The point being that military service is not the only way to serve your country. Organizing communities is a service to the country. Volunteering is service to the country. Getting involved in politics to better your community, state, or the nation as a whole is service to your country. There are a lot of ways to serve your country, and it's important to encourage and honor all forms of service.
I think in order to understand how sexism impacted this nomination race it's important to divide the sexist attacks in to two camps.
The first are sexist attacks on Senator Clinton for doing or saying something that a male candidate in the same position doing the same thing would not have been attacked for.
The second camp are attacks on Senator Clinton for doing or saying something that a male candidate would have also been attacked for, but in a sexist way, or using sexist language.
Attacks and comments in the first camp appear to be a net negative for the candidate in my opinion. It's clearly unfair for a female candidate to have to fight off attacks in this camp that no male candidate would ever have to face.
In the second camp however I'm not so sure on balance it's a negative for the candidate. In the second case the criticism is deserved, but the manner it's couched is offensive due to its sexist nature. Does the sexist language mean that men internalized and accept the criticism of the candidate more? I don't know but it's certainly possible. More important I think however is that most women will complete disregard the criticism because it's couched in sexist language, no mater how valid the underlying criticism may be. It also allows the candidate to counter the attack by pointing out the sexism, and then pivoting to sexism in general.
Now I haven't done any analysis to see how many of the sexist attacks fell in to each camp, but my gut feeling is that more fell in to the second camp then the first. That could just be because attacks in the second camp are easier to identify and are more loudly denounced, but it's all I have to go on at this point.
Anyway, my point would be I can understand why a lot of people can say sexism existed and was a factor in the primary campaign, but it was not a major factor. I can also understand how a lot of people can be very angry with the level of sexism that was displayed in the campaign. It's important to acknowledge their legitimate anger at the sexism that occurred, while at the same time not allowing the idea to set in that Clinton lost because of sexism. I just don't see the evidence to support that sexism was the dominant reason she lost, not when there are obvious strategic blunders that contributed to Obama's pledged delegate lead and ended up deciding the race.
P.S. Natasha, I'm not suggesting that you hold the view that Clinton lost because of sexism, I'm just trying to suggest it's important for all of us to make this distinction as clear as possible.
The polls are really only relevant if the VP choice being polled has sufficient name recognition. Edwards has huge name recognition, so of course he polls well. Most of the others polled have very little name recognition. That would also be one of the reasons Romney polls so well as VP on the Republican side.
Don't forget the most important reason, we don't exactly have a huge majority in the senate and there just isn't a good reason to take a senator from a state where it's not a sure thing to replace them with a democrat in the next election. That also disqualifies Jim Webb and Evan Byah in my opinion.
But do we really need 800 super delegates? That just seems excessive. I would suggest limiting it to sitting members of congress, state governors, former presidents and vice-presidents, former speakers of the house and former senate majority leaders. Even with huge majorities in congress that would be around 350 super delegates. Why do we need more then that?
Winner take all is problematic in a nominating contest because there is almost always more then one candidate, especially early on. It means you can end up giving all of the delegates to a candidate the majority of the voters do not want, for example:
Candidate A, B, and C are all running in a winner take all primary. Candidates A and B are both liberals, with positions basically in line with norm of our party. Candidate C is a conservative democrat. Candidate C is pro Iraq war and wants to stay for ever, candidate C is pro-life, pro-guns, anti-gay marriage and gay rights. The primary happens and the vote breaks down like this:
So while it's pretty clear that the majority of the voters would not vote for candidate C, C got a plurality, and so gets all of the delegates. If candidate B drops out after the first primary or two, then A can probably rally the rest of the party to beat C, but if B hangs around long enough then C is going to win against the wishes of the vast majority of the party. A scenario that is likely if A and B keep trading back in forth who does better, and each win a few states.
Winner takes all works best when there are only two candidates, kind of like in the general election. One of the benefits of the Electoral College is that it magnifies the margin of victory in what other wise would be a very close election every cycle. This magnifying affect helps lend legitimacy to the winner and helps the loser recognize when the have lost. If not for the EC you could have Florida style recounts in every state every cycle.
I think this analysis vastly over estimates the narrowing of the margin. The demographic voting trends have been the best predictor of results after the first few contests. Those demographics suggest that the margins in a state like Minnesota would be fairly close to the margin in Wisconsin. Obama didn't do well in a lot of these states just because they were caucuses, they were also good states for him. Conversely Clinton doesn't have some magical allergy to caucuses, she after all won the popular vote in Nevada.
The most likely result of having no Caucuses would be a smaller delegate lead for Obama, but a much larger lead in popular vote.