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Count WHOSE Vote 3: Separate AND Unequal

Or
Why Obama Supporters Want Super-Delegates To Think That One Person In Anchorage Is Worth More Than 36 In Akron

As far as Obama’s supporters are concerned, a voter in Ohio is worth only 1/23 of a voter in Alaska. In Alaska, 8,877 voters chose the state’s 13 pledged delegates to the Democratic National Convention, or 683 voters per delegate. In Ohio, 2,194,851 voters chose that state’s 141 pledged delegate. That’s 15,566 voters per delegate.

Or perhaps Obama’s supporters really think that a voter in Ohio is worth only 1/37 of an Alaskan voter. Based on the support of 4480 more people, Barack Obama picked up 5 more delegates to the Democratic Convention than Hillary Clinton in Alaska.. That’s 896 Obama supporters per extra delegate. Clinton picked up 7 more delegates than Obama in Ohio, based on her support from 229,873 more Ohioans, or 32,839 Clinton supporters per extra delegate.

In other words, if the Democratic National Committee treated the votes of Alaskans and Ohioans as equal, and gave Clinton an extra delegate for every 893 supporters in Ohio, Clinton would have received not 7, but 257 more delegates than Obama from that state. But thanks to the way in which the DNC allocates delegates, and DNC’s willingness to permit different states to select their Convention delegates in an undemocratic fashion, Clinton gets only 2 more delegates from Ohio than Obama gets from Alaska, despite the fact that Clinton’s combined popular vote advantage from these two states is over 225,000.

This is just one of the absurdities that lies at the foundation of the argument of Obama supporters that the person who wins the most pledged delegates during the primary season has a right to be the Presidential nominee of the Democratic Party in 2008.

There is a reason why Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are nearly tied in the popular vote, but Obama has a substantial lead in pledged delegates – it has taken on average 657 fewer voters to elect an Obama delegate than a Clinton delegate. But the difference in the average “voters per delegate” (VPD) for Clinton and Obama tells only a small part of the story.

The current system gives far more weight to voters in caucus states than in primary states, and more weight to voters in heavily Republican states than to voters in swing states and heavily Democratic states. And because Obama had dominated caucus states and heavily Republican states, voters in states won by Obama carry far more weight than voters in states carried by Clinton.

(Note: Charts and data used for this piece can be found at http://www.glcq.com/election08/cwv/CWV3_... )

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ONE PERSON = ONE VOTE?

CHART 1 shows how extreme the disproportion in the value of each vote has been.(see Note 1) Table 1 provides a state by state breakdown of how many voters were needed to select each pledged delegate so far this primary season. (For clarity’s sake, states have been broken down into groups of three and their voter per delegate numbers averaged.)

CHART 1
cwv3-chart_1
TABLE 1

 	average	 
 	voters per	Voters per delegate by state
Group	delegate		in each group
1st	853	        AK- 683,    WY- 730,    KS- 1147
2nd	1416	        ID- 1178,   ND- 1463,   NE- 1607
3rd	1976	        HI- 1863,   ME- 1875,   CO- 2189
4th	3617	        MN- 2973,   WA- 3205,   NV- 4673
5th	5385	        IA- 4735,   UT- 5703,   NM- 5719
6th	6880	        DE- 6409,   LA- 6832,   CT- 7400
7th	8126	        NY- 8023,   AZ- 8090,   DC- 8264
8th	8998	        RI- 8880,   AR- 8957,   TN- 9157
9th	10431	        AL- 10307,  VT- 10326,  NJ- 10659
10th		        OK- 10758,  SC- 11440,  MO- 11452
11th	12094	        VA- 11872,  GA- 12185,  NH- 12224
12th	12989	        MD- 12522,  MS- 13141,  IL- 13306
13th	13877	        MA- 13386,  CA- 13646,  PA- 14599
14th	15153	        TX- 14852,  WI- 15039,  OH- 15566

It is at the extremes of this table that the devaluation of the vote of Democrats in states like Ohio most favors Obama.

    · Obama netted 44 more delegates from the states in Groups 1 & 2, based receiving support from 55,840 more voters.
    · Clinton received 66 more delegates from Groups 13 & 14, based on the support of 967,256 more voters.

