Tuesday, February 5, 2008

My second presidential election in which I'm qualified to vote

I was really nervous when I took the so-called "citizenship" test even though it's a series of verbal questions on standard (read: elementary- Who's the first president of the United States? blah blah blah) knowledge of the US government. Highly charged with stress hormones, I answered all the questions that came my way in one breath. Until, "How many stars and stripes are on the US flag?" was lobbed my way. I took a really deep breath and got really nervous about this difficult question. I couldn't believe how stumped I felt.
"..I-In-n what year?" I finally sputtered and stammered. The woman giving the test gave me a really nasty look. Turns out they were just asking about our current flag. Duh. I made it more difficult than it was.
Now, what's really stumped me is the primary and delegate processes. Yesterday, as I was riding home on the train with Josh, I confessed how embarrassed I was that I had no clue about it. Josh started blathering about the electoral college. No, no, no I said, I want to know how Super Tuesday and all that non-sense works. How does the Democratic party select its nominee? Well of course the immigrant has more natural curiousity than the native. Here is a general guide, a brief historical viewpoint/analysis and a practical FAQ regarding how nominees are selected. It's all interesting stuff but sadly, it's not simple or easily digested. Even after reading 3 articles on this topic, I certainly don't want to be tested on my knowledge of it. Why do voting and taxes have to be so goddamn complicated?!


js said...

I wanted to mention that the most interesting thing to come of the conversation was this: What if say Obama won more delegates in Republican dominated states, and Hil won more delagates in Democratic dominated states ... but say Obama had enough for the Democratic nomination ... he might do worse than Hil would have in the general election (because his supporters are in the wrong states). I don't know if that's the way the primaries work (each state's delegates are counted once for Repubs, once for Dems? If so, it wouldn't do a great job of getting the candidate with the best chance of winning the general election, which I thought was much of the point.

Cassandra Jupiter said...

JS - As I understand the process from the 3 readings, yes this can happen. There is no accounting for historically Republican or Democratic states. However, I do think that the order of the primaries might take this into account. I think that might be why California and NY primaries are scheduled so late. The candidates seem to spend more time in the "swing" states. This is all interpretation from an ignorant immigrant who's never voted in a primary or for a delegate (apparently you can vote for them in certain situations).

Cassandra Jupiter said...

Looks like I was wrong...they do take that into account (democratic support in a prior election) in apportioning the # of delegates. But the formula must be complicated, I can't find it any where. Here's a good reading from CNN on the 2004 election delegation process. http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004/primaries/pages/misc/more.html
This is very big of me, because I'm scornful of CNN.com as a media source.