On Semi-Super Tuesday, 4 March, John McCain finally broke the 40% barrier in the cumulative primary popular-vote totals. Oh, and incidentally, clinched the Republican nomination.
Hillary Clinton edged closer to Barack Obama in the Democratic contest, but she is still more than half a million votes behind. On her best day in anyone’s living memory, she cut his lead in votes to a mere 583,522.
The percentages in each party thus far:
(effective number = 3.34)
00.10 Gravel (!)
(effective number = 2.20)
As I have noted before, these running totals that I update after each major batch of contests includes only primaries and those caucuses for which actual human beings casting votes are reported.2 The Democratic totals also exclude Florida and Michigan, where there was voting, but no delegates were at stake (or so was the declared rule at the time). (more…)
At the conclusion of ‘Super Tuesday’ on 5 Feb., McCain led Romney only 38.3% to 32.6% and Huckabee stood at 19%. Romney dropped out soon thereafter, and Huckabee awaited a “miracle.” Since then, the latter candidate’s vote percentage has grown by 3.8 percentage points. McCain’s has grown by just 3.85! [↩]
That is, states where the only statewide reporting is county delegates or “delegate equivalents” or some such–like Iowa and Nevada for Democrats–are not included. None of the “votes” cast in the Texas “second step” (the caucuses following the primary voting) are included, either. [↩]
A colleague just forwarded to me the first state-by-state list of elected-only delegates that I have seen.
If it is accurate, Obama has 53.55% and Clinton has 46.44%. So the proportional system is actually working, despite all the quirks in individual states. Obama’s roughly 5-point vote lead has translated into just over a 7-point lead in delegates. That’s an advantage ratio of 1.08, which is fairly typical of a moderate-magnitude PR system. Clinton’s advantage ratio is slightly smaller (1.04).
In California, where Clinton won the vote 52%-42.3%, she won the delegates, 54.9% to 45.1%. So, Obama had a very slightly bigger boost (ratio of 1.067 compared to Clinton’s 1.055). Not much, but consistent with expectations we had due to all the even-magnitude districts.
When I have a chance to look at other states, if anything anomalous comes out, you can be sure I will say so!
The Republican Party quickly saw a consensus emerge among its primary voters in favor of John McCain, right? Wrong!
Through Super Tuesday, percentage of votes cast:
Those ‘conservatives’ who don’t like McCain and are suddenly all nostalgic about the great Romney run should demand their party use PR! If the Republican delegates were allocated proportionally, this race would be nowhere near over.
Speaking of “PR” what about the Democrats? Percentages of the vote cast so far:
Yet if the news accounts are right that Clinton has a lead in delegates, then evidently the Democrats don’t really use PR after all. Their process has reversed the plurality!
(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.)
If you are interested in the Super-smart institutional delegates that the ‘Democratic’ Party may be entrusting this decision to rather than that populist process of elected delegates, go to http://superdelegates.org/Main_Page.
In the first contest decided on Super Tuesday, Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, bested Romney on the second ballot with 51.5 percent of the 1,133 delegates attending the state GOP’s first presidential nominating convention. Romney was backed by 47.4 percent.
Romney… attracted the largest vote â€” 41 percent â€” on the first ballot. Huckabee captured 33 percent on the first tally; McCain, 15 percent and Texas congressman Ron Paul, 10 percent.
Because no candidate had a majority, Paul, the last-place finisher, was eliminated for the second vote. The defection by McCain’s delegates to Huckabee allowed Huckabee to prevail over Romney.
Just a quick note of annoyance as results come in. NPR, to its credit, is telling its listeners to focus on the delegate count and not who “wins” states. Less to its credit–but typical–is the going on and on about how “complex” the “proportional” rules are. Worse still are the claims that these rules mean the delegates may not track the “popular vote,” as if the popular vote were more respected when a candidate with a narrow margin gets 100% of the delegates than when candidates get shares of the delegates approximating their shares of the vote.1
But then, in almost the same breath in which these reporters are reminding us that, on the Democratic side, no one will walk away with a state’s delegates, they refer to Clinton or Obama “carrying” a state. Now, my first thought upon hearing that expression is that it must require really strong arms. My second thought is, can someone who gets about half a state’s delegates be said to have “carried” the state? I don’t think so.
