New Hampshire Math

For a couple more weeks, the primaries are still in the one or two states per week mode.  With one or two states, it is possible to do a detailed discussion of the rules for delegate allocation and to clarify the “math” of winning delegates.  Once March 1 hits, with double digit contests on both sides, the battle for delegates will become a multi-front war in which even the campaigns will be trying to figure out where the battlegrounds are.


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The New Hampshire Debate: Analysis

The first thing that struck me about last night’s Democratic debate in Durham, NH was how different is was from any of the Republican debates. First and foremost was the respect that the competitors showed to one another. Sanders called her “Madame Secretary”, and Clinton called him “Senator Sanders”. It bespoke professionalism and decency.

The questions were serious. Things like criminal justice, the Flint water crisis and other topics are never asked of the Republicans. (Probably because the moderators would have to explain what the question was about.) There were legitimate differences in both approach and substance but whenever possible, both Sanders and Clinton looked for, and noted common ground. Further, when given the opportunity to go after one another (Sanders about Clinton’s emails, Clinton about Sanders ads) they declined. At the very end, when asked whether each would choose the other for a running mate, both demurred and pledged to work together and said that either of them was a far better choice than any of the GOP contenders.

So who won? In my estimation, they both did. Both showcased their positions and presented themselves to the American public in ways that many low-information voters hadn’t seen before. An interesting aside: both have plans for what they’d like to get through Congress, but the truth is that Paul Ryan is likely to hold on as Speaker, and thus nothing gets to the floor of the House, even as we regain the Senate. Doesn’t matter who is elected president, until the intransigent leave Congress, it’s all gridlock.

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Super Bowl matches cities which hosted 2 previous Democratic Conventions

And then there’s always Dave Mason’s song, “Please come to Boston“, which includes the 3 cities which hosted Democratic Conventions from 2000-2008.


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Iowa Post-mortem: The Good, the Bad, and the Gone

While the parties did not have much choice about including Iowa and New Hampshire in the window of early states, the theory behind the early states is that all four are small enough and different enough to help narrow the field.   While winning is nice, the real goals of the campaigns are:  1) to seem viable enough that supporters (both voters and donors) don’t go looking elsewhere; and 2) to meet targets for delegates.  Candidates who are unable to show signs of life quickly find that their campaigns have no life.


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GOP Delegate Counts


(Note: Does not show 1 delegate for Paul and 1 for Huckabee, who have both suspended their campaigns).

The GOP delegate count is already a bit of a mess, with 30 delegates supposedly to be allocated, but all sources are showing 27. (The 3 “superdelegates” are supposed to be bound by the caucus results).

Update: The Iowa GOP has released the official delegate counts, and this post has been updated.

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Democratic Delegate Count

 Pledged DelegatesSuperdelegatesTotal

(Pledged delegate counts from Green Papers, Superdelegates from Politico (for now))

GOP numbers will follow later this week.


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On to New Hampshire

So the caucuses are over and it’s off to New Hampshire for the whole crew, less those who are done. On the Democratic side, O’Malley wasn’t really a contender this cycle, and neither Clinton nor Sanders needs to change to run in the Granite State. As an aside, when people run and lose, they have a much better chance when they run again: Marty, we hardly knew ye’ but we’ll be looking forward to you in 8 years.

It seems that Bernie will win New Hampshire, but there have been other races where someone was a foregone conclusion, and it didn’t work out. Still, the state is very favourable to him, he’s got a great organization on the ground, he’s well known, and the primary process is much easier than the incredibly anti-democratic (small d) system.

The Republican side is very different. It’s a whole disparate audience for them. Religion and guns are not going to play in New Hampshire the way that they, and ethanol, play in Iowa. Plus, the gloves are off. Fascinating hearing Chris Christie referring to Marco Rubio as “The Boy in the Bubble“. Amazing that Ben Carson didn’t see it coming last night the the Cruz campaign texted that Carson was done after Iowa. (He accepted their apology today.) The Republican dirty tricks are just starting, and should be really fun to watch. Perhaps we’ll see more fraud mailers, as the Cruz campaign sent out in Iowa. Depending on how you calculate it, Jeb! spent between $2,600 and $12,000 for each vote he received at the caucuses. WHAT will they spend on in the next week? Trump was contrite last night; his speech concise and good, right up until he said he’d probably buy a farm in Iowa.

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Iowa Democratic Caucus Results

There are two sets of delegates: those elected out of the caucuses, and the Super Delegates. The latter pick their candidates. The former voted, initially, as:

Clinton – 49.9%
Sanders – 49.6%
O’Malley – 0.6%

These numbers will change through the process, which will culminate in April, as O’Malley’s percentage will be reassigned. However, the split for delegates will be about even between Clinton and Sanders.

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Cruz wins by 1 vote

1 delegate, that is. Initial projections:

Cruz: 8
Trump: 7
Rubio: 7
Carson: 3
Paul:  1 ?
Kasich: 1?

(Politico has it as 8/7/6/2/1 – 24 allocated)

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Last Second Decisions

One of the thing that makes it difficult to forecast primaries (as opposed to general elections) is that people tend to make last second decisions.  This problem is not because primary voters are more indecisive than general election voters, but mostly because they have more choices.  In the general, 96% of the voters know well in advance whether they will be voting Republican or Democrat.  In a primary, voters have to choose which Republican or which Democrat will best represent them and their party in the general election.  That choice involves every voter deciding what is more important — pragmatism or ideology.


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