Deciphering the Delegates

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

The closer this race for president gets, the more the details matter. Unfortunately, the more I read about those details the more confused I get. There are delegates and superdelegates and somehow Hillary Clinton won more support in Nevada, but in the end Barack Obama might actually win more delegates. But we don't know yet. Rudy Giuliani skipped most of the early states, and put almost everything on Florida's primary tomorrow... Again, due to their delegates. But, the Democrats aren't campaigning (not officially, anyway) in the Sunshine State, because they were stripped of their delegates... But now there's a push to give them back, along with Michigan's Democratic delegates.

Huh?

Exactly.

We've got questions, you've got questions... We've also got a good Rolodex. We'll talk with campaign strategists (Republican and Democratic) about how to make sense of all of this. Send us your questions here.

Comments

 

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It just seems that "we the people" will not matter in this election when it is said and done. Just like when Bush stole the election from Gore...

Sent by Benny Kennedy | 2:10 PM | 1-28-2008

Would it matter to us as voters to write our representative to support who we wan to vote for?

Sent by Benny Kennedy | 2:21 PM | 1-28-2008

Am I the only person who felt astonished and dismayed to discover that 800 party hacks have one-fifth of the votes toward the Presidential nominee? It doesn't seem fair that these people have more say than a significant chunk of the voting populace.

Sent by Kristen in Chicago | 2:21 PM | 1-28-2008

Is it legal for the Clintons to push the DNC to give up the delegate for Michigan and Florida this late in the race?

Sent by Benny Kennedy | 2:25 PM | 1-28-2008

Do you really think that the Democrats will not allow the delegates from Florida, which is a major state they need in the general election? I think Hillary is right in campaigning there, especially with the number of delegates that could go her way.

Sent by Mark Hill | 2:28 PM | 1-28-2008

It seems that what the Michigan Democratic Party did was to benefit an inner click within the party, and not Michigan voters. The lack of money spent here (reporters, campaign buses, etc.) leading up to the primary hurt an already struggling economy.

I voted on the non-partisan ballot in Detroit because the Democratic ballot was not going to count.

Sent by John in Detroit | 2:29 PM | 1-28-2008

Where does Ron Paul Stand in the race for the Republican Nomination?

Sent by Benny Kennedy | 2:30 PM | 1-28-2008

If Obama won more delegates in Nevada, why was Clinton technically the winner? What exactly did she win, if not the majority of the delegates?

Sent by Erin Costello | 2:38 PM | 1-28-2008

I'm one of the many angry Michiganders who have to suffer due to the stupidity of our party leaders.

Can you imagine a rotating system which allows a different set of states to go first during the presidential elections? With elections every four years, it's possible there could be 100 years b/w each state getting to host it.

I've written the national DNC to state that Michigan's delegates should NOT be seated. I'm quite angry with Sen. Clinton's hedging on her commitment now that she's in a real race. Braking the rules, then trying to get around the punishment is just embarrassing. I hope all involved lose their jobs.

Sent by Dawn in Ann Arbor | 2:40 PM | 1-28-2008

Yes, the super-delegate phenomenon does disturb me.

Sent by Kyle G | 2:43 PM | 1-28-2008

"Where does Ron Paul Stand in the race for the Republican Nomination?"

In a better position that Giuliani.

Neal Conan today convinced me that I am not going to contribute to NPR this year, by continuing to prop up the 'volunteer' campaign of Giuliani, yet dismissing the vast grassroots support that Paul has.

As his Republican guest stated: "there is no real chance of Paul making a difference". Yet there would be a chance - if he were looked at reasonably and responsibly by NPR, CNN, ABC, and FoxNews.

If there is some reason that you cannot support him, please be a responsible journalist and tell the people why. If, however, someone, anyone, asked you (or otherwise implored you) to down play his chances, his support, his Fund-raising totals - it is the moral thing to do to expose this handful of inner-circle Republicans that insist on painting him has a "certifiably insane" "libertarian" (he repeatedly points to the 'Republican' mottos that he espouses that none of the other candidates even come close to believing), while stealing his economic and constitutional talking points, and cutting his ear-piece at a debate that had no other technical difficulty.

