Wednesday, February 6, 2008

After Super Tuesday

I thought it would be all over. The states finally figured out that there are advantages to voting early in primary season -- how could they not have figured this out before, one wonders -- and they jammed themselves up on the earliest day allowed by party rules. So today could have been it -- clearly annointed nominees.

But it was not to be, at least not on the Dem side. Hillary and Barack remain locked in a tight race, basically tied in elected delegates. Hillary's lead of about 90 delegates comes almost entirely from the superdelegates.

Partly this comes from the arcane delegate allocation rules. I like the concept of proportional allocation of delegates better than the winner-take-all method used by the Republicans in many states. But the Democratic method isn't really proportional allocation. You might think that prportional allocation means that if a candidate gets 55% of the vote in a state, that candidate gets 55% of the delegates (subject to being off by one because of rounding). But strangely, the rule first divides a state up by congressional districts and then allocates delegates proportionally in each district. So if a district has four delegates, a candidate in a two-person race needs to win more than 62.5% of the vote in that district to get three of them (because 62.5% is halfway between 50% and 75%). With Hillary and Barack running pretty even, the delegate allocation will almost surely be evenly divided in districts with an even number of delegates.

Do we really want the nomination to be determined by which candidate does slightly better in those districts that have an odd number of delegates? The whole thing is strange.

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