Of course, it is possible that we will see a state with a reversal of the voting and delegate pluralities, on account of even-magnitude districts and malapportionment, if there are significant regional variations in the vote in a state with a close race. Not likely, and more to the point, that’s not what the announcers are referring to. [↩]
I suppose it comes as no surprise, but I love elections. And voting. Oh, of course, I can only dream of being able to vote sincerely for someone who reflects my political views and have that vote affect the overall balance of forces in the policy-making process. I sometimes say I vote as if I were Dutch or Israeli–or pick your country with national proportional representation and a low threshold–because I really do not believe in lesser-of-evils voting. It is my one chance to express my hopes and dreams for my country or state, as an equal citizen, as the democratic ideal requires. And if those views are shared by only 2 or 3 percent of my fellow citizens, so be it.
I have voted since 1978, but I have never been so excited–yes, excited–about the act of voting as I am about the vote I am about to go cast. We should have a nationwide primary. We don’t, but this is as close as we ever have had to one. And elections should be real contests, because competition improves politics and policy as surely as it spurs innovation in business. And competition we have!
I regret that this primary has been winnowed to two candidates in the Democratic field. I had almost decided to vote for John Edwards on the grounds that 15% of the statewide delegates would be a useful voice for the relatively progressive and political-reformist message that he, alone among delegate contenders, was offering. I regret that he is gone from the contest, even though he had no realistic shot at the nomination. I regret that competition for delegates is not enough for someone to stay in. And I regret that the field is so winnowed by a few mostly small1 subnational electorates before most of the national electorate has even had a chance to vote.
By all of the above, I should be unhappy and frustrated. There were eight candidates at the start, and while my sincere first choice is still as much in the race as he ever was, his vote percentage is one that gets reported as zero by a news media not versed in the art of the decimal point.2 The two remaining competitive candidates were my fifth and eighth choices within the Democratic field.
Yet I am excited. I am about to go cast a vote that I feel is both sincere and will count. It is sincere not on policy positioning. I am about to go vote for a candidate who is well to the right of me, and whose only expressed political-reform idea (pretty much my top issue) is to open House-Senate conference committees to the public.3 It is sincere on “presidentialist” grounds; that is, on the grounds that what matters most in a presidential system is how the prospective candidate will use the office–especially its vast persuasive potential at home and abroad–not what his or her policy and reform ideas are.4 And, while I have actually tried to resist the emotion of this candidate’s campaign, I admit it: Even this jaded electoral studies professional has caught the bug.5
The vote counts, even though my district is one of those even-magnitude districts sure to split 2-2 regardless of the vote margin–because there are 81 delegates in my state apportioned by the statewide vote. Every 1.23% by which my candidate closes in on–or surpasses?–the candidate who has led most polls in the state will amount to an additional delegate. That’s “counting,” and in a very close national race, in a way in which few votes I have ever cast in my life have counted. And that is exciting.
Now pardon me while I go vote. For a presidential candidate younger than I.6
The above is not an endorsement. F&V does not endorse candidates, after all.
Florida and Michigan have voted, but in its infinite wisdom the “Democratic” Party managed to turn those primaries into sideshows. Of course, I would prefer that they–and all states–were voting today, anyway. [↩]
Note that both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton appear to have gained since John Edwards dropped out on the 30th, although Obama was evidently gaining at the expense of Clinton throughout the preceding week. And it is possible that Edwards himself had already begun slipping before he dropped out.2
It seems to me that if you are one of those who thinks (1) the next President should not be a Republican, and (2) the next President should not be a Clinton, or even just that the next President is less likely to be a Democrat if the nominee is a Clinton, it is pretty clear what to do. In California, you may vote in the Democratic primary if you are registered independent (or ‘decline to state,’ as it is known here). The same is true in some other states.3 And in some–especially in many southern states–there is no registration by party, meaning any voter may request the Democratic party ballot and vote for Obama.