Voters in the most Republicans states are at a decided advantage, and voter in the most Democratic states are at decided disadvantage, thanks to the DNC rules.

    · In states where the average GOP margin in the last 3 Presidential elections is over 20%, it took only 3891 voters to elect each delegate.
    · In states where the average GOP margin in the last 3 Presidential elections is less than 20%, it took 10961 voters to elect each delegate.
    · In states where the average Democratic margin in the last 3 Presidential elections is over 20%, it took 9564 voters to elect each delegate.

“MARGIN” VOTERS AND “MARGIN” DELEGATES – HOW MANY VOTERS DOES IT TAKE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

The disparities are even more extreme when it comes to the “margin” voters – “margin” delegate relationship, i.e. the difference between the votes for the 2 candidates, and the difference in the number of delegates awarded to each candidate.

CHART 2 shows how extreme the disproportion in the value of each “margin” voter has been.(see Note 2) Table 2 provides a state by state breakdown of how many “extras” voters were needed for each pledged delegate that the winner received above what the loser received.. (For clarity’s sake, states have been broken down into groups of three and their voter per delegate numbers averaged.)
CHART 2
cwv3-chart_2

TABLE 2

 	avg "margin"	 
 	voters per	“margin” voters per “margin” delegate 
Group	“margin” del.		 By state in each group
1st	928              NM- 855,   AK- 896,   WY- 1034
2nd	1278             ID- 1102,  KS- 1265,  ME- 1467
3rd	1678             ND- 1559,  NE- 1710,  IA- 1764
4th	2746             HI- 2439,  CO- 2752,  MN- 3046
5th	3513             DE- 3463,  WA- 3498,  CT- 3579
6th	5810             UT- 4641,  AZ- 6063,  RI- 6727
7th	6942             NY- 6902,  TN- 6948,  LA- 6976
8th	8061             DC- 7102,  AR- 7245,  OK- 9835
9th	10661            NJ- 10193, VT- 10698, CA- 11093
10th	11282            VA- 11122, GA- 11340, MA- 11383
11th	12949            IL- 11824, SC- 11839, MS- 15183
12th	18772            MD- 15604, WI- 19290, PA- 21422
13th	32237            TX- 25257, OH- 32839, AL- 38615

Heavily GOP states were also favored when it came to ““margin” delegates”, while voters in heavily Democrat states were at a disadvantage.

    · In states where the average GOP margin in the last 3 Presidential elections is over 20%, it took only 2755 “margin” voters to elect each “margin” delegate.
    · In states where the average GOP margin in the last 3 Presidential elections is less than 20%, it took 10598 “margin” voters to elect each “margin” delegate.
    · In states where the average Democratic margin in the last 3 Presidential elections is over 20%, it took 9028 “margin” voters to elect each “margin” delegate.

HOW CLINTON (AND HER SUPPORTERS) ARE GETTING SCREWED – ALL STATES

Under the current DNC rules, it has taken 657 more Clinton supporters to elect a Clinton delegate ( (10865 Clinton voters per Clinton delegate) than is needed for Obama supporters to elect an Obama delegate (10208 Obama voters per Obama delegate). And Obama’s delegate lead is based on only 4227 more Obama supporters per additional Obama delegate.

But things are far worse for Clinton supporters in states carried by Clinton: a person who supports Clinton in a state carried by Clinton is worth only about 2/3 of that of an Obama supporter in a state carried by Obama. It has taken only 8244 Obama supporters to elect an Obama delegate in states won by Obama, but states carried by Clinton, it takes 12,128 Clinton supporters to elect a Clinton delegate.

CHART 3
cwv3-chart_3

TABLE 3

VOTERS PER DELEGATE BY STATE POPULAR SUPPORT WINNER
	                   Delegates
State     Obama	        Clinton	        Obama            Total
Winner   delegates     delegates       advantage
 Obama	    781	        452	         329	         1247
 HRC        663	        849	        -186	         1585
 total	   1444	        1301	         143	         2832
				
	                     Voters
State     Obama	        Clinton	        Obama            Total
Winner    voters          voters       advantage
  Obama	 6438897	 3839290	2599607	      10636516
  HRC	 8301126	10296276       -1995150	      19182723
  total	14740023	14135566	 604457	      29819239
				
	               Voters per Delegate (VPD)
State     Obama	        Clinton	        Margin           Total
Winner      VPD           VPD           VPD
  Obama	   8244	         8494	         7902	          8530
  HRC	  12521	        12128	        10727	         12103
  Avg.	  10208	        10865	         4227	         10529

.

