Hillary’s Math Problems

George Will notes, as I have many times, that Hillary Clinton, rather than being almost a sure loser, would have had this thing wrapped up a long time ago had the Democrats operated on rules similar to those the Republicans use.

[S]he was too late in understanding how much the Democratic Party’s mania for “fairness,” as mandated by liberals like her, has, by forbidding winner-take-all primaries, made it nearly impossible for her to overcome Obama’s early lead in delegates. If Democrats, who genuflect at the altar of “diversity,” allowed more of it in their delegate selection process, things might look very different. If even, say, Texas, California and Ohio were permitted to have winner-take-all primaries (as 48 states have winner-take-all allocation of their electoral votes), Clinton would have been more than 400 delegates ahead of Obama before Tuesday and today would be at her ancestral home in New York planning to return some of its furniture to the White House next January.

But, alas, those ain’t the rules:

Hillary Clinton, 60, Illinois native and Arkansas lawyer, became, retroactively, a lifelong Yankee fan at age 52 when, shopping for a U.S. Senate seat, she adopted New York state as home sweet home. She may think, or at least would argue, that when she was 12 her Yankees really won the 1960 World Series, by standards of “fairness,” because they trounced the Pirates in runs scored, 55-27, over seven games, so there.

Unfortunately, baseball’s rules — pesky nuisances, rules — say it matters how runs are distributed during a World Series. The Pirates won four games, which is the point of the exercise, by a total margin of seven runs, while the Yankees were winning three by a total of 35 runs. You can look it up.

Indeed, she actually lost Texas, despite winning its primary, because of the bizarre and complicated way it allocates its delegates. And winning California and New York only netted her an additional 39 and 47 delegates, respectively, over and above what Obama earned.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Alex Knapp says:

    It’s worth pointing out that the “Hillary wins by Republican rules” is a silly counterfactual, because Barack Obama would have almost certainly run an entirely different campaign under those circumstances (and, indeed, may have held off on running at all)–his entire campaign strategy was based around delegate counts.

    Additionally, it’s also worth pointing out that had Republicans played by Democratic rules, Mitt Romney would probably be the nominee. So what’s the point of indulging in this sort of thing?

  2. Michael says:

    Ironically, it seems that Hillary’s chief strategist, Mark Penn, didn’t realize that the Democrats didn’t use the GOP winner-take-all system.

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/193913.php

  3. Bithead says:

    Of course the blanket discounting of Clinton states, Florida and Mich, would have an effect, too.

  4. William d'Inger says:

    I find it tragically humorous that the smartest woman on Earth is going to be the last woman in the universe to know she lost.

  5. Michael says:

    Of course the blanket discounting of Clinton states, Florida and Mich, would have an effect, too.

    Yes, and if we didn’t count caucus states, or small states, or red states, or minority-population states or or or.

    The fact is, by the rules, Clinton won’t win.

  6. Dave Schuler says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. As long as most states have winner-take-all rules for their electoral college votes, any rules other than winner-take-all for primaries is risky. I think that Democrats unduly handicap themselves in the general with the bizarre and varied rules they have in the primaries.

    If you give yourself enough handicaps, losing shouldn’t surprise you too much. Democrats really should win this year’s presidential election but they’re doing their darnedest to lose. Already. And it’s only May.

  7. Michael says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. As long as most states have winner-take-all rules for their electoral college votes, any rules other than winner-take-all for primaries is risky.

    How is it winner-take-all in the primary less risky than proportional allocation?

    Yes, the general election is mostly winner-take-all at the state level, but you’ve got a different group of voters choosing between different candidates. Just because you won a simple majority in the primary doesn’t mean you’re any more or less likely to win a simple majority in the general.

    Do you think Hillary would win all of the states she got a simple majority from in the primary, when running against McCain in the general? Do you think McCain will win all of the states he won in the primary when he’s running against Obama in the general?

    It’s apples and oranges. The only case you could make is that it prepares the campaigns for a strategy of winning a simple majority in just enough big states. But even then, I don’t think Obama’s campaign isn’t already planning that strategy, and I don’t think Hillary would have been any more successful at it.

  8. Bithead says:

    How is it winner-take-all in the primary less risky than proportional allocation?

    Doesn’t it strike anyone as a little strange that the party that screamed so loudly about the electroal collage, because it was less thana direct democracy, depends on propping up it’s favorites by means of the very same proportional allocation that the EC was designed to provide?

  9. Michael says:

    Doesn’t it strike anyone as a little strange that the party that screamed so loudly about the electroal collage, because it was less thana direct democracy, depends on propping up it’s favorites by means of the very same proportional allocation that the EC was designed to provide?

    Um, what? The EC uses a winner-take-all method of allocating state votes, for all but 2(?) states. Unless you’re going to say that Hillary is the party’s favorite, and the current voting would prove that wrong too.

  10. Anderson says:

    Um, what?

    (1) Everything is evidence of Democratic evil/stupidity/hypocrisy.

    (2) Any facts that do not confirm (1) are mistaken and must be revised.

  11. Dave Schuler says:

    How is it winner-take-all in the primary less risky than proportional allocation?

    Going by different rules in the primaries than in the general means that your candidate hasn’t met the same tests in the primaries as he or she would in the general.

  12. Bithead says:

    So, you guys don’t remember Democrats complaining bitterly back in 2000 that Gore would ahve won if we went by popular vote instead of the EC, Gore would ahve won? (Recall, please, Gore won a a slim popular vote victory of 543,895, which is around hal;f a percentage point, whereas Bush won the Electoral College 271-266, with one Gore Elector abstaining.

    MAny called the system broken, such as this show on Pacifica, and as recently as a year ago, the system has been a target of Democrats trying to eliminate it in favor of the popular vote.

    You have crashed. Try again?
    (Y/N)