Simon Review Paper #11


The 2008 nominations process will certainly go down in history as one of the longest, most contentious, and most expensive in the nation’s history. It was also one of the most interesting and exciting ever. The race had more officially declared candidates, had more money spent on it, and for the Democrats was more closely contested than any race in recent history. It was one for the record books in many respects. For the Democrats it unexpectedly became a marathon which extended from January of 2007 through early June of 2008, almost eighteen months of intense combat. The slug fest between Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama for a while seemed endless, and it appeared that neither candidate could score a definitive victory. Each state contest was important. The rules of the game were also important and set the calendar and the parameters for the allocation of delegates in such a fashion that both became bones of great contention within the party as both major candidates fought every step for every minute advantage. Indeed, the rules which typically should have been settled long before the contest began became a fulcrum for the contest between Clinton and Obama, and some of the most crucial decisions were not made until the meeting of the Rules Committee of the Democratic National Committee met in Washington, D. C. on May 31st to settle on what to do about the disastrously unsettled Michigan and Florida primaries rules. That decision was a signal that Obama would probably prevail and was the beginning of the last stage for the Clinton campaign. It ultimately came down to the last set of contests on June 3rd before the Obama campaign could point to an insurmountable lead in the delegate count and thus claim victory. The Democratic race truly turned into a marathon (Whitcover, 1977). It very nearly exhausted both candidates, and threatened to exhaust the patience of the American public. Because the Democratic nomination was so divisive and so hard fought, this paper will devote more attention to an analysis of it, and to the rules which govern the Democratic contest; however, the nominations season is but a prologue to the main event which is the general election which will end on November 4, 2008.