I belong to no organized political party...I'm a Democrat!
Despite my best efforts to spend my time writing for my dissertation, I find my mind wandering to the Super Tuesday results from yesterday and what it might mean from both a political and sociological perspective come time for the Democratic National Convention in August. Part of this stems from a very contentious thread posted by hilzoy at Obsidian Wings. She argues that yesterday bodes well for Democrats as we approach the general election because there are two good candidates and turnout is incredibly high. No contentious arguments, she claims, will be able to overcome that momentum and give the Republicans the advantage in the general election.
This obviously brought out a good deal of discussion about who would do what if Clinton won the nomination and how she won it. This got be thinking, from an organizational point of view, what does the convention mean, then? How could all of the different scenarios play out and, what—if anything—would we expect from the outcomes. For my own mental clarity, here is what I see as the possibilities:
- Scenario 1 (Best Case/Least Likely) Obama Wins Outright: Obama wins outright by a margin comfortable enough that he can a) overcome any disadvantage in superdelagates, b) allow the Michigan and Florida delegations to be seated (assuming all undeclared delegates go to Obama) and c) make Edwards' delegates a non factor. This would be a mandate and, while making for a boring convention (which might be supplied via a labor dispute, anyway), would unite the party and create a strong sense of momentum that will be hard to stop.
- Scenario 2: (Almost Best Case/Tied for Least Likely) Clinton Wins Outright: Clinton wins outright by a margin comfortable enough that she can a) overcome any difference in superdelagates, b) allow the Michigan and Florida delegations to be seated and c) make Edwards' delegates a non factor. This would be a mandate and, while making for a boring convention (which might be supplied via a labor dispute, anyway), would unite the party and create a strong sense of momentum that will be hard to stop. The difference between 1 & 2? My candidate didn't win. And, I think that there will be A LOT of anti-Clinton backlash that might help unite the Republicans and swing independent voters. This was made all the more obvious when I talked to two people I know very well who are politically are not extremely far removed from me, but will not vote for Clinton.
- Scenario 3 - (Decent Case/Highly Likely) Clinton Wins By Superdelegates: In this scenario, Clinton wins by picking up enough superdelegate votes to overcome the possibility that all of Edwards' delegates go to Obama without the need to seat the delegations from Florida and Michigan. As this scenario plays out, they would probably be seated anyway after it was obvious that Clinton was going to squeak by with the nomination without them and it would be a particularly classy move that could go a long way towards healing hard feelings of "insiders" (i.e. superdelegates) deciding the nomination if Obama personally makes the motion requesting that the two delegations be seated.
- Scenario 4 - (Very Bad Case/Very Unlikely): Obama, including Edwards' delegates and superdelegates, wins by enough of a margin that he beats Clinton, but not by enough that he can overcome the seating of the Michigan and Florida delegations. All candidates, including Clinton, honor the fact that these state parties broke the rules and the delegations are not seated and Obama takes a fractured nomination. This is likely to make Clinton's supporters very angry and create animosity in two key swing states between Democratic voters and the Democratic Party.
- Scenario 5 - (Worst Case/Somewhat Likely) Clinton "Steals" the Nomination with Michigan and Florida: In the worst of all possible scenarios, Clinton ends up getting the nomination by seating the delegates from Michigan and Florida after losing when the pledged delegates, superdelegates and Edwards' delegates have voted. This will leave a very bad taste in LOTS of people, causing many to refuse to vote, others (mainly independents) to vote Republican and giving the wingnut windbags like Limbaugh all kinds of ammunition against Clinton straight out of the gate.
I am not sure if this is all of the scenarios, feel free to add others. I am interested in an organizational point of view, how these scenarios get negotiated among the participants. From a political point of view, I think that it is going to become very obvious who has power in the Democratic Party and whether there is a foreshadowing of changes in the powerful players in the Party. From a sociological point of view, this presents a very interesting case study of what happens when rules are made by an elite membership in an organization where everyone is presumably fully knowledgeable and what happens when a wider audience then sees how those rules are (or, are not) upheld and what that means for legitimacy of both the organization and the actors themselves.