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I'm Brendan Loy, a 26-year-old graduate of USC and Notre Dame now living and working in Knoxville, Tennessee. My wife Becky and I are brand-new parents of a beautiful baby girl, born on New Year's Eve.

I'm a big-time sports fan, a politics, media & law junkie, an astronomy buff, a weather nerd, an Apple aficionado, a Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter fanatic, and an all-around dork. My blog is best-known for its coverage of Hurricane Katrina, but I blog about anything and everything that interests me.

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Dobson to endorse Huckabee

That'll help in Kansas and Louisiana tomorrow...

What Huck needs is for some other unrelated major breaking-news event to happen tomorrow, distracting the media, so he can quietly win KS and LA, thus signaling to his attentive Virginia supporters that he's still viable, without getting the attention of McCain's Virginia supporters. Thus, the McCainiac independents/centrists in the Old Dominion State will vote for Obama on Tuesday (and perhaps a few McCainiac security/experience voters will vote for Hillary), and Huck's true believers will be able to drive a low-turnout, winner-take-all upset...

P.S. Halperin's schedule shows that Huck is in Kansas -- not Louisiana -- all day today. Does that mean he thinks Louisiana is in the bag, or that it's unwinnable? Or just that he's only one man, and can't be in two places at once? (This is one of those times where a super-superdelegate would come in handy.)

P.P.S. After the jump, I do my flips about Huck's chances in Washington state, which may be better than you think!

According to the Washington state Democratic Party's FAQ, tomorrow's Dem precinct caucuses are open to all voters (although "when you sign in you are asked to declare that you are a Democrat," a declaration which is governed "by the honor system."). If I understand correctly, Washington, like Tennessee, doesn't have official party registration, so being "a Democrat" is purely a state of mind. Will the Seattle area's squishy independents and even centrist Republicans -- i.e., McCain's base -- have caucus-day conversions, "declare" themselves Democrats, and vote for Obama (who, BTW, is having one of his revivals rallies in Seattle today)... thus allowing Huckabee to potentially win Kansas, win Louisiana, and do better than expected in Washington?? (He'll be strong in the rural wasteland heartland of eastern Washington, yes?)

By the way, if it seems like I'm having too much fun spinning these Huckabee-surprises-everyone scenarios... well, I am. :) Just to be clear, I don't want Huck to win the nomination. But you know how I feel about chaos!

P.P.P.S. Before Romney dropped out, Survey USA had Washington at McCain 32%, Romney 31%, Huckabee 24%. That's much better for Huck than I would have anticipated!

Forget "better than expected"; Huckabee can win Washington if he beats McCain by slightly less than 2-to-1 among the former Mittheads. Sounds do-able!!

I suggest an eleventh-hour visit to Gonzaga and/or Wazzu this evening! ;) The Sunday-morning headline "Huckabee sweeps Louisiana, Kansas, Washington" would be a real game-changer, no? (Of course, it would also eliminate any chance of a "stealth" victory in Virginia. Unless that unrelated breaking-news event is really big.)

P.P.P.P.S. According to SurveyUSA, that 32-31-24 split came from a group of 221 self-identified Republicans, 63% of whom do not plan to vote in tomorrow's caucuses. (A much larger percentage plans to vote in the meaningless beauty-contest primary on the 19th. God bless America.) Hmm... I wonder which group, the McCainiacs or the Hucksters, does better among the 32% who do plan to vote. Survey USA doesn't say, but I have a guess!

SurveyUSA says they "will re-commence interviewing, without Romney, and will endeavor to have new WA opinion poll results for you within 24 hours." I, for one, eagerly await those results!

UPDATE/CORRECTION: Brian Foster comments:

Yes, SUSA does say [which candidate does better among likely voters], as shown here.

Among the 30% who said yes, they are planning to participate in the caucus, it's Romney at 30%, Huck and McCain tied at 28%.

