Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Dismiss Hillary's Popular Vote Argument

better yet, just dismiss her.
if only it were that easy. anyway, her camp is arguing popular vote! popular vote! and as we've already stated here, like her bogus "big states" argument, popular vote is also bogus because you can't get an accurate count for caucus turnouts and the missing michigan and florida. a reader did however come up with some numbers here using cnn's caucus numbers.
here's some analysis at newsweek:
Here's the math. To date, 41 of the 47 states or territories to hold primaries or caucuses have released precise, undisputed popular-vote totals. In this count, according to RealClear Politics, Obama leads Clinton by 501,138 votes (14,397,506 to 13,896,368). So far, so good. But what, you ask, about the remaining six states? That's where we get into trouble.

First, there's Florida. Despite warnings from the Democratic National Committee, the Sunshine State scheduled its primary before Feb. 5--and true to its word, the party stripped the state of its delegates. That said, we're not talking about delegates; we're talking about votes. In Florida, where both Obama and Clinton were on the ballot, Clinton won by 294,772 (870,986 to 576,214). It's an open question, of course, whether a primary in which both candidates refrained from campaigning should even count. But let's say, for the sake of argument, that it should--which reduces Obama's popular-vote advantage to 206,366. Unfortunately, this doesn't help us much.

Next up is Florida's fellow gun-jumper, Michigan, where Clinton racked up 328,309 votes. Obama's total? Zero. That's because his name wasn't even listed on the ballot. On Jan. 19, Michiganders had two choices: Clinton or "uncommitted." And while "uncommitted" earned about 45 percent of the vote, it's impossible to determine what portion of that bloc backed Obama and what portion backed John Edwards, whose name was also absent. Ignoring the fact that Clinton herself said Michigan wouldn't "count for anything," this murkiness alone makes an overall popular-vote tally impractical: either you award all of the "uncommitted" votes to Obama, which would be grossly inaccurate; count Clinton's votes and leave Obama at zero, which would undoubtedly disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Obama supporters; or don't include Michigan at all, which would disenfranchise even more, both pro-Clinton and pro-Obama.

That said, the worst is yet to come. The final four states--Iowa, Nevada, Maine and Washington--all held caucuses. But unlike Florida and Michigan, none of them even kept track of how many people voted for each candidate. (This is standard operating procedure in some caucuses, where delegates are awarded proportionally in thousands of precincts.) Wonks can devise equations to estimate the popular vote all they want, but mixing precise vote totals from other states with caucus approximations--which are, by definition, inaccurate--is mixing apples and oranges. Besides, thousands of voters in Iowa entered the caucuses intending to support Bill Richardson, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd and Dennis Kucinich, but were forced to jump to Obama, Edwards or Clinton once their preferred candidate didn't reach the 15-percent viability threshold; in Nevada, the same thing happened to Edwards supporters. How can you possibly pretend to count people required to resort to their second choices?

The fact is, the Democratic Party has only one mechanism in place for deciding the nomination: delegates. The system is simply not equipped to produce an accurate tally of popular votes.