Re: A lovely little present from Iowa

From: Arthur Keller <voting_at_kellers_dot_org>
Date: Fri Jan 04 2008 - 10:59:15 CST

Thanks, Doug, for your analysis. I understand that Bev's data is of
the actual number of delegates chosen. So the discrepancy is between
the reported percentages of the numbers of delegates and the
calculated percentages of the numbers of delegates. Thanks.

Best regards,

At 9:51 AM -0600 1/4/08, Douglas W. Jones wrote:
>On Jan 4, 2008, at 1:21 AM, Arthur Keller wrote:
>>What's your comment on Bev's report on the discrepancy in the percentages?
>I have no idea how the Democratic web site does its summary statistics,
>but I note that they report both delegates to the county convention and
>a projection from that to fractional "delegate equivalents" to higher
>If they are reporting percentages based on delegate equivalents, their
>math may well incorporate the impact of county convention rules, where
>certain delegations at the county conventions will be declared non-viable
>and will have to realign. I have no idea how sophisticated their logic
>is for this. See below for further discussion of the hidden details that
>don't come out on the web site:
>My perspective is largely local, dominated by my work last night.
>Here's my record of one caucus, in Johnson County, Iowa, Precinct IC04
>(Iowa City 4):
>Attendees: 765 (4 years ago, the number was around 500) The venue
>we had was just large enough, the smaller of the University of Iowa's
>two concert halls.
>Viability, under the rules, requires 15%, so any candidate preference
>group with fewer than 115 voters at the caucus was not viable.
>First division
> Biden 27
> Clinton 137
> Dodd 24
> Edwards 140
> Kucinich 26
> Obama 339
> Richardson 71
> Undecided 10
>Note!!! The numbers don't add up to 765. The small groups could easily
>determine that they were not viable long before the large groups finished
>counting, and some members of smaller groups immediately wandered off
>to join viable groups, therefore being counted twice. It is very clear
>that the basic caucus structure was never designed to handle such high
>turnout! It is very hard to stop people from milling around.
>In any case, only 3 groups came out of this as viable. On the second
>division, the numbers were:
> Clinton 163
> Edwards 195
> Obama 396
>The precinct was entitled to 11 delegates to the county convention.
>Under the rules, delegates are allocated proportionally to the group
>size, so the delegate counts were:
> Clinton 2
> Edwards 3
> Obama 6
>What these numbers hide is that the Richardson group had fairly strong
>leadership and cohesiveness. They cut a deal with Obama group that if
>they could earn Obama an extra delegate by joining the Obama group,
>they could select that delegate. They could have merged with the Dodd
>and Biden groups to create an uncommitted delegation, but this would
>have taken more discipline and leadership to hold that group together
>and discourage defections to one of the big three.
>As a result of the Richardson deal, one of the 6 Obama delegates
>is really a Richardson delegate, and will join the Richardson
>delegation at the county convention. At the county convention, it is
>highly likely that Richardson's delegation will not be viable at the
>county convention, but they could potentially pull a similar deal to
>push delegates forward to the state and even national level.
>By way of background, I was involved in the McGovern delegation to the
>county and state conventions back in 1988. We pulled such a series of
>deals and ended up with one delegate to the Democratic National
>Convention who cast a lone vote for McGovern from the convention floor.
>In any case, I did check the state web site after the caucus to verify
>that the delegate counts reported there were the same as the counts
>I recorded on my index card at the caucus. I also checked all the math
>during the caucus, and the numbers on my index card were used to check
>the official forms filled out at the caucus because the chair wanted to
>double check all the numbers.
>The record attendance included long lines of people changing their
>registration to Democratic. These lines included not only former
>independents, but a number of people I'd classify as "country club
>Republicans", the core constituency behind former Congressman Jim Leach,
>who was famous as the most moderate Republican in Congress for several
>years. About 2 weeks before the caucus, Leach wrote an editorial about
>the field of presidential candidates from both parties, and in that
>editorial, he singled out Obama as the most interesting of all the
>candidates. It was not quite an endorsement, but certainly, a very
>positive statement. It appears that significant numbers of moderate
>Republicans shared his thinking and acted on it, switching parties.
>We have same-day registration in Iowa. That is new, but not entirely
>new. Voters have always been allowed to change their party affiliation
>on election day, which involves re-registering at the polling place,
>and they have been allowed to change their residence within the county
>(change of precinct, but only if previously registered in the county),
>which also involves re-registering at the polling place. As a result,
>I can't comment on the extent to which the change in same-day registration
>law had any effect, except to note that the lines at the registration
>desk at the precinct were long, but that most of the re-registration
>involved independents and Republicans re-registering as Democrats.
>The Iowa Caucus system was never designed to work with such high turnout.
>Originally, the Iowa caucuses were ignored by presidential candidates,
>until Jimmy Carter decided to use the caucuses as a springboard. It's
>clear that the system will have to change. We'll probably need to switch
>to some form of primary, but it would be a pity if that primary were based
>on a simple plurality system. The caucus process has some characteristics
>that are similar to instant runoff elections, but it also produces a
>delegate mix that has an element of proportional representation.
>Someone who is interested in election mechanics might have fun trying to
>invent an election counting scheme that ensures proportional representation
>while also taking into account voter's secondary preferences in order to
>avoid dividing the delegation into too many small blocks.
> Doug Jones

Arthur M. Keller, Ph.D., 3881 Corina Way, Palo Alto, CA  94303-4507
tel +1(650)424-0202, fax +1(650)424-0424
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Received on Fri Jan 11 16:16:30 2008

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