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My Super Tuesday Picks

[ Posted Tuesday, March 6th, 2012 – 16:13 PST ]

It's finally Super Tuesday! This year is less "super," and a month later, than Super Tuesday 2008, when 24 states voted at once. But it remains the biggest day in the primary calendar, and we've got a lot to cover.

Before we begin, let's take a quick look at where the candidates currently are. The state win count stands at:

7 -- Mitt Romney
4 -- Rick Santorum
1 -- Newt Gingrich
0 -- Ron Paul

My own personal record for predicting outcomes fell slightly over the weekend, as I came close to calling Washington state perfectly, but Ron Paul edged out Rick Santorum for second place by a few hundred votes, so I only went 1-for-3 when the counting was done. This leaves me at:

Total correct 2012 primary picks so far: 21 for 36 -- 58%.

A few technical notes before I start throwing metaphorical darts at the Super Tuesday wall. First, what the heck is going on in Wyoming? They seemingly held some sort of straw-poll vote last week, without bothering to alert the media. Today, they are apparently holding some sort of gathering which will go on for days. Some mainstream media are saying there are ten states voting today, and some are including Wyoming and putting the number at eleven. Do they have a primary? A caucus? A "primacaucus"? Or perhaps a "caucamary"... OK, the whole thing is getting pretty downright cockamamie, so I've decided I'm just going to ignore Wyoming. If the state really wanted me to make a prediction, it would have settled on some sort of normal voting process, so better luck next time is all I can say.

The second technical note, for those of you playing at home, is that from today onwards I will only be prognosticating the actual winner of each state's contest. Up until now, I've been picking the top three, but the race is likely going to narrow considerably (whether Newt drops out or not, and no matter what Ron Paul is doing), so it'll be too easy to pick the second and third place finishers. Also, we've just got too much ground to cover today. Without further ado, let's get on with it, then (in alphabetic order).

 

Alaska

Alaska is one of the three or four states where absolutely no opinion polling has taken place (at least that I've found), meaning it is anyone's guess who wins here. My head says to just go ahead and award the state to Mitt Romney, but my gut is desperately trying to convince my head that Ron Paul has a shot at it.

The state is small (population-wise) and will hold caucuses rather than a primary. This could favor Ron Paul. Alaska is fiercely independent in its political thinking, which could either favor Ron Paul or perhaps Rick Santorum. Ron Paul is the only candidate who bothered to travel the long plane ride up to Alaska, which means a great deal to voters there. Like Maine, this could be one of Ron Paul's best chances to actually win a state. Unlike Maine, though, Alaska is far away from Mitt Romney's home state of Massachusetts.

In other words, all the omens are good for a Paul victory in Alaska. So I'm going to go out on a limb and say Ron Paul wins his first state, way up north (even if my head still thinks Romney may actually surprise folks tonight, here).

 

Georgia

Georgia is one of the few states voting today where multiple polls exist to tell us what's going on with the electorate. Although his lead has narrowed a bit, it looks like Newt Gingrich will win a home-state victory here.

[Grammatical interlude: We here use the phrase "home state" to identify the state a politician represented politically for most (or even all) of his or her political life. Mitt Romney's home state is Massachusetts, and Georgia is Newt's home state. Barack Obama's home state is Illinois. We also use the term "birth state" to identify the state where the politician was born, and may still have family ties -- Hawai'i for Obama, Michigan for Romney. Just to clarify. We now return you to your wildly speculative column.]

Newt has even admitted Georgia is a "must-win" state for him, which is rare in a candidate (they mostly prefer to hedge on this type of question). But even if he wins big here tonight, sooner or later it's going to dawn on him that the nomination is completely out of his reach. Whether he'll drop out or continue running with his Las Vegas Sugar Daddy's money will become irrelevant after today, that's my educated guess. But he will have a big state in his column at the end of the night tonight, at least, so he can go out with a bang instead of a whimper.

 

Idaho

Idaho is a small caucus state, meaning Ron Paul likely has his eye on it. But I'm betting that the high percentage of Mormons in the state deliver it to Mitt Romney. I am doing this with no polling data whatsoever, I should mention, it's just a gut feeling. I could see Ron Paul eking out a victory here, and I wouldn't even be surprised if Rick Santorum won Idaho. But I'm going to go with conventional demographic wisdom and say Idaho goes for Mitt Romney.

