Friday, 5 February 2016

Iowa Has Spoken First

Well the (potential ~ many who vote in caucuses and primaries don’t actually bother to vote in the actual Presidential vote), electorate of Iowa have spoken .. or perhaps muttered is the correct term.

In the Democratic Party race, they seemingly couldn’t decide between Hilary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, with the votes reported as being around:

Democratic Vote:
  • Hillary Clinton: 50%, with 22 delegates
  • Bernie Sanders 50%, with 21 delegates

…. Strangely, in five of the precincts, the vote was reported as being decided by the toss of a coin - all of which were won by Ms Clinton, so very lucky.

While in the Republican Party race, despite the BBC claiming that Trump had been ‘dealt a blow’, it was much the same kind of result …. with three of the candidates looking forward to still being in the race, all with eight or seven delegates each.

Republican Voters:
  • Ted Cruz: 28%, eight delegates
  • Donald Trump: 24%, seven delegates
  • Marco Rubio: 23%, seven delegates
  • Ben Carson: 9%, three delegates 

Not Every Elector Is Totally Trustworthy ....

The point being in all these caucuses and primaries the numbers of state delegates ‘promising’ to vote for each of the candidates … it is not usually a straight forward ‘winner takes them all’ result.

Of course the other factor is that although ‘pledged delegates‘ who are elected or chosen at the state or local level (with the understanding that they will support a particular candidate at the convention), they are actually not legally bound to do that.

Thus, the candidates are actually allowed to periodically review the list of pledged delegates, and eliminate any they feel would not be reliably supportive. Also there are also superdelegates, (‘unpledged’ in Republican terminology), which in the Democratic Party are usually members of Congress, governors, former Presidents, and other party leaders then results can be changed. They are not required to indicate any preference for a candidate, and have a disproportionate amount of voting power (often with more weight than a normal delegates), ~ see the 1984 Democratic Convention where super delegates pushed Walter Mondale ahead of a young Gary Hart).

So if for example there is a three way tie, one candidate may ask for their pledged delegates to vote for another candidate. However, delegates can simply just change their minds, and not vote for those whom they are pledged by the caucuses electorate … how often, if ever, this has occurred, is not something I can find evidence for … but I think it must have occurred.

The whole US system is actually rather archaic, and terribly unpredictable in some ways …. which is evidenced by the existence of the United States Electoral College. It is a strange fact that citizens of the United States of America, do not directly elect the President or the Vice President of the their country. Instead, these voters directly elect designated intermediaries called "electors".  This system has bred something known as ‘The Faithless Elector' …. who is a member of the United States Electoral College who does not vote for the Presidential or Vice Presidential candidate for whom he or she has been pledged to vote.

Faithless Electors .... Laws Had To Be Passed In Some States.

So feared is this idea of a maverick breed of ‘faithless electors’, that many states make it illegal for their electoral college members to vote against their pledged preference. However although there have been 157 cases of ‘faithlessness’ as of 2015, faithless electors have not yet actually changed the outcome of any presidential election.

Personally I find the whole US system, no matter how obtuse it appears rather fascinating, and if I was a citizen, I would really throw myself into the process …. although despite my politically 'right wing' leanings, I am not actually sure which of the two right wing leaning parties (the Democrats, or the Republicans), I would actually campaign for. It could easily be a candidate led thing e.g. A Ronald Reagan Republican or a Bill Clinton Democrat.

If the Chinese are ever living in a democracy, one can almost see them coming up with something similarly convoluted, with the new National Communist Party and the new National Socialist Party in contention …. hardly any differences, but still slugging it out for the politburo and people’s assembly.


  1. And so has Hampshire ....

    100% of results

    ||Contestant || Delegates || Vote% ||
    |Trump (won) | 10 | 35.3% |
    |Kasich | 4 | 15.8% |
    Cruz | 3 | 11.7% |
    Bush | 3 | 11.0% |
    Rubio | 3 | 10.6% |

    ||Contestant || Delegates || Vote% ||
    |Sanders (won) | 15 | 60.4% |
    |Clinton | 9 | 38.0% |
    |O'Malley | 0 | 0.3% |

    Game on .....

  2. Must have been a lot of faithlessness in some states for all those to pass laws against it!

    1. Actually that's a fair point. I don't know why so many states felt the need to pass laws on the matter when others didn't.


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