A Spin Around the May Poll

Guest posts on the presidential race are always welcome. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Content warning: horserace politics, abject punditry, a literal snotnose.

Q) How can you tell it’s May in a presidential election year?
A) Seasonal allergies have my sinus cavities leaking something resembling rubber cement, and the political media are sharing their gleefully dire predictions about IRREPARABLE DISARRAY within the Democratic Party.

The latest symptom of this condition (the one that doesn’t require me to tote an entire box of tissues to a backyard barbecue) consists of a pair of polls released over the weekend that show some shrinkage regarding Hillary Clinton’s lead in a hypothetical presidential matchup. The numbers suggest that, if the election happened this week, Secretary Clinton would struggle to overcome the support rapidly coagulating behind presumptive Republican hairpiece Donald Trump.

If you’re opening a new tab to research Canadian immigration procedures, I have good news. It’s f@%$ing May.

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Wake up, Iowa Democrats: Nebraska just became Exhibit A for banning caucuses

The state of Nebraska just provided a case study for how caucuses exclude more people than primaries.

The Nebraska caucuses had an absentee ballot option to allow more people to participate. Organizers for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders worked the state for weeks, because the caucus was set for March 5, when neither candidate had a clear lead in the quest for the Democratic nomination. Even so, fewer than 34,000 Democrats participated in the event that determined the allocation of Nebraska’s pledged delegates. Sanders won the caucuses with about 57 percent of the voters. The Clinton campaign’s successful absentee ballot drive prevented the senator from winning by the kind of margin he was able to run up in many other caucus states.

Today’s primary in Nebraska was "non-binding," and because it would not influence the pledged delegate count, neither Democratic presidential campaign put much effort into GOTV. Nevertheless, nearly 45,000 Nebraska Democrats cast ballots. Clinton received nearly 57 percent of the votes. UPDATE: make that 78,543 participants in the meaningless Democratic primary, with Clinton receiving a little more than 53 percent of the votes. These maps show dramatically different results for Clinton and Sanders in the same state, two months apart.

If Clinton becomes the next president—and I like her chances against Donald Trump—her allies on the Democratic National Committee will likely push to ban caucuses for the purposes of presidential selection. Primaries tend to generate higher turnout, since voters have all day to cast ballots, and sometimes an early voting period too. By requiring people to be in a specific place at a particular time for an hour or more, caucuses exclude many shift workers, caregivers, and people who are housebound.

The Iowa Democratic Party’s Caucus Review Committee needs to go beyond token improvements to how volunteers run their precincts and consider absentee ballots or other ways to make our caucuses more inclusive. Satellite caucuses that attract a few hundred people statewide and more efficient sign-in methods to reduce caucus-night lines are not going to cut it.

Five red flags about the Iowa Democratic Party's Caucus Review Committee

The Iowa Democratic Party’s Caucus Review Committee will hold its first meeting "for purposes of organization" on Saturday, May 7. Members of the public may attend the event, which begins at 10 am at the Airport Holiday Inn (Iowa Conference Rooms B & C) at 6111 Fleur Drive in Des Moines. The meeting will likely run well into the afternoon as the 26 committee members hear from speakers including Republican Party of Iowa officials, who will share what they learned from their review of the 2012 caucuses.

Whether Iowa will ever be able to hold meaningful caucuses again is an open question. Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz has allies in national circles who share her belief that the party should require "simpler" and "more democratic" primaries for the purposes of presidential selection. If forced to abandon caucuses, Iowa would probably be relegated to the end of the nominating process in June, unless our state’s leaders manage to lobby for an earlier primary date.

Assuming the caucuses continue as an important event in presidential campaigns, the Iowa Democratic Party should address some of the current system’s major shortcomings. Based on what I’ve heard (and not heard) from various Caucus Review Committee members, the exercise seems destined to produce minor improvements in how the caucuses are managed, as opposed to big changes to address the caucuses’ disenfranchising and unrepresentative features.

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Weekend open thread: Iowa Democratic district conventions edition

What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

The Iowa Democratic Party’s conventions in the four Congressional districts yesterday elected 29 delegates and four alternates for the Democratic National Convention as well as members of various party committees.

Unlike 2008, when Barack Obama gained significant ground at Iowa’s county and district conventions, this weekend’s allocation of delegates for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders was the same as what would have been predicted based on the February 1 precinct caucus results. The Iowa Democratic Party released this table on April 30:

IDP district convention delegates photo IDPdistrictconventions_zps5ibx8ljl.png

I’ll update this post later when the full lists of delegates and State Central Committee members become available. Some notable results are after the jump.

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Desperate times call for desperate measures: Why the Cruz-Carly ticket makes sense

Needing a victory in Indiana’s May 3 primary to have any hope of stopping Donald Trump from winning a majority of delegates before the Republican National Convention, Ted Cruz announced yesterday, "If I am nominated, I will run on a ticket with @carlyfiorina as my Vice President."

Many politics-watchers laughed at the idea of Cruz picking his running mate a day after distant third-place finishes in five primaries put him 400 delegates behind Trump. But Cruz has nothing to lose from the alliance, and neither does Fiorina.

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