 

Massachusetts

This one is easy, and we're not going to waste a whole lot of time on it: Mitt Romney wins his home state of Massachusetts, and wins decisively. Nobody else will even come close to Mitt on his home ground.

 

North Dakota

North Dakota has no polling data available, meaning it's another "take a stab in the dark" state. It is a caucus state, but I haven't heard that Ron Paul has even visited, so perhaps that won't aid him at all. I can't see the state going for Gingrich, either. With nothing more to go on than the fact that the North Dakota Republican voters are an awfully (socially) conservative lot, I'm going to predict that Rick Santorum emerges victorious here tonight. Rick's shown some strength in the region (Minnesota, Colorado), and it seems like a good fit for him. Of course, Ron Paul could always surprise everyone here, but I'm betting that's not going to happen, and Rick Santorum takes North Dakota.

 

Ohio

Ohio is the "big excitement" state today, as the mainstream media focuses heavily on the state. Ohio is not the state with the most delegates tonight (Georgia is), but it will almost surely be one of the two closest states (Tennessee will likely be the other).

There has been more Ohio polling than any other state, but it really doesn't help much because Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney are polling as close to exactly even as can be imagined. Meaning even deep study of the numbers still requires a dart at the wall at the end of the process.

I'm going to go ahead and say Mitt Romney edges Santorum out here. Mitt's had a tiny bit of late momentum, whereas Santorum has been holding steady, which can be indicative. I think Ohio will be a re-run of what happened in next-door Michigan -- neck and neck, but Romney pulls it out in the end. While Rick Santorum is a good match for Ohio's conservatives, he will wind up winning the eastern and southern parts of the state (where the demographics and geographics are closer to Rick's home state of Pennsylvania), but Mitt will win in the north and in the crucial cities and suburbs (of which Ohio has a plethora). Because more people live in Mitt's areas, he'll emerge with the most votes and win the state.

 

Oklahoma

There has been some polling out of Oklahoma, but not very much. Even without the polls, though, Oklahoma is easy to call for Rick Santorum. The state is extremely conservative socially, and is a good fit for Santorum -- possibly the best of the whole evening.

 

Tennessee

Tennessee may actually be the closest race tonight, and it may even be a close three-way race to boot. Santorum has been dominating in the polls in Tennessee for a while, but in the last week both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have both moved up solidly into challenging positions against Rick.

Like Ohio, even with polling on the ground to read, Tennessee is a real tossup. But perhaps because I'm feeling a bit sorry for him, I'm going to go ahead and call the state for Rick Santorum. Rick is going to have a fairly rough night elsewhere, so I'm betting that he'll be able to hold onto his edge here. I could be wrong about this one, and we'll likely be counting Tennessee votes late into the evening tonight, but while I don't feel all that confident of the pick, I'm still going to hand Tennessee to Rick Santorum.

 

Vermont

Another easy one to call -- Mitt Romney will lock up Vermont, which is right next door to his home state. New England is Mitt's stronghold, which he's already proven by winning New Hampshire and even Maine (where Ron Paul put in a huge effort, but fell short). Vermont goes for Mitt tonight, as well.

 

Virginia

The easiest state to call of the entire non-Massachusetts bunch. The only two names on the ballot for Virginians to choose from are Ron Paul and Mitt Romney. Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich didn't have their act together when it came to that whole "getting your name on the ballot" thing, so Romney and Paul have a clear one-on-one field here. Gingrich should be especially chagrined about this state of affairs, since he's lived in Virginia for years now (across the Potomac from Washington, D.C.).

Mitt Romney will win in a landslide. He may even get a higher percentage of the vote here than in his home state of Massachusetts.

