Beyond the Cusp

February 15, 2012

The Michigan Trick to Circumvent Proportional Representation of Delegates

After what many saw as disenfranchising voters in the winner take all Republican primaries during the 2008 Presidential elections, a request was made by the Republican National Committee that the individual states decide and, if there was no strong objection, commit to using such a proportional system for assigning delegates, at least for the 2012 Presidential primaries. The next two states scheduled for primary votes are Michigan and Arizona. Both states have taken a route which will do as much as possible to negate using a proportional system for assigning delegates. Arizona took the direct route by retaining its winner take all manner for assigning delegates. Guess we can call that the direct “No” route. Michigan, along with a number of other states, has taken a more surreptitious route in an attempt to get as close as possible to the same result.

 

Michigan has decided to use a system where they divide the state up by legislative districts. They then assign the delegates from each individual district on a winner take all criteria. This will lead to reserving a larger percentage of the delegates than the final vote count will show for the person who takes the lead in the state in the vast majority of cases. The states using this method have even agreed that this system will lead to results that more resemble the winner take all method and is a way of meeting the request of the RNC while maintaining their winner take all tradition. Let us look at a couple of examples including a couple that would actually make this system rob the overall winner of receiving the majority of the delegates.

 

Example 1: In this case we have three candidates who split the vote with Candidate One gaining 45% of the total vote, Candidate Two gaining 40% of the total vote, and Candidate Three getting a mere 15% of the votes. Let us assume the best Candidate Two managed to receive in any district was 41.3% while Candidate One took 41.6% and Candidate Three received the remaining 17.1% of the vote. With such results, Candidate One would receive all of the delegates which obviously does not even begin to closely resembling the proportionate delegate assignment proposed by the Republican National Committee.

 

Example 2: This case we have four candidates who split the vote 27%, 26%, 24%, and 23%. This state had two major cities and each represented two districts out of the total of twelve. The two main winners each took one of these cities with over 90% of the vote while the two lowest vote getting candidates split the rural votes in a tightly contested but virtual two man race with the other two getting a very small percentage. In the end count of delegates the two who appeared to win the state get two districts while the two who got the lesser totals would each receive four districts assuming they split the rural districts evenly. This also is not representative of the actual vote.

 

This last example may end up being very close to the Michigan results. For argument sake we will assume that though Ron Paul has polled well and Newt Gingrich has won in South Carolina that neither one garners a significant number of votes needed to win any district, as the polls predict. We can assume that Mitt Romney will very likely poll extremely well in the districts close to where he was born. He is also predicted to do well in Detroit and surrounding areas while Rick Santorum will very likely sweep the countryside, the rural lands and northern Michigan. In the end, I see Rick Santorum squeeze out a slight numerical victory over Mitt Romney in the total vote count. But due to winning the rural and small town vote by a fair but not overly impressive amount while losing the main population centers by a slightly larger share than his rural wins, Rick Santorum may likely walk away with a larger share of delegates than the vote would represent. Of course, I could be off and Mitt might take a clean sweep of his birth state winning even the most highly contested district over Santorum by a slight measure, but enough to take all the delegates. Either way, the delegate count in Michigan may not represent the vote count which will make for very interesting commentary by the spin doctors and talking heads. Me, well, this will probably be my only mention of this as once the delegates are assigned, the rest is hot air.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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