Tuesday, September 16, 2008

If only Republicans voted in GOP primaries and delegates were awarded proportionally, Romney would've been nominee

In the comments thread of a previous post on the electoral demographics of Presidential elections since 1980, a commenter wondered:
To what extent did the structure of the Republican primaries contribute to Romney's final standing in the election? (Romney was my favorite candidate and yours too it seems).
The structure probably kept Romney from winning the nomination. When he dropped out of the race after coming up short on Super Tuesday (February 5), delegate counts showed McCain with a seemingly insurmountable lead. He had 695 delegates, Romney had 293, Huckabee 183, and Paul 16. Winner-take-all states were killers for Romney. California, the most lucrative contest to take place while Romney was still running, was the most painful--McCain took 42% of the vote but 93% (158) of the 170 delegates. Romney garnered 35% of the vote but earned a paltry 7% (12) of the delegates.

The commenter also asked what Republicans might do to ensure their party's nominee actually represents their preferences. If delegates had been assigned proportionally and only Republicans were allowed to vote, on the day Romney conceded at CPAC he would've been in the lead with 502 delegates, followed by McCain with 475, Huckabee with 294, and Paul with 74*. In this scenario, when Huckabee eventually dropped out, most of his votes would've went to Romney. To think that if Republicans were actually able to choose their nominee based on Republican voter preference, McCain's career would've forever peaked months ago. How sad.

But making that setup a reality is a long row to hoe. Even closed primaries do not keep people who will end up voting for the opposing party in the general election from influencing the contest, since party affiliation has no influence on what can be done on election day. Every Republican exit poll, including closed contests, reveal voters who report to be independent and also voters who report their party affiliation to be Democratic (my count above only includes the votes of those who reported their party affiliation to be Republican).

If their nomination is already decided, this is especially easy (it's what Rush Limbaugh was encouraging his listeners to do in what he dubbed "Operation Chaos"). Setting the registration deadline several weeks or months ahead of the primary helps prevent this, though.

The only way to eliminate independent and crossover influences would be for both parties to agree to simultaneously hold all state primaries and caucuses on the same day, in one super Super Tuesday. Presumably the putatively unaffiliated would vote for the side they were already leaning towards, essentially relegating them to moderate Republican/Democratic status for an election cycle.

* Only those who reported their party affiliation as "Republican" in exit polls were counted, and delegates were assigned as if those voters were the only ones casting votes in the contest at hand.

For the states without exit polling data, I simply went with the caucus results, assigning delegates proportionally. Inexplicably, no exit polling data for Delaware is available, although it appears that media outlets like CNN and MSNBC had expected there to be. Here, too, I assigned delegates proportionally based on total votes. In both cases, this is almost certainly to Romney's disadvantage, as he consistently performed better among Republicans than among independents (McCain and Paul did the opposite).

The delegate totals add up to more than media estimates at the time did, because of rules about certain delegates being assigned at the convention or otherwise uncommitted due to party rules. I presumed all delegates would be allocated based solely on a state's primary or caucus contest.


John S. Bolton said...

McCain basically hijacked this nomination, by being one of the most liberal republican senators, and having the media on his side. What currency did he use to pay off the major media though, or would they accept any payment other than major leaks? Alternatively it was enough to be the republican most likely to vote with the democrats.

al fin said...

McCain wasn't even on my long list of desired candidates, but that's the way it crumbles. I doubt McCain's success owes much to the media--rather to the back room Repo party dealmakers.

That's water under the bridge, yesterday's news, old hat . . .

The choice is between McCain and Obama. Between socialism lite and socialism ultra-heavy. Bob Barr simply isn't in it.

You obviously do not remember the teflon slickened slide the US was taking into socialism in the 1970s. The Reagan turnaround was completely unanticipated and considered impossible at the time. But of course, in politics turnarounds for the better are always temporary.

We have more ivy league wonder boys (like those taking a dump on the financial sector currently) who are itching to get their hands on the wheel. Thoroughly indoctrinated, completely psychologically neotenised, ivy league wonder boys of the type that even quant bloggers might admire?

Audacious Epigone said...


Elections come in cycles. There will be more of them. As an HBD realist, immigration trumps other issues as far as I'm concerned. Why should I support a party whose national leadership entirely rejects my concerns and insinuates that I hate "God's children"?

My hope is that Palin's popularity ensures Republicans at minimum retain at least 41 Senate seats. But seeing McCain's political career come to an end won't break my heart. His foreign policy seems especially reckless to me. Why grant NATO membership to Georgia or Ukraine, as Palin claimed she'd like to do in her interview with Gibson, when absolutely no reciprocation will come of it?

Rest easy though. I live in Kansas--it'll vote for McCain for sure, so I'm able to throw my vote away symbolically without any actual effect on the outcome.

BGC said...

Interestingly, Orson Scott Card argues that the US electorate are not yet ready for a Mormon as President or VP:


I am surprised (but pleased, being pro-Mormon) that no fuss was made about Harry Reid - indeed, perhaps people don't even realize he is a Mormon since the phrase Mormon Democrat is something of an oxymoron.

JBS said...


Off topic but some prelimary birth data out of Arizona indicates there may have been a drop in the number of births to illegal alien Hispanics when Arizona's crackdown on illegals began in 2007 and just now having an effect in 2008.

Comparing January-August of 2007 to January-August 2008, there has been a 2.9% dip in the absolute number of total births in Arizona in 2008 - the first time there has been an absolute drop in the number of births in Arizona since at least 1996 (Warning, these numbers for 2008 might be subject to change, but I thought a 2.9% drop in overall births was big enough not to be statistical noise):

ADHS Bureau of Public Health Statistics, Health Status and Vital Statistics Section




JBS said...


JBS said...


JBS said...

