Sour Grapes
Of course we're Fair and Balanced!


The value of Democratic candidates winning "swing" states' primaries

The New York Times has an article today headlined "Democrats in a Fight to Define �Winner�". In it, among other statements is this one: "Mrs. Clinton, meanwhile, has focused on her victories in states with the most Electoral College votes, like Ohio and California." What does this have to do with the likelihood of her winning the state in the general election? The races she's won are primary elections, i.e. she had the most votes among self-identified Democrats (plus, in certain states, with some number of non-Democratic crossover voters, who chose among the Democratic candidates for various reasons). The fact that she won the Democratic primary in George Bush's home state by a little over 3�% has only marginal relation to her ability to win Texas in the general election. This is especially true given Obama's demonstrated ability to attract Republicans and Independents.



Lately there has been a lot of discussion about how Democratic superdelegates ought to determine which candidate they will support to become their nominee for President. To me it seems quite obvious and simple: they should use their best judgement based on whatever criteria they deem important. Personally I hope such criteria will be in for what is in the best interests of the party and the nation�candidates' positions, abilities and character; probability of success in the general election�rather than what is in their own personal interest�which candidate will offer them a position in their administration, should they be elected. The Democratic party purposely does not prescribe how superdelegates should make this decision. There are no rules; there are not even guidelines.

Partly because this is what I think superdelegates will do, but also because superdelegates have tended in the past to support establishment candidates, I have been predicting since early January (after the New Hampshire primary) that Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic nominee [full disclosure: using similar logic I predicted at the same time that Mitt Romney would be the Republican nominee, although one could say there were no establishment candidates among the Republicans). I still think this outcome is somewhat likely. I hope I am wrong, because of the three remaining candidates for President, Obama is the only one I would vote for in the general election. My vote will not go to Clinton, if she's nominated.

I remain optimistic however, since the odds makers�who back their predictions up with their own real money�are currently favoring Obama. Here are the odds as of today from

  • Democratic nominee: Obama�1.36 to 1, Clinton�3.5 to 1, Evan Bayh�101 to 1
  • President, by party: Democrats�1.54 to 1, Republicans�2.75 to 1, Independents�101 to 1
  • President, by candidate: Obama�2.2 to 1, McCain�2.75 to 1, Clinton�5.5 to 1

Finally, for anyone interested in learning more about superdelegates, I recommend A Brief History of Superdelegates, a post by poblano1 (whoever he or she is) over at Daily Kos. Only partly a history, it's also an analysis and concludes with an argument for why Democratic superdelegates in 2008 should support the winner of "the popular will of Democratic voters and caucus goers," who will presumably be Barack Obama. Even if you don't agree with the argument, it's worth reading for the history. It summary, it gives the four rationales espoused at the time the concept of superdelegates was created (1982) [parenthetical comments are mine]:

  1. to increase the sense of order and avert a crisis at the Convention (this was in the wake of the disastrous�for the Democrats�1972 and 1980 general elections);
  2. to get party officials more involved with the eventual nominee (which, ironically, undid the reforms made for the 1972 election cycle, which took power away from party officials who were deemed responsible for the 1968 Convention fiasco, and thus beginning the era of the modern primary election);
  3. to nominate a candidate who can win; and
  4. to check against a plurality, factional candidate who does not reflect the prevailing sentiment of the electorate (having in mind a non-mainstream candidate who only wins a plurality of pledged delegates while multiple mainstream candidates divide up the majority of such delegates).

1 poblano has a rather interesting website of his or her own:, a "new, semi-continually updated blog on polling and electoral math for the 2008 general election," 538 being the number of electors in the Electoral College.

Federal laws against prostitution

The news that a Federal wiretap picked up a phone conversation of Eliot Spitzer's in which he arranged a visit to a prostitute raises some questions that I haven't seen addressed anywhere. Why is the Federal government investigating prostitution? How can Federal laws against prostitution be constitutional? Given charges of money laundering and the fact that the IRS is involved, there are clearly other Federal laws that are alleged to have been broken. But there is also apparently a Federal law against prostitution; this New York Times article names two people "charged with a conspiracy to violate federal prostitution laws."

The 10th amendment to the Constitution of the United States says, in full, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Where in the Constitution is the power to regulate prostitution given to the Federal government? The commerce clause perhaps? I wouldn't be surprised if this were the justification. After all, this prostitution ring was international in scope, with multiple places of business in the United States. But as with so many applications of this controversial clause I see this as another unwarranted usurpation of power by the Feds. Is this what the writers of the Constitution had in mind? That the U.S. government would be prosecuting prostitutes and their johns? I doubt it.

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