Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


The NY Times today carried an opinion piece which claims the Iowa Democratic party conceals the actual vote at the caucuses. Unlike the Iowa Republican party, which releases the tally of how many people voted for each candidate, the Iowa Democratic party never does.

Instead, the Iowa Democratic party will release only so-called "Delegate equivalent" totals that result from the delegate selection process and complex apportionment rules. (Republicans also have a delegate selection process, but the op-ed piece claims the press effectively ignores the outcome.)

According to the article, these "Delegate equivalent" totals differ sufficiently from the actual vote that the "winner" could have actually come in second, and someone with 12% support might be reported to have no support at all. Is this true? Can any of The Citizens confirm this? And why is this the case?


The Law Talking Guy said...

As I understand it, the Iowa Democratic caucuses have a voting rule. If a candidate does not get at least 15% of the first-round vote in any given caucus location (there are some 1800 caucus locations), that candidate is declared "not viable" in that caucus room. Then those persons must find a second-choice among the larger vote-getters. The caucusing process is then about the persuasion of the disgruntled minorities to come to a compromise.

These results are the ones reported that show "first place" or "second place." So, yes, a person could come in 2d in the first-round vote but end up winning b/c he or she was a popular second-choice. That is how it is supposed to work. That person is the winner of the process, the REAL winnner. It's a valuable tool for consensus building and for probing electability. So far as I know, the data is not kept as to first-round voting. If it is kept, I am not sure why it must be released.

The purpose of the Democratic caucus, in fact, is to choose delegates in a collaborative process, not just a secret ballot.

The Republicans, by contrast, have a caucus that consists more or less of a secret ballot or a mini-primary.

I find it odd that failure to report these details of the process woudl strike anyone as undemocratic.

Dr. Strangelove said...

Are those the results reported that show which place is which? (The editorial left a strong impression that no such tallies were released at all, not even the ones you mentioned.) But if it is only what you describe, I am content.

The Law Talking Guy said...

I think I miscommunicated. The delegate selections are released. That's what matters. The problem with a tally of actual votes at either a preliminary or later stage is that votes are weighted by population - a caucus with 50 people or with 10 people can be weighted the same for delegate selection if they "represent" equally-sized areas.

Raised By Republicans said...

As I understand it from my neighbors in my small Iowa town, we go to our precinct polling station and the fun begins.

From the old hands tell me, supportors for each candidate go to a seperate room (our precinct is in a school) and we are counted. When a candidates supportors don't add up to the "viability" threshold, other candidates' supportors pounce on them and try to convince them throw their support to their candidate. There is a lot of wheeling and dealing going on both in the precincts and among the candidates themselves. People will end up moving from room to room and getting counted for different candidates in different rounds (I think).

In that kind of environment it could be next to impossible provide the kind of count the NYT is complaining is missing. I'll give you a full report of how it works in a couple of weeks.

dovhom said...

In Nevada, Clinton won "delegate equivalent" tally but Obama had more 'delegate' (=13) than Clinton(=12).
Can I get a tip on how this happened?