If there is continued talk of the 'four' Republicans, I doubt I could ever donate to NPR again.

(I also have quite a beef with this so-called "child-man" issue as well, but that is a letter for another day)

Sent by Justin Altman | 6:50 PM | 1-28-2008

If Michigan is so upset about being penalized about holding their Democratic primary earlier than what the state Democratic party wanted, why don't we just change the system so all 50 states hold their primaries/caucuses all on the sames day (a super, super Tuesday perhaps)?

Also, like many others here, I too am disturbed in learning that these 'super-delegates' have such a large portion of voting power. It seems to me to be antithetical to whole process. If the whole point is for the people to pick their candidate, why do we even need these super-delegates?

Sent by David F | 7:27 PM | 1-28-2008

CNN is reporting on their website the state-by-state super-delegate vote. I presume that they obtained this information by surveying those individuals. How common is it for the super-delegates to back a different candidate once their state has voted in the primary?

Sent by John F | 7:33 PM | 1-28-2008

I have one thing to say to my fellow citizens. Please reconsider your position on placing importance on the popular vote as opposed to relying on a nomination process through the electoral process in both the primary and general elections. Secondly, could I please be directed to some resources about how the primaries work from step one to the finish? For example, I know that there is a Congressional committee for each party, that has managerial powers over the local party franchises around the country. And then, who decides to set the date for each state primary? Also, how are the delegates decided in each state?

Thank you for this program on the radio today, I did learn a lot from it in the few minutes I was in the car, especially about super delegates.

Sent by WeakleyReport | 8:33 PM | 1-28-2008

Either the DNC or those who counsel Obama made a huge error because what is going to happen is that there is going to be a huge rift between those who cannot decide between voting for a woman or a Black man. What is especially problematic in this case is that the female, Hillary Clinton, has the majority of experience and is more deserving on that score and, thus, should have the backing. However, with Obama in the mix, now the vote will be split. With that split, the Republicans will have a clear shot at regaining the White House and the choices in that arena are quite frightening -- particularly Romney and Huckabee. So, the DNC screwed up royally.
It's hard enough for the U.S. to accept gender differences, much less differences of race/ethnicity, now the U.S. electorate has full reason to back out of having to make such a decision. Such a shame that the U.S. can once again pretend that strides have occured in equality, when in all reality, it's still an all White guys club.
I have always been a serious left leaning person, and the DNC never quite met my needs, but this time they have sent shivers up my spine. I see "dead people" or, rather, fallen democratics and smiling republicans. The horror!

Sent by Elizabeth Hodge | 8:25 AM | 1-29-2008

Let's see... who decided the last two presidential elections? The people? Th people who voted? The delegates? The electoral college? Or was it the Supreme court? We live in a DeMOCKary and he corporation are having a hayday.

Sent by eric creach | 9:47 AM | 1-29-2008

The major reason for the disappointment in the system has nothing to do with the system, which has functioned for over 200 years. It has everything to do with the public misunderstanding of said system. We live in the United State of America the oldest Constitutional Republic in the world. We do not live in a democracy despite our attempts to export it.

Sent by Ben Randell | 12:00 PM | 1-29-2008

If Hilary Clinton is rewarded for breaking the rules in Michigan and Florida, I will be disgusted as never before.

Sent by Ann McMillan | 4:43 PM | 1-29-2008

Florida and Michigan democratic votes need to be counted. The people who voted have that right

Sent by Shirley | 8:56 AM | 2-6-2008

The general election will be won by independent and swing votes. Obama can get them. Hillary Clinton, like John Kerry, enthuses party die-hards, but their appeal ends there. It's been 50 years since the Dems had a candidate with Kennedy charisma and bipartisan appeal. Time for the super delegates to wake up and endorse Obama!!

Sent by mary ann smith | 1:02 PM | 2-6-2008