Thursday, August 30, 2007

Some Thoughts About Why The Democrats Nominate Horrible Presidential Candidates

Yes it’s me again, and as usual I have been looking at some numbers and finding some interesting messages. It’s no surprise that I said, and still do, that the GOP candidate will win the White House in 2008. The extended discussion of why that will be so, cannot be explained in a short setting, but one thing which pushes the results that way, is the incredibly poor candidates presented by the Democrats every so often. And so that is where I begin.

I was looking at the party delegates to each convention in 2004, and I noticed something odd. The key to the Presidential election, as everyone knows, is how the 538 electoral votes play out across the 50 states and the District of Columbia, so I expected the proportion of delegates to be some multiple of that 538. Say, 1076, 1614, 2152, you get the idea. But the GOP sat 2,509 delegates in 2004 (4.66 times 538) and the Democrats sat 3,061 delegates (5.69 times 538). Odd.

I dug in a bit deeper, and found a very useful site which displayed how the numbers were driven. The Democrats’ seating may be seen at here, and the Republicans’ seating is here.

I drew out each state and noted their delegates to the convention and the state’s Electoral Vote value, and from that was able to determine how many delegates per EV the state held. I expected a fairly consistent ratio, but it does not work out that way. The sum results of my examination were that the Democrats and Republicans target states they feel are important, and ignore the Electoral College ratios in preference to their own bias when selecting delegates, which is crucial to the decision of who gets the party nod for the White House race. What else is interesting about that is that the Democrats and Republicans choose different strategies for picking their lead candidates. This can be best illustrated by looking at where each party placed the most delegates per electoral vote.

The Democrats’ heaviest delegate-per-EV allocations were as follows:

1. New York, 6.61 delegates per EV
2. Michigan, 6.53 delegate per EV
3. Illinois, 6.48 delegates per EV
4t. Wisconsin, 6.30 delegates per EV
4t. Minnesota, 6.30 delegates per EV
6. Pennsylvania, 6.24 delegates per EV
7. New Jersey, 6.20 delegates per EV
8. Connecticut, 6.14 delegates per EV
9. Ohio, 6.10 delegates per EV
10. Maryland, 6.00 delegates per EV

The reader may note that only Ohio could be considered a ‘red’ state, and so the strategy was to consolidate Democrat support in mostly hard-blue states.

The Republicans’ heaviest delegate-per-EV allocations were as follows:

1. Alaska, 9.67 delegates per EV
2t. Montana, 9.33 delegates per EV
2t. Wyoming, 9.33 delegates per EV
4. South Dakota, 9.00 delegates per EV
5. North Dakota, 8.67 delegates per EV
6. Idaho, 8.00 delegates per EV
7. New Hampshire, 8.00 delegates per EV
8. Utah, 7.20 delegates per EV
9. Nebraska, 7.00 delegates per EV
10. Nevada, 6.60 delegates per EV

The GOP also focused on its core territory, but New Hampshire and Nevada were a lot more in play.

So, the Democrats consolidated Blue States, and the Republicans consolidated Red States. This is not as balanced as it might first appear, but before I go there, let’s look at the top states by delegate tallies, beginning with the Democrats:

1. California – 322 delegates, 55 EV
2. New York – 205 delegates, 31 EV
3. Texas – 170 delegates, 34 EV
4. Florida – 154 delegates, 27 EV
5. Illinois – 136 delegates, 21 EV
6. Pennsylvania – 131 delegates, 21 EV
7. Ohio – 122 delegates, 20 EV
8. Michigan – 111 delegates, 17 EV
9. New Jersey – 93 delegates, 15 EV
10. Massachusetts – 81 delegates, 12 EV

So the top ten D states by delegate count carry 1,525 delegates (49.8% of total) and represent 253 Electoral Votes (47.0% of total). Note also that New York gets nudged ahead of Texas, Illinois ahead of Pennsylvania, and the South is largely ignored except for Florida. This should give you an idea of the theme for the Democrats’ thinking.

