Puerto Rico and the Popular Vote Strawman Argument

Jun 01 2008 Published by under Featured News

It is no surprise that CNN has already declared Hillary Clinton the victor of the Democratic primary in Puerto Rico. Now, if turnout is high enough the Clinton campaign can argue that she should be the nominee because she will win the popular vote. The problem is that delegates not the popular vote determine the nominee.

Clinton won in Puerto Rico because she has virtually lived in the state for the past week. According to the CNN exit polls, the people who made up their minds during this time went overwhelmingly for Clinton. 78% said that the candidates’ visits impacted who they voted for. By a margin of 67%-33%, voters who made up their minds last week went for Clinton. Clinton won 70% of the vote with men and women. 70% of those who had a college degree went for Clinton. Two thirds of younger voters supported Clinton.

Seventy two percent of Clinton supporters favor statehood. Bill Clinton’s popularity in the territory also helped his wife. Former President Clinton enjoys an 80% approval rating in the territory. The Clinton campaign can make the argument that she leads the popular vote, but in order to accept that this argument has any validity, the superdelegates have to believe that the popular vote means anything. According to the rules, it doesn’t.

In order for Clinton to be able to make the popular vote argument, she needs to win by 200,000 votes. I think that none of this matters. I have a suspicion that Obama has enough superdelegates in his back pocket to put him over the top, and clinch the nomination this week. Despite the grumblings of Harold Ickes, there seems to be a split in the Clinton campaign over whether to fight this out at the convention. Her popular vote victory may only serve to pressure Obama to put her on the ticket.

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