relative to the weekend, thereby occasionally creating an interrupted business week or an excuse for a four-day holiday. Of course, the original holiday here was Washington’s Birthday, 22 February. Southern separatists wanted to avoid any mention of a Lincoln’s Birthday holiday, which is, of course, still recognized separately by some states. (Those states that recognize both thus implicitly have two days for Lincoln, which is not necessarily a bad thing for the last great Republican President: one for the man himself, plus his share of the generic President’s Day; Washington loses out here, relatively speaking.)
4. President’s Day has become little more than an excuse for sales and other commercialization, though come to think of it, that makes it a typical American holiday–nothing “holy” (as in distinct, different from the other days) in there. Some school districts in California now “observe” an entire week, rather than have two separate holidays for Lincoln and Washington/others. In some districts, it has come to be known as Ski Week. So much for honoring our Presidents (or dishonoring them, as the case may be).
So, today I will not be observing President’s Day. In fact, I will be non-observing it by working on a paper. And not the paper I have been working on about presidential elections, but rather one on legislators (even if they are legislators in a presidential democracy). I do, however, want to wish people a belated holy observance of Lincoln’s Birthday (Tuesday of last week)–a day to reflect on the judicious application of leadership and respect for national integrity and citizenship at a time of genuine national crisis (and also a time to note that mere-plurality-winning presidents aren’t necessarily a bad thing). And to wish everyone a wonderful three-day weekend coming up, on which to remember a president worthy of his reputation for wartime heroism. Recommended reading for observing the holiday: Washington’s Farewell Address, and also the Farewell Address* of another president who ascended to the office by virtue of his war record: Dwight Eisenhower. Learn, think, reflect, and rest during your observance of great presidents past.**
* Clearly, a key mark presidential greatness is saying goodbye.
** Somehow, these days, almost all of the presidents past seem great.
So, what was it I was saying about evidence of spring? So, on the 14th of February, the temperature was below 45 almost all day long. That is unheard of in these parts! And for the period from sundown on the 13th till sundown on the 14th, the high was reached overnight, while the low (41) was reached around 1:00 p.m. Weird. And it was raining most of the morning and early afternoon while the temperature was in the low 40s. It is never that cold here when it is raining.
No wonder the forecasters did not see this coming. No model could predict something so out of all normal weather patterns!
Local snow levels around 1500 feet, and quite cold (freezing?) temperatures expected tonight.
So, after barely running the irrigation since November, yesterday it seemed time to put some of that expensive municipal water on the groves. No rain was in the forecast, a once promising trough of low pressure for 14 February having changed trajectory and expected to go east of us. Drying winds and continued warmth were in the forecast, after a week of temperatures in the 70s and even over 80. Yes, clearly time to irrigate…
Today it is raining. The temperature has not broken above 47 since about 8:00 this morning. Up to a half inch is expected.
Sometimes the forecasters just get it wrong. Not very often, actually. And a forecast for no rain followed immediately by a day of rain is really rare here.
To their credit, the forecasters keep up links to several forecasts–and the accompanying discussions, where they indicate the models they are using and any doubts–in addition to the current one. And not until about 5:00 this morning was there even any mention of a slight chance of rain. Even at 5:00, the rain chance for the day was given as 30%. It started raining around 7:00, and a forecast issued about the time it started to rain actually downgraded the chance from 60% to 50%. Oops!
By 8:55 a.m. the discussion noted:
NWS DOPPLER RADAR SHOWS NUMEROUS SHOWERS OVER THE CWA [forecast areas] THIS MORNING
WITH SNOW SHOWERS REPORTED IN THE MOUNTAINS…EXTENDING TO SOME
AREAS OF THE INLAND EMPIRE DUE TO LOW WET BULB TEMPERATURES.
DARKENING IN THE WATER VAPOR IMAGERY INDICATES A VIGOROUS SHORT-WAVE
TROUGH DROPPING S THROUGH CA THIS MORNING…
EXPECT VIGOROUS SHORT-WAVE TROUGH WILL DRAW COLD UPPER LOW TO THE
SW…OVER SOCAL BY LATE TODAY. THIS WILL KEEP UNSTABLE CONDITIONS
AND CLOUDS OVER MOST AREAS WEST OF THE MOUNTAINS…
(No, I have idea what “low wet bulb temperatures” are, but I like the way it sounds.)_
Forecasting is an inexact science. And so is knowing when to irrigate. No doubt, had I not turned on the irrigation, it would not have rained.
Yes, today is the most significant harbinger of spring, a day when our hearts turn to love and diamonds. Another long dark winter is coming to a close and the days of longer sunshine lie just around the corner.
Yes, fruitarian voters, today is a holy day–a day apart from all the others. Today, pitchers and catchers report. Rejoice in the love of the game of summer!!
KATHMANDU, Feb 11 – The Election Commission has outlined procedures for political parties regarding the naming of the closed list of candidates for 335 seats under the proportional electoral system for Constituent Assembly (CA) election.
