Thursday, January 03, 2008

Iowa Irony

Caucuses don't work the same for Democrats and Republicans in Iowa. The Republicans count the votes of each person at their caucus meeting and those votes get aggregated state-wide. Very democratic: one person, one vote.

The Democrats give each precinct a number of delegates, no matter how many people actually show up to caucus. This is a representative system: many people, one vote.

I thought it was funny that the party names seemed exactly opposite for the Iowa caucuses.

I learned this from David Freddoso on the Corner where he summarized it this way:

Republicans around the state are meeting tonight to have a large, statewide straw poll, just like a primary. You could think of it as one big caucus. The importance of each precinct, as in normal elections, will be determined by how many people turn out overall. Although the Republican vote on candidates is totally non-binding, it is the result we'll all be talking about tonight — for practical purposes, it is all that matters (unless we go to a brokered convention, and then it's hopelessly complicated anyway).

On the Democratic side, it is different. Each precinct awards a preset number of candidate delegates proportionally. It doesn't matter whether 100 or 1,000 people show up from your precinct — all that matters is the proportional vote in each individual precinct. The party reports the estimated delegate count to the media — not the number of votes. Each Democratic precinct, then, is a separate battle tonight, with no real relation to the others. If six people show up to a precinct that selects ten delegates, then those six voters have the same power as 600 voters who show up in a precinct of similar population.


JM Bell said...

If it were "one man, one vote" then Al Gore would be in the White House.

Oh, and you can buy a vote in a straw poll, you know, like the ones in Iowa over the summer.

Bradley Ross said...

Jeff, that's true about Gore. But since we have the electoral college (which I agree with), we didn't get Gore.

Note, that I'm not saying that one method of assigning delegates is better than the other. I'm just amused that the parties chose the method that is opposite of their name. I really wasn't trying to make any political point.

Frank Staheli said...

So is that why it looked like there aren't any Democrats in Iowa, and Rudi Giuliani didn't really get more votes than all Democrat candidates combined?