F&V does not endorse candidates. But this contest is pretty close and this planting is pretty close to an endorsement…
As I have noted previously, the Democratic Party in California will allocate its delegates to the presidential nominating convention by a two-tier semi-PR system. There are 81 statewide delegates that will be allocated proportionally to those candidates with more than 15% of the votes in the state. Then there are 241 that will be allocated in congressional districts, also ‘proportionally’ to those with more than 15% of the vote in the given district.
The congressional districts have a ‘magnitude’ (number of delegates to allocate) that is based on Democratic turnout in recent elections. These magnitudes range from 3 to 6. The average magnitude is about 4.5. A very important consideration is whether your magnitude is even or odd. In many of the even-magnitude districts, Obama and Clinton could win equal numbers of delegates, even if one leads by a wide margin in the votes cast in that district. On the other hand, where the magnitude is an odd number, a very small margin of one candidate over the other in votes will result in an additional delegate.
Equal delegates in even-magnitude districts are by no means guaranteed, however, as Tom Round noted in a comment to the earlier thread:
Someone at Armbinder made the point that, to win 3 of 4 or 4 of 6, you need 60% or 57% of the viable votes, which may fall far below the total votes if one or two runners-up just fail to crack the 15% barrier.
Although Edwards (and various other contenders) dropped out, they remain on the ballot. Some of them may still get significant votes. Maybe not 15% needed to win delegates, but a few candidates combining for 10-12% might affect the allocation. I do not know the precise formula being used, so I can’t say precisely how. But as Tom notes, a 51-33-10-6 split in votes would go 3-1-0-0 under many PR formulas. However, because the California allocation appears to throw out the votes of those under 15% before allocation begins, such a vote split would probably result in 3-3 2-2 even split of the delegates, despite one candidate being quite far ahead in votes.
There are a lot of even-magnitude districts. Here are the magnitudes by the number of districts with that magnitude:
3 seats: 2
4 seats: 26
5 seats: 19
6 seats: 6
That’s a lot of districts with the potential for even division if one candidate does not win by a landslide (or if significant votes for the erstwhile contenders do not impact the distribution). In fact, that is 58% of all district delegates allocated in even-magnitude districts, and thus likely to split evenly.
Update: Finally, information on the actual magnitudes of the districts! The LA Times has posted a PDF with a useful map.
It is good to see Americanists–and maybe the Obama campaign–paying attention to district magnitude. From Marc Ambinder, as seen at PolySigh:
Even though some advisers concede that Hillary Clinton will probably win California, Barack Obama’s campaign will heavily target a number of large-and-small, odd-and-even congressional districts in the Bay Area (think Oakland, Berkeley, Marin County) because Democrats there tend to be more educated and younger — and black — exactly the demographic profile Obama has used to success in earlier states. But wait — if you’re in charge of Obama’s California spending, do you spent, say, $100,000 extra in the 6th Congressional District, which comprises Marin County and Somona County north of San Fransisco? It allocates an even number of delegates — six. Unless there’s a landslide, both Obama and Clinton will get 3, each.
Why not spend that money trying to beat Clinton in the 7th congressional district across the bay — Solano County and parts of Contra Costa counties, where the congressman, George Miller, has already endorsed Obama? CD 7 allocated 5 delegates, an an extra effort there might give Obama one extra delegate.
Of course, the greater seat (delegate) payoff to small vote swings in small and odd-magnitude districts is old hat to us comparative electoral systems analysts…
On delegates, if we trust CNN’s count of those allocated in the states that have had contests thus far, the addition of Florida’s delegates gives McCain half (88), Romney 48, Huckabee 25, Thompson 8, Paul 6, Giuliani 1.
So John McCain can now be called the front-runner, having now narrowly passed Romney in votes, and far surpassed him in delegates. In the delegate count, McCain was really helped by the change in the rules after the RNC cut the state’s delegate total in half for holding the primary “too early.” Of the originally allocated 114, just 36 were to have been allocated to the statewide plurality winner and 75 would have gone to the winners of congressional districts. With the statewide result having been relatively close (36.0 – 31.0), and with McCain having been somewhat stronger in the south of the state than elsewhere, Romney would have won some delegates (though presumably not more than 20-25 of the 114).
In any event, now that Rudy Giuliani is out, Huckabee seeming to be fading, and Romney coming up short, McCain is looking close to unstoppable. Even on 1/3 of the votes cast so far!
