January 28th, 2008


Dear Super Tuesday People

(And that means you, all my friends in MA.)

I'll come out and say that I want to see Senator Obama to win the Democratic primary, for much the same political reasons as Randall Monroe of xkcd does as well as for emotional reasons like the press have been discussing.

He has momentum. He's picking up a lot of votes. But if he is the viable candidate you would most prefer be President, you have to show up, no matter what state you are in, and vote for him.

Democratic primaries do not work like the general election. States are divided proportionally, so even if Obama seems certain to take your state, it's a bad idea to:

* skip the vote,

* cross over to vote in the Republican primary, or

* vote for a minor candidate that is especially close to your views.

These are all reasonable decisions in a winner-take-all election where your vote is irrelevant, but they will screw us here.

Realize that Obama may have to beat Clinton by as much as 20% of the vote in order to win the nomination: superdelegates tend to (indeed, were chosen in the first place in order to) strongly support the "establishment" candidate, which Senator Clinton most certainly is.

It's a tough fight, but it's far from lost: right now about as many superdelegates are uncommitted as are committed, and they're only favoring Clinton by about 1.5:1. If they are most interested in winning the general election, they will pay attention to turnout as much as to the distribution of votes.

So yeah, that means you.