Tuesday, August 08, 2006


It looks like it's gonna be a nail biter in Connecticut:

Precincts Reporting: 76.87%

# votes %
Lieberman (101,818) 48.24
Lamont (109,239) 51.76

UPDATE: Lamont wins! But Liberman to run as an independent (where he will, one imagines, win).

With close to 300,000 people voting in this primary, I think this only further illustrates how the Primary system is a kazillion times better than the way Canadian parties pick candidates and leaders. Notice how this race wasn't about which candidate could mobilize certain ethnic communities, or get access to forms, or take over a riding association, or get a favourable nomination date from the party. It was about who those who called themselves Democrats in Connecticut wanted to represent them.


  • At this point, the war is on and the US can't simply "redeploy" or pull out.

    However, the war is failing and what has become the biggest tragedy is that the plan to win has not changed - it should have been re-examined and re-thought a while ago. Lieberman has stuck to supporting a war that isn't working - he should be criticizing it in order to make it work. I acknowledge his efforts to create a "partnership" between parties to win the war, and I think Pelosi and Reid are out to lunch on the issue even more than he is, but if he doesn't have enough strength on fixing the war for me. I'm not a Connecticut Democrat or voter, but if I were, I'd vote against him - not for supporting the war, but for not fighting to re-think it's strategy.

    My opinion is always subject to change the more I learn, of course.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 10:54 p.m.  

  • By Blogger Liberal Fortunes, at 11:16 p.m.  

  • Any idea of the degree to which a mobilized Arab vote played a role? Heard that, but haven't read it anywhere.

    By Blogger matt, at 11:38 p.m.  

  • WOW. Didn't think I'd hear on this til tomorrow morning when I woke up.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 11:38 p.m.  

  • Lamont wins, but...

    ... Lieberman vows to run as an independent!

    By Blogger Ted Betts, at 11:51 p.m.  

  • Wow, major upset.

    By Blogger IslandLiberal, at 11:55 p.m.  

  • Not too much of an upset, I think most people figured that Lieberman was in for a rough ride.

    I think Lieberman will win as an independent though. If he could pull that close with just Dems, the Republicans and Independents will push him over the top.

    By Blogger Eric, at 12:11 a.m.  

  • SO, I actually thought Lieberman would squeak ahead. Good think I don't bet.

    Wow, interesting - I generally figured Lamont-Lieberman would split the vote and give the Republican a good chance. But I always give your words more weight than mine, you're a smart one. Interesting.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 12:19 a.m.  

  • And, of course, McKinney also lost. I think she was very poorly behaved in that no-ID incident. Hope her replacement will win and be much better than her. She's given voice to important ideas worthy of discussion, but she has some anger issues (a, er, specialty of mine).

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 12:24 a.m.  

  • Joe is a Great Man, and a very good candidate. But the simple fact that he lost on an earlier ticket didn't help him.

    Let's not read too much into his loss tonight. Just as we wouldn' read too much into his win (had it happened). (Sadly, we can - and should - read more into any decisions to run as an independent than we could into tonght's specific results.)

    Joe's never been the frontrunner for the Democratic Nomination for the Presidential Election. But he's still a great man.

    By Blogger Paul, at 12:27 a.m.  

  • I think he's a solid Senator and honest and decent.

    I think Churchill was a Great Man - probably Lincoln and Golda Mier and others. Lieberman I'm not so sure about... a Great Man would have us a winning strategy by now.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 12:35 a.m.  

  • I do feel a little bad for Lieberman, the way he was railroaded out on a single issue. He's certainly more of a "centrist" by US standards and if someone like John McCain was being run out of the Republicans by their more extreme elements, there'd be a lot of screams about it.

    But, at the same time, I really don't like Lieberman and it seems like he's gone out of his way to back Bush and make excuses for the war, even knowing everything we now know about it. Connecticut is a pretty left wing state, so I don't blame the Democrats for trying to get a true Democrat in there - I know I would certainly have voted Lamont if I lived there.

    And booting McKinney was a smart move too. It shows the Dems are looking for the best candidates who will represent them well in Washington, regardless of their political views.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 12:56 a.m.  

  • By Blogger Thomas, at 2:25 a.m.  

  • "With close to 300,000 people voting in this primary, I think this only further illustrates how the Primary system is a kazillion times better than the way Canadian parties pick candidates and leaders. Notice how this race wasn't about which candidate could mobilize certain ethnic communities, or get access to forms, or take over a riding association, or get a favourable nomination date from the party. It was about who those who called themselves Democrats in Connecticut wanted to represent them."