 

Conclusion

So, to review:

Mitt Romney -- Idaho, Massachusetts, Ohio, Vermont, Virginia
Rick Santorum -- North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee
Newt Gingrich -- Georgia
Ron Paul -- Alaska

Furthermore, Mitt Romney will absolutely dominate the all-important delegate count tonight. This will mean that all the professional pundits in the media can now stop pretending that Mitt Romney is in any sort of trouble, as it will become obvious even to the viewers at home that Mitt is going to be virtually uncatchable from this point on. Oh, sure, the media mavens may make the attempt to keep hyping the race as "close" or "a true two-man race" or any of the rest of it, but after tonight it's going to be a pretty sure bet that Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee in 2012.

And that's it for my Super Tuesday 2012 picks! I'll be watching the returns come in tonight, so I invite folks to drop by and chat while we're all waiting to see what happens. Or, to close in our traditional fashion: those are my picks, what are yours?

 

[Update: Due to an inadvertent error, when this column first ran, we reported the wrong numbers for our picks so far. Instead of 18/30 (60%), the actual numbers are 21/36 (58%). We regret the error, and have corrected the numbers above. We aslo forgot to append the following links, to keep track of all our picks so far.]

[Previous states' picks:]
[IA] [NH] [SC] [FL] [NV] [CO, MN, and MO] [ME] [AZ and MI] [WA]

-- Chris Weigant

 

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

53 Comments on “My Super Tuesday Picks”

  1. [1] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Well, looks like I'm 2 for 2 so far... Mitt takes VA, Newt takes GA...

    Anyone out there?

    -CW

  2. [2] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    OK, 4 for 4... VT and MA called for Romney...

    Not too bad, so far, but most of these races were easy to call (which is why they are calling the winners so early).

    -CW

  3. [3] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Santorum picks up two... TN and OK, and I'm 6 for 6... not a bad night so far...

    -CW

  4. [4] 
    dsws wrote:

    Do they have a primary? A caucus? A "primacaucus"? Or perhaps a "caucamary"...

    Well, that sounds completely ... oh, he already said it.

  5. [5] 
    dsws wrote:

    Virginia is almost all winner-take-all by congressional district, so Ron Paul is only going to get something like eight delegates to Mitt Romney's 35. What were Gingrich and Santorum thinking?

  6. [6] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    dsws -

    Heh. Wondered if anyone would appreciate that one.

    When VA's deadline passed, I think Newt still thought he was on a book tour, and Rick had no money to collect signatures. Or something...

    :-)

    TN wasn't nearly as close as I thought it'd be, but OH is proving to be all it was billed...

    -CW

  7. [7] 
    dsws wrote:

    On the chart at HuffPo, 168 delegates have been allocated by the votes reported so far today. Romney's percent remaining needed (see http://www.chrisweigant.com/2012/02/13/primary-season-amnesia/#comment-19477) continues downward, from 48.7 to 48.3. Still, far from a mathematical certainty.

  8. [8] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    TN wasn't nearly as close as I thought it'd be, but OH is proving to be all it was billed...

    yes, ohio is shaping up to be a real squeaker. i admit it's fun to watch.

  9. [9] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    ND called for Santorum. 7 for 7! Woo hoo! I'm on a roll...

    -CW

  10. [10] 
    dsws wrote:

    Spreadsheets are a fine thing. Just paste in the new numbers, and the percent-remaining-needed changes automatically. Romney's is down to 47.7%. Santorum's is up to 58.9%, from 54.4% yesterday.

  11. [11] 
    dsws wrote:

    Are a few thousand votes in Ohio really all that important? I would think people voting for Santorum are at least as likely to vote for Romney in the general election as people who stay home on primary day.

  12. [12] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    dsws -

    They aren't that important. Romney will likely get more delagates in OH than Santorum, no matter what the vote totals are. But the media has chosen to obsess over who "won" Ohio, so that's going to be the theme of the media story all week long -- which is why both camps really, really want to win.

    ID called for Mitt! 8 for 8! Mitt leading in OH by 5,300 votes... still no word from Alaska yet, though...

    -CW

  13. [13] 
    Chris1962 wrote:

    With Ohio still close to call, the Fox anchors are calling this Super Wednesday. LOL.

  14. [14] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    With Ohio still close to call, the Fox anchors are calling this Super Wednesday. LOL.

    i've actually enjoyed fox's coverege on this race. usually when i flip there it takes about fifteen seconds to hear something so absurdly disconnected with reality i can't continue to watch.

