Beyond the Cusp

February 15, 2012

The Michigan Trick to Circumvent Proportional Representation of Delegates

After what many saw as disenfranchising voters in the winner take all Republican primaries during the 2008 Presidential elections, a request was made by the Republican National Committee that the individual states decide and, if there was no strong objection, commit to using such a proportional system for assigning delegates, at least for the 2012 Presidential primaries. The next two states scheduled for primary votes are Michigan and Arizona. Both states have taken a route which will do as much as possible to negate using a proportional system for assigning delegates. Arizona took the direct route by retaining its winner take all manner for assigning delegates. Guess we can call that the direct “No” route. Michigan, along with a number of other states, has taken a more surreptitious route in an attempt to get as close as possible to the same result.


Michigan has decided to use a system where they divide the state up by legislative districts. They then assign the delegates from each individual district on a winner take all criteria. This will lead to reserving a larger percentage of the delegates than the final vote count will show for the person who takes the lead in the state in the vast majority of cases. The states using this method have even agreed that this system will lead to results that more resemble the winner take all method and is a way of meeting the request of the RNC while maintaining their winner take all tradition. Let us look at a couple of examples including a couple that would actually make this system rob the overall winner of receiving the majority of the delegates.


Example 1: In this case we have three candidates who split the vote with Candidate One gaining 45% of the total vote, Candidate Two gaining 40% of the total vote, and Candidate Three getting a mere 15% of the votes. Let us assume the best Candidate Two managed to receive in any district was 41.3% while Candidate One took 41.6% and Candidate Three received the remaining 17.1% of the vote. With such results, Candidate One would receive all of the delegates which obviously does not even begin to closely resembling the proportionate delegate assignment proposed by the Republican National Committee.


Example 2: This case we have four candidates who split the vote 27%, 26%, 24%, and 23%. This state had two major cities and each represented two districts out of the total of twelve. The two main winners each took one of these cities with over 90% of the vote while the two lowest vote getting candidates split the rural votes in a tightly contested but virtual two man race with the other two getting a very small percentage. In the end count of delegates the two who appeared to win the state get two districts while the two who got the lesser totals would each receive four districts assuming they split the rural districts evenly. This also is not representative of the actual vote.


This last example may end up being very close to the Michigan results. For argument sake we will assume that though Ron Paul has polled well and Newt Gingrich has won in South Carolina that neither one garners a significant number of votes needed to win any district, as the polls predict. We can assume that Mitt Romney will very likely poll extremely well in the districts close to where he was born. He is also predicted to do well in Detroit and surrounding areas while Rick Santorum will very likely sweep the countryside, the rural lands and northern Michigan. In the end, I see Rick Santorum squeeze out a slight numerical victory over Mitt Romney in the total vote count. But due to winning the rural and small town vote by a fair but not overly impressive amount while losing the main population centers by a slightly larger share than his rural wins, Rick Santorum may likely walk away with a larger share of delegates than the vote would represent. Of course, I could be off and Mitt might take a clean sweep of his birth state winning even the most highly contested district over Santorum by a slight measure, but enough to take all the delegates. Either way, the delegate count in Michigan may not represent the vote count which will make for very interesting commentary by the spin doctors and talking heads. Me, well, this will probably be my only mention of this as once the delegates are assigned, the rest is hot air.


Beyond the Cusp


February 14, 2012

The False Chimera of a Brokered Republican Convention

The idea of having the Republican Convention going well enough beyond the first ballot without producing consensus on a candidate appears to have increasing appeal to some conservative commentators. But would there be any advantage to having a brokered convention produce a compromise candidate drafted from some ephemeral list of alternate choices from those who will have endured over a year of the primary season with its travails, trials, exposure and disclosures. Granted a compromise candidate would have been spared the barbs and scorn from the press and thus may have the appearance of a clean slate. They would be able to take that magic combination of a base from Mitt Romney’s best policy positions, moderated by a smattering of Ron Paul financial and foreign policy restraint, with a moral spine from Rick Santorum, adding some spice and disdain for slanted posing of the press from Newt Gingrich’s arrogant ripostes and then fill in the gaps with Tea Party banter and smooth it all out with classic Republican rhetoric. Such a candidate would be a package of goods assembled a few short months before Election Day which may allow them the advantage of not being pinned down and fully vetted by an overly aggressive press. So, what could possibly be the problem of such a candidate? It appears on paper to be all benefit and little risk, a kind of the best of all worlds rolled neatly into one assembled package.


It is the best of all worlds rolled up into one neatly assembled package that would be the problem. Such a candidate would have all the appeal of a dress-up doll. Such a candidate would compare to President Obama in the same manner as a manikin shows off a clothing line compared to a model walking the runway. President Obama comes off well-spoken and relates well with the crowds when on the campaign. He may not be all that smooth when it comes to actually doing the job of President, but he can sound and appear very Presidential on the campaign. He will be as polished as polished can be. Hand-picking a candidate outside of those who endured the primary campaign and paid their dues to get the nomination will give the impression of a manufactured candidate which would be a grave misstep against President Obama. By the time the Republican Convention rolls around at the end of the summer the primary contest will present well vetted and known entities and the American people will expect one of these who have persevered and gained the support of at least a significant portion of the Republican electorate to be acknowledged and chosen to carry on to the election. To place somebody chosen in what we refer to as smoke-filled backrooms filled with faceless impersonal powerbrokers would be an insult to those who had toiled with their chosen candidate through the trials and tribulations to get to the convention. Such a move would be perceived as insult by many conservatives who have faith in a system which includes the votes and voices of the people. If we did not want to have a real influence in choosing the eventual candidate for President from our party, then we would not spend the time, effort, and wealth in a primary campaign season and would not even bother with a convention, we would just rent a conference room at a Motel 6 and be done with it.


