Monday, February 11, 2008

'Proportional representation' and the nomination races so far


It has been a while since I posted here, so I just want to catch a bit on the Democratic and Republican nomination races for Presidential candidates. Most news media sources do not provide running totals of the popular vote. As for delegate allocation, the close race on the Democratic side has forced them to at least acknowledge the different rules for delegate allocation in the two parties -- 'proportional representation' for Democrats and usually 'winner-take-all' for Republicans -- but, even so, there has been little context provided. Well, providing context about the impact of electoral rules is one of my specialties, so here we go...

The Republican Party quickly saw a consensus emerge among its primary voters (other than the disaffected Limbaugh/Ingraham types) in favor of John McCain, right? Wrong!

Through Super Tuesday, percentage of votes cast:

38.3 McCain
32.6 Romney
19.0 Huckabee
04.5 Paul

(The contests over the weekend would not change the picture much, as the turnouts were quite low in most of them.)

Those 'conservatives' who don't like McCain and are suddenly all nostalgic about the great Romney run should demand their party use proportional representation! If the Republican delegates were allocated proportionally, this race would be nowhere near over. Instead, most of them are allocated by various 'winner-take-all' rules, so even in a state like Missouri, which featured a close three-way race, John McCain could walk away with all the states' delegates. In California, the biggest Super Tuesday prize, McCain won only about 42% of the vote, yet he won most of the delegates. (They are allocated at the congressional district, and so Romney won a few.)

Speaking of "proportional representation" (PR) what about the Democrats? Percentages of the vote cast so far:

47.1 Obama
46.6 Clinton
03.4 Edwards

Yet if the news accounts are right that Clinton has a lead in delegates -- even elected ones -- then evidently the Democrats don't really use PR after all. Their process has reversed the plurality! So, while there has been much speculation about the possibility -- perhaps we should now say likelihood -- that the unelected 'Super-Delegates' could determine the outcome, it has been less noticed that it is not clear that the candidate with the most actual votes would be the nominee even if the Super Delegates did not exist.

If you are interested in those Super-smart people, er, I meant to say Super-Delegates, that may ultimately be entrusted with the power to determine the Democratic Party's nominee, there is an informative wiki site with good information about this aspect of the process.

Other excellent resources are the NYT list of delegates allocated (but they do not appear to separate elected delegates from ex-oficio Super Delegates) and Professor Michael McDonald's page of primary turnout rates by state and party.

Data note: For SC and the GOP in NH, I referenced the state election authority website. For NH Dems and all Super Tuesday contests, the AP results posted at the Los Angeles Times. (The Dem vote totals are Super Tuesday plus NH and SC. No delegates were awarded -- so far, anyway -- from Mich and Fla, and no actual human beings casting votes are recorded in Iowa or Nevada.)

The above is an adaptation of a post that I put up Sunday at the temporary home of Fruits & Votes while we work out a few bugs in the main site.

Update: CNN reports that once the Super Delegates are removed from the count, Obama may now be ahead (roughly 923-876), after the most recent contests. (Shame on the parties -- especially the Democrats -- for not making delegate allocation more transparent!)

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  • I live in Florida. we "Voted" "Hillary" here. Nobody seems to care what we think. Well guess what, we do count and "we will be counted" in the general election. The Democratic party & Obama have shunned this state. Guess who this will bite in the butt? The Democrats of course. Go on don't listen to the people here nominate the wrong person, and the next President will be Republican.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:00 AM  

  • We launched some new social communities for the presidential candidates. We thought it would be fun to see how quickly they can grow and what people's thoughts and insights. Check them out:

    They are brand new so be among the first to join and set up a profile, create groups and find other like-minded people. Let's see what happens, it should be fun.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:04 PM  

  • Yes, the Democratic Party has really created a huge potential minefield for itself by the way it has (mis)handled Florida and Michigan.

    Just to be clear, I excluded these states in my totals because the candidates followed the rules and did not campaign there and, supposedly, no delegates were to be allocated off those results. I did not exclude them because "nobody cares" what voters there think.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:30 PM  

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