  15. [15] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    interesting that romney is pulling away with 95% in, but they still won't call it for him. after iowa i guess it makes sense to be cautious about calling a race that's close.

  16. [16] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Chris1962 -

    "Super Wednesday" -- OK, now that's funny!

    I just wasted an hour of my life watching BriWi on NBC, and it was pathetic -- whoever is in charge of the graphics needs to be fired immediately. I flipped over at the end of the hour to CBS, and got more solid info in TWO MINUTES than I had gotten in a full hour of NBC.

    Sigh.

    -CW

  17. [17] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    nypoet22 -

    OH's up to 98.9% returns in, and still no call. I heard NBC isn't even going to try to call it tonight...

    I also heard there was a monster snowstorm in AK today, so maybe that's why the numbers are nonexistent? Dunno...

    -CW

  18. [18] 
    Chris1962 wrote:

    Awww, Kucinich lost. I feel sorry for him. He's so passionate about his politics, and now he's gonna be out.

  19. [19] 
    dsws wrote:

    According to the HuffPo live-blog page, AP has called OH for Romney.

    Ohio reports these numbers, among others:

    Obama 530,270
    Romney 442,486

    http://vote.sos.state.oh.us/pls/enrpublic/f?p=130:MYRESULTS:0

  20. [20] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Chris1962 -

    I could say the same about Jean Schmidt, who also lost her primary.

    I think they both might have been redistricted out of existence. I know it's true for Kucinich, but not sure about Schmidt.

    -CW

  21. [21] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    dsws -

    Woo hoo! 9 for 9!

    Go Ron Paul! Take Alaska! Give me a clean sweep!

    Heh.

    -CW

  22. [22] 
    Chris1962 wrote:

    I wonder what percentage of Americans are paying attention to these primaries, and how closely. Has anyone seen a recent poll on this?

  23. [23] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Alaska numbers starting to come in...

    -CW

  24. [24] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Chris1962 -

    Now, see, this is why I like you. We may disagree about everything under the sun, but we're both wonky to the core.

    :-)

    -CW

  25. [25] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Well, it doesn't look like I'm going to get a perfect score tonight... should have listened to my head and not my gut and gone Romney in AK...

    Still, 9-for-10 is pretty good!

    -CW

  26. [26] 
    dsws wrote:

    How did Kucinich lose? Incumbents so rarely do.

  27. [27] 
    Michale wrote:

    We also use the term "birth state" to identify the state where the politician was born, and may still have family ties --

    Yea, but Kenya is not a state.... :D

    There has been some polling out of Oklahoma, but not very much. Even without the polls, though, Oklahoma is easy to call for Rick Santorum. The state is extremely conservative socially, and is a good fit for Santorum -- possibly the best of the whole evening.

    Interesting to note..

    Obama LOST in 15 counties in OK... :D

    Still, 9-for-10 is pretty good!

    That's an awesome record! Congrats.. :D

    Michale.....

  28. [28] 
    Michale wrote:

    Whoaaa....

    THAT was wierd...

    I just had a banner ad actually scroll across the bottom third of my screen.. It was a blue/yellow ad for "Safe Count" or something like that asking me to take a survey..

    It disappeared before I could take a screenshot...

    I usually have about a half dozen browser windows open, so I can't say for sure that it came from CW.COM.. But none of my other windows showed the ad.

    There is only one thing more annoying than audio ads.. And that's ads that block your view of the webpage yer viewing... :D

    Just a heads up...

    Michale....

  29. [29] 
    dsws wrote:

    I'm getting that too:

    safecount.net / Your Opinion Matters / Please take a short survey. / Start

  30. [30] 
    dsws wrote:

    Obama LOST in 15 counties in OK... :D

    That's bizarre. (google ...) Apparently an anti-abortion fanatic won most of them.

  31. [31] 
    Michale wrote:

    I'm getting that too:

    safecount.net / Your Opinion Matters / Please take a short survey. / Start

    Good.. I thought I was freakin' out! :D

    That's bizarre.

    I have a feeling this is gonna be the operative word for the 2012 Election... :D

    Michale.....

