20 January 2008

Clinton vs Obama: close calls, stupid voting systems and stupid voters

Results from the Nevada Democratic primary show a narrow win for Hillary Clinton.

Or at least, the headline results do. The actual delegate figures show Obama with 13 delegates from Nevada to Clinton's 12. This is due to the idiotic first-past-the-post system of delegate selection by precinct (and that isn't a dig at the States because we have the same stupid system for our elections - it's how New Labour ensures a working majority with only 35% of the vote.) Overall, Obama has 38 delegates to Clinton's 36, with Edwards on 18.

What this means is that one has to 'read the small print', i.e. look at how the primary and caucus results are translating to numbers of delegates at the Democratic Convention in the summer, before making any predictions on who's going to get the nomination. Based on current evidence the Democratic race looks too close to call and it's entirely possible that neither Obama nor Clinton will end up with the necessary 2,025 delegates by the time of the Convention - which could leave Edwards as the 'kingmaker'. An interesting thought.

Also interesting, if a little spooky, is BBC North America editor Justin Webb's claim in his blog today that some people haven't been voting for Barack Obama in the primaries because they think he's a Muslim. Well, I guess if the American education system is set up to produce drones - both working and middle class - who get their entire info from Fox News, then this is the kind of crap you end up with. And that's not to say the UK system is any better - anyone who remembers the 1987 general election and the widely touted claim that if Kinnock won, Soviet Tanks would be rolling down Whitehall within 48 hours, will know there's no room for complacency.

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