#64 Delegates Still Matter

On March 13, 2012

Hello Everyone,


As the Republican nominating process progresses, I’m trying to understand its delegate-selection mechanics and what they tell us about the eventual outcome. As I said about the Democrats in 2008, I think all of us should be paying attention to delegate counts, not to who “wins” which state or how the “momentum” shifts from week to week.

Last November, I wrote in Obamagram #60:

Jon Stewart, my primary news source, beat me to it. Last week, he declared Mitt Romney the Republican nominee. I was about to do the same in this space. So, I’m happy to endorse Stewart’s declaration…If by some fluke, I am wrong, and one of the other candidates wins the nomination, I am also happy to be the first to declare President Obama the winner of the general election.

Now, if that specific fluke (an even more apropos term with Sandra Fluke’s emergence; evidently it’s pronounced differently) turns out to be Sen. Santorum, the President may have lucked out again, as he did when he faced Alan Keyes in his Senate race in 2004.

I still believe that delegates matter, a subject I first wrote about in January 2008 in #14, which bore that title.

In June 2008, in #28, I wrote, “Using my now well-worn baseball metaphor…this game was over on Feb. 19,” after Obama had opened up an insurmountable delegate lead. For months, I had been arguing that the nomination process is like baseball, not tennis, where only the cumulative score matters, not who “wins” each inning or each set.

But, math doesn’t sell newspapers or attract eyeballs. And, counting delegates is complicated. So, the news coverage continues to focus on which Republican candidate has “won” which state – based simplistically on the state-wide plurality of primary voters or caucus-goers.

It turns out that the Republican nominating rules this time are even more complicated than the Democratic rules were last time. If you care to follow along, there is one easy way to do that. For those who aren’t already users, the New York Times has a wonderful, interactive site: http://elections.nytimes.com/2012/primaries/delegates

I suggest you save it as a “favorite” on your computer or “add it to your home screen” on your iPad, as I have done. Then, refer to it after each primary or caucus to check the delegate count, rather than listening to the misleading palaver about who “won” or “lost” each state.

On the Times’ site, if you scroll down from the first screen shot, you will see the state-by-state results and future schedule. Of the states that have voted, you can see in the delegate distribution that some states are winner-takes-all and others are proportional. Most interestingly, if you click on a state’s name on the left side of the screen, it gives you a pretty full description of how the delegates were allocated. If you put your curser over “Details” on the right side of the page, a pop-up box provides more information on how the count is determined. You’ll see that the process is endlessly complicated. Nonetheless, remember that delegates are all that matter.

If by some fluke (my new favorite word), Gov. Romney fails to reach the 1144 required delegate threshold to secure the nomination, I suspect that the President will have an easier time being reelected. I say that both because the negativity of the Republican nominating process will have gone on too long and, perhaps, a much weaker candidate than Gov. Romney will have been selected.

So, stayed tuned to the Times’ site, follow the delegate count, and tune out the rest of the noise. Delegates matter.

Please, as always, pass it on. And, remember that previous Obamagrams are stored on www.obamagrams.com



Comments are closed.