    Bang on CG. I couldn't possibly agree more.

    By Blogger BL, at 2:26 a.m.  

  • CG: you're right on the money. The primary system cleans up the mess before th real enemies get a chance to take shots. Having just seen a rebroadcast of the Liberal Party leadership debate in Winnepeg, well... let's just say it's a circus. 12 candidates on a stage leads to just about the most useless, irrelevant debating format ever. It looked more like some sort of square dance involving questions than a race.

    By Blogger C. LaRoche, at 3:11 a.m.  

  • I have thought a primary system would be a positive change to Canada's electoral system. I would be suprisingly simple.

    Just add 15 days to the compaign and have a primary election 15 days after the call of the election. Parties could set their own rules for nomination, but voters would be allowed to vote on the primary for one party or other.

    This would end the practice of buying large blocks of people to vote at meetings without any thought as to suitability of the candidate.

    By Blogger Stephen Jenuth, at 10:18 a.m.  

  • God, I know sooo little about the primary system vs. our system. But in general, I like their system better.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 10:24 a.m.  

  • I worte about this yesterday. CG


    By Blogger Davenport Liberal, at 10:32 a.m.  

  • I dont really care about us politics when Harper gives us a lot of stuff like that:
    "The Harpers are proud to support and participate in the Ottawa Humane Society’s Foster Program, which provides temporary homes for pets in the community who are not yet ready for adoption."

    By Blogger Bass, at 10:42 a.m.  

  • CG,

    I would like to state a dissenting view on introducing the primary system to Canada. Firstly, it couldn't work in a parliamentary system to begin with since you would have to have 308 individual primaries for each riding. Along with the fact that Canada is not a two-party system where voters register with the state their political affiliation, you could not have a mass voting public determine candidacies in ridings. You would have what you have now: the hardcore activists and their friends voting at nomination meetings.

    However, let us hypothesize that the Senate was elected and Canadians could vote in a primary to determine candidates. A case could be made that primaries homogenize politics and candidates. Parties select candidates to the public that are perceived to be more telegenic, less controversial, and filter candidates that have "dubious" past despite possibly being better qualified. Party activists actually also lose ownership of their party to a voting public that doesn't have any vested interest in the party. As a result, political participation actually declines over time since voting preferences. Why participate in a party where the actual views of the base are pushed aside for mass appeal? The mass public does deserve their say: in the general election.

    By Blogger Michael, at 10:46 a.m.  

  • And many of those who "called themselves Democrats", Calgrit, were actually Republicans switching IDs on the fly.

    No, a primary system doesn't get rid of identity politics, and it doesn't get rid of riding-level politics. All it does is cripple a party, which in the Canadian context would be disastrous.

    (Oh, and think of the cost, which is precisely WHY this is so rare. Running in primaries costs an absolute fortune, and the main reason why Lamont was able to mount a credible challenge is that he's a self-funded millionaire. Do you REALLY want more bagmen playing a BIGGER role in the Liberal party?)

    In any case, the problem with Lieberman wasn't that he was a "centrist", or even that he was pro-Iraq. The problem is that thanks to the weakness of the American party system, he could spend all his time badmouthing his own party and get away with it. He was a Republican tool; bad for the Democrats, bad for Connecticut and bad for American politics, and I hope he at least has the decency to drop out.

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 11:46 a.m.  

  • Jason: yelling "make it work" to someone who has neither the inclination or, likely, ability to do so isn't smart policy. "Re-thinking" may be pointless at this point.

    (Let's all thank Iggy and his friends like Ken Pollack and Thomas Friedman for giving Bush the intellectual cover to start this disaster and, indirectly, get Joe kicked out. Thanks, Iggy! Looks like you already have made a positive difference in North American politics.)

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 11:49 a.m.  

  • I think it's more dutiful than defending bad policy and incompetent strategy.

    It was "think out of the box" time ages ago. There is always a solution somewhere - Lieberman didn't lead a hunt for it. If it means splitting Iraq up into three states, and building walls and putting in peacekeepers, so be it. (I'm not suggesting that, I'm saying "IF" that's the answer, let's do it) Lieberman defended the war when it was failing.

    Well, I guess one thing is for sure - I can't wait to see how the November vote turns out in CT.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 11:58 a.m.  

