Saturday, March 29, 2008

Wonking the Vote, Take Two

Great comments, kids.
  • The votes per delegate ratio I tossed out was just for ease of calculation. It would probably be something more like 1 per 10,0000 votes or even lower. The ratio has to be low enough that small states can earn a decent amount of delegates, but large states won't have too many. The key is that it is based on actual Democratic Party voters. What we want to prevent is individual voters from being disenfranchised or have their vote be worth less per delegate compared to another voter.
  • Awarding extra delegates based on percentage of turnout could be good, too. The top ten turn out states get an extra ten delegates each, or some calculation. My point is to reward states for getting big turnouts, so that would go with the model.
  • The primary going to June is a feature, not a bug. Make the candidates work for it. If the nomination is based on total votes, well, every vote has to be counted. No shortcuts. No racking up delegates and cutting off competition. You win based on actual turn-out, not gaming some caucuses.
  • The purpose of creating voting blocks is to makes relatively equal blocks of votes available every two weeks, which also prevents front-loading and building up inevitability narratives so easily. A truly popular candidate will be consistently popular.
  • Spreading the voting out over a six month period allows plenty of time for vetting and plenty of time for minor pseudo-scandals to be smothered.

The one thing this model does not address, though I'm thinking about it, is how to deal with evenly split electorates based on true popular vote count. If you have two candidates, like this season, then there will be someone who is ahead, if only by a sliver. But what about a three person race, where each has below 40%? That's not so easy to decide because you do need a nominee who is clearly the choice of the majority of the party. Plurality winners are not necessarily strongly supported by the majority of the party. This is why I don't do away with the delegates entirely, because you may need some negotiation at the convention (or before) to achieve a clear and acceptable majority nominee.

One of the purposes of the current system is to exaggerate the voters' decisions specifically to ensure that there is a clear majority winner by the time of the convention so as to avoid the specter of a divided convention. The problem is that it leads to the campaign we see today, where you have one candidate trading in over-valued delegates (red state caucuses) to the detriment of the stronger GE candidate, who wins larger vote totals in key states. The reason you want the latter type of candidate to be the nominee is because the Electoral Colelge is winner-take-all in most states, and thus the person who can rack up large volumes of votes in those places is more likely to continue to do so in the General, where is it always a head-to-head contest. Of course, proportional representation and closed primaries/caucuses would have prevented this situation, too.



Shainzona said...

Would moving the convention up to right past the last voting block help in creating "the momentum" of the whole process?

And, sorry to ask again, but what about a single voting day for all states within a block - maybe even a week-end day...good idea or bad?

Chinaberry Turtle said...

good point shainzona. Why the hell is there a two month gap between the last of the primaries and the convention? The convention should be a couple weeks after the last primary!

Chinaberry Turtle said...

My god, just when I thought I couldn't hate Obama any more, I see this.

YAB said...

I don't understand why we should design a system so the convention will be a coronation rather than a, well, convention.

Networks have been cutting way back on coverage because the conventions have become nothing more than ads for the parties. Can you imagine the coverage the Dem. convention would get, esp. compared to the Rep. convention, if we don't know the nominee going in?

Yes, it would be nice to have a clear frontrunner, but I don't think we need a system that makes the conventions unnecessary - although I suppose one could make a case for getting rid of them.

Pat Johnson said...

All votes need to be counted before calls to withdraw are made. What are we, Florida Republicans? Would somebody please check out the Rezko connection before PA? I think it will prove that Precious is not so wonderful after all.

Pat Johnson said...

No More Caucuses going forward!!!

gendergappers said...

chinaberry turtle - can you help me? You wrote: "go over to Shakesville where Melissa McEwan has meticulously chronicled all of the sexist comments Obama *HIMSELF* has made about Hillary (claws coming out, periodically feeling down, tea parties, etc., etc.)."

I went over there and looked and can't seem to find it - can you or anyone give me a title or URL for that article?

I'm also confused about the Ed Rendell words to BO. What was that all about?

Shainzona said...

gender...I think that the phone call that is reported from BO to Rendell came after Rendell made a comment about the white vote in PA or some such thing. Rendall's comment wasn't bad - it's just that it got played up by BO's campaign as another racist comment. Anyway, after that episode, BO called Rendell and had the phone conversation - that certainly sounded in some respects to be threatented - e.g., if anything goes wrong for my getting the nomination (which you KNOW I'm going to get) because of the PA results, I won't be a happy camper (when I'm POTUS). At least that was my take on it.

gendergappers said...

Shain- thanks for your take on that conversational bit. What really disturbed me was that Rendell sounded so cowed with his last remark - didn't sound a bit like him. It was like he was saying, OK, I won't support Hillary anymore, you can count on it.