we’re three tickets out

< Previous | Next >

Saritdiisraele

Senior Member
Israel, hebrew
Hi guys can you tell me what is "we're three tickets out" in this context?

"Her phone call to congratulate Obama was abrupt and impersonal. “Great victory, we’re threetickets out of Iowa, see you in New Hampshire,” she said,
and hung up the phone."

Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime
by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin.
 
  • Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Well, when there is a race to become your political party's nomination to run for the presidency in the US, you have a few stages of voting and the list of possible candidates weans down when you get to the Iowa caucus (which we're coming up to now on January 3rd). There were three top candidates running to be on the Democrat's ticket in the last election, Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton and John Edwards. So before that there were a few more who ended up doing badly like Biden (who later teamed up with Barack Obama to be his VP, while Hilary got the Secretary of State). At this caucus there is a vote and a top 3 comes out. The top three then go on to New Hampshire which is the next vote which, by then everyone knows who is (pretty much) going to be on the ticket to run for the presidency. Hilary came second and Barack came first, but at the closest count he was still 6 points ahead of anyone so it's pretty clear he was going to get it, though she didn't renounce her campaign until June (I remember reading the Italian newspaper in Australia when it was announced she dropped out).

    So, because there were opponents then, they had no reason to be friendly (hence the abrupt and impersonal tone), but it was more of a polite call just stating the obvious and mentioning that out of the top three 'tickets' (ticket = names of people running for president/vice-president), that they were both on there, and it would then progress to the next round (in New Hampshire), which is why she says "see you in New Hampshire".

    This is going on right now with the Republican candidates and choosing their candidate to challenge Obama next year. There's about 5 of them at the moment (last time I checked) and they go to Iowa in 4 days and the top selection of people will be picked and then it will progress to New Hampshire Primary on the 10th of January, and so on and so on until Mitt Romney will ironically come out as the Republican nomination.
     
    Last edited:

    Fabulist

    Banned
    American English
    I'm sorry, Alxmrphi might have described the way the U.S. Presidential nominating process is understood in Great Britain, but it is incorrect.

    An American election "ticket" consists of all of the candidates of a particular party running in an election held at the same date. (In the U.S., at one "election" we might elect candidates to 20 or more offices at four or more levels—federal, state, county, and city, town, or other municipality.) A Presidential "ticket," consisting of one party's nominees for President and Vice-President, is not formed until the party's national convention, late in the summer and months after the Iowa caucuses.

    The Iowa caucuses have nothing to do with the number of candidates legally permitted compete in the New Hampshire primaries. That is determined by state procedures in New Hampshire. This year, one Republican candidate, Jon Huntsman, is not competing in the Iowa caucuses at all, but will be on the Republican primary ballot in New Hampshire, and he is already campaigning hard there.

    I'm not sure what Ms. Clinton meant by "three tickets out of New Hampshire." She might have meant that, as a practical matter, three Democratic candidates had been successful enough in Iowa to have a chance to do well in New Hampshire and the many primaries beyond, regardless of the number who would be on the ballot in New Hampshire.

    Thus, finishing in the top three was a metaphorical "ticket," in the sense of a piece of paper showing that one has paid the price of admission to a show or sporting event, to the rest of the nominating process. Finishing well in Iowa was an admission "ticket" to the next event.

    I don't remember the details of the 2008 Democratic nominating campaign well enough to recall whether the field was really narrowed to only three competitive candidates by the Iowa caucuses. I think Ms. Clinton was suggesting that she thought it had, but there was nothing to prevent other candidates from campaigning in New Hampshire or receiving votes there, and there were at that time no "tickets" of candidates running jointly or cooperatively, for President and Vice-President.
     

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Well from 2008 that's exactly the process it seemed to represent.
    Just out of curiosity, what was I wrong on? I assumed it was top 3 who go through (from looking at 2008), but that detail aside, I said it was a sort of stage by stage process, which you confirmed here:
    Thus, finishing in the top three was a metaphorical "ticket," in the sense of a piece of paper showing that one has paid the price of admission to a show or sporting event, to the rest of the nominating process. Finishing well in Iowa was an admission "ticket" to the next event.
    Now, I'm stumped at where I could be incorrect according to you, because that was basically what I said.
    I described what happened in 2008, and mentioned the top people go through from one round to the next to try to get on the (presidential) ticket.

    I don't remember the details of the 2008 Democratic nominating campaign well enough to recall whether the field was really narrowed to only three competitive candidates by the Iowa caucuses.
    It was, I checked it before posting.