Obviously it will be important how Giuliani’s voters go; the candidate himself has endorsed McCain, but the Florida exit poll showed his supporters about evenly split between McCain and Romney “If the candidate you voted for today had not been on the ballot.”1 That was, of course, before the endorsement. But if McCain were to get even just half of Giuliani’s votes in the several upcoming states where he has been polling about what he got in Florida (14.7%), it would probably push McCain over 40%, given that he is already leading in most of the ‘Super Tuesday’ states (or so it appears). Breaking 40% (finally!),2 combined with the party’s use of mostly winner-take-all allocation,3 just about seals it for the man whose campaign seemed on life support just a few months ago.
That question is near the bottom of the linked page. [↩]
Not counting the three caucuses, which were all mostly ignored by McCain–itself an interesting side note!–no one has won 40% in any single contest yet. Romney came the closest, with 38.9% in Michigan. McCain had 37.8% in New Hampshire. [↩]
From the exit poll results posted at CNN, it appears that John McCain’s margin in South Carolina may be attributable to independents (and the fact that South Carolina is among those states where voting in the party’s primary does not require advance registration with the party). Given that a small margin in votes for McCain resulted in a 3.8:1 ratio in delegates, the mere 18% of voters in the primary who were independents may have swung the result. The exit poll shows McCain beating Huckabee, 42-25, among these independents. The two are essentially tied among Republicans (80% of participants), with Huckabee at 32% and McCain at 31%. Democrats accounted for only 2% of the vote, and so the breakout by candidate is not reported.
It is interesting to compare this to 2000. Then, independents were 30% of the turnout and went 60-34 for McCain over Bush. Democrats were 9% of the turnout and went for McCain, 79-18. Republicans, 61% of the turnout, went for Bush, 69-26.
So, again as I noted for Michigan, South Carolina independents still favor McCain, but at a much lower rate than in 2000.
As I did earlier for the Republicans, I am going to base my progress report on the race for the Democratic nomination on actual delegates. By that measure, either there is no front-runner, or Obama is the front-runner, depending on how much stock you want to put in 92 delegates allocated by votes so far, when over 4,000 will eventually be seated on the convention floor (including unelected “super-delegates”).
Out of those 92 allocated in primaries or caucuses so far, Obama has 38, Clinton 36, and Edwards 18.
The party allocates its delegates–or rather those delegates that bear any connection at all to votes cast–by what amounts to a rather odd second-place-favoring process. Consider that in Iowa the candidate with the most caucus support, by an 8-point margin, won only one more delegate than the candidate with the third highest caucus support, who in turn won one more delegate than the candidate who came in second among caucusers. Then in New Hampshire, the two leading candidates tied in delegates (which is not so bad, really, when you consider that they were separated by only about two percentage points in the vote1). And then Saturday in Nevada, Obama apparently won one more delegate than Clinton, even though the latter won a majority of the caucus support, and by a 6-point margin.
Unlike what I did for the Republicans, I can’t report votes totals, because the candidates’ totals include votes cast for some candidates in a largish state where no delegates were allocated and include contests in Nevada and Iowa where no actual votes are reported2. Additionally, it is worth noting that CNN indicates a whopping lead for Clinton (213) over Obama (123) and Edwards (52) when unelected delegates are included.3
It is often said that the Democratic Party uses proportional representation, but clearly it does not, given the bonus obtained so far by second-place candidates in three states. Moreover, it tolerates states voting for a restricted field of candidates and (supposedly) allocating no delegates. And it has a large number of unelected delegates who could overturn the popular-vote result in a close race.4
Clearly the Democratic Party is anything but democratic in the way it allocates nominating delegates.
