The Corner

Winner-Doesn’t-Take-All

I have a new column in USA Today about the sometimes perverse results produced by the Democrats’ system of awarding delegates proportionally, rather than winner-take-all, and how that system might possibly produce a 2000 Electoral-College-style outcome in which the winner of the popular vote doesn’t win the nomination.  Consider these examples:

In Idaho, about 21,000 Democrats gathered for caucuses. Obama won in a blowout by a margin of 13,000 votes. For that, he won 15 delegates to three for Clinton — a net gain of 12 delegates.

In New Jersey, Clinton won by a margin of 110,000 votes out of more than 1 million cast. For that, she won 59 delegates to Obama’s 48 — a net gain of 11 delegates.

Now under what system does it make sense for Obama to collect more net delegates for beating Clinton by 13,000 votes in one state than Clinton does for beating Obama by 110,000 in another?

That inequity, by the way, won’t be repeated in the general election, when the winner of Idaho will collect four electoral votes while the winner in New Jersey will get 15 — and the losers get nothing.

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