But there is an even better argument against the brokered convention. Who? Simply, who? Give me the name of who it is that would be such a magnificent name that they would have the vast numbers of voters necessary to win the election and realize that this is the candidate of candidates. Bobby Jindal? Chris Christie? Paul Ryan? Sarah Palin? Glenn Beck? Rush Limbaugh? Clint Eastwood; after the Super Bowl commercial, why not? Really, who is there that would make such a wonderful candidate that it would be worth throwing all the toils and tribulations suffered by those who sweat and bled through the grueling primary endurance trial a wise and intelligent move. No, a brokered convention would be the closest thing to a disaster as the Republicans could pull. We need to continue with the people who have shown the willingness to ante-up and play the hand they are dealt. We need to choose from the warriors who have taken up their armor and survived the barbs and arrows of outrageous fortune and earned the right to represent the Republican voters on the ballot this fall, or is the plan to broker away the people’s trust and support. Note, they are the Republican Party candidate but they represent the voters who came out and supported them in the primaries. No brokered candidate can make that claim.


Beyond the Cusp


February 12, 2012

President Obamas Unhealthy Miscalculation

President Obama had ulterior motives when challenging the religiously attached institutions such as Catholic Hospitals, health providers, and other institutions which employ other than solely from within their religion. His demand that such institutions not be exempted from the requirement to provide coverage for contraceptive care, as had been assured during the debate on Obamacare, instigated a much larger and stronger response from the Catholic Church than he had probably expected. But why would President Obama take such a risk in the lead up to this election year? The one reason that appears to make any sense is that this was a calculated instigation to move the debates of the election from President Obama’s record and the economic outlook, as both are indefensible, and move the debate to the arena of social politics where the Republicans might be cast unfavorably, especially concerning abortion and contraception. Had this scheme worked, then President Obama would have acquired a much needed wedge issue with which he might energize his base from the most ardent leftists to the moderates who have accepted the social status-quo concerning the acceptance of contraception and the legality of a woman’s so-called “right to choose”. Well, President Obama does indeed have his wedge issue, but at what cost?


It was probably not the intention of President Obama to directly challenge the Catholic Church, and least of all, the Pope, but that is exactly what has appeared to be the case. It was probably the expectation that this challenge would have remained within the shored of the United States and not have reached beyond the heads of the Catholic Church within the country. But that turned out to be the great miscalculation. We can expect the near term result of this ploy to be carried on by the liberal press by way of questions of the Republican hopefuls as they move from one primary to the next. The other side of this action was to force into the campaign this fall the matter of religion into the mix. This would have forced either Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum to have to defend their faiths in place of addressing the more crucial concerns of the economy and the President’s record from his first term. This, of course, would be a meaningless subject should either Ron Paul or Newt Gingrich become the Republican candidate this fall, but these two offer an entire new set of items to place before the voting public. We may still have this debate come the fall election, but my bet is that President Obama and his campaign advisors will attempt to allow this confrontation to fade away rather than have it end up energizing the other side’s base.


The ball, as they say, is now in the other court. It is entirely possible that the Republicans may wish to keep this issue as their rallying cry in the election, or they too may wish it to fade away. Entering into a contest over such polarizing issues such as contraception, birth control, abortion, and the entire range of moral issues often present a negligible advantage. Quite often such issues split the electorate evenly in halves. It is most likely that the real decision on whether or not this issue maintains its legs will fall to the press and their decision to press the issue or drop it. Time will tell. If I had to make a prediction, this issue will be used by the press against either Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum in particular venues and only be brought to the discussion by the Republican candidate in the other extremes. Both sides will probably try to make use of the morals issue to their own advantage. President Obama and his campaign can be expected to throw out various other issues in the next several months attempting to find issues more to their favor in order to avoid having the debate solely be the economy, jobs, and government over-spending. They have no choice as running on President Obama’s record in office would lead to winning only the deepest blue of blue states which would assure his loss in the election.


President Obama once told Diane Sawyer, “I’d rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president.” It will be the Democrat desire to try to focus the voters’ attention on what Obama will promise to do and not what he has accomplished or attempted. On the other hand, the Republican campaign will be to run on President Obama’s record while promising to repair the damage done and place the country back on track to an America where the people can once again proclaim American Exceptionalism. The side which is able to sell their vision of the future will be the winner. The real question the voters must address is which vision is best for the United States and whose promises can they honestly believe. This election has been once again referred to as the most important election of our times. Perhaps this time they are correct and we can no longer simply vote for the candidate we like best but choose the one who is best for the future of the United States. Voting for the lesser evil is definitely not an option, unless the lesser option you choose is somebody or thing which will be amusing, such as a third party candidate or Daffy Duck.


Beyond the Cusp


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