  • michael; Obviously you'd need to have people register with parties. It wouldn't be too hard to do but you'd need cross partisan approval which is why it wouldn't happen.

    As for the cost, parties hold nomination races anyways so it's not a huge added burden (although it would have to be run by elections Canada).

    As for Republicans voting as Democrats (etc), you just insist that people have to register with one party and stay with them for a year. Right now, there's nothing to stop me from buying a PC membership to vote for Ted Morton in the PC leadership race so this wouldn't be any different.

    Finally, you could still do a delegated convention if you wanted to - obviously the primary system would need to be tweaked a bit to the Parliamentary system.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 12:50 p.m.  

  • CG,

    I posted a while ago on how I'd like to see primaries run in Canada for the Liberal party.

    Civic Engagement - A primary ideas

    I'd love your feedback on this plan. I too think primaries would really rev up the political process.

    By Blogger Forward Looking Canadian, at 1:44 p.m.  

  • Riley:

    Your proposed system is formally equivalent to the current Liberal system, with the exception that the voting at the first stage is not simultaneous (which I think is a bad and demonstrably unfair idea), that individuals can call in votes rather than cast ballots, and that the aggregation happens at the provincial rather than the riding level.

    This, I think, demonstrates something: the current Liberal (and old PC party system) is basically a series of primaries for party members. So what's the innovation?

    By Blogger Peter Loewen, at 2:04 p.m.  

  • Peter,

    I don't think it's anything like what we have now.

    Like you pointed out, voting would be more transparent, would happen over multiple primaries, and would be more accessible to common people who could call in or vote online for their candidate.

    When I was selected as a delegate for Paul Martin in 2003 I remember asking "but how do you know I'll get to go as a delegate?" to which the person replied "trust me, don't worry about it".

    Primaries would bring transparency, media attention, and candidate focus on regions one at a time until the build up to the convention. All delegates would be chosen by proportional representation from the province.

    How is THAT the same as what we have now?

    By Blogger Forward Looking Canadian, at 2:16 p.m.  

  • I agree with your opinion on the primary system. It's a very interesting way of picking the candidates.

    Two questions:
    1) How much does it cost?
    2) Who pays for it?

    By Blogger Michael Fox, at 2:55 p.m.  

  • Riley:

    I am going to suggest that you don't know much about how the current Liberal system works, based on your response. And, to be frank, I don't think you've made a convincing case that your system will bring more voters into the system, or will present them with a more easily understood system. To be sure, the $10 membership fee is certainly no impediment to anyone now. And, based on the American evidence, there are not very many voters who really understand the primary system.

    But, to come at you from another angle, do you not think it patently unfair that voting in your system would occur at different times? Why, for example, should a BC voter have the advantage of knowing the revealed preferences of party members in 9 other provinces when he casts his vote (which is a nice piece of information), while a voter in PEI has none of that information? Or why, for example, is it fair that BC voters may have no substantive effect on the outcome if a clear winner is already chosen, but Atlantic voters have a chance to be trendsetters?

    I do think it's quite admirable that you've proposed a new system, but I just want you to demonstrate how it is formally different from the old one (versus jsut making statements about the kind of different behaviours it will engender). Also, I'd like you to explain why we should adopt a more unfair system of election timing.

    By Blogger Peter Loewen, at 3:05 p.m.  

  • Toronto Tory and Peter,

    First off, it's not really just my idea but several ideas I've stolen from academics and blended into a "riley's thoughts".

    Second, it probably would cost more than the current system and would be the responsibility of the party. BUT by having, say, an Atlantic Primary, where media attention and national spotlight would hit the region, campaigns would probably get students, volunteers and campaign organizers more involved in the fundraising aspects. Your vote matters more, you get more attention, and there is more transparency.

    I think by holding primaries from one side of the country to the other, you'd be building a machine and momentum. You see how that works in the U.S.

    The primary system in the U.S. is also responsible for raising a LOT of money for the parties. Howard Dean used the internet and groundswell of support to raise funds and organization before he blew it with his scream speech. But he was doing a good job of encouraging people to be involved in the process before that.

    But we really aren't the United States so that is not the point.

    I don't think primaries would be MORE unfair than how we currently vote for delegates. Do you want to explain to me how we do that? Riding associations sign up new members, people put their names forward who want to go and who they support, and people vote for them on a certain day. Often few people come in to vote, and often background deals are made as to whose name goes on the ballot.