    So yeah, besides me saying "3" and there is not actually a maximum number of allowed candidates to progress to the next round - unless there's something I'm still not getting, I don't think that warrants the label of being "incorrect" (Maybe 'slightly off' :p). Either way, I'm only a casual observer and don't profess to have the knowledge of the deep inner-workings of another country's political system ;) That's just what watching 6 years of Jon Stewart does to you, so I thought I'd take a stab at answering the question since nobody else had. So now there's confirmation from an American then I'm sure the question has been sufficiently confirmed :)
     
    Last edited:

    Fabulist

    Banned
    American English
    The Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary are independent events. This year Jon Huntsman is making no attempt whatsoever to gain support in the Iowa caucuses. He has qualified for the Republican primary in New Hampshire and has been campaigning there.

    Each state sets its own requirements, and in some states each party may be allowed to set its own requirements. For the Virginia Republican primary this year, a candidate had to file a petition with the signatures of 10,000 qualified Virginia voters, including a minimum from each of the state's 11 Congressional districts. Only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul have qualified. If Rick Santorum finishes first in the Iowa caucuses, that will not matter in Virginia—he still won't be on the Republican primary ballot.

    The Iowa caucuses have historically served as a "filter," in conjunction with other early primaries. Candidates who do not do well in Iowa have found their support in later states dropping, media coverage disappearing, and financial contributions drying up. Some of those who did not finish within the top n formally withdraw immediately, even though they remain on the ballot in later primaries. Some continue campaigning, but as a practical matter have little to no chance of winning the nomination.

    However, n varies according to circumstances. In 2008, John McCain finished fifth but he was still on the ballot in New Hampshire, campaigned there, won, and went on to secure the nomination.

    If Ms. Clinton said after the 2008 Democratic caucuses, "we're three tickets out," she was expressing an opinion that, as a practical matter but not according to any rule or regulation, only three of the Democratic candidates who had competed for support there had obtained enough to have a chance to win the nomination eventually. She, Obama, and John Edwards (presumably the "we" of her peculiar phrase) had "tickets to New Hampshire" (like train tickets, not electoral tickets), the others—Bill Richardson, Joe Biden, and Chris Dodd—had "tickets to nowhere."

    That was a self-interested assessment on her part, since she had finished third. If only the top two could have continued contending for the nomination, she would have been squeezed out.

    An additional complication in this case is that the Democratic party apparently had a rule that only candidates with support from at least 15% of the caucus participants could get delegates. Only Obama, Edwards, and Clinton exceeded this minimum

    On the Republican side, McCain did not, but I don't see any mention in the single account I am referring to that the Republicans had a 15% minimum rule for delegates. In any case, getting only 13% did not prevent him from remaining a contender for the nomination elsewhere in the country, in part because of supporters and an organization from his 2000 campaign. The other candidate with about 13% support in Iowa, Fred Thompson, did not win much support in New Hampshire (not in the top 4, less than 8%) but did continue campaigning in the next primary state, South Carolina, where he only got 16% of the vote and then dropped out of contention.
     

    Grady412

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Sorry, having read all of this, and all the background aside, I still don't understand where Alxmrphi was wrong. It all made perfect sense to me.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I think the only part that seemed a little different from our system is the idea that Iowa is some sort of official elimination that ends up picking the top three. Each primary or caucus is not directly related to any other primary, although the results of one may influence another. In fact, it is possible (though not likely) for a candidate to appear in a later primary that wasn't even in the Iowa caucus.

    (I still don't get the "we're three tickets out of Iowa". Not really knowing the details, I would have thought it meant they were working on three primaries past the Iowa caucus. The idea that it means they're in third place out of Iowa.)
     

    Fabulist

    Banned
    American English
    Grady412 and Alxmrphi (this was written while JamesM was replying),

    "At this caucus there is a vote and a top 3 comes out. The top three then go on to New Hampshire which is the next vote which, by then everyone knows who is (pretty much) going to be on the ticket to run for the presidency."—Post #1 in this thread by Alxmrphi

    This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of the Iowa caucuses in the U.S. Presidential nominating system.

    (1) The "top 3" in the Iowa caucuses may or may not "go on to New Hampshire." This year, one of the candidates in New Hampshire is deliberately ignoring the Iowa caucuses. In 2008, in the Republican primary, the fifth ranking candidate, in percentage of caucus participants, not only "went on to" the New Hampshire primary, but wonit.

    (2) The U.S. does not have a comprehensive national system for nominating presidents. Each state party, according to its state's law, makes its own rules. State laws regarding primary elections are not dependent on the laws of any other state. The State of Iowa has no authority to restrict who may run in the New Hampshire primaries or any other state's primaries, nor to require any other state to accept into its primaries (or caucuses) the "top 3" finishers in its caucuses. This can be seen:

    (a) In Huntsman's campaign in New Hampshire this year and McCain's (5th in Iowa) victory in 2008.