  32. [32] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    I, too, got the crawly ad. I'll send a note to Banter about it, as I found it just as annoying as you guys.

    I'm also getting two "unknown certificate" warnings sometimes when loading the page, anyone having this problem too?

    dsws -

    Kucinich was redistricted out. Ohio lost two House districts as a result of the 2010 census, and they merged his district with Kaptur's. So they both were "incumbents," although Kaptur had more of her former district in the new one, which is likely why she won.

    -CW

  33. [33] 
    akadjian wrote:

    How did Kucinich lose? Incumbents so rarely do.

    dsws-
    Kucinich was a victim of redistricting. The state legislature took 2 strong Dems and put them in the same district to eliminate a Democratic seat:

    Marcy Kaptur & Dennis Kucinich

    Kucinich is more nationally known, but Kaptur is also a strong progressive. It's basically a redistricting win for the GOP.

    Jean Schmidt's district was also redrawn and this may have influenced her loss to Brad Wenstrup. I hadn't watched this but Schmidt has been relatively unpopular here typically winning only because the district tilts Republicans and Dems have been unable to run a strong candidate since Paul Hackett so it's no surprise that a strong Republican beat her. I've seen lots of Wenstrup signs around the area even though I'm not in her District.

    A few notes from Southern Ohio ... :)
    Best
    -David

  34. [34] 
    Michale wrote:

    I'm also getting two "unknown certificate" warnings sometimes when loading the page, anyone having this problem too?

    Nope.. Haven't seen anything like that..

    I am guessing that you logged in in "god mode" and it had to do with the security certificates of that particular mode..

    Us pheasants wouldn't see such things not meant for mere mortals :D

    Michale.....

  35. [35] 
    dsws wrote:

    Haven't seen anything like that..

    Ditto.

    Kucinich was a victim of redistricting. The state legislature took 2 strong Dems and put them in the same district to eliminate a Democratic seat

    Thing is, you don't eliminate a Democratic seat by doing that unless something odd was going on. The way you get someone like Kucinich in the first place is by having a gerrymandered 100% Democratic district, to maximize the number of safely Republican districts. If you eliminate one Democratic district, you have to put the Democratic voters somewhere. If they could do that without jeopardizing a Republican seat last time, they would have.

    At the moment, I'm inclined to think that if we're going to have geographic districts at all, we should embrace gerrymandering overtly. Stop trying to pretend we're making the districts contiguous, or following any other neutral rules.

    Let municipalities set up precinct boundaries, a year or so before redistricting. Then a few months before redistricting, gather all available information about partisanship and ideology for each precinct, and publish it so parties and advocacy groups can strategize about districts.

    Then let the state legislators organize themselves into groups, as many groups as there are districts to draw (minus one, because the last district is going to be whatever's left). Let the groups choose what order they're going to go in, with the biggest group choosing its spot in the order first and so on. Seniority or whatever can provide tie-breakers.

    Then have the first group in the order throw together a district from any set of precincts scattered however they feel like throughout the state. If it has more than the state's population divided by the number of districts plus one precinct (or less than that average minus one precinct), go through the list and let other groups remove (respectively, add) precincts. Repeat down the list with groups of legislators choosing from the remaining precincts.

    It would be roughly proportional. A vote for one party or the other would be counted in advance, as the legislators chose precincts to include in districts. Parties would have relatively equal opportunities (proportional to their numbers in the legislature) to pack their opponents into districts, or to set up districts for themselves.

  36. [36] 
    Michale wrote:

    Thing is, you don't eliminate a Democratic seat by doing that unless something odd was going on. The way you get someone like Kucinich in the first place is by having a gerrymandered 100% Democratic district, to maximize the number of safely Republican districts. If you eliminate one Democratic district, you have to put the Democratic voters somewhere. If they could do that without jeopardizing a Republican seat last time, they would have.

    At the moment, I'm inclined to think that if we're going to have geographic districts at all, we should embrace gerrymandering overtly. Stop trying to pretend we're making the districts contiguous, or following any other neutral rules.

    Let municipalities set up precinct boundaries, a year or so before redistricting. Then a few months before redistricting, gather all available information about partisanship and ideology for each precinct, and publish it so parties and advocacy groups can strategize about districts.

