Friday, February 17, 2012

Q Day 4: Delegate Count?

(Updated below)

Matthew Carroll-Schmidt asks:
Do we have any idea what the real delegate count is right now?
Excellent question!

There are basically two flavors of delegate counts out there right now. One of them includes only delegates that are either formally bound to a candidate or selected delegates who have declared for a candidate. I've been looking at Josh Putnam's count.

The other flavor is based on AP projections of caucus state delegates based on the straw vote taken at the caucuses. Here, for example, is the New York Times version. Note that in this count Iowa's delegates are listed as 13 for Santorum and 12 for Romney. But that's based on an assumption that we know is not true -- that there are no significant differences between the straw vote and the first-stage delegates chosen later in the evening, and that there is no further change when those first-stage delegates eventually (through multiple stages) choose delegates to the national convention. Not to mention, although I think it's the least important part of it, that even when those delegates are chosen they will be formally unbound.

The thing is that Josh's count, while terrific, is in my view losing some real information that the straw vote is supplying (for example: we can be fairly certain that Maine, which split between Romney and Paul, isn't going to send Santorum delegates to the convention if Romney, Paul, and Santorum are still around by then). So what I'd really like to see is a single site with both the "hard" count of actual delegates along with the soft AP or other projections from the caucuses. Well, I'd really like the AP to get a count of the preferences of all first-stage delegates chosen in caucuses -- for those who remember 2008, that's similar to what the Democratic Party supplies in Iowa (although yes, I know, it's not really quite the same thing). But I don't suppose the AP, or GOP state parties, are going to start doing that. So the next best thing would be a combination site. If anyone knows of one, I'll be happy to start using it.

Just to be clear: what all of this means is that no one knows what the real delegate count is to this point. The first-stage delegate elections in the caucus states so far (and we're talking about over 100 delegates, compared to the 135 in Josh's hard count) really do matter, and if we knew exactly what their preferences were we could make a very good educated guess about the eventual delegate counts from those states. I should say: as far as I know, no one knows. It's possible that the Paul and Romney campaigns know what happened in all those caucuses. I wouldn't want to bet on the Santorum or Gingrich operations, such as they are, knowing much of anything about it.

UPDATE: I knew that the folks at Democratic Convention Watch were tracking the GOP automatic delegates, but it turns out they're also running the duel count I was recommending. Excellent! I'm afraid Republicans will have to avert their eyes from some partisan posts over there, but it's right up in the top left corner.


  1. The Paul camp claims to have won every caucus but Nevada (with at least 50% of delegates) and they expect to get 75% from Minnesota and Maine. In states with bound delegates, Ron Paul supporters will also elect themselves as delegates for other candidates. I don't think anyone in the Paul camp thinks they can actually win the nomination without winning a state, but don't tell that to his supporters...:)

  2. We've got both counts at Democratic Convention Watch, clearly shown in the left sidebar. The pledged counts are the same for all sites. We use GreenPapers for the unpledged projections. I think AP is off base awarding all MN delegates to Santorum. And, of course, we use our own count for the superdelegates. (Greenpapers, Josh, and Wikipedia use our count also.).

    1. So you do! I knew that you were the source for the Supers, but I hadn't noticed that you had both counts running. Here's the link:

  3. "I knew that the folks at Democratic Convention Watch were tracking the GOP automatic delegates, but it turns out they're also running the duel count I was recommending."

    I am all in favor of duels between members of the GOP, preferably involving ceremonial pig-tickling devices, but I rather suspect that you meant a "dual" count.

    On the other hand, if there is an app for GOP mutually assured destruction, please, do let us know where this marvelous critter may be found!


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