Numbers deceive in delegate debacle
A narrow analysis of corporate -press malfeasance two presidential cycles ago
Originally Published March 14, 2012 in Pepperdine University Graphic: Perspectives
The 2012 presidential election cycle is clearly well on its way with the Republican primaries and caucuses that have been taking place. But the different news agencies’ reports on the numbers of delegates for each candidate is anything but clear.
First off, a delegate is a person who advocates the selection of a candidate during the Republican National Convention. At this point, Republicans have Willard “Mitt” Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul from whom they can choose. The candidate who convinces 1,144 delegates to vote in his favor will be the Republican presidential nominee.
If the U.S. had a standard means of electing these candidates, the misreporting would be virtually eliminated. But at this point, both primaries and caucuses are taking place around the country to determine delegates. Primaries actually follow a straightforward model and the delegates collected from them are accurate. It’s the caucuses that are the troublemakers.
In a primary, either the candidate with the most votes acquires all of the delegates or the candidates split the total delegates in relation to what percent of the vote they garnered. In a caucus, the straw poll vote ideally matches the actual delegate count. But after the poll results are logged, the caucus leaders dismiss constituents that don’t care to partake in party business. Constituents who choose to stay after voting are eligible to become a delegate, which means a candidate with more supporters willing to sit through party business may win more delegates than one who actually won the straw poll. This is key to understanding the delegate debacle.
The delegate number confusion is apparent in the fluctuation among different news sources. According to the Wall Street Journal, the delegate numbers are: Romney 454, Santorum 217, Gingrich 107 and Paul 37. According to CNN: Romney 458, Santorum 203, Gingrich 118 and Paul 66. According to Real Clear Politics: Romney 455, Santorum 199, Gingrich 117 and Paul 65. Do not be fooled — this is estimation, not an apodeictic conclusion. The numbers they have crunched from the primaries are correct, but all caucus calculations vary because media outlets use different speculation mechanisms. So, short of a lucky guess, none of the media outlets have stated the exact amount of delegates awarded thus far.
Ron Paul’s supporters have an unmatched enthusiasm for their candidate. In primary states, these supporters make signs and make phone calls, but in the end, the voice of the voters is heard and whoever they elect gains the delegates. In caucus states, votes literally make no difference. The fervent Paulians enter your caucus states and patiently wait out the party procedures. Rachel Maddow of MSNBC noted that the Paul Campaign’s website announced “in one precinct in Larimer County the straw poll vote was 23 for Santorum, 13 for Paul, 5 for Romney, 2 for Gingrich. There were 13 delegate slots and Ron Paul got ALL 13.” This is just one example from one Colorado county, but it helps explain why Paul has yet to drop out of the race.
Ben Swann from Reality Check reported the following delegate votes: “Romney at least 244, Gingrich at least 52, Santorum at least 17 and Paul with at least 11,” leaving nearly 200 delegates that have supposedly yet to officially select a candidate. These particular delegates are the very people Paul’s Campaign has been targeting since day one.
Even though Romney is leading with the accountable delegates, there could be another frontrunner among those which are unseen, poised and ready to sit through “party business” to boost their candidate’s numbers. ¡Viva la revolucion!