    The proposed system in my post was meant to increase transparency by each candidates team putting forth a list of possible delegates. Members could then call in or electronically vote for their candidate in a primary. Through the PR system, each candidate would get the appropriate delegates from the list selected. 20% of the vote gets you 2/10 delegates. Your top two names from the list get to go. THATS different than the current system eh Peter?

    As far as holding primaries from coast to coast one after the other, you could then swap the order for the next leadership race to be fair. I also think that having a primary one after the other allows candidates to build a machine. Perhaps Sheila Copps could have had a chance to build a campaign if she had been able to get some legs in the beginning and have a little more transparency in how delegates were chosen.

    I do also believe that a primary system would change behavioral patterns as well. As more attention settled down on any particular province, this would get recuits, volunteers and organizers more energized and facilitate media attention and fundraising.

    This system would cost more but I think it would provide for energy and fundraising opportunities not used in the current system.

    So peter have I explained this enough so that it is DIFFERENT than our current one?

    By Blogger Forward Looking Canadian, at 3:35 p.m.  

  • No, you haven't, because you've demonstrated quite clearly that you do not understand how delegates are chosen in the Liberal system. Indeed, they are elected in a manner no different than the one you are describing, save that the aggregation occurs at the riding living rather than the provincial level.

    You suggest that the order of primaries would be rotated. This does not make them any more fair. It just redistributes the unfairness each time. Would you, for example, advocate Canadian federal elections be held on subsequent days so some provinces voted after others?

    By Blogger Peter Loewen, at 3:49 p.m.  

  • Peter,

    Please explain to me how current delegates are chosen.

    I was under the assumption that it wasn't by PR in the province, it is done by individual ridings and not through PR.

    How does one get on the list to be chosen as a delegate?

    Love to hear you explain it all out to me.

    By Blogger Forward Looking Canadian, at 3:55 p.m.  

  • In each riding members cast a ballot with two parts. The first part indicates their preference for leader. The second part allows them to indicate their preference among delegates who are committed to the leader of their choosing.

    The number of delegates for each leadership candidate is determined in accordance with their support on the first part of the ballot. The people who take those delegate spots are those who received the highest number of votes among delegates committed to each respective candidate.

    It worked the same way in 2004.

    By Blogger Peter Loewen, at 4:02 p.m.  

  • riley; I'd hold all the primaries the same day since the main problem with the US system is that the early primaries get a disproportionate influence on the outcome.

    The system you describe is similar to how it's picked now - it's done by PR on a riding level. I'd be tempted to keep that, but just make all voters eligible off the primary list instead of those holding memberships.

    That way, parties could use whatever system they want - they'll all just have to agree to register. You could do one member one vote, or a delegated convention - that would still be the party's pick.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 4:50 p.m.  

  • Peter's account of the voting process pretty much sums it up.

    However, I too have a story similar to Riley's when it came to getting a delegate slot in 2003. I was a Martin Youth delegate on the ballot, but ended up not being elected through the riding. About a month and a half before the convention I got a phone call from BC's Liberal HQ asking if I wanted to go to the convention. They never gave me a full explanation, only a very vague suggestion that the folks ahead of me (both Copps Youth) decided they didn't want to attend the convention.

    By Blogger RGM, at 7:25 p.m.  

  • I guarantee Richard and I aren't the only ones who saw irregularities during the voting procedures.

    I walked in to cast my ballot (for myself of course) and as I signed in at the front door, the lady (with a Vote 4 Martin Pin on her shirt) sternly warned me "we're paul martin people here".

    I'd like to see primaries expanded to the provincial level in hopes of increased transparency and also I'd like to see primaries spread out so people could gather momentum and organization. Plus it would give smaller provinces like those in Atlantic Canada a bit more of a say. I don't think it's "unfair" at all.

    But oh well. this has been an interesting discussion.

    By Blogger Forward Looking Canadian, at 8:06 p.m.  

  • As a Canadian who recently moved to D.C. I'd like to add my 2 cents on the vibe is down here post Lamont victory and Lieberman's decision to run as an Independent:

    There is a feeling that the Democratic party isn't united - Lieberman made comments about the party moving "too far away from the majority of Americans".

    A friend of mine (a Democrat) said that he doesn't think that Democrats can read polls - when they see %55 of Americans are against the war in Iraq, they don't realize that this actually means approx. 80% of Democrats are against it.

