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Michigan Delegate Selection: The Math

by: Grebner

Sun Jan 13, 2008 at 11:55:02 AM EST

[The following is from Alan Fox,  who actually does all the work at PPC and makes sure our numbers add up correctly.  I normally try to keep him out of sight.] 

As we approach the Michigan primary there are two key issues that may be answered.  The first is one of public perception:  Will Clinton's likely win over Uncommitted be 'big' enough to mean anything?  Will she clear the 60% suggested as necessary by one commentator or whatever other figure observers suggest means a 'victory?'  This posting is not about that issue.
    This posting is about the other issue to be decided by the primary:  How many delegates will be pledge to Clinton and how many will be unpledged and, at least in theory, free to vote for any candidate if the nomination is decided by the convention itself for the first time in more than fifty years.
    The outcome of the primary is not clear, but I think two broad facts are beyond dispute:  The first is that the Democratic primary, for purposes of delegate selection, is a two-way affair.  Yes, Kucinich is campaigning in the state, but it is impossible to imagine him gaining the 15% necessary to elect even one delegate in one congressional district.
    The other is that Michigan voters are getting the message that 'Uncommitted' is the vote that counts for anyone whose first choice is not Clinton.  Indeed the publicity about the 'Uncommitted' option has been so extensive that today's Free Press poll reports that 16% of Republicans say they will vote Uncommitted.
    Now to the math. 

Grebner :: Michigan Delegate Selection: The Math

    Michigan's Democratic delegates, who will be picked even if the DNC says they will not be seated, are selected in three pools, each apportioned according to the results of the primary.  Two of these pools are elected based on the statewide results: 28 at-large delegates and 17 party leader delegates.
    Another 83 delegates are assigned to our fifteen congressional districts.  Eight districts have five delegates, CDs 5, 8, 9, 12, 13 and 15 have six delegates and CD 14 has seven.
    When delegates are apportioned between the candidates (for this purpose 'Uncommitted' is a candidate) only votes for candidates that achieve the 15% threshold are counted.  In other words, if Clinton wins a district over Uncommitted 55%-30%, with the other 15% scattered among Kucinich, Gravel and Dodd, the effect is nearly a 65-35 win because 55/85 is almost 65%.  Spoiled and blank ballots, including write-ins cast for anyone, are not counted in setting the 15% threshold nor in any other way.
    The two statewide pools of delegates are large enough that small shifts in the primary outcome will affect the delegate counts directly.  Very roughly speaking, a five-point gain for either candidate will add two delegates, one from each pool.
    At the district level, however, very large shifts are needed to switch a delegate from one column to the other.  In the districts with six delegates, a narrow win does not translate into an additional delegate.  If both Clinton and Uncommitted receive between 41.67% and 58.33% a six-delegate district will split 3-3.  Every one of these districts seems likely to split this way.  If they don't, there will still be at least two delegates elected each for Clinton and Uncommitted because the percentage needed to change a 4-2 split into a 5-1 split is 75% of the two-way vote.
    In the districts with odd numbers of delegates the difference between winning and losing a district will be the odd delegate.  But in all of these districts chances are that at least two delegates each will be elected for Clinton and as Uncommitted.  In a five-delegate district, the result will be three delegates for the winner and two for second place so long as the first place finisher has under 70% of the two-way vote.CD 14 will split 4-3 unless the winner reaches 64.3% and creates a 5-2 split.

    Even a decisive win by Clinton will leave thirty or more district delegates, as well as a number of statewide delegates, as officially Uncommitted.  Who the delegates are and how committed or uncommitted they really are is a matter for district conventions and for State Central.  These bodies will not decide until March, by which time their choices could be absolutely critical or of no interest at all, depending on what happens beyond our state lines.

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Thanks for the detail.
In the 6th (five delegates) I've just been hoping to crack 15% and win one uncommitted. Your assumptions, and observations that the publicity has really mounted, prompt me to hope for more than that. My LTE urging uncommitted appeared in the Kalamazoo Gazette today.

Before all this, I had been hoping to serve as an Obama delegate. When I look at the 6th's affirmative action allocation (3 F, 2 M) it is clear that with one unc., it would be a female. With two, it would be one each, and I could still run. I am still running on a pledge to vote for whichever of the withdrawn candidates has the most pledged support at the time of the national convention - now down to Obama or Edwards.

Send me your letter or post it here if you would please.

At the Michigan for Edwards website there's a Kzoo Gazette lte that's coming.

Steve Pestka for Congress

[ Parent ]
Appeared in Sunday's Kalamazoo Gazette
Many Michigan Democratic voters are still uncertain how to register their support for Barack Obama or John Edwards in next Tuesday's presidential primary, since their names will nor appear on the ballot.

Writing in the name of your candidate will not work. Since they have not declared themselves write-in candidates, write-in votes will not even be counted.

The Michigan Democratic Party recommmends voting "uncommitted" if you support these candidates. If enough primary voters choose "uncommitted", one or more uncommited delegates representing the 6th Congressional District will be elected at the Democratic District Convention on March 29.

Delegate candidates supporting Obama and Edwards will be running at the District Convention. For more information, go to: www.michigan-dems.com/

[ Parent ]
Uncommitted Vote
I think the polling reflect a far bigger Uncommitted response than what will actually occur.  Even with the exceptional advertising being done by supporters of Uncommitted, most people when they go to vote will want to vote for an actual candidate, not a concept that is difficult for the typical voter to understand.  Even among hard core media-savvy Obama supporters, I see a lot of the vote going to Kucinich, Ron Paul and Romney.  I expect Clinton will likely win 4 or 5 delegates in each CD compared to 1 or 2 for Uncommitted.  Kucinich could win a delegate in CDs 3, 8 and 15.  It will be interesting to see if the MSM adds the Michigan delegates to the on-going national counts assuming they will be seated, or ignores them because of the DNC's decision.

According to the DNC, are none of Michigan's delegates being counted or just those picked through the early primary?  For example, will Stupak's superdelegate vote for Edwards and Stabenow's superdelegate vote for Clinton be counted?  Carl Levin supposedly will offer his endorsement of a candidate next week.  It will be interesting to see who he picks.

Add me up for Committed
Exactly northernlib, I concur. I was wondering the same thing about what the MSM will do with the returns in the national count on Tuesday night and the next day on their shows. Interesting indeed how they and the DNC are going to handle this. Some national eyes that may not be fully aware of this are going to be opened up wide, that's a huge plus. There is no response yet from the DNC on this issue to directly quote yet?  

I have many people asking me in blog comments about the delegates now that ours is approaching fast. I'll be directing them to this post for some additional breakdowns from the basic ones I've provided to date. The math they've been paying attention to is the fact Hillary has triple the superdelegates over Obama. Good for her, smart superdelegates. Now to solidify that in state by state delegate totals that she also leads in by every worksheet I've seen.

We can keep the gaming for the casinos. I'm betting the outcome is "uncritical", precisely because of what will happen beyond state lines all over America. It's going to add up to a reflection of true Democracy for every woman, man, and child, at last.  

[ Parent ]
Polls don't bare that out at all
Kucinich is polling at 3%.
Uncommitted is at 28-33% and that is before or early in the grassroots campaign for Uncommitted.

Steve Pestka for Congress

[ Parent ]
Thank you Alan
It's been a long time since we've connected.  I really respect your sober, methodical analysis.  Thanks to Grebner for letting you out of your cage.

This analysis
proved to be right on target.

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