For the first time since Jerry Brown in 1992, a candidate other than the party’s presumptive nominee has been formally nominated for president at the Democratic National Convention – and the roll call is now underway.
Brown was nominated in ’92 because it was his only way of securing a speaking slot (Bill Clinton had refused to grant him one unless Brown first endorsed him). Hillary Clinton was nominated today, apparently, as part of a deal with Barack Obama that (in theory) will make her supporters feel they were treated fairly at the convention.
Just before the nominations, Clinton formally released her delegates, freeing them to vote as they pleased. (One of the attendees at the meeting with her delegates, California delegate Elena Ong, told my colleague Jason Horowitz that Clinton told them to “vote their hearts.”)
But she indicated that she understood if some still wanted to cast symbolic votes for her. So the question became: How many votes would she receive, and what would it mean?
Midway through the count, she seems to be holding on to about half of her pledged delegates (Clinton finished the primary season with 1,639.5 pledged delegates and another 246 superdelegates).
For instance, in the primaries, she collected 27 pledged delegates in Georgia. On the floor this afternoon, she received 18 votes from the Peach State. In Maryland, she received 27 delegates through the February primary, but only six today. Notably, Arkansas, where Clinton posted her best primary season performance, awarded all of its delegates to Obama.
None of this seems terribly surprising. In the ’92 roll call, Paul Tsongas – who, like Clinton today, released his delegates prior to the vote – still received 209 votes on the floor – meaning that he retained the loyalty of roughly 40 percent of his pledged delegates.
UPDATE: The percentage is dropping. As some of the bigger states go heavily for Obama, it now looks like she’s on pace to get the support of between a third and 40 percent of her delegates.
UPDATE II: Huffington Post is now reporting that Arkansas didn’t mean to cast all its votes for Obama; it was actually a clerical error.
That seems believable in light of the fact that last night, during Hillary Clinton’s speech, she recognized the widow of the late Arkansas State Democratic Party chairman Bill Gwatney, who was assassinated barely two weeks ago. It’s not unthinkable that Rebecca Gwatney, who was seated with Bill Clinton, would have voted against Hillary under those circumstances, but it seems more likely that she would remain loyal to the Clintons.