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Obama and the momentum


There has never been so much excitement and expectation in America as throughout the country both political parties engage their supporters in caucuses and primaries to find a nominee for the presidential race in the next general election. The excitement may have been more so on the Democratic side, as a woman for the first time, Senator Hillary Clinton and an African American Senator Barack Obama contend for the coveted position to lead the Democratic Party in a general election.{{more}} The excitement is so infectious that in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, people are talking about the candidates and making their choice. Perhaps if a vote is taken here many persons would be supporting the talented, charismatic Senator Barack Obama, who is mesmerizing the crowds in the USA. This week we would look at the Democratic system so that we could better understand the momentum that is created.

The Democratic Convention

The Democratic Party will hold their Convention in August of this year, while the Republicans will hold their convention afterwards, as it is customary for the party that is out of office to hold their Convention before the incumbent. The Convention will produce their nominee for the party in the general election.. It is also customary for elections to take place in the form of caucuses and primaries before this Convention to elect delegates to vote for the person who would become the nominee. This year, the race has been tight with the two main contenders Senator Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton putting up strong fights. After Super Tuesday, Obama gained a slight lead over Clinton, both in the number of delegates and popular vote. The highly anticipated Convention takes place in Denver but before this there are still many hurdles to cross because no one candidate has the number of pledged delegates that is required to win in the convention.

Delegates and Super delegates

For the past months, the Democrats have been choosing their candidates in primaries and caucuses. These are the pledged delegates, a total of 3253. The person who becomes the nominee needs to attract at least 2,025 delegates. Of the 4,049 delegates there are some 796 super delegates or unpledged delegates. Super delegates do not have to face elections in primaries and caucuses. These include members of Congress, state workers, elected officials, Democratic National Committee members and the state’s party chairman, past presidents and vice-presidents. They could vote for who ever they chose unhindered by results in their home states. Bill Clinton, John Kerry and Al Gore are all super delegates. If any candidate goes into the convention without the required number of delegates chosen by the states, he/she will have to depend on the super delegates. Many pundits are predicting chaos if the candidate who gets the popular vote is not anointed by the Convention. Republicans have party officials as delegates but the term super delegate is used by the Democrats, although not formally.

Election 2008

There are the makings for an upset in the nomination process if Clinton is able to woo the super delegates. The primaries and caucuses come to an end on June 7th 2008. Senator Obama is making great strides. After elections at Wisconsin and Hawaii, on February, 19th 2008, his figures stood at 1,303 against his contenders 1,233 delegates. What we do know is that Obama, with his message of hope and change, is creating a momentum an ever growing force that could make him the nominee for the Democratic Party. We wait patiently to see if his historic message bears fruit.

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.
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