OK, I just spoke with Jill Derby, the head of the Nevada State Democratic Party. Regarding the Obama claim that he'll actually get more delegates out of this, essentially that's spin. Derby said that the caucuses are an "expression of the support of Nevadans today." Around 11,000 delegates were elected today. That will be winnowed down at county conventions and eventually at the state convention in May to the 25 that will go to Denver for the DNC. In 2004, Kerry didn't win every delegate on Election Day, but most of the delegates that eventually went to the DNC were his. Once there's a presumptive nominee, the delegate numbers are subject to change. It's non-binding.
If that makes your head spin, the short version is that this was a beauty contest, and you can't project delegate numbers at this time. . . .
Statement by Nevada Democratic Party Chair Jill Derby Regarding the Nevada Caucus
(Las Vegas, NV) Today, two out of three Nevadans who caucused chose a Democrat instead of a Republican for president. That is an overwhelming majority vote for a new direction. Just like in Iowa what was awarded today were delegates to the County Convention. No national convention delegates were awarded. The calculations of national convention delegates being circulated are based upon an assumption that delegate preferences will remain the same between now and April 2008. We look forward to our county and state conventions where we will choose the delegates for the nominee that Nevadans support.
A couple of the comments:
People who thin[k] it is not problematic that a candidate can clearly win the most votes in a contest, yet lose the contest must think this is all a big game. It is one thing to have proportional division of delegates rather than winner take all, but to allow the loser to get a bigger share is patently undemocratic. The democratic party of Nevada should be ashamed.
In Defense of the Caucus System.
First of all -- no one knows tonight how many delegates Clinton or Obama got, -- Why not, because the delegates to the National Convention will not be selected till Nevada holds first its county conventions, and then the state conventions. What was elected today were County Convention Delegates, and according to the DNC rules, no one elected at one level is compelled to support the same candidate at the next level. In other words, don't necessarily accept the Candidate Campaign or News Media spin on the outcome. The Media in particular are very uninformed on how this system works, and they constantly botch their reporting. They want a quick answer, and that is not the priority of a caucus.
Apparently Edwards did not prove viable, and I would imagine at the County and State level, he will not be viable, thus his delegates to the county conventions will redistribute to one of the two surviving candidates.
I like the Caucus System, and have chaired my share of them since I became active in the DFL in 1966. I agree that it makes possible the candidacy of persons who depend more on organization within the party, and less on big money.
Remember -- the only reason Paul Wellstone was able to run for the Senate was because of our Caucus System. Likewise -- last year our Caucus system produced Keith Ellison. You can't do that if you weigh money and all heavier than ability to organize Party Supporters.
A caucus is much more likely to only attract Democratic Voters, and not be open to others playing in your endorsement process than anything but a closed primary -- and many of us do not like voter lists ID'd by party.
Nevada just went to a Caucus System this year -- and they need party rules and perhaps some state laws that accomodate those who have to work or are ill during caucus. We've been using the Caucus System all the way back to 1956 in Minnesota, and we have those accomodations.
I have a piece posted last week over at The Next Hurrah describing the origin of Democratic Party Rules on the Delegate Selection Process -- rules that emerged from our party reforms of 1972 and the McGovern-Fraser Commission, and I would really like for people to consider knowing some party history before making judgments on one or another system.