Raymond Richman - Jesse Richman - Howard Richman
Richmans' Trade and Taxes Blog
Memo to Media: Stop the Idiocy -- Focus on the Delegate Counts
The vast majority of the media coverage of the March 1st Super Tuesday primaries had a fundamentally mistaken focus. Most journalistic coverage obsessed about absolutely the WRONG facts and stats. In both parties, all of the states voting on Super Tuesday used some form of proportional allocation of the delegates, with subtly and very importantly different formulas across the states. Because the delegates are allocated semi-proportionately, the right statistics to focus on are not how many states a particular candidate has 'won' but how many delegates.
A close second place finish can net the same number of delegates as a weak first-place finish. For instance, Trump and Kasich tied in the delegate count in Vermont. On the other hand, a blow-out first place finish can yield a very large delegate lead. Sanders ran the table on Clinton in Vermont, taking every single delegate despite proportional rules. The delegate math doesn't conflate these two. Simple-minded coverage that highlights states won does. One shouldn't have to turn to page 10, or go to Real Clear Politics (http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/president/republican_delegate_count.html and http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/president/democratic_delegate_count.html) to find out the delegate math. This should be the story. Front and center. Page one. Top of the website.
The delegate math shows that Cruz is in striking distance of Trump. 93 delegates behind. Sanders is 189 delegates behind Clinton, and even farther behind (625 delegates) if the pledges of support from Democratic superdelegates are included.
There are of course times where writing a story focused on who won a state is partially defensible. On the Republican side a number of large and important states are winner-take-all. If Trump arrives at the June 7th primaries still 150 shy of the magic delegate number of 1,237, then who wins winner-take-all California with its 172 delegates should be more-or-less the only thing worth writing about. Until that unlikely eventuality unfolds, however, the media should cover the delegates gained instead of the states "won".
Journal of Economic Literature:
Atlantic Economic Journal: