US primaries open thread

Been a bit busy lately, so it’s past time for a new US elections thread. Since Super Tuesday we’ve had an anticipated string of Barack Obama victories from caucuses in Nebraska, Washington and Maine and a primary in Louisiana, along with a narrow win for John McCain in Washington and probably meaningless victories for Mike Huckabee in Kansas and Louisiana. Tomorrow US time we have both parties holding primaries in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

1,263 comments on “US primaries open thread”

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  1. #1196 – Diogenes – I am glad that you brought up the legacy of JFK – Cuban Missile; Bay of Pigs; Vietnam; Baath; Space Race; Girls; MM (Not Mickey Mouse); Mafia etc.

    I seem to remember few weeks back there was a lady called Caroline wrote in the NYT that Obama is carrying on JFK legacy and she is “backing Obama because he offers the same uplifting message of hope and change that JFK did when he ran for president in 1960”.

    Yes indeed, Obama is carrying on JFK legacy.

  2. Finn- It’s a bit early to lumber Bami with that legacy but it provides serious ammunition for the Obama-sceptics. What I find fascinating is the hagiography about JFK, which seems overtly similar to Obama’s. He is very much considered the new JFK, which everyone thinks is an enormous compliment but I think it’s quite damning. The Americans lap this sort of crap up and I’m cynical enough to hope Obama exploits it enough to win as I still think he might turn out to make a great POTUS. On the other hand, he could be another JFK.

  3. asanque (back at 1177)

    I actually disagree that reholding elections in Florida and Michigan will hurt Obama – the results will be nowhere near the ones we saw a month ago, because this time Obama would campaign there (and be on the ballot!) She might win, might not, but it would definitely be a closer call.

    Either way, he has the popular vote pretty much sewn up. The rest of your analysis I agree with, however I don’t think party leadership will let it get to a convention (they can’t, it’s electoral suicide). Hillary has a lot more political muscle than Obama, so if they both hang in there then she will probably form a greater case. Once it starts to get dirty, once he gets involved with it (which is inevitable if it drags on) then his shine starts to fade, and that’s when things get unpredictable.


    Edwards cannot endorse Clinton without his voters puking and being so vociferous it would not do him any favours. Backing Obama is his only other option if he actually wants a slice of the action, or else he’s effectively dead, an ex-politician, gone to polly heaven, shuffled off the polly coil and gone to share his time with the Norwegian Blue.

    I agree he won’t endorse Clinton. I disagree that him remaining silent kills his career. Remember, this is the man who stood aside this election for the good of the party and country, the one who could have made life difficult for everyone and decided the outcome of the election. He could have been kingmaker. He chose not to do that. A lot of people react favourably to him right now.

    Obviously, him endorsing the right chap right now would do wonders for his career. But I think (if he stayed silent) there would be a spot for him in a future Democratic Administration either way, which is why he might choose to hedge his bets. High profile, knowledgeable, broadly respected ideas man with pretty much no chance of a future presidential run? Depends how you look at it I guess

    Having said that, my gut says he will endorse Obama a week or so before March 4.

  4. 1206 – Max

    Just to clarify.

    Perhaps Michigan might go to Obama but it would be a close call.
    Florida would definitely go to Clinton. Its full of older americans more in Hillary’s demographic, and Hillary would be playing the “I’m the only candidate who has always wanted your vote to count and Obama doesn’t care about you” card.

    So if there are new reelections in Florida and Michigan, in my view, it would only benefit Clinton.

    I agree that Edwards will be extremely unlikely to endorse Clinton. I suspect that if he was going to endorse Obama, he would have done it by now.

    Will it get to the convention?
    Typically I’d say no, but this is the Clintons, and they will not go quietly.

  5. Diogenes , you are ‘contrar’ as you describe yourself.
    JFK gave us the Cuban Missile Crisis & space race an they were bad legacys ?

    The former perhaps convinced the Soviets that mutual destruction would occur if they miscalculated US weakness & on balance the ‘balance of terror’ worked ,
    till Reagan sent the Soviets bankrupt.