    Then let the state legislators organize themselves into groups, as many groups as there are districts to draw (minus one, because the last district is going to be whatever's left). Let the groups choose what order they're going to go in, with the biggest group choosing its spot in the order first and so on. Seniority or whatever can provide tie-breakers.

    Then have the first group in the order throw together a district from any set of precincts scattered however they feel like throughout the state. If it has more than the state's population divided by the number of districts plus one precinct (or less than that average minus one precinct), go through the list and let other groups remove (respectively, add) precincts. Repeat down the list with groups of legislators choosing from the remaining precincts.

    It would be roughly proportional. A vote for one party or the other would be counted in advance, as the legislators chose precincts to include in districts. Parties would have relatively equal opportunities (proportional to their numbers in the legislature) to pack their opponents into districts, or to set up districts for themselves.

    I was with you right up to where you said, "Thing is....."

    :D

    Michale.....

  37. [37] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Thing is, you don't eliminate a Democratic seat by doing that unless something odd was going on.

    Sorry, I should have mentioned that due to the recent census, Ohio lost 2 seats. So we went from 18 to 16 congressfolk and I think this influenced the gerrymandering.

    At the moment, I'm inclined to think that if we're going to have geographic districts at all, we should embrace gerrymandering overtly.

    Have you been to Ohio lately?

    Since 2010, there is nothing much here that's overt :)

    It's we're going after Democrats and we're going after anyone who supports Democrats and we don't give a *$#&%#@% because we own the airwaves.

    Parties would have relatively equal opportunities (proportional to their numbers in the legislature) to pack their opponents into districts, or to set up districts for themselves.

    Equal opportunity? That, my friend, is a progressive belief :). One we're unlikely to see in Ohio.

    -David

    p.s. My favorite quote from last night ...

    "Breaking news: The polls are closed here in Tennessee. In a related development, so are most of the minds." :)

  38. [38] 
    dsws wrote:

    The question is, where did they put the Democrats? They previously had enough Democrats in the state to make two 100%-Democratic districts. If they lower it to one, that's a lot of Democrats for the other districts to absorb. Either a Republican district just got a lot less safe, or there was a third Democratic district and it just got a lot safer.

  39. [39] 
    akadjian wrote:

    The question is, where did they put the Democrats?

    Not sure with Kucinich/Kaptur. But here in District 1 & 2 (Cincinnati & suburbs) I can tell you what they did.

    The city itself is quite Democratic with the surrounding suburbs more conservative. So how you win both districts is to divide the city placing just enough Dems to lose in 3 Republican districts.

    District 1 had been a tossup for the past 10 years. District 2 safer Republican. So they moved some of District 2's Republicans into District 1 while still trying to keep District 2. District 2 was where Jean Schmidt lost btw.

    If you have roughly a 50/50 splits between Dems and Reps and 16 seats up for grabs, normally, you'd get a split of about 8/8 in terms of seats. However, if you could draw the districts to maximize the number of seats, you would have 4 districts which were 100% Democratic and 12 which were Republican. This is virtually impossible unless you went on a house by house basis, but they have gotten it to the point where we'll likely have a 13/5 split Republican/Democrat.

    Though there might be some surprises due to an extremely unpopular Republican governor right now.

    -David

    Look at how they divided up Cincinnati (lower left hand corner) so Dems would struggle in districts 1, 2 and 8. It makes for a crazy map ...
    http://images.dailykos.com/i/user/73/Ohio_Redistricting_Map__large_.png

  40. [40] 
    akadjian wrote:

    ... where we'll likely have a 13/5 split Republican/Democrat.

    Crap ... meant 11/5

  41. [41] 
    dsws wrote:

    If you have roughly a 50/50 splits between Dems and Reps and 16 seats up for grabs, normally, you'd get a split of about 8/8 in terms of seats.

    To get 8/8 you would need some kind of proportional-representation scheme. If you have roughly 50/50 and the districts were all alike, you would get 16/0 whichever way the electorate twitched that cycle.

    However, if you could draw the districts to maximize the number of seats, you would have 4 districts which were 100% Democratic and 12 which were Republican.

