Tech Explains the Delegate Race
Those of us that have been following the current race for United States party nominations for president have likely found a lot of the twists and turns of this epic competition rather confusing, especially when it comes to attempting to deciphering strange political systems involving how and why delegates are rewarded to presidential hopefuls after primaries and caucuses have been decided.
For example, many have wondered how Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders could have recently won Wyoming 56 percent to Hillary’s 44 percent but still split delegates with her 50-50. Sanders supporters are, as usual, infuriated by a political system that seems to be tailored to keeping the rich and powerful rich and powerful and avoiding any kind of populist change that might even out the good stuff so that even the little guys can have their share.
So how did Bernie win the popular vote by a decisive margin but take home the same amount of delegates as popular vote loser Hillary Clinton? With the help of the American tech industry, we can take a look at the rules responsible for this change turn of events.
First of all, it’s important to keep in mind that Wyoming holds caucuses, not primaries. That means that the voting took place in neighborhood groups as opposed to voting booths. Saturday’s caucus was actually held with the intention to pick delegates to Wyoming’s state Democratic convention at the end of May. Now consider that Wyoming has a total of 18 delegates avaialble, 14 of which were up for grabs on Saturday and four of which were Superdelegates. Eight of the 14 available delegates were to be decided by county districts, while four were at-large districts.
While Bernie won a clear majority of votes statewide, the way that the votes were actually distributed affected how many delegates that win translated into. Because winning huge in a sparse county isn’t quite as helpful as winning narrowly in a populous county, at-large results can be different than the actual popular results.
Then take into consideration that every state has its own rounding factor. That means that Wyoming has its own particular percentage increment that a winning candidate has to get to earn an extra delegate. In California, that factor is pretty small, around .64 percent (i.e. for every .64 percent gain in the popular vote, the winner earns a delegate). In Wyoming, that factor is much larger due to how sparsely populated the state is: a whopping 16.67. That means that Sanders would have to win by 16.64 percent to get that extra delegate. His big win was only by 12 percent, so the delegates were split 7-7.
That said, Bernie’s 7-7 split may end up turning in his favor. The 14 delegates are partitioned as only part of a rough estimate based on county delegates who will go to state conventions in May. The four Superdelegates may also flip, but that will be difficult to see.
Unfortunately for Bernie, the cards aren’t stacked in his favor in terms of the rules of the game- Hillary, as the more “establishment” candidate, is perfectly positioned to benefit from a system set with the specific goal of making sure established politicians have their thumbs on the scale, precisely to keep contests like these from being decided by the populous.