It has also invited all 74 recognized political parties at a program on Monday for briefing on the procedures.
To contest election under the proportional electoral system, a party has to submit a list of at least 34 candidates. Of the 34 candidates, at least six candidates may be entered as common candidates representing different groups whereas a party contesting all the 335 seats could have 54 under the common group.
If any political party wants to submit the closed list to contest for minimum seats, it must ensure 11 seats for Madhesis, five for Dalits, 13 for janajatis, one for backward regions, 10 under ‘others’ and 17 for women. Whereas, if any party wants to contest all the 335 seats, it must ensure 104 seats for Madhesis, 44 for Dalits, 127 for indigenous groups, 13 for backwards regions, 101 for others and 168 for women.
As the number of candidates represent more than one group, the sum of the percentage of candidates of all groups appears to be more than one hundred. Citing this complication, the EC has defined the procedures saying that a candidate may belong to more than one group; for example, a dalit woman from Madhes would be counted under several categories — woman, Madhesi, and dalit.
If any party wins at least 25 seats under the PR, it must allocate at least seven seats for Madhesis, three for Dalits, nine for indigenous groups, one for backward regions, seven for others and 12 for women. The proportion would increase with higher wins. The law has also provided ten percent elbow for the central executive committee of political parties.
In case the political party fails to comply with the requirements listed above, the EC will request the concerned party to make necessary amendments within seven days and meet the requirements specified in the legal provisions.
The Republican Party quickly saw a consensus emerge among its primary voters in favor of John McCain, right? Wrong!
Through Super Tuesday, percentage of votes cast:
Those ‘conservatives’ who don’t like McCain and are suddenly all nostalgic about the great Romney run should demand their party use PR! If the Republican delegates were allocated proportionally, this race would be nowhere near over.
Speaking of “PR” what about the Democrats? Percentages of the vote cast so far:
Yet if the news accounts are right that Clinton has a lead in delegates, then evidently the Democrats don’t really use PR after all. Their process has reversed the plurality!
(The Dem vote totals are Super Tuesday plus NH and SC. No delegates were awarded–so far, anyway–from Mich and Fla, and no actual human beings casting votes are recorded in Iowa or Nevada.)
If you are interested in the Super-smart institutional delegates that the ‘Democratic’ Party may be entrusting this decision to rather than that populist process of elected delegates, go to http://superdelegates.org/Main_Page.
The ‘Tropic Snow’ is always one of the first deciduous fruit trees to bloom here, and within the last week, its buds have sprung, right on schedule.1
Much more surprising is the ‘Arctic Jay’ nectarine. The catalog from the grower indicates it requires 800 chill hours. Well, it is has been a pretty chilly winter, but by the time this started to bloom early last week, we might have reached 400.
Obviously, this tree has yet to be pruned. Speaking of needing to prune:
This is one of the late-ripening apricots, and this twisted branch shows how much trees in a hedgerow have to compete for sunlight. Competition is one of the benefits of hedgerow planting: Competition in fruit-growing, much as in party politics, makes the end-product better. Before spring gets too far along, these trees need to be thinned and cut down to size a bit: More fruit, less branching!
Rats! Tonight is the new moon that marks the Chinese New Year. Back at the pre-finca we had a traditional harbinger of spring, an ume apricot (sometimes referred to as an ume plum). It surely would be in full bloom about now. In China itself, of course, signs of spring would be most welcome about now.
And of course, be happy!, as tonight’s new moon also means it is Rosh Chodesh Adar I.
A half moon cycle since Tu Bishvat and still no almond blooms! [↩]
In the first contest decided on Super Tuesday, Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, bested Romney on the second ballot with 51.5 percent of the 1,133 delegates attending the state GOP’s first presidential nominating convention. Romney was backed by 47.4 percent.
Romney… attracted the largest vote â€” 41 percent â€” on the first ballot. Huckabee captured 33 percent on the first tally; McCain, 15 percent and Texas congressman Ron Paul, 10 percent.
Because no candidate had a majority, Paul, the last-place finisher, was eliminated for the second vote. The defection by McCain’s delegates to Huckabee allowed Huckabee to prevail over Romney.
San Diego had an election outcome altered because of ovals not filled in. Now we have another potential oval issue in Los Angeles.
Turns out that in Los Angeles County, if a DTS1 voter requests their Democratic ballot and casts their vote, but does NOT mark “Democratic” in the appropriate space, the vote will indeed not be counted.
I’m not sure that is quite correct. It won’t be registered by the polling-place counting machine, but that does not mean it will not be counted, period. (Click for picture of the ballot.)
Whatever the disposition of these votes, the question that arises is how hard can it be to design a voter-friendly ballot?