    In interesting contradiction to this, though the numbers seem to match up, another friend of mine who happens to work for Sen. Lieberman said that approx 55% of Conneticutants (sp?) overall, Lieberman...so it makes sense (from a crass political perspective) to run as an independent...

    I think that a general feeling is that Democrats shouldn't be fighting amongst themselves about who is too close to Bush or who is anti-Bush enough - but rather that they should be talking about concrete policy initiatives and how they'd run the country differently than the Republicans (i.e. an election strategy that is based on "Bush is a Bad Man" is a weak election strategy - hello last Liberal federal election strategy.)

    And finally, just an "interesting" fact: Ned Lamont spent $4 million (US no less) of his own personal cash on the primary. I wonder how much he has remaining in his war chest?

    ...it should be an interesting race.

    By Blogger JJ, at 8:22 p.m.  

  • I don't remember seeing any pro-Martin pins at my local ballot station, but the "good old boys" that ran the show on the riding association certainly did like him. The organizational takeover of the Party by the Martin forces ran pretty deep countrywide, I'd assume, and it'd be interesting to hear more about it from regular people.

    By Blogger RGM, at 8:45 p.m.  

  • I'm an American, and the comment on the US primary system is interesting. You guys may want to stick with your system.

    First, one reason the US uses primaries is that there are effectively only two political parties. This in itself is a "democratic deficit". Why only two parties is debated by political scientists, but I think its because the US has a presidential system (with the state governors being mini-presidents, within their states). With the entire executive the creature of the president, you pretty much either support his program, or you oppose it.

    Since there are more than two points of view in politics, Americans have gotten around the two party system by having primaries within the parties. In most normal countries, Lieberman and Lamont would belong to two different parties. Imagine if the NDP and Liberals were one party, and the Bloc and the Tories were one party. You would need something like primaries to make this work.

    Second, the US primary system has the same problems with the US general elections. There are no limits on spending, no public TV time, and campaigns last for months. Incumbents get big advantages, not the least that campaigns are so long and expensive that running for even minor offices is not really possible unless you are either wealthy or very well connected (Lamont is both). Most primaries in the US are actually uncontested. You probably could have primaries and fix these problems.

    Third, for candidates its more a sacrifice to mount a primary election campaign than to bring supporters to a meeting. This doesn't sound like an argument against primaries at first glance. However, the Democrats and Republicans don't run candidates in every election. The Republicans, the governing party, are contesting only about 380 of the 435 House races each year, and this is pretty much normal. Primaries mean major problems with candidate recruitment, and using them for each riding means that there will be quite a few ridings that are uncontested in federal elections.

    Fourth, most of the problems the Liberals have had with selecting their leaders are particular to the Liberals. The Conservatives and the New Democrats use the same system. If the New Democrats have run into these problems, I haven't heard of it. The Conservatives have had difficulties with selecting candidates and leaders, or else we would never have heard of Stockwell Day, but not to the extent of the Liberals most of the problems stem from the Reform-PC split and make up.

    Fifth, the Liberals are taking an entire year to select their leader. That means Harper doesn't have to worry about losing a confidence vote for at least a year. This tells me that switching to any system would be an improvement for the Grits (how about a lottery?). But the US presidential primary system is just as illogical and dysfunctional.

    There is a strong case for a nationwide primary for the party leader. I would keep the current system for picking candidates for MPs, though I would tighten up the membership requirements.

    By Blogger Yank15, at 10:44 p.m.  

  • currently the presidential primaries in the US are for picking delegates to a national convention where they vote for who gets to become nominee.

    I don't think much modification is needed compared to our system (at least for leadership) besides holding different regions at different times. (besides opening the vote up to anyone with liberal registration, rather than membership.)

    By Blogger Manley Man, at 2:03 a.m.  

  • Except that the US primaries no longer result in conventions which have anything but a foreseen outcome. By the time Super Tuesday rolls around the outcome is known and the delegate voting is but a formality.

    Then again, thinking back to 2004 in Canada...

    By Blogger Peter Loewen, at 12:21 p.m.  

  • peter: needless to say, this coming convention will not be 2004.

    Again, I don't see the benefit in going with "primaries" in a system where the heads of state at both the provincial and federal level are not, in fact, elected. Ridings choose candidates, elections choose MPs, MPs choose the PM, and the PM chooses the cabinet. Where is there room in there for primaries, except in a "registration" scheme that would only weaken Canada's laudable strong-party system?

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 11:50 a.m.  

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