How the Primaries Don’t Work, Colorado Edition

Get this, from the Denver Post:

Bernie Sanders won one more delegate in Colorado than first projected after the Colorado Democratic Party admitted this week that it misreported the March 1 caucus results from 10 precinct locations.

The error — first uncovered by The Denver Post — was shared with rival Hillary Clinton’s campaign by party officials but kept from Sanders until the Post told his staff Monday night. …

… The revelation that the state party misreported the results to the public March 1 — and kept it quiet to all but the Clinton campaign for five weeks — comes as Sanders promotes his case that he can win the Democratic nomination.

Let’s review. This story is dated April 12. The caucus was March 1. The Denver Post says the Clinton campaign and the state Dem Party knew about this for five weeks before the Denver Post informed Sanders.

The story is not clear when the Denver Post learned about it, but it suggests the Denver Post uncovered the error and shared it with the Clinton campaign and nobody else until yesterday. And that stinks, too.

The mistake is a minor shift with major implications. The new projection now shows the Vermont senator winning 39 delegates in Colorado, compared to 27 for Clinton.

Even if Clinton wins all 12 superdelegates in the state, Sanders can finish no worse than a split decision. It contrasts with prior projections from the Post, Bloomberg Politics and The Associated Press that indicated Clinton would probably win the majority of the 78 delegates in Colorado because of her support from party leaders with superdelegate status.

Yeah, and bleep the Democratic superdelegates. They shouldn’t exist.

The Colorado Republicans have a mystery system that resulted in a sweep for Ted Cruz. I’ve been trying to find out exactly how this happened and have yet to find a news story that explains it. It’s like shamans go to a sacred lake to receive visions.

Steve House, the chairman of the state’s Republican Party, is now sorry his cell phone number was made public.

The convoluted Nevada system potentially could give the state to Sanders, even though Clinton won more votes in the caucus. While I like that outcome I do question whether that’s a sensible way to choose a nominee. I’m hearing on the Web that something similar is happening in Missouri, although I found no corroboration for it in mainstream media.

The presidential primaries are more than just the marathon of hysteria, lies and spin we’ve come to loathe. They also are something of a sham; it’s increasingly obvious many states are set up to provide only an illusion of voter participation. It wasn’t that long ago that the parties chose the candidates in convention, of course. But if we’re going to go to a primary system for choosing presidential nominees, let’s go to a primary system. Let’s stop with this nonsense of holding what look like primaries but aren’t really.

The order in which states vote seems skewed to me, too. IMO the Democrats shouldn’t be allowing the Deep South to have so much power by voting first when you know those states are not going to help the Democrats in the Fall. Of course, the DNC knew this would help Hillary Clinton, so that’s how it was. If the situation had been reversed, the South would have voted last. This year’s system was set up to nominate Hillary Clinton, not to discover who the people want or who might have the best shot of taking the big blue states and “swing” states.

14 thoughts on “How the Primaries Don’t Work, Colorado Edition

  1. Martin Longman (Booman of has written on this topic extensively. If I can summarize his argument fairly, it’s as follows: John Q. Public has the interesting but mistaken notion that by registering with a party–let’s say the Democratic Party–or by voting for that party’s candidate, he is now magically a “party member” who gets to determine the rules by which the party operates. But that’s not the case. “Party members” are the folks who actually devote themselves to the organization, raise money, serve on boring committees, do the grunt work, etc. They’re the folks who set the rules for, amongst other things, the way that delegates to nominating conventions are selected.

    I fully agree that the Party organizations in some states have peculiar ways of selecting delegates. But what you call a sham or a charade is what some “party hack” thinks is a way to gauge public sentiment AND give actual Party members the influence they believe they deserve owing to the effort they’ve put in. The disconnect here is that you, Maha, do not believe that their efforts have earned them any influence beyond standing in line at the polling place with everyone else.

    I have the option, if I so choose, to give up the time I spend puttering in the garden, or playing the piano, or sitting on a meditation cushion in favor of devoting that time to a political party organization and changing the rules by which the party operates. (You have the same option.) I could decide to devote that time to, say, the Greens instead of the Democrats, because surely we need a viable Green Party. (Anyone inclined to assert that first-past-the-post electoral systems invariably lead to two-party systems might wish to look north of the border for a counterexample.)

    Donald Trump is presently reaping the reward of running a campaign as a cult of personality and doing none of the due diligence of figuring out the rules of delegate selection. Now that his lack of preparation is causing him to bleed delegates, he denounces the delegate-selection rules as unfair. Isn’t his claim just as valid as the claim that the Democratic delegate selection process is corrupt?

    • Joel Dan Walls — In which case, let us give up the fiction that the nominees are being chosen by votes and go back to brokered conventions. At least they were entertaining and arguably did no worse than primaries at choosing viable candidates. Either there is a primary system, or there isn’t, and if there isn’t, let’s stop pretending there is.

  2. When Hillary refers to the super delegates as being her firewall I kinda get the impression that the fix is in. But I guess that’s just part of my distrustful New York nature where I’m always looking for the hook.
    If Hillary really wants to come off as a real New Yorker she should skip the traditional imagery of longing for a street vendor’s Sabrett hotdog and go for a plate of Coney Island Whitefish.

  3. “This year’s system was set up to nominate Hillary Clinton”

    Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t this essentially the same system that President Obama successfully navigated back in 2008? I agree the primary system seems rigged but it’s not the same as the general election. It’s a process controlled by the parties, it’s certainly not democratic in many states. Bernie and Trump are both getting outplayed by the establishment candidates, it’s not exactly fair but it is the system both parties agreed to before the first vote (or bid) was cast.