Contrast with the South Carolina Republican primary where the candidate with a three-point lead in votes won almost four times as many delegates as the runner-up. [↩]
Instead, what is reported are delegate equivalents based on delegates selected to the next stage of a multi-stage process. That also means that the state delegate estimates are just that in those states. I also assume that the reported equivalents are weighted, given that both of these states over-represent rural areas in their caucus processes. On the Republican side in both states, on the other hand, there is an actual straw poll of real people who attend the caucuses. [↩]
As Political Wire notes, different networks have different numbers, although for Democrats, they all agree on the essentials: Clinton is well ahead. Thanks to Steven T. for the tip on the PW item. [↩]
Not that I really think that will happen, because with Edwards clearly slipping out of contention for delegates, let alone the nomination, one of the leaders will also have a majority of elected delegates and the party is unlikely to overturn that through super-delegates. But will that be the same candidate as has the plurality of votes? [↩]
If one goes by the cable news and other media, one “knows” that John McCain is the front runner for the Republican presidential nomination. Maybe he is even inevitable. One would also “know” that Mitt Romney is in trouble, and that Mike Huckabee might even be finished.
When one looks at delegates—or even quaint indicators like votes–one gets a different picture.
Including South Carolina and Nevada, the results so far are shown below, in the following format: candidate initials, votes%, delegates1, delegate%:
Notice how over-represented Romney is in delegates (37% on 32% of votes). McCain was seriously under-represented before South Carolina, when he had only 14.3% of the delegates, despite 30.1% of votes cast up to that point. Now he is almost proportionally represented.
The effective number of candidates by votes so far remains high, at 4.09, and the contests on Saturday increased this fragmentation considerably (it was 3.79 before Saturday).
The effective number of candidates by delegates is quite a bit lower than the figure for votes–as we would expect from the party’s use of mostly majoritarian allocation rules–but it is still high: 3.59. Once again, the contests in Nevada and South Carolina increased this fragmentation, as before Saturday the effective number of candidates by delegates was 3.20.
The vagaries and unpredictability of majoritarian delegate allocation are very much on display here. Huckabee remains slightly over-represented in delegates, with over 23%, despite being a clear third in votes with just over 20%. He is, however, much less over-represented today than he was before Saturday, as he won only five delegates in South Carolina to McCain’s 19, despite only a three percentage point deficit in votes.2 McCain, on the other hand, won nearly four fifths of the state’s delegates, whereas in Michigan he won only 5 of 30, despite his 30% of the vote there having been almost double the number of votes as was his 33% in South Carolina. How this disproportional allocation will play out in the many largish states voting on 5 February3 is anyone’s guess at this point, but given a field of three-plus candidates it is a bit premature to declare a front-runner. Especially when no candidate has even one third of votes cast thus far.
The media conventional wisdom–and, the analysis of polling trends by Charles Franklin–may be right about McCain making a big comeback that likely will result in his nomination. And South Carolina certainly helped him, even if he did win less than a third of the votes there. But this is not a field that is winnowing, and McCain has yet to catch Romney in either votes or delegates. Much of Romney’s lead is, of course, attributable to his original home state so far being the only relatively large state to have voted. Nonetheless, unlike the media, I define a front-runner as the one who is in the lead. And that is Mitt Romney.
I discuss the Democrats in a separate planting.
These are just the delegates awarded from states where votes are available; they exclude Wyoming, where no votes are reported. There, Romney won 8, Thomspon 3, and Hunter 1. I also endeavored to count only those that are indeed allocated based on voting, though I can’t be positive that there aren’t some strays in there. The deliberate (if not perfect) exclusion of unelected delegates is why my counts are very different from what the networks are reporting. And, in turn, as one can see at Political Wire, the networks agree quite significantyly among themselves! [↩]
It is not clear how the 19-5 split reported by CNN could be right, though even if it is off, it would not be off by a lot. CQ reports that South Carolina should have had 47 delegates, but they were cut to 24 due to the state’s holding its contest “too early” by RNC rules. CQ further reports that “Normally, the delegation would have: 18 district delegates, 3 RNC delegates, and 26 at-large delegates.” The state has six congressional districts, and Huckabee and McCain split them evenly. It is not clear to me how 9 district delegates (assuming half of the original 18 are allocated there) would have resulted in 5 delegates for Huckabee. We know that McCain had to win all statewide delegates for his 33% of the vote, which should be 13 of his total of 19. [↩]
If by my laws you walk, and my commands you keep, and observe them,
then I will give-forth your rains in their set-time,
so that the earth gives-forth its yield
and the trees of the field give-forth their fruit.
--Vayikra 26: 3-4