"Winning" State Primaries

Why do the mainstream new media pay so much attention to who wins each state primary? The primaries are not like the general election, where the candidate with the plurality of votes in a particular state wins all of that state’s electors; in the primaries, the electees are technically each candidate’s delegates to the national party’s convention. In practice, each candidate wins a number of each state’s delegates roughly proportional to his share of the popular vote (I believe that even Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich have each picked up a few delegates). So why is everyone talking about which primaries are 'won" and "lost"rather than discussing the cumulative delegate totals? In a race with three or more candidates, such as with this year’s Democrats, a candidate could theoretically not win a a plurality of votes in any single state and still wind up with the most delegates at the convention. So I ask again, why all this simplistic emphasis on “winners” and so little talk of delegate counts? Why should a third or fourth place showing in a small, early voting state such as New Hampshire mean that a candidate is “finished”?

Mods-if this complaint is too mild for the Pit, feel free to move it.

90% of questions that begin with “why” can be answered with “Because people are stupid.”

This is one of them.

[QUOTE=threeorange]
In practice, each candidate wins a number of each state’s delegates roughly proportional to his share of the popular vote (I believe that even Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich have each picked up a few delegates).

[QUOTE]

You’re right on the proportional aspects (which, in most areas, requires 15% of the vote won), but the only delegate votes Kucinich has are two “superdelegate” (most members of Congress) votes, one of which is his own.

Because people want to know who wins each state primary.

Good! You’ve been paying attention.

Because it’s a contest, and contests have winners. The winners are the people who get the most votes. No reputable news organization has dismissed the other serious contenders as irrelivent that I am aware of. More likely, you are overreacting to some talking head blathering too much about what a hot stud Mr. Kerry is.

In fact, a very significant minority of delegates to the DNC aren’t even chosen in the primaries. But that doesn’t mean the primaries are unimportant. FWIW, CNN has had their detailed up-to-the-nanosecond Democratic Delegate Scorecard on their front page ever since Iowa.

Because if you win in an early race, it means you have a good chance of winning in a later one, which means all the Big Money people are going to be writing checks for you instead of the other guy.

Anyway, don’t sweat it. The contest will be whittled down to two or three by the time the convention rolls around, and if we’re lucky we’ll get to see some no-name junior state representative from northwestern Fargo, ND announce his candidacy at the convention and attract the vote of a single delegate who’s had too much to drink. Political conventions are chock fulla fun!

According to that logic, cumulative vote totals are useless too, until nearly the end of the primary race. And for the same reasons, these early primaries must be meaningless as well. Dennis Kuchinick could still easily win the nomination, right?

“Easily?” Not a chance in hell. Poisoning every water supply in the whole country with mind-altering drugs and slipping subliminal messages into every single radio and TV broadcase would be quite difficult, and that’s the very minimum of what Kucinich would have to do to win the nomination.

Of course, I somewhat suspect it’s a self-fullfilling prophecy: if X and Y are trumpeted as doing very well some people’ll think ‘well, I’d best not waste my vote on someone else’ or ‘hey, I want to be on the winning side’ or ‘damn I can’t remember any names… no… wait… what a waste of walking to a polling station… ah, got it. X was on TV last night. He’ll do,’…