    · Obama received 781 delegates based on the support of 6.44 million voters in the states he carried, or one delegate for every 8244 supporters.
    · Clinton received 849 delegates based on the support of 10.29 million voters in states she carried, or one delegate for every 12,128 supporters.
    · In the states carried by Obama, 8530 people voted for each pledged delegated apportioned by the DNC.
    · In the states carried by Clinton, 12,103 people voted for each pledged delegate.
    · In the states carried by Clinton, it took an additional 10727 supporters for every delegate she won in excess of Obama. In states carried by Obama, only 7902 more Obama supporters per extra delegate was needed. .

CAUCUSES VS PRIMARIES – HOW THE DNC ALLOWS CLINTON SUPPORTERS AND DEMOCRATS IN GENERAL TO BE TREATED AS SECOND CLASS CITIZENS

Under the DNC rules, voters in caucus states are worth 4.5 times voters in primary states. And voters in heavily Republican states which hold caucuses are worth 7 times that of primary voters.

The primary states provide the most weight to voters in states that matter most to the Democratic Party – Swing states, and the least weight to voters that are the least important to the Party – states that have voted consistently Republican in the last three elections. But the difference in the influence of individual voters in primary states is relatively small--only 14%, In the caucus states, the situation is reversed, and caucus goers in reliably Republican states have more than three times the influence in selecting delegates than do caucus goers in swing states.

CAUCUS STATES, PRIMARY STATES, AND OVERALL
One delegate was selected for each 2621 voters in caucus states, but in primary states, there were 11,949 voters for each delegate selected, and 10,529 voters per delegate overall..

    · Only 97% of the supporters needed to elect an average delegate was needed to elect an Obama delegate.
    · It took 103% of the supporters needed to elect an average delegate to elect a Clinton delegate.
    · It took 6% fewer Obama supporters than Clinton supporters overall to send a delegate pledged to vote for their candidate to the Convention. .

CHART 4
cwv3-chart_4
TABLE 4

VOTERS PER DELEGATE IN CAUCUSES
PRIMARIES, AND OVERALL
Type of	              DELEGATES
Election         Obama	 Clinton	     All
  Caucus	   280	     145             431
  Primary	  1164	    1156	    2401
  Total	          1444	    1301	    2832
 
Type of	                VOTERS
Election	 Obama	 Clinton	     All 
  Caucus	682863	  380669	 1129690
  Primary     14057160	13754897	28689548
  Total	      14740023	14135566	29819239
 
Type of	           VOTERS PER DELEGATE
Election	 Obama	 Clinton	      All
  Caucus	  2439	    2625	     2621
  Primary	 12077	   11899	    11949
  Average	 10208	   10865	    10529

.

    · A single Obama voter had significantly more power than a Clinton voters in caucus states: Only 93% of the supporters that were needed to elect the average caucus delegate, or to elect a Clinton delegate, were needed to elect an Obama delegate.
    · In primary states, Clinton supporters were only marginally more powerful (0.004%), and Obama supporters only marginally less powerful (0.011%) than the average voter when it came to selecting delegates. .

REPUBLICAN, DEMOCRATIC, AND SWING STATES – CAUCUS STATES
The DNC uses data from the last three Presidential Elections in allocating pledged delegates from each state. This has resulted in individual caucus goers in Republican dominated states (states that have not voted for a Democrat for President in 1996, 2000, or 2004) having almost twice as much influence as caucus goers in Democratic states (states that supported the Democratic candidate in the last three Presidential elections), and more than three times as much influence as caucus goers in “swing” states (states state voted Democratic once or twice in the last three Presidential Elections.)