Of course, 30% of 221 is not very many people -- actually, SUSA gives us the actual counts.  It's 66 people, and it breaks down as follows:

McCain 18
Huck 19
Romney 20
Paul 4
Undecided 5

Extrapolate from these small cell sizes at your peril.  :)

Indeed. But the numbers match my preconceived notions, and therefore, I conclude that they are obviously correct! :)

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Ahem, Part I

the Old Dominion State

This is redundant. Virginia is -- simply, elegantly, and reverently -- the Old Dominion.

Moreover, Virginia is not a "State." She is a Commonwealth.

***

Ahem, Part II

Will the Seattle area's squishy independents and even centrist Republicans -- i.e., McCain's base -- have caucus-day conversions, "declare" themselves Democrats, and vote for Obama

Even assuming that the squishies and centrists will have such conversions, why assume that they will vote en masse for Obama? I could see them deciding that the Dem caucus is where the action is and deciding to participate in it on that basis. But I don't see them universally falling for the "come to Obama" nonsense.

Re your post-post-post-post script:

I wonder which group, the McCainiacs or the Hucksters, does better among the 32% who do plan to vote. Survey USA doesn't say, but I have a guess!

Yes, SUSA does say, as shown here.

Among the 30% who said yes, they are planning to participate in the caucus, it's Romney at 30%, Huck and McCain tied at 28%.

Of course, 30% of 221 is not very many people -- actually, SUSA gives us the actual counts. It's 66 people, and it breaks down as follows:

McCain 18

Huck 19

Romney 20

Paul 4

Undecided 5

Extrapolate from these small cell sizes at your peril. :)

if huck could get some momentum, it'll delay things a little longer while the dems fight it out and it might force mccain to the right socially, which while popular huckabee conservatives, would likely hurt mccain among moderates on election day.

Do squishy independents even go to caucuses?

The picture in Washington is complicated by how screwed up the system is. That declaration you mentioned? Apparently it's being left blank on thousands of mail-in ballots (and Washingtonians love to vote absentee.) Either people are refusing to sign the declaration, or they aren't even noticing that it's there. I get frustrated with people who can't read a ballot, but in their defense, the absentee ballots and accompanying informational materials really are poorly written.

The other thing is, in my experience a number of people who've chosen to vote in the Democratic primary, and that includes a couple Republicans who like Obama and decided to vote for him instead of their preferred (R), didn't realize that their primary vote doesn't count toward delegate selection. The state party is choosing all it's delegates based on tomorrow's caucuses. The Republicans are splitting their selections 50/50 between primary and caucus.

Anyway, I'll be at my caucus tomorrow, standing up and sitting down... hopping on one foot, however the hell it works this time around.

As Aaron mentions, the Republicans will allocate 51% of their delegates via the primary in WA, 49% based on the caucus. The Democrats will allocate 100% of their delegates based on the caucus. Caucuses, in my opinion, are incredibly restrictive, undemocratic, and insufferable due to the requirement that you have to sit and listen to idiots lobby you forever. Peer pressure has it's place in politics... it should come before you vote, and then you vote in peace, doing as you wish, privately.

As to McCain/Huck in WA... you can quote a bazillion bogus polls of 200-ish people, but I'll bet with every Washingtonian cell in my body that Huckabee doesn't win WA. Ain't.gonna.happen.

Hillary had a great event in a waterfront warehouse last night. Really last minute, industrial waterfront warehouse kinda deal. Filled to capacity, which was only 5,000. It went very well.

Obama created chaos downtown today. Key Arena filled up extremely quickly (20,000 capacity)... there were metal detectors, no bags and no signs allowed, tables upon tables of hipster merchandise. Half the people there didn't look of voting age. It was a downright uncivilized crowd... people crawling up the walls to break into the box seats, filling up the fire exits. It was so horrible that we actually left before Obama even showed up. There were thousands of young people outside pounding on the glass and walls demanding to be let in, and claiming that it was 'undemocratic' for them to not be left in. So, the cops had locked the doors to keep these people from busting in, and they literally tried to bar us from exiting. We had to threaten to sue the city for them to allow us to exit. It was ridiculous.

Convinced me even more that what Obama is, over anything else, is a spectacle. He's skinny jeans. He's emo. He's a fad.