    The later gave strategic vision & committment not only with the Soviet competitor but with US industry and on balance the benefits to science & technology far outweigh the alleged ‘expensiveness’ of the Program

    To regard these 2 historic achievements as otherwise is mute. JFK’s Vietnam entry was poor policy both morally & military. Whether he would have done an LBJ we’ll never know. Bay of Pigs , simply a disgrace. A Great President I say

  6. ‘The Finnigans Says:
    February 18th, 2008 at 9:02 pm
    #1023 – JFK was a flawed messiah. So is Obama or maybe more accurately, those who idolise him as the new messiah.’

    Those who idolise Obama as the new messiah are the flawed messiah? Are you messin with us? Also, the regurgitating of Hillary’s playbook from the distance of several days don’t seem to be working out. I’d get a new schtick.

  7. Off topic, but an event of note. Last night I posted some info about Credit Default Swaps being a collosal market of unregulated financial derivatives that currently stands at a value about 3 times US GDP. This market could be the next shoe to drop…well, anvil rather than shoe! LOL

    Today, if anyone noticed, the ANZ bank got walloped about 6%, and the culprit?

    Yep, the very same, a CDS they had written with a US firm that had its credit rating trashed recently:

    ANZ had bought default protection on a portfolio of investment grade companies from ACA using a credit-default swap, a derivative used to speculate on corporate credit quality. After ACA was cut to non-investment grade, the bank was required to raise an “individual provision” of $200 million, it said.

    …and so, billions of shareholder value evaporated.

    Expect to see those initials, CDS, quite a bit in the future, especially in the US banking system.

    Stay tuned.

  8. Ron-The space race was the ultimate “mines bigger than yours” pull in history. The spin-offs have been overplayed and would have been discovered much sooner and cheaper if the money had gone into research.
    I think JFK was more to blame for Vietnam than LBJ. The die was well and truly cast when Lee Harvey (or the CIA, mafia etc) stepped in.
    And I believe the word you are looking for in the last paragraph is moot!

  9. Actually I support Obama and I am under no illusion that he is the Messiah.
    I just think that he not part of the old paradigm of business and money in the US being the driving force behind all decisons made: war, guns, exploitation of workers, false ‘Christian values’.
    I’m just cynical about who really runs the Whitehouse behind teh puppet governments we’ve seen for so long. And I hope, maybe in vain, that he represents something different to this.
    Not the Messiah, just not the same old stuff.

  10. Obama will govern how the PUBLIC have demanded he govern. Every now and then a shift happens because of the public mood. this is one of them.

    Washington is on the nose like never before.

    Bush – 29% support
    Congress – even lower at 20%

    The Bush/Clinton era is over.

    Obama is seen as being apart from it. He WILL be the next POTUS…and he will bring a small (mainly superficial) different public face to the whole charade of Democracy.

    thats the way things happen.

  11. asanque,

    I do agree it would probably help Clinton, I just disagree it would help much. Fora comparative example, she won California by 9%, and by 204 delegates to 161 (from a little over 4 million voters). Florida has half as many, so even if the result was the same she would only net 20 delegates. Now, from what I have read, I don’t think Florida can actually rehold a primary… I’m under the impression it has to be a caucus? I could be wrong there, but if that’s the case then the ball game is anyone’s. Can you imagine as many old people going to them?

    My point is twofold. First, the delegate battle would be a relative dead heat. Second, I would imagine that any result would be played as a moral victory for Obama. He could just say ‘hey, the original result was 50-33, look how much we’ve caught up since then.’ Pure spin, of course, but the media would play it well. And if she lost, then it would be unbelievably bad for her. Too risky.

    But I ramble, because it’s never going to happen, Clinton will never allow it, and we both essentially agree with each other anyway…

    As for Edwards, I’m not sure. Like many, he may have been waiting for Super Tuesday, to see if Obama got killed off. He didn’t. So, with that in mind, when would the best time to endorse be? Before a bunch of states Obama was going to win anyway? Or during the two week lull before March 4 when the media has nothing better to report?

  12. somehow ‘mute’ seemed less personal you being a ‘contrary’ guy

    Contend the policy structure for the space race gave policy diection for technology & research rather than a mismatch of unconnected & uncoordinated programs without the ‘man on the moon’ committment

    Science doe not necessarily need this but the results from it are immense.