CHART 5
cwv3-chart_5

TABLE 5

VOTERS PER DELEGATE IN CAUCUSES & BY
DOMINANT PARTY (wins in last 3 Pres.Elections) 
Dominant Party	              Delegates
(Elections won)	        Obama	Clinton	  Total
  GOP (0)	          113	     54	    167
  Swing (1 or 2)	   38	     26	     70
  DEM  (3)	          129	     65	    194
  All caucus	          280	    145	    431
 	 	 	 
Dominant Party	                Voters
(Elections won)	        Obama  Clinton	  Total
  GOP (0)	       173968	 76854	 253524
  Swing (1 or 2)       142594	129900	 329884
  DEM  (3)	       366301	173915	 546282
  All caucus	       682863	380669	1129690
	 	 	 	 
Dominant Party	         Voters per Delegate
(Elections won)	        Obama  Clinton	   Total
  GOP (0)	         1540	  1423	    1518
  Swing (1 or 2)	 3752	  4996	    4713
  DEM  (3)	         2840	  2676	    2816
  Average	         2439	  2625	    2621
·	

.

    For each delegate selected, only 1,518 people in reliably Republican states attended caucuses. In the crucial swing states, there were 4,713 caucus attendees per delegate, and in reliably Democratic states, one delegate was selected for each 2816 caucus attendees.
    · Clinton supporters were given a little more weight than Obama supporters in Republican and Democratic state caucuses (GOP states--8% more, Dem states--6% more), but in the crucial swing state caucuses, it took far more supporters (33% more) to elect a Clinton delegate than an Obama delegate. .

REPUBLICAN, DEMOCRATIC, AND SWING STATES – PRIMARY STATES
Unlike in the caucuses, voters in Swing states are given more weight than those in Democratic states, and both are given more weight than voters in heavily Republican states.
CHART 6
cwv3-chart_6.

    · Clinton voters in the swing and Democratic states combined (where Clinton netted 63 more delegates than Obama) were given slightly more weight (2%) than Obama voters.
    · But in the GOP dominated states (where Obama received 71 more delegates than Clinton) Obama supporter had 6% more influence than a Clinton supporter. .

TABLE 6

VOTERS PER DELEGATE IN PRIMARIES & BY
DOMINANT PARTY (wins in last 3 Pres.Elections)
Dominant Party	                  Delegates
(Elections won)	          Obama	  Clinton     Total
  GOP (0)	            275	      204	554
  Swing (1 or 2             219	      253	476
  DEM  (3)	            670	      699      1371
  All Primary	           1164	     1156      2401
	 	 	 
Dominant Party	                  Voters
(Elections won)	          Obama	  Clinton     Total
  GOP (0)	        3756239	  2942719   6936420
  Swing (1 or 2)	2314725	  2715863   5208867
  DEM  (3)	        7986196	  8096315  16544261
  All Primary	       14057160	 13754897  28689548
	 	 	 
Dominant Party	         Voters per Delegate
(Elections won)	          Obama	  Clinton     Total
  GOP (0)	          13659	    14425     12521
  Swing (1 or 2)	  10570	    10735     10943
  DEM  (3)	          11920	    11583     12067
  Average	          12077     11899     11949

CONCLUSION
As of right now, Obama’s delegate lead is almost entirely from “caucus” states – states where each voter is provided with far more weight than in the primary states, and gives individual voters in heavily Republican states three times more influence than voters in crucial swing states when it comes to electing delegates.

Obama lead in primary states is only 8 delegates. Obama 8 vote lead in primary states is based on getting 71 more delegates than Clinton from states that haven’t voted for a Democrat for President in the last three elections, and where Democrats have lost by an average margin of over 16 points in the last three years. In terms of the primary vote totals, Obama is only close to Clinton thanks to these heavily Republican primary states, where he has a lead of more than 813,000 in the popular vote.

Clinton has dominated the primaries in crucial “swing states” and “heavily Democratic” states, garnering the support of over 51,000 more voters than Obama in these states, and winning 63 more delegates there.

In Alaska, 8877 people showed up for caucuses in 2008—less than 3% of the 310,000 Alaskans voted in the 2004 Presidential elections. Obama 5 more delegates than Clinton, based on 4440 more caucus attendees in Alaska.