    (b) In the failure this year of candidates to qualify for the Virginia primary before the Iowa caucuses are even held. While it seems likely that 2 of the top 3 finishers in Iowa will be on the Virginia ballot, one of the top 3 definitely will not be, and it is possible, given recent trends, that the winner of the Iowa caucuses will not be on the ballot in Virginia. I believe he will be on the ballot in New Hampshire, where it is apparently easier to qualify.

    This just in: Since I wrote the "6:43" post, I have seen news that the Virginia Attorney General is going to propose legislation to the Virginia General Assembly (legislature) to change the statory requirements for qualifying for the 2012 Presidential primary. The Governor has issued an ambiguous statement. If the rules are changed, they will probably permit the "top 3" in Iowa this year to qualify, but it is highly doubtful that the Iowa results will be specified in the statute as a qualifying condition. But no new law has been passed yet, and Iowa can not compel Virginia to change its rules.

    (3) It is not true that "by then [the New Hampshire primary] everyone knows who is (pretty much) going to be on the ticket to run for the presidency." I haven't compiled a comprehensive list, but American political history is littered with New Hampshire primary winners who never got their party's nomination.

    (4) This is less certain, but as I explained in my initial post, I find it doubtful at least that Ms. Clinton's reference to a "ticket" was to an electoral "ticket," that is, to a set of candidates running jointly, under the same party label or even impossible to vote for separately (as is the case with President and Vice-President in the U.S., but also in some states for Governor and Lieutenant-Governor). There is no historical support for the notion that Presidential running mates (nominees for Vice President) are determined by, or even known immediately after, either the Iowa caucuses or the New Hampshire primary.

    It is for the last reason that I strongly believe that Alxmrphi was incorrect in suggesting that Ms. Clinton's statement, "we're three tickets out of here," had anything to do with electoral tickets. I am highly confident but not 100% certain that it was a metaphorical reference to the kinds of tickets one must acquire to ride on public transportation or be admitted to an entertainment or sporting event.

    There is a similar usage of the word "ticket" in the U.S. military. It is thought that certain kinds of experience are necessary for promotion to the upper officer ranks. That experience—command of certain types of units, attendance at staff schools, staff experience—is the "ticket" to promotion, and getting that experience is called "ticket-punching." If your "ticket" doesn't have the right "punches," you're not on the "promotion train."

    Therefore, I believe that Ms. Clinton was saying that doing well in the Iowa caucuses was similar to military "ticket-punching." She, Obama, and Edwards had had their "tickets punched" and were in a position to advance. But as John McCain showed the same year, there was no limit to 3 such "tickets," and in any case doing well in Iowa was not a statutory requirement for participating in later stages of the nominating process. Some military officers, too, have unconventional careers and reach high rank despite not having the right "tickets."

    It remains true that the Iowa caucuses are influential in determining the eventual nominee. It's better to attract many supporters there than not to. In most years when a party has a large number of candidates contending for its nomination, some either give up if they do not do well in Iowa, or are forced to do so by switching of votes, staff, and contributions to those who finished higher. This is true of poor finishes in other early primaries, too, and the nomination almost always is determined before the last of the primaries.

    But I think Alxmrphi's initial explanation to Saritdiisraele was misleading, both about the reference to three tickets out of hereand in its description of the role of the Iowa caucuses in U.S. Presidential nominations.
     

    Fabulist

    Banned
    American English
    Last night (Monday, January 2, U.S. Eastern time), I heard this "three tickets" concept in relation to the Iowa caucuses again, in a news program discussion. It was used by a Republican political consultant. He said something like, "There's a saying that there are three tickets out of Iowa . . ."

    This might be a truism among political consultants and the candidates they advised, but I had not read it or heard it in political news before reading the OP of this thread. I'm not a "political junkie" but I do pay attention to political news and have done so for a long time, and since before there were Iowa caucuses in their present form (or at least with their present importance).

    It might be true that after the Iowa caucuses, each party (if both nominations are contested as in 2008) has only three candidates with a chance of winning, but McCain's fifth-place finish in 2008 demonstrates that it is not necessarily the top three.

    The person who said this, Stuart Rothenberg, might have picked it up from the Clinton quote in Heileman and Halperin, or it might have been around among the political campaign management crowd before 2008. It happened to fit the context of the discussion, in which three Republican candidates—Romney, Paul, and Santorum—were perceived as having significantly separated themselves from the rest and all had a chance to get the most support (the caucuses are tonight; I'm writing this at 9:39 a.m. local Iowa [Central Standard] time).

    Only time will tell whether only three of the Iowa candidates are, as a practical matter, able to continue contending for the nomination.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I confess:eek:: I've read the whole thread, but I still don't understand what the phrase "we're three tickets out of Iowa" might mean in Saritdiisraele's original context (I see that Fabulist suggests it might be a saying...).