    If you have 50/50 and you were maximizing the number of Republican seats, you would have one district that's 100% Democratic and fifteen districts that are 7/15 Democratic to 8/15 Republican. But that's a spread of only six and two-thirds percentage points in each district. That's not enough to be safe, even if you had perfect gerrymandering, because of fluctuation in the voter population. Voters move in and out of districts some, and individuals move in and out of the electorate a lot.

    If you go all the way to four Democratic districts, with perfect gerrymandering, that would give you 1/3 Democratic and 2/3 Republican voters in each of the Republican districts (spreading 8 districts' worth of Republicans and 4 districts' worth of Democrats evenly over the 12 districts). There's no need to go that far. Even the laziest and most unappealing incumbent can reliably get reelected with a weaker advantage in constituents than 2:1.

    And you say they're going all the way to five Democratic districts. I conclude that legal and cultural barriers to gerrymandering have vastly more force than I would have imagined.

  42. [42] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    dsws & akadjian -

    California is trying two new experiments this election cycle which may interest you. First, they ("we" actually, as these things were forced through by referenda) wrested control of drawing the redistricting lines from the state legislature, and put it into the hands of a citizens' commission. First it started with state House seats, but then was expanded to US House districts as well.

    The new maps have now been drawn and implemented. It would have been more interesting if CA changed the number of House seats (53, I believe, from memory), but the Census neither gave nor taketh away from CA this time around, so we had the same number of districts to work with. This simplified matters somewhat.

    The new districts are MUCH more geographically sane. Much of the gerrymandering was removed. The last time the lines were drawn (back in 2000), the Dems and GOP got together and cherry-picked "safe" districts, until almost the entire state was a done deal. This time around, districts will be a LOT more competitive.

    What will this mean, functionally? Probably more Democrats in the House from CA, and possibly even the magic 2/3rds in both houses of the state legislature. Republicans are a weak minority here, I should point out.

    But the other experiment is also going to take place, and we won't be able to see how it will work until after our primaries. When we vote in the primaries, only the top two vote-getters will move on to the general election -- no matter what party they are from. Meaning we could have a Democrat running against another Democrat, for example. Or two GOP candidates. What we are NOT likely to have is any third parties on the general election ballot at all.

    I wasn't a fan of this change (by yet another ballot measure). I don't like the idea of banishing all the third parties to the primary race only, personally, as it seems anti-democratic (small-"d"). But we'll see how it all plays out...

    Anyway, just thought I'd toss that into the conversation...

    -CW

  43. [43] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    ChrisWeigant.com Milestone Reached -

    Check it out.

    Woo hoo!

    -CW

  44. [44] 
    akadjian wrote:

    I conclude that legal and cultural barriers to gerrymandering have vastly more force than I would have imagined.

    It's trickier than I initially thought, but still, the power to get 11 out 16 when the ratio of Republicans to Democrats in Ohio is much closer to 50/50?

    This says that the makeup of Congress is not like the makeup of America. So yeah, I suppose I would be arguing for something closer to proportional representation.

    First it started with state House seats, but then was expanded to US House districts as well.

    I had no idea. This does sound interesting. I'd much rather see the districts drawn by an independent panel so as not to rig the system.

    I think it would benefit everyone as incumbents would face more challenges and you wouldn't see people staying on forever just because they're put in "safe" districts.

    -David

  45. [45] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    David -

    The new CA maps are one heck of a lot less Gerrymanderey, that's for sure.

    Funnily enough, I am reading about Elbridge Gerry at the moment, and the Federalist/AntiFederalist era in Massachusetts. Interesting stuff.

    We'll see how things work out in CA. The "top two" business may be a little bizarre, though...

    -CW

  46. [46] 
    dsws wrote:

    When we vote in the primaries, only the top two vote-getters will move on to the general election -- no matter what party they are from.

    I don't call that a primary and a general. I call it a general and a runoff.

    What's your take on Arrow's theorem?

  47. [47] 
    dsws wrote:

    Part of the blame should go to the seniority system in Congress. It means that if a state wants effective representation, it needs to keep its incumbency rate high.

  48. [48] 
    dsws wrote:

    No one wants to talk about Arrow's theorem? What kind of wonks are you. Hmmpf.