    • uncledad — Howard Dean was chair in 2008. Now we’ve got Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and the “Hillary Victory Fund” I’ve been writing about. The fund saved Wasserman-Schultz incompetent ass, since the DNC was in the red last year. This is why I’ve suspected a quid pro quo between HRC and DWS. So no, it’s not really the same system as in 2008.

  4. I agree that DWS is a shill for Clinton and that she certainly is not as fair minded as Dean was. The system I’m referring to is the order in which southern states are favored, caucuses, conventions, etc.

  5. Bernie does better in caucus states.
    Hillary, in non-caucus states.

    Regardless of who does better where, why do we still have caucuses?
    They may have been fine in smaller states, and/or when populations were smaller. Imagine holding caucuses in Brooklyn?!?! What a mucking fess THOSE would be! How many dead or wounded would there be?

    So why still use them? Why not just elect people like we do in Novembers?

    Our election go on way too long, and the rules are convoluted.

    I appreciate what Joel is saying, because I was heavily involved in NC’s Democratic Party.
    And let me tell you, if you think only conservatives are set in their ways, you haven’t sat in a hall full of Democrats in NC. They look at any change presented to them, like it’s a bowl of Anthrax!

    Our system sucks!
    On the other hand, it’s better than in other countries.

  6. At different times. various proposals have been made to limit the voting franchise. The founders limited it to white male landowners. Robert Heinlein in ‘Starship Troopers’ proposed by his fiction that only discharged veterans should be allowed to vote. Some would limit by race, some by intelligence.

    For many decades we’ve been fed the illusion that there is an unlimited voting franchise in the US, that we all can vote and the vote we cast has meaning. It’s turning out with both parties and to varying degrees from state to state, it’s a fraud. They have all the power to select who we will be allowed to ‘select’. The two parties have gamed the system for a looooong time and we haven’t been let in on the fraud. Until now.

  7. “The two parties have gamed the system for a looooong time and we haven’t been let in on the fraud. Until now”

    I mostly agree with that though it is possible to win and not be the establishment darling. Look at the GOP do you really think the RNC wants either Trump or Cruz? That side of the aisle has been pumping so much red-meat for decades that it has finally sunk in. The rubes keep being promised “white power” but they only see it fading away, something about “demographics”. That may sound extreme but that is what the GOP has been selling and it has worked, it still works but this time the rubes want more than just talk. On our side President Obama captured the nod in 2008 I doubt he was the establishment pick but he performed so well it became impossible to deny him the nomination. This year it seems Hillary learned her lesson and has stacked the deck even more in her favor, she basically owns the DNC but she is playing within the rules. If Bernie performed better in the early states we might be looking at a whole different scenario. So I agree the system can be gamed, but an outsider can still win its just a serious uphill climb!

  8. Here’s my nightmare: Hillary and Cruz defeat their insurgent opponents by obvious but effective chicanery; then Hillary finds a way to lose to Cruz.

  9. uncledad – the Vegas odds are that the GOP will take the nomination in the convention from Trump AND Cruz and hand it to a candidate who never won. DWS has worked to game the process for HRC, practically since Benie got in. The DNC barred a valid candidate from the debates. Both parties are not equal in toxic policies, but both parties at the management level are crooked as hell and in it for the money.

    The first comment by Joel Dan Walls points out that the real party members are the ones anointed by the party to direct the outcome of state elections by whatever – leadership, chicanery, trickery or fraud – as long as they deliver the result which the leadership has decreed. This is true of both parties but the GOP will almost certainly self-destruct by doing it openly this summer.

    Since the rules of selecting candidates has some significance in terms of the public good, we have to deny state party organization the power to make rules and set some damn stiff penalties for messing with a fair and uniform set of rules in the primary & general. elections.

  10. Paul Ryan reportedly turned down the GOP coronation if they can snatch the crown from Trump and Cruz. That decision makes political sense because it would be political suicide for Ryan with GOP voters, however well the fraud may play with the Koch brothers. I read Ryan’s comment that the nod should go to someone who ran to imply that the GOP resurrect one of the dropouts. Ryan may be savvy enough to sense that the GOP will go down so badly in this election, he’d like a future rival to take this bullet for him. (Walker, I’m thinking). However Walker crashed badly early and the Koch brothers may want the ‘fresh face’ who’s a reliable insider with experience and a name came to mind – Eric Cantor.

  11. It’s a real mind blower contemplating how the GOP convention is going to play out. I could be wrong, but I strongly suspect that if Trump doesn’t get the nomination he’s going to be a spoiler. He doesn’t have the organization in place to launch a serious third party candidacy but he does have enough popular support to wreck any chances for the GOP to capture the White House..He’s already found his justification for destroying the GOP’s chances of winning if things don’t go his way.
    I don’t think he’ll be satisfied playing second fiddle on a Cruz ticket as a consolation prize either. If he’s true to his rhetoric he won’t roll over and play nice because it will do irreparable damage to his image. His image is his stock in trade and he doesn’t like losers.

  12. “Eric Cantor”

    Really? He was second in house leadership and lost to a no-name college professor, badly, plus he’s been setup with a lucrative banking career. I agree that the GOP will take the nomination from Trump but they will give it to Cruz they really have no choice. Unless something unknown happens to our candidate they know they are going to lose no matter who they nominate. The GOP’s best bet is to lose with Cruz that way they won’t have to deal with his smarmy ass in 2020!.

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