    None of the public cabinet documents indicate JFK,s intent was as immense as LBJ’s and guess its ‘moot’ whether he did so or as I criticise him for ie. the initial ‘advisor’ placements had no “exit” strategy & guaranteed some more troops

  13. asanque, agree

    the ‘perception’ Obama has beaten Clinton already now exists and on States won & delgates won from Primarys this is also factual.

    The Democrat powerbrokers may lean on HRC after Texas for a concession.
    Will she wilt ?

  14. There’s the old line: Make a critical comment of Israel and you are ipso facto and anit-semite.

    And here he was, two days ago, chiding jen for using a perjorative adjective! LOL

    Talk about the pot and the kettle.

  15. but KR , harry mentioned the word ‘thou dare not speak’

    What we do know is the Jewish lobby is the 2nd most powerful lobby in the US
    (after the NCA) and throughout the laate 90’s they sprouted dire warnings Saddam had research on nukes and other WMD’s

    They are doing the same poresently re Iran (and Cheney HAS bought it)

    Their influence with the right in particular (& Clinton) has been a disaster

  16. I take it HarryH is suggesting that the Israeli government was behind the assassination of Kennedy. I don’t think “a critical comment of Israel” – as KR would have it – accurately describes this.

  17. yeah, never call a J3w a spade! LOL

    But what sh!ts me most is this crap about never being able to criticise Israeli policy, no matter how utterly appalling, (oh, like cluster bombing Lebanon, for one teensy example of despicable, inhumane and monstrous viciousness) without some rightwing knowall dropping the big one, the one to cower all opposition: anti-semitism.

    God I hate that, with a passion. The refuge of the morally vapid.

  18. 1225
    William Bowe

    Must have missed that one! LOL

    It’s not the usual US/Israel segue, but whatever floats his boat!

    He did say something about JFK and Israel’s nuke programme, but I didn’t know they put it on the grassy knoll.

    Something new, and points for trying?

  19. actually I thought Harry’s fatal mistake’ was a geo political comment

    and to which i agree.

    now that there is a ‘hindu’ nuke , a’muslim nuke , a “J” nuke …the world is less safe , not more safe

  20. William, do you think that believing the Israeli government “may” have been capable of bumping off JFK in order to gain their nuclear identity to be anti semetic?

  21. 1217
    Edward StJohn Says:
    February 18th, 2008 at 11:37 pm
    a little recreational antisemitism eh HarryH 1212?

    ESC precious ‘anti semantic defence’ is typical of pro israeli supporters intending to stop ANY debate
    no logical argument…just slander

  22. 1228
    William Bowe

    Nup, just as I would NOT call any theory, no matter how improbable, about Israel assasinating JFK a bit of ‘anti-semitism’.

    One claim may be silly, but the other is loaded with moral values.

    No, sorry, nothing you say is valid because you sir, are an ‘ant-semite’!

    It’s like calling someone a fascist, or a Nazi.

    I can excuse oddball conspiracy theories, but that kind of stuff is used, especially by the neoconservative loony fringe, to defend the utterly indefensible.

    rant over.

  23. what rot.

    in the post prior to mine….another off the cuff suggestion was made that the CIA bumped him off. like most comments, it was taken as most comments are

  24. what is NOW being suggested KR & Harry is the INTERPRETATION
    that ESC was ONLY making a snide remark (anti semetic”)

    as opposed to using anti semetic to block debate

    esc was challenged and could have clarified but he chose not to which is the point (as we will not be prevented from debating Israel’s flaws)

  25. and further having demonstated 2 interpretations above William ,

    you have disingenuously chosen only one without knowing which it was
    and esc CHOSE not to clarify when challenged

  26. william,

    i made a comment. If ESJ or anyone else thought it valid or ridiculous or whatever they could have argued that.
    Instead ESJ made a ridiculous reply. Being that it was ESJ, i just moved on.

    your input though was surprising.

    ah well.