OK, now look at the Republicans’ top states by delegate count:

1. California – 173 delegates, 55 EV
2. Texas – 138 delegates, 34 EV
3. Florida – 112 delegates, 27 EV
4. New York – 102 delegates, 31 EV
5. Ohio – 91 delegates, 20 EV
6. Pennsylvania – 75 delegates, 21 EV
7. Illinois – 73 delegates, 21 EV
8. Georgia – 69 delegates, 15 EV
9. North Carolina – 67 delegates, 15 EV
10. Virginia – 64 delegates, 13 EV

So the top ten R states by delegate count carry 964 delegates (38.4% of total) and represent 252 Electoral Votes (46.8% of total). Note also that Florida is moved ahead of New York, and the South gets a lot of respect. Note especially that the top-to-bottom disparity between states is much smaller in the Republican delegate counts than in the Democrats’ ranks; the Democrats expect a few states to decide their race, while the Republicans want to see how candidates stand in the nation as a whole. Looking at the results for the last half-century of actual election results, the significance of these strategies means that the Republicans have been weaker in some of the anchor states like New York and California, but generally win more states than the Democrats, and represent a broader appeal in geographic and demographic terms. The Democrats attack weak points and leverage urban centers, while the Republicans attempt to present a generalist for their candidate. This could explain why Barry Goldwater did so poorly in 1964, and Bob Dole in 1996; neither appealed to the nation in general. The Democrats, however, have lately been unwilling to present a generalist for their candidate, instead presenting candidates with limited and tactical approaches, like John Kerry’s OCD fixation on Vietnam as a theme for 2004, and Al Gore’s manic behavior during 2000, as he demonstrated little patience for the ordinary Americans, especially in rural settings.

Applying these findings to the 2008 race, some interesting points become clear. First, for the Democrats, any candidate who wishes to do well must win the urban areas and build name recognition on the coasts first; Bill Clinton’s Southern Strategy of 1992 would be undercut by the Democrats’ convention allocation. This means that any last-minute contender for the Democrats must enter the race before the end of 2007, and it appears that the race will indeed come down to Hillary and Obama. Hillary Clinton is the closest candidate to a generalist on the Democrat side, but she may well be weakened by statements made to seal some of the important Northern states for the nomination. In short, grasping Michigan could cost Hillary the Southwest, and guaranteeing Pennsylvania could lock her completely out of the South. In the case of Obama, he must not depend on Illinois alone, but must demonstrate the ability to challenge in New York. Even if he cannot win the Gotham primary, Obama cannot be seen by Democrats as being out of his league in that state.

No candidate besides Clinton or Obama presently has the standing in an anchor state to challenge either of the leaders.

In the Republican field, an intriguing contest has begun. Fred Thompson has clearly stumbled, and unless he recovers quickly he will be out of contention before he even announces he is running, which is now much less likely than anyone was suggesting even a week ago. A word of advice, Fred – just because the other Fred was able to be a hit by being fat, rude, and witty once a week, does not mean you can do the same; the “Flintstones” after all, was just a cartoon and ended its run before even your first appearance on “Law & Order”.

I mentioned Fred, because political corpses litter the road on the right. I know no one wants to be the bearer of bad news, but someone needs to tell John McCain some straight talk – he’s not Presidential, and never will be. And it’s time to put away this idea of a late entry stunning field. I have always been a supporter of a Condi run, especially the mental image of Dr. Rice in a debate against anyone the Left could put behind a podium. But Dr. Rice has made it clear she is not entering the race, and after Condi the level of potential Presidents who have not already announced drops precipitously. So, in essence we are left with Rudy, Romney, Huckabee, and Duncan “someone has to bring up the rear” Hunter. No one else, and I emphasize this, is in anything close to contention. Looking at the delegate allotment, I’d have to say Rudy looks the strongest by any definition. Things could change, and frankly I think more of Huckaby than anyone else of the top four, but Giuliani has been surprisingly steady up to now.

But no matter who the nominees are, the available information tells me that, almost as if it were a tradition, the Democrats will put their foot wrong during next spring, and that may make all the difference.

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