I apologize for the double posts, I had trouble fitting the URL for the number of births from 1996 - 2006.

John S. Bolton said...

Links to % births to illegals, all in one place? Dienekes 9-13th has a study quoted which correlates state IQ with political results. If you haven't already looked into that, I guess you want to.

JBS said...



FAIR estimates there are currently more than 425,000 children born to illegal aliens each year. This figure is based on the crude birth rate of the total foreign-born population (33 births per 1000) and the size of the illegal alien population (13 million in 2008). In 1994, California paid for 74,987 deliveries to illegal alien mothers, at a total cost of $215.2 million (an average of $2,842 per delivery). Illegal alien mothers accounted for 36 percent of all Medi-Cal funded births in California that year and now count substantially more than half.


There were about 45000 Hispanic births in 2006 so 45000 * 33/1000 = 15675 illegal alien births in Arizona in 2006 would be a decent estimate (of course the crude birth rate for illegal aliens could be even higher than 33 per 1000)

Arizona had 475,000 illegals acccrding to Fair in 2007.

JBS said...

45000 * 33/1000 = 15675 illegal alien births in Arizona in 2006 would be a decent estimate (of course the crude birth rate for illegal aliens could be even higher than 33 per 1000)

Ugh, sorry, I meant

475000 illegal aliens * 33/1000 crude birth rate = 15675 anchor babies

JBS said...

I apologize for the rushed nature of my posts, I am "multitasking" right now.

Justin Halter said...

AE: Just curious, are you arguing that M.R. would be a better candidate than J.M.? Do you really think he would be more likely to defeat B.O.? I am not seeing it. He lacks McCain's biography and national recognition/reputation, and probably McCain's genius for picking a VP.

He spent $40 million dollars of his own money in, what, about 10 states? And showed nothing, except in states with large Mormon populations! If it wasn't McCain, someone else would have beat him, because he did not attract the votes. Just do a little thought experiment: imagine M.R. having to make due with McCain or Huckabee's campaign budget. Yeah, exactly. McCain and Huckabee made huge waves with almost nothing, because people like them. M.R. spent outrageous amounts of money, and couldn't close the deal.

And don't give me some "spit the conservative vote" argument. Huckabee voters would not have voted for M.R. Nor, frankly, would Romney voters have supported Huckabee. McCain won, and he deserved to win.

jbs: To add some more data points: The school population in (previously sanctuary city) Mesa, Arizona, has also shrunk by thousands, and Mesa leads the Phoenix-region in percentage of homes sold by foreclosure recently. There are also anecdotal reports of Spanish-speaking businesses and media closing for lack of support. In short, a lot of people have left recently.

Anonymous said...

"add some more data points: The school population in (previously sanctuary city) Mesa, Arizona, has also shrunk by thousands, and Mesa leads the Phoenix-region in percentage of homes sold by foreclosure recently. There are also anecdotal reports of Spanish-speaking businesses and media closing for lack of support. In short, a lot of people have left recently."

The economic downturn did not hit until 2008, yet the number of births from January to August 2008 is lower, YOY. And this fall is inspite of the fact that the overall number of Hispanics increased in Arizona from 2007-2008.

The drop may be more due to enforcement that began in 2007 in Arizona than any economic factors.

It will be very interesting to see the 2009 numbers to determine what the combination of both enforcement and foreclosures/recession could have on the Arizona illegal birthrate nationwide.

Audacious Epigone said...


There are ~15 Mormons in Congress. Nevada has a substantial Mormon population (as do most of the other states that have Mormon represntatives, like Idaho, Arizona, California, and of course Utah), so it's not too surprising that Reid's Mormonism isn't an issue. Also, he's a convert and his wife is Jewish. Further, it seems to me that much of the opposition to Mormonism comes from evangelical Christians, not from the left.

JBS, Justin, and the last Anon,

Very perspicacious of all of you, thanks. I will post on it soon. Here are births, by year, that JBS is referring to:



Would Romney be more electable? Probably not. The letter to McCain from sci-fi writer Card captures why he wouldn't be.

My point is simple: More self-identified Republicans voted for Romney than voted for McCain up to the time Romney dropped out. That's worth knowing, as it is also worth knowing that Hillary Clinton garnered more votes from March to the end of the primaries than Obama did.

Tangentially, is name recognition that big of a factor once someone wins the nomination? Obama had little, other than being a "rising star", and Palin had virtually none at all. Like Obama, Romney's organization on the ground was solid. He dominated caucuses.

JBS said...

Thanks AE,

btw, the post at 18/9/08 11:53 AM was meant to be from me.

One last thing on the Arizona data, many LEGAL Mexican immigrants depend on their income via providing goods and services to illegal immigrants.

If the illegals go home, it is possible a number of legal Mexican immigrants will lose their business and head home.

Legal Mexicans apply at low rates for citizenship compared to other immigrants. When I lived in Texas for for a few years, I heard many Texicans say they had freinds and relatives who earned a greencard but never bothered to get citizenship and eventually left the US for various reasons such as retirement on savings earned in America (Usually the reasons for leaving were economic).

It is not impossible to conceive legal Mexican immigrants being persuaded to leave by offering extra pension benefits when they are ready for retirement, reducing welfare to make it harder for low income immigrants to survive in a high cost of living nation, or helping Mexico improve its economy.

Steve Setzer said...

Romney has a less outgoing and pleasant personality than, say, Mike Huckabee. He comes off as too polished, a bit cold and business-man-ish. Fair or not, I think Huckabee had the best line when he said that Romney reminded people of the guy who laid them off.

And, Romney is one of the ivy league wonder boys that AF mentions above.

But then, I actually WAS laid off by one of Bain Capital's hired guns, so perhaps I'm not objective on the subject of Romney...