Decline to state, i.e., nonpartisan/independent. [↩]
Just a quick note of annoyance as results come in. NPR, to its credit, is telling its listeners to focus on the delegate count and not who “wins” states. Less to its credit–but typical–is the going on and on about how “complex” the “proportional” rules are. Worse still are the claims that these rules mean the delegates may not track the “popular vote,” as if the popular vote were more respected when a candidate with a narrow margin gets 100% of the delegates than when candidates get shares of the delegates approximating their shares of the vote.1
But then, in almost the same breath in which these reporters are reminding us that, on the Democratic side, no one will walk away with a state’s delegates, they refer to Clinton or Obama “carrying” a state. Now, my first thought upon hearing that expression is that it must require really strong arms. My second thought is, can someone who gets about half a state’s delegates be said to have “carried” the state? I don’t think so.
Of course, it is possible that we will see a state with a reversal of the voting and delegate pluralities, on account of even-magnitude districts and malapportionment, if there are significant regional variations in the vote in a state with a close race. Not likely, and more to the point, that’s not what the announcers are referring to. [↩]
I suppose it comes as no surprise, but I love elections. And voting. Oh, of course, I can only dream of being able to vote sincerely for someone who reflects my political views and have that vote affect the overall balance of forces in the policy-making process. I sometimes say I vote as if I were Dutch or Israeli–or pick your country with national proportional representation and a low threshold–because I really do not believe in lesser-of-evils voting. It is my one chance to express my hopes and dreams for my country or state, as an equal citizen, as the democratic ideal requires. And if those views are shared by only 2 or 3 percent of my fellow citizens, so be it.
I have voted since 1978, but I have never been so excited–yes, excited–about the act of voting as I am about the vote I am about to go cast. We should have a nationwide primary. We don’t, but this is as close as we ever have had to one. And elections should be real contests, because competition improves politics and policy as surely as it spurs innovation in business. And competition we have!
I regret that this primary has been winnowed to two candidates in the Democratic field. I had almost decided to vote for John Edwards on the grounds that 15% of the statewide delegates would be a useful voice for the relatively progressive and political-reformist message that he, alone among delegate contenders, was offering. I regret that he is gone from the contest, even though he had no realistic shot at the nomination. I regret that competition for delegates is not enough for someone to stay in. And I regret that the field is so winnowed by a few mostly small1 subnational electorates before most of the national electorate has even had a chance to vote.
By all of the above, I should be unhappy and frustrated. There were eight candidates at the start, and while my sincere first choice is still as much in the race as he ever was, his vote percentage is one that gets reported as zero by a news media not versed in the art of the decimal point.2 The two remaining competitive candidates were my fifth and eighth choices within the Democratic field.
Yet I am excited. I am about to go cast a vote that I feel is both sincere and will count. It is sincere not on policy positioning. I am about to go vote for a candidate who is well to the right of me, and whose only expressed political-reform idea (pretty much my top issue) is to open House-Senate conference committees to the public.3 It is sincere on “presidentialist” grounds; that is, on the grounds that what matters most in a presidential system is how the prospective candidate will use the office–especially its vast persuasive potential at home and abroad–not what his or her policy and reform ideas are.4 And, while I have actually tried to resist the emotion of this candidate’s campaign, I admit it: Even this jaded electoral studies professional has caught the bug.5
The vote counts, even though my district is one of those even-magnitude districts sure to split 2-2 regardless of the vote margin–because there are 81 delegates in my state apportioned by the statewide vote. Every 1.23% by which my candidate closes in on–or surpasses?–the candidate who has led most polls in the state will amount to an additional delegate. That’s “counting,” and in a very close national race, in a way in which few votes I have ever cast in my life have counted. And that is exciting.
Now pardon me while I go vote. For a presidential candidate younger than I.6
The above is not an endorsement. F&V does not endorse candidates, after all.
Florida and Michigan have voted, but in its infinite wisdom the “Democratic” Party managed to turn those primaries into sideshows. Of course, I would prefer that they–and all states–were voting today, anyway. [↩]
Interesting post from Brian at Crooked Timber, with an Australian perspective on the mandates-or-not-mandates debate between Clinton and Obama. Key point: “To see a candidate be smeared as a conservative for not being enough like John Howard, well itâ€™s a bit galling.”
Note that both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton appear to have gained since John Edwards dropped out on the 30th, although Obama was evidently gaining at the expense of Clinton throughout the preceding week. And it is possible that Edwards himself had already begun slipping before he dropped out.2
It seems to me that if you are one of those who thinks (1) the next President should not be a Republican, and (2) the next President should not be a Clinton, or even just that the next President is less likely to be a Democrat if the nominee is a Clinton, it is pretty clear what to do. In California, you may vote in the Democratic primary if you are registered independent (or ‘decline to state,’ as it is known here). The same is true in some other states.3 And in some–especially in many southern states–there is no registration by party, meaning any voter may request the Democratic party ballot and vote for Obama.
F&V does not endorse candidates. But this contest is pretty close and this planting is pretty close to an endorsement…
If by my laws you walk, and my commands you keep, and observe them,
then I will give-forth your rains in their set-time,
so that the earth gives-forth its yield
and the trees of the field give-forth their fruit.
--Vayikra 26: 3-4