Sunday, February 10, 2008

Romney Projected to Win Maine!!!

OK, I admit that I don't fully understand the nuances of the American Presidential nomination system. Caucuses, primaries, delegates,'s enough to make my head spin.

But according to the graphic above (provided by CNN), Mitt Romney is the projected winner of the Maine caucus, with a double-digit lead on his nearest competitor John McCain. This must come as something of a demoralizing blow to the McCain camp, seeing as Romney dropped out of the race three days ago.

Two questions for anyone who may care to offer an answer:

1. Why does a non-existent candidate remain on the ballot?

2. Why does anyone (and in this case, a majority of people) vote for someone who is no longer in the race??

On the face of it, it seems like total idiocy. Might as well cast a vote for Michael Moore's ficus plant.


Anonymous said...

Look at the date. It's old data, before Romney dropped out.

Red Canuck said...

True, but how were 68% of precincts reporting on Feb 2, when the caucus wasn't until today? Still doesn't make sense to me...

Red Canuck said...

I guess CNN just never bothered to update their website (?)

Anonymous said...

The Maine GOP website has Romney still at 52% with 96% of precincts reporting.

But yeah, Maine held its Rep & Dem caucuses on different dates. A few other states do the same.

- K said...

As 'anonymous' suggests, the Maine Republicans in fact held their caucuses on Feb 2nd, before Romney's announcement.

Additionally, Romney apparently hasn't quite "dropped out" yet. Officially, he has suspended his candidacy, but not withdrawn it. Not entirely sure what that means, except that it seems to amount to him still being on the ballot, although he is no longer campaigning nor expecting to win.

Red Canuck said...

K - Yeah, I seem to have got my dates wrong. But I still find the whole process confusing. Additionally, what happens to already "committed" delegates, (i.e. Iowa delegates) after their candidate withdraws (or suspends) their candidacy? Are they then free to vote for whomever they wish at the convention?

- K said...

It's a pretty confusing system, I'll agree, but here's how I think it works:

According to the rules of the Republican convention, in the first round of voting, all pledged delegates are obliged to vote for the candidate who originally won their vote (I believe this is true even if the candidate is officially out of the race), unless the candidate formally 'releases' them, in which case they can do whatever they want. If the first round of voting does not produce a winner (an unlikely prospect in this year's Republican primary), the pledged delegates are free to do what they want, even if they are not released by their candidate.

For the Democratic convention, the pledged delegates are technically free to vote for any candidate of their choice right from the start (which kind of undermines the meaning of 'pledged', but there it is). In fact, they can even vote for a name that is not on the ballot if they so choose. However, in both Republican and Democratic primaries, delegates are expected (by honour system) to stick with the candidate who won their vote, unless that candidate releases them. If one candidate publicly releases them to another, then they are again 'honour bound' to follow their candidate's wishes.

If that doesn't sound messed up enough, consider the fact that the actual election, not the nomination process, actually works the same way. When people talk about an "electoral college" in a U.S. presidential election, that "college" is actually made up of individual electors who, while they are expected to vote according to the outcome of the election in their given state, are not legally bound to do so. (eg: if, in the past election, the members of the electoral college from the state of Ohio had chosen to vote for Kerry, despite the fact that Bush won the vote in that state, Kerry would have become president. Of course, there would be a huge outrage if the outcome of an election were decided by an elector who went against his/her state's wishes.)

Red Canuck said...

K - Thanks for the info. It helps shed some light on things for me. For a country that touts itself as the world's gretest democracy, the idea that such important decisions as Presidential elections rest on the "honour system" is a little disturbing.

In fact I was aware about the Electoral College system...I had heard that it's basically a holdover from the days when the "plebes" weren't considered informed enough to make such weighty decisions as who should be President, and so the honour fell to groups of eminent citizens. I imagine any effort to change this system today would require a Constitutional amendment and would likely be a practical impossibility.

It all certainly makes for good theatre though!