    Can anyone explain in words of one syllable?:rolleyes::D
     

    pob14

    Senior Member
    American English
    Googling it, I note that it appears to be a fairly often-used phrase in political circles (in which I do not spend much time). For example, from one website:
    The cliche is that there are three tickets out of Iowa, namely a first-, second- or third-place finish in the caucuses, and that if a candidate does not achieve top three finish his or her campaign is in deep trouble.
    The concept is that only the top three finishers in the Iowa caucuses have any practical chance of actually going on to become the party's nominee. As Fabulist has pointed out, this was proven wrong in the very last election, but that doesn't appear to stop people from saying it.

    Edit: back to the OP, Clinton was saying to Obama that she and he were two of those three. Why exactly she said that "we [two] are the three" is a mystery to me.

    In our odd system, the two parties select their nominees by holding contests in each state. These contests are not all on the same day; indeed, they stretch out over months. This tends to give the early contests, such as the one in Iowa, disproportionate power, as the candidates who do well early are seen as the "frontrunners," and of course everybody loves a winner.

    What is even stranger is that in Iowa, the contest is not an election at all but a number of caucuses, one in each precinct (according to Wikipedia, that's 1774 of them). Some use ballots, some use a show of hands; the Democratic ones seem to be more like town meetings with some sort of vote at the end.

    And stranger yet is the fact that many (most?) primaries do not select a candidate at all, but rather delegates pledged to a candidate. Whether those delegates can change their mind about whom to vote for at the nominating convention is a matter settled by each state's party as well.

    And this is just one of the reasons why I don't follow politics very much!
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Sorry, having read all of this, and all the background aside, I still don't understand where Alxmrphi was wrong. It all made perfect sense to me.
    His major error was in saying "At this [Iowa] caucus there is a vote and a top 3 comes out. The top three then go on to New Hampshire which is the next vote ..." in different words more than once. That says there is some sort of dependence among the steps of the nomination process, with earlier events determining who can participate in later ones.

    As Fabulist has explained, this is not the case. All the events are independent, run by separate states and/or separate branches of the parties within those states. Who finishes first in Iowa does not determine who can be in the New Hampshire primary. That list is totally under the control of the state of New Hampshire and the parties in New Hampshire. It was fixed long before the Iowa caucuses will take place (starting 5 hours from now as I post this). Winning in Iowa indicates regional popularity and may give a candidate some momentum, but has no formal effect outside that state.

    At the end of the day, candidates that win in Iowa are usually not nominated:
    1980: GHW Bush (father) won Iowa, Reagan (finished 2nd) was nominated.
    1984: Reagan was not opposed for the nomination.
    1988: Dole won Iowa, GHW Bush (finished 3rd, behind Robertson) was nominated.
    1992: GHW Bush was not opposed for the nomination.
    1996: Dole won Iowa and was nominated.
    2000: GW Bush (son) won Iowa and was nominated.
    2004: GW Bush was not opposed for the nomination.
    2008: Huckabee won Iowa, McCain (finished 4th, behind Romney and Thompson) was nominated.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Googling it, I note that it appears to be a fairly often-used phrase in political circles (in which I do not spend much time). For example, from one website:


    The concept is that only the top three finishers in the Iowa caucuses have any practical chance of actually going on to become the party's nominee.
    Thanks, pob!:D So in the original context, "we're three tickets out of Iowa" means something like "as a result of the votes in Iowa, we have three candidates who have a chance of becoming the party's nominee"?
     
    Last edited:

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    That's what makes this a "cool" comment: first she congratulates Obama, then she reminds him that he is just one of three possible candidates coming out of the Iowa primaries.

    It isn't really such a terrible thing to say, but the authors of the book are pushing a point of view.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Thanks, Cagey: it's making more sense to me with every post! So in the original context, "we're three tickets out of Iowa" means "as a result of the votes in Iowa, we have three candidates who have a chance of becoming the party's nominee - not just you, Barack Obama, but also me (H Clinton) and John Edwards".

    I think I've got it!:D
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    I understand the sentence just as Cagey explains it. Perhaps it makes more sense if you think of her as saying, "[You, John, and me,] we're [the proverbial] three tickets out of Iowa."
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Thanks, lucas!

    Just to say - that looks like a slightly different explanation.... In your version, the "we" is personal - meaning "you, John, and me"; in the way I was interpreting it before, the "we" was impersonal, so "we're three" meant something like "there are three".

    I'm conscious that I'm making angels dance on the head of a pin here:(. But the expression intrigues me!
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    I can see that interpretation too. It could very well be that Madam Clinton produced a combination of the two phrases - "we're the three" and "there're three (and they are we)" - that seems like a very easy "mistake" to make.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top