Thursday, January 05, 2012

We Are The 98.42 Percent

The Iowa Democratic Party released the final, complete delegate counts for Tuesday's caucuses this afternoon. There's been some grumbling in the twittersphere and commentsphere that because some precincts, including a dozen here in the People's Republic of Johnson County, were delayed, there was some kind of results coverup. I can understand, since the 1996 regime at IDP did just that with the five delegates we elected for Uncommitted and Ralph Nader.

Well, the final results including the "coverup" shifted by all of 0.04% compared to the preliminary results. And here in Johnson, which took much of the heat of the implied corruption, the late results that were supposedly the Vast Conspiracy by Sue Dvorsky's Mafia goons (of which I'm proudly one since 1990) actually improved the president's margin. My friend Sue deserves an apology, but I understand the frustration so I won't ask that.

What happened? Just some human errors from the locals. Remember, at the county level the Iowa caucuses are an all-volunteer show. We had some rural precincts without chairs and a hard working couple who wasn't quite sure what to do with the extra packets, a family emergency in a student precinct, and a precinct chair who went out for a late dinner with his wife and forgot to call until 4 AM.

Johnson County was fair. We (by that I mean me, personally, on my own time and skipping a friend's funeral to do it) explained the process to the uncommitteds. We bent the rules to let them speak to the large groups. I let them talk in my own precinct. And even with all that, in the state's most lefty county, Uncommitted could not reach 15 percent viability. (Though I expect they will be viable at the Johnson County convention due to attrition, determination and tenacity.)

But almost no one is interested outside the readers of Iowa political blogs. Why not? Because there weren't enough people interested in going uncommitted to make it newsworthy. There weren't enough people to demand the speaking time and the clarification of the rules, or to get the national press interested in the results. If anything, uncommitteds and occupiers and protests have gathered FAR more than two percent of the Democratic news.

Sure, GOP had a more elaborate results operation right down to Matt Strawn's grand announcement of the eight vote margin. That's because because people were interested. Don't forget: when Republicans have an incumbent president, they cancel their vote. Ask Pat Buchanan about that.

There was a lot of noise, some of it for good reasons of policy, some of it because we screwed up in 1996. Some people in some places didn't know the rules, and maybe some people didn't make as much effort on that as Johnson did. You can make that argument and it may be fair. Argue about the viability rules and the no-absentee caucus process if you want; just understand that it all ties in to going first.

But you CANNOT argue that there is a critical mass, or even significant, opposition to the president's renomination. 98.42 to 1.58. If Uncommitted was a candidate, she'd be dropping out and going home with her wife Marcus. We are the 98 percent, give or take a decimal point.

I was a down-ballot candidate in a presidential year so I know this: The fate of the Democratic Party in this presidential year is linked to the fate of President Obama. The statement has been heard. Constructive criticism is always welcome. But the alternative is not President Sanders or President Kucinich. The Alternative is President Romney or President Santorum.

Thanks to everybody who did the right thing and stayed with the Democrats, Obama or Uncommitted, on Tuesday. Now it's time to unite to win.


Big Grove Walker said...

Nice post John. I will point out that in Cedar Precinct in Johnson County, we had ten caucus goers sign in and four of those voted for uncommitted, making a 40% showing. However, since there was only one delegate for that precinct and Obama won 6-4, the delegate went to Obama. Hat tip to those four people who stood for change they could believe in that was different from the majority view.

BlueLady said...

Well said.

T.M. Lindsey said...

Once again,the IDP's caucus process, namely the 15 percent viability threshold helps feed statistical fallacies that are not an accurate depiction of the actual vote count and only serve to silence the silent minority within the party. More than 1.58 Dem caucusgoers voted Uncommitted but those outside of Iowa, minus political junkies, and those in Iowa who don't understand the process will see what the IDP is advertising, a mere bleep of dissent on the statistical radar.

Sure you want your party to unite, but it's also imperative the numbers reflect the true reality of party members, so the candidate can become a better candidate and improve upon these criticisms.

This process was a major turnoff for me during 2008 election when I Caucused for Biden. He garnered 12% in our precinct but couldn't reach viability, so no delgates, hence 0 percent support in our precinct. This was mirrored across the state and the nation saw him garner less than 1% in Iowa, which lent itself to national ridicule and Biden felt compelled to drop out, among others outside of the big 3. Had he garnered 10% in Iowa, he could have moved on to New Hampshire and if anything, helped bring another voice to the debate there vs. the big 3. Biden helped bring up the level of discourse in the debates, but this voice was silenced, thanks to IDP's process.

Chris said...

Baloney. You know perfectly well that the number of people who voted uncommitted is not at all measured by that 98.42% number. The caucuses are designed to make your vote disappear and go uncounted if you can't get to fifteen percent. We will never know how many people caucused for uncommitted. Sure, we can safely assume that it's nowhere close to 15%, but to imply that it was only 1.5% is completely misleading -- there is no evidence to support that at all.

John said...

Fair enough; my first caucus was 1992 and way more than 26% were not for Tom Harkin. You may not like the reporting system and the 15% viability. That's a different conversation and that conversation involves staying first.

But them's the rules, and by the rules we have, that's the score.

John said...

Joe still gets national ridicule but we love our vice president. Thanks for the thoughts Tom.

Tim R. said...

I really don't understand how the preference system is related to whether it is a caucus or an "election." The GOP publishes numbers for a non-binding preference poll and gets by, so presumably the Dems could too.

BlueLady said...

I am mystified by some of the comments here. A tiny minority of folks in a tiny minority of precincts wanted to make a statement in contrast to the vast majority of Democrats in the vast majority of precincts, but the Democratic Party is stifling dissent? I don't think so! Those people had an opportunity to speak their minds in their precincts. In many cases, it only took TWO people to get to the 15% threshold... in fact, there were precincts where it would have only taken ONE person... and it still didn't happen. By the way, it isn't a vote count... it is a delegate count... and in the case of the 1.58... it is a PERCENTAGE of the delegate count. There were88 out of 8152 county delegates earned by the uncommitted preference. I suspect that the 1.58 percent is more likely an overstatement than an understatement of actual support, given the low numbers it took to achieve viability. In my county we had 108 caucus attendees... two uncommitted... and they gained a delegate. Tell me again how unrepresentative is our process?