In Ohio, over 2,190,000 people voted in the primary in 2008, representing 39% of the 2004 Ohio Presidential electorate of over 5,620,000 voters. Clinton got a net gain of 7 delegates from Ohio based on getting 229,873 more votes than Obama.

Bush beat Kerry by 79,864 votes in Alaska, or almost 18 times the number of Alaskans who preferred Obama to Clinton. In 2004, Bush won in Ohio by 118,599 votes; Clinton beat Obama by nearly twice that number.

When Obama supporters argue that the delegate count is the only thing that matters, they would have you believe that the outcomes in Ohio and Alaska are not significantly different – only 2 delegates separate the outcome in the two states, and that is all that is important.

It is this kind of thinking that loses Presidential elections.
NOTES
NOTE 1: Delegates per voter in Texas is based on the total number of “pledged” delegates (192) allotted to Texas, not just those selected in the Primary Election. All Charts and Tables include only data from US States and the District of Columbia, and excludes data from Florida and Michigan. . See http://www.glcq.com/election08/cwv/CWV3_... for a full explanation of the data used in this piece.

NOTE 2: Two states where equal numbers of delegates were awarded (MO, NH) have been excluded from this chart, as has been Nevada, where caucus estimates show Clinton receiving more support from voters than Obama, but receiving fewer DNC delegates.

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orionATL's picture
Submitted by orionATL on

p'luke

this is an important analysis.

thanks.

electibility is an issue the superdelegate folk seem not to know how to think about concretely.

your numbers make electibility a more understandabe problem.

i would love to know where you get your data. i have tried, though not fanatically, to find detailed demographic breakdowns on states and their primaries, but the data seems hard to come by.

of particular interest to me is the "voting participation rates" of the various ethnic groups.

this question came to me after the penn election (which i think is your geographic baliwick)

when a pollster wrote of the incorrect assumptions regarding turnout by ethnic groups which led his predictions astray.

to whit, the "young" and the "black"
groups, it seems, did not turn out in as high a proportion as the polling firm had anticipated. so they mis-predicted the penn vote.

what impressed me was that the percentages involved were rather small. the pollster had predicted 17% black turnout, and it was only 14%. not a big difference, but enough, apparently, to throw off his predictions.

similarly with a "youth" vote of "only" 10% (of registered voters of that age i presume).

so

the superdelegates might want to consider

what will be the turn out of the "youth" and the "black" vote

in november?

more ciritcally, can ANY substantial turnout by those two groups cancel a white, working class turnout that seems to be around 60%.

(and that question ignores other ethnic groups.)

bottom line, can the black cadre and the young white cadre, and the educated upper class cadre

carry obama to the white house

if outvoted by masses of "ordinary folk" participating at around 60%?

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Between the first of June, after the last primary is over, and the beginning of August is the available window for pressing the DNC, especially Dean, and also I think Pelosi, to take another hard look at the primary process. Everyone who doesn't live in Iowa or New Hampshire agrees this isn't right and isn't working as smoothly and fairly as it should. I am hopeful that the Convention will establish another Commission to review the whole process.

There is an informal agreement now between DNC and RNC to meet soon after the election to coordinate schedules with an eye to moving the 2012 primaries to later in the year, and perhaps something more structured in the way of direction from the national parties to avoid the Florida nonsense. Even the usually rabid RNC understands that they could be abused in the same way.

Independently of Republicans, the Democrats need to take a hard look at the caucus process and hopefully eliminate it. Multi-day voting, of which an absentee system is an existing variation that could be widely adapted, seems like a more equalitarian system. Proportional distribution is better than winner-take-all, but could definitely benefit from some tweaks; district-by-district allocation of delegates, however, seems reasonable in terms of rewarding efficient Democratic GOV organizations; there should be some benefit from doing good work.

If I had my druthers I would make it all about the popular vote. Ballot voting only, and roll out the states in groups of five over four months. This would, however, eliminate the importance of a convention and the Party people will be loath to give up the party.

Any and all ideas about improving the primary process should be sent on to Dean and Pelosi at their respective web sites. Most especially, a simple expression of dissatisfaction and desire for change will mean a lot for motivating reform.

Thanks for this series, Paul. A lot of work, much appreciated.