June 06, 2016

Horse 2120 - Rep For Dem, Dem For Rep - Let's Play By The Other's Rules

When most people are faced with a wet weekend and the challenge of how to fill it, I bet that they'd usually curl up with a good book or more likely these days, an entire season of some television show. When I was faced with the wet weekend that we just had in Sydney, my thoughts turned to playing with numbers and election results for the US Primaries.
The one headline that will not appear in newspapers this week is that on both sides of the divide, the front runner was never headed. No journalist who is worth their weight in dried fruit is going to run with the headline "Expected Result Happens"; even though they've been looking at the obvious for months.
I wondered what would happen if I played with the numbers and ran the results of the primaries so far, as if they'd been run according to the other party's rules. The results were entirely as expected.
If the Democratic presidential race had been run under the rules that the Republicans run under; with most states allocating delegates under a winner takes all or winner takes most basis, then the eventual totals at June 4 would have been thus:

Clinton - 1539 (win)
Sanders - 601

Hillary won a stack of states early on in the race. For the first three weeks of the race, Bernie Sanders would have still been on zero delegates. The truth is that it would have taken Bernie about a month to  crack his goose egg and even then, they were both winning states in equal measure for a while. Then came Hillary's run through the south; which also includes the glittering prizes of Florida and Texas, both of which are winner takes all states, which all means that at no point, even if the Democratic presidential race had been run under the GOP's rules, would Hillary even have looked like being overtaken. On top of that, she would have been the nominee as early as April; easily getting the 1237 needed.
This race would have been far easier to call as there were only two runners. Voters were faced with an either/or choice and so the result would have been even more cut and dried. 

On the Republican side, things were far messier:
Trump - 1325
Cruz - 906
Kasich - 467
Rubio - 426
Carson - 78
Bush - 25
All Others - 9
All of them would be well short of the 2383 needed,

Before the whole thing even began, we had arguments about who would even appear in televised debates before the first primaries and caucuses. There were so many people who threw their hat into the ring that Fox News decided to set up another ring and held another debate for what effectively was the B-side or the undercard. Even the so-called main stage still had seven candidates on it, and if you cast your minds back to last November, to say they were chaotic would be kind.
Running the numbers for the Republicans under the Democratic rules produces an equally chaotic set of numbers. I didn't include Superdelegates because quite frankly, I have no idea how they would have fallen and so the numbers are all understated.

Instead of a candidate knocking on the door of the nomination as is currently the case with the Democratic race, owing to the fact that the regular delegates are allocated on a proportional basis, even if all the Superdelegates were added back in, there would still be a multi-way brawl. There would definitely be a brokered invention, with the word "brokered" being used in the same sense as peace is brokered between warring factions.
We already got an idea that if Donald Trump didn't win the nomination outright before the primary race, that the floor of the Republican National Convention would have been ugly. If the race had been run under Democratic rules, then this ugliness would have been guaranteed. I think that given what we've seen at Trump's rallies, then we would have definitely seen fists and possibly chairs flying at the RNC.

The two systems used to decide who the respective nominees for the parties is going to be, only serves to me to scream in great big neon lights that a first past the post system is inherently inadequate at choosing majorities. Both the Republicans and the Democrats require a majority of delegates to avoid a brokered convention and yet they both employ systems which work against this outcome. In an either/or choice which is what the Democrats had this year that's fine but the only reason that Trump is the outright nominee is because of two things in operation: namely that there is a winner takes all mechanism in a lot of states and more importantly, that so many of his competitors suspended their campaigns.

Had all of the primaries and caucuses been held on the same day in one giant Mega-Super Tuesday, then nobody in a seven way brawl would be chosen and there would have to be a brokered convention. What we've also learned is that this issue only rears its head once every four years and so it immediately gets forgotten about once the President has been elected, and then it becomes a problem again and again and again.

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