  49. [49] 
    dsws wrote:

    The link for this story on the main page says comments (50), but when I click through I only see 48. Two held for moderation, or something else going on?

  50. [50] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    dsws -

    [48]: OK, I'll be the first to admit, I have no idea what you're talking about. Um, the arrow never gets to the target because it always has half the distance to travel? That's just a guess, mind you...

    [49]: This is a known bug in my site. On the main page (technically, "inside the program loop," I think), it counts "comments" as "comments + trackbacks" but on the article page it counts it correctly as "only comments". Trackbacks are links that other sites have which point back to that article, in a nutshell. I toyed around with it when I wrote the code, but I could not get it to separate the two out in order to provide an accurate count on the main page, sorry.

    -CW

  51. [51] 
    Michale wrote:

    Arrow's Impossibility Theorem
    http://alumnus.caltech.edu/~seppley/Arrow%27s%20Impossibility%20Theorem%20for%20Social%20Choice%20Methods.htm#Proof%20of%20Arrow%27s%20theorem

    "Now, I don't know what all that means, but it sounds pretty bad."
    -Tom Cruise, A FEW GOOD MEN

    :D

    Michale.....

  52. [52] 
    dsws wrote:

    OK, I'll be the first to admit, I have no idea what you're talking about.

    It's one of the things that (imo, of course) every educated person ought to be aware of, along with Gödel's incompleteness, special relativity, and some of the ideas of quantum mechanics.

    The twentieth century was not kind to the certainties of the nineteenth. Europe lost its grip on world domination. The version of Adam Smith believed in by nineteenth-century laissez-faire liberals (as the word was used then) was forcefully refuted by the Great Depression. The nineteenth-century vision of martial virtue, with its connections to both manly virtue and civic virtue, died in the trenches of WWI, giving the lie to "dulce et decorum est pro patria mori". The center could not hold; mere anarchy was loosed on the world. Nietzsche seemed prophetic. God was dead.

    But this crisis of faith wasn't just empirical. It was theoretical. The clockwork universe in which Benjamin Franklin had stolen the secret of lightning from the gods, in which Maxwell spoke his equations and there was light, in which Tesla and Marconi and Edison had worked their miracles, in which the Wright brothers made the first true heavier-than-air flight in 1903 -- the world of those miracles was shaken to its foundations in the Year of Miracles, 1905, when Einstein published seminal papers in both quantum theory and relativity.

    In the early years of modern physics, it was proven that atoms were a sort of thing could not exist in the world of Newton and Maxwell: an electron would spiral into the nucleus, but nuclei had been demonstrated experimentally. The incandescent light bulb was also impossible: it would emit an infinite amount of ultraviolet light. By the same token, so would any object with a temperature above absolute zero. The paradoxes were all solved at the level of mathematical formulas, but Newton's universe was gone, replaced with nothing comprehensible. Technological wizards could still work their magic, but the closest they could come to explaining it sounded as though nothing was real.

    In the foundations of mathematics, Gödel challenged previous notions of truth, proving that some statements of arithmetic are undecidable.

    And, much, later in the century, Kenneth Arrow set off a revolution in the idea of "the will of the people". Bad enough that the French Revolution had produced the Terror, and Locke's conception of the common good had to compete with Rousseau's vision of the general will. But in 1951 Arrow proved that any means of taking individual preferences and combining them into one set of preferences must either have its results vary capriciously on irrelevant, or ignore the unanimous will of all the individuals, or be a dictatorship.

    That doesn't just mean that there's no practical way of tallying votes to ascertain the will of the people. It doesn't just mean that, in principle, no possible way of tallying votes can be an entirely satisfactory measure of the will of the people. It means that in general there isn't any such thing as the will of the voters. It means that an economy cannot be judged on how well it satisfies the preferences of the people in it, unless those preferences include not just which things people prefer, but also some apparently-arbitrary measure of how much they prefer them.

  53. [53] 
    dsws wrote:

    Michale's link discusses a slightly more complicated version of the theorem. The Wikipedia article seems to me like a pretty good introduction: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arrow%27s_impossibility_theorem

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