McCain is at the Westin tonight. Going to check him out.

In WA if you sign in and vote in a caucus, you pledge an oath to that party. So, no, I do not believe that real independent voters vote in the caucuses. To participate is to pledge yourself to a party, which makes you, well, not independent anymore.

CD:

What impact, if any, does the "pledge" have on future elections? My understanding is that it has none, since Washington does not have "party registration" per se. Hence my statement that "being a Democrat is a state of mind" rather than an actual, legally meaningful label.

There is no party registration, certainly. Thus, it does not bind you in any way for future elections. So, it is indeed all about a state of mind. My response was that, independants in this state, being in the independant state of mind, have not taken to having to sign these pledges, as non-binding as they may be. What I mean to say is that we are all independant voters here really. So, one of the main things that distinguishes those who label themselves 'independant' as opposed to R or D is that many of them do not participate in our caucuses, which require them to sign a pledge to a party (no consequences, but still a requirement).

When you attend the caucus you sign one of the following pledges:

Republican: I declare that I am a member of the Republican party and I have not participated and will not participate in the 2008 precinct caucus or convention system of any other party.

Democrat: I declare that I consider myself to be a Democrat and I will not participate in the nomination process of any other political party for the 2008 Presidential election.

CD, the parties have every right to determine their own candidates. If independents want a voice in picking those candidates they have to play by the party rules, and personally as a Democrat leaning independent I would not be bothered by a pledge to not participate in the other sides caucuses that year.

Beyond that, the idea of whether or not caucuses are "democratic" is beside the point, their is no rule that says they should be. I'd rather the parties hold their own caucuses (which cost me nothing) versus take up time and resources by being on the ballot (which wastes my tax dollars).

As I see it there are only three ways I can think would be fair:

1) The parties choose through some method of their own, paid for and run by them who their candidate is

2) The parties use the states primary system but are responsible for reimbursing the state a portion of the costs, parties can still keep their ballots one party only

3) (how it used to be) Parties can participate in the primaries run by the state, at no additional cost, but no party affiliation need be declared AND you can vote for any candidate in any race

To answer your question, if an independent would participate in the caucuses, the answer is yes. If I was free tommorow, which I am unfortunately not, I would be attending a caucus (Democrat) to vote for Obama.

As I've stated countless times before, it's ridiculous to actually think that a sizeable enough number of voters will consciously manipulate the electoral circumstances to achieve some posited devious outcome. A few Republicans might conceivably sign up to vote for Obama, but they'd be so few and such a fringe element so as to be negligible to the result for either side. Independents are a slightly different story, but again, the chances that enough of them will break for Obama instead of McCain so as to meaningfully affect the results are quite puny.

David, I never said that the parties should not exercise control over the nominating process. Most states have a primary run aper and pencil (or machine vote) primary that allows a much wider swath of the state's party members to vote. I do not like caucuses because they are incredibly restrictive; you can only have a say if you show up in this one place on this one day at this exact time. There are so many people who aren't mobile, who work, who just can't make it, or flat out don't like to come out into a public setting like that. The results of caucuses are skewed because of the population attrition that occurs due to the aforementioned restrictiveness, as well as the social/peer pressure of having to visibly identify with your vote/candidate.

Either way, it is so wrong that people are confused by a ballot that you got in the mail, they sent it in and they think they already voted, and it doesn't count. You can't argue that this is not ideal.

As for clarifying what I was saying about Indies in WA. That was in response to someone wondering how many 'I's' will turn out in the caucuses and which caucus will they choose. Again, there is no meaningful party registration here and so we are, all of us, technically Indies. However, we do self-identify as Rs or Ds or Is the way people do all over the place. Keeping in mind that a *majority* of Rs and Ds won't even participate in the caucuses, I think it is a pretty plausible assertion that I's will participate at an even lower rate. I don't have data, and it isn't worth looking for. We'll see if it is addressed in the wake of the caucuses.

Lastly, ditto Andrew above.

The above, second line should read 'party run paper and pencil (or machine)...

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