  27. Harry makes a claim in #1212
    He MAY have meant the Israeli’s assinated JFK because JFK opposed Israel’s nuclear ambitions.
    Lets assume he meant that. Its a claim & an opinion

    Edward StJohn Says:
    February 18th, 2008 at 11:37 pm
    a little recreational antisemitism eh HarryH 1212?

    There was NO anti semetism in Harry’s comment
    esc’s response was either sarcastic in him believing the claims credibility OR

    esc’s response was the typical pro Israeli defence to any criticism of Israel of saying ‘you are anti semetic’ to block any discusion on Israel
    (Obama is already facing this)

    esc was challenged on the later interpretation but he CHOSE not to clarify which interpretion he meant… he ears the criticism of abusing the anti semantic term

    William then ASSUMED which of the 2 interpretations esc intended and criticised
    all 3 of us for chosing the alternative interpretation.
    Your assumption isno more correct than ours

    Some people on this blog ‘bait’ only but complain to you when return fired
    I say bad luck

  28. Ron, all I’m saying is that whatever response you and KR wished to make to ESJ would have been more cogent if you had read the comment to which he was responding. It is particularly clear that KR had not done so, because when I pointed it out to him he said: “Must have missed that one! LOL”. Instead, we had the subject of ESJ’s comment being defended on the erroneous basis that his comment was a “criticism of Israeli policy”.

  29. but I personally did my #1227 !
    I had a different interpretation on Harrys commentbeing geo political as I said in #1227

    and consequently whenever debaters use ‘anti muslim’ or anti semetic’ in a debate with me , i always challenge them to find out if its a lame cope out or a sarcastic response, which is where I disagreed with you

  30. #1229

    My take is that KR was making a rather valid point. In this day and age we (normal well-adjusted thinking people) have to deal deal with so much artificial crap. We don’t talk about freedom fighters anymore, or the idea of a rebel with a cause, instead – everything is branded with the word “terrorist”. In the same vain – any reasonable argument that questions Israel’s geopolitical role raised the specter of “anti-semitism”. I remember making some observations about the the impressive quality of content of the PLO web site back a few years ago – and as a consequence the conversation was immediately moved the right of Israel to defend its identity, someone raised the holocaust, another raised the atrocities perpetrated by those nasty Palestinians. But nobody was interested in pursuing the actual question of how Israel and the PLO compared in terms of their internet presence and ability to articulate and communicate to a global audience.

    Me personally – so long as Israel continues its geopolitical games – I think every thinking person has more that a reasonable right to explode with rage.

  31. Okay Ron, I now see what you were saying at 1227. However, I think it’s clear from HarryH’s subsequent comments that he was suggesting the Israelis were behind the Kennedy assassination, and not making a “geopolitical comment”. And yes, I am assuming ESJ had reached the former conclusion when he made his comment. If it does turn out he was under the same misapprehension as yourself, I will indeed take it all back.

  32. william,

    let me get this straight. you agree with ESJ that suggesting the Israeli Government could have been behind the JFK knocking makes me an anti semite?

    what a ridiculous notion.

    If he thought that my comment was stupid he could and should have said so. instead he threw the anti semite rubbish out…and you seem to agree.

  33. Davidoff, I haven’t made any comment on KR’s views about Israel or anti-semitism, though I suppose you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise. As you can see from my previous comment, it’s all getting a bit complicated.

    HarryH, I can only reiterate my comment at 1241.

  34. ps…if i say that the Syrian Government might have knocked that politician in Beirut a few years ago, does that make me an anti Syrian….or just that the Syrian Government might be a bit dodgy.

  35. #1244
    If you re-read Harry’s common – he was asking you about your opinion on what is or is not an anti-semetic comment. Specifically, he was asking you if you believed that the belief of another party as to the potential intent of the Israeli government to bump-off JFK in order to gain a nuclear identity was in and of itself a opinion that could be viewed as anti-semetic.

    On my reading – Harry was not suggesting the the Israelis were behind the Kennedy assassination – instead, he was just asking for an opinion that I would argue goes to the more general question of when something is anti-semetic as opposed to the question of when something that can and should be a legitimately addresses. But that raises another question – ‘when is it ok to be anti-semetic’?. Me – like to consider all side of an argument.

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