Obama's Georgia Delegate Selection Problem
by Andre Walker, Fri Jan 25, 2008 at 06:45:36 AM EST
From the diaries (I've added the image to the right), Jerome
For political nerds like me, there is a tendency to get as excited about the process of politics as we are about the horse-race of politics; and this year's Democratic presidential nominating contest is as much about the process as it is about the horse-race. Today, I will attempt to explain, in reasonable detail, how the process of electing delegates in Georgia may result in Illinois Sen. Barack Obama winning the state-wide popular vote but also may result in him losing the delegate count in seven to eight of Georgia's Congressional districts.
Article I.B. of the Call for the 2008 Democratic National Convention establishes 3,000 as the total number of base delegate votes that will be distributed among the fifty states and the District of Columbia using a formula that gives "equal weight to the sum of the vote for the Democratic candidates in the three (3) most recent presidential elections and to population by electoral vote"[Source: Article I.B., Call for the 2008 Democratic National Convention]. Using the delegate allocation formula, Georgia has been allocated a total of seventy-six base delegate votes.
Under the 2008 Delegate Selection Rules for the Democratic National Convention, Rule 8.C. states that "Seventy-five percent (75%) of each state's base delegation shall be elected at the congressional district level or smaller. Twenty-five percent (25%) of each state's base delegation shall be elected at large"[Source: Rule 8.C., 2008 Delegate Selection Rules for the Democratic National Convention]. What this means is that, as it pertains to this state, fifty-seven of Georgia's base delegation will be elected at the Congressional district level, and nineteen of the state's base delegation will be elected at the state level.
At the Congressional district level, the fifty-seven delegates were apportioned among Georgia's thirteen Congressional districts using the guidelines enumerated under Rule 8.A.2. of the Delegate Selection Rules [Source: page 5, Georgia Delegate Selection Plan for the 2008 Democratic National Convention]. Specifically, Rule 8.A.2 states "Apportionment of district-level delegates within states shall be based on one of the following: A formula giving equal weight to the vote for the Democratic candidates in the most recent presidential and gubernatorial elections;"[Source: Rule 8.A.2., 2008 Delegate Selection Rules for the Democratic National Convention]. Pictured below is a chart of how many delegates each Congressional district received under Rule 8.A.2.:
As you can see, the Congressional districts with the larger populations and the higher Democratic performance (districts two, four, five, twelve, and thirteen) gained more delegates than the Congressional districts with smaller populations and lower Democratic performance (districts one, three, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, and eleven). It should be noted that the five Congressional districts with the highest Democratic performance also have a African-American voting age population of 35% or more [Source: Statsheet for 2005 Congressional Districts (unifiedgeorgia), Carl Vinson Institute of Government Legislative Reapportionment Services Office].
What does all this mean?
Well, recent polls have shown that the race for the Democratic presidential nomination is breaking down along racial lines with Sen. Barack Obama (D - Illinois) winning overwhelming support among black voters and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D - New York) gaining a high level of support from white voters. For example, yesterday evening, MSNBC and Mason-Dixon Polling & Research released a South Carolina poll that showed Obama leading Clinton 38% to 30%. When the poll was broken down along the demographics, Obama lead Clinton among African-American voters 59% to 25%. Among white voters, Clinton lead Obama 36% to 10% with John Edwards receiving 40%. In fact, just today, Rasmussen Reports released a poll that showed Obama leading Clinton in Georgia 41% to 35%. However, once again, among black voters, Obama leads Clinton 59% to 28%; and among white voters, Clinton Leads Obama 44% to 25%.
If this trend continues, then on February 5th, a safe prediction could be made that Barack Obama would win a majority of the at-large delegates and a majority of the district-level delegates in the four Congressional districts with an African-American voting age population of 40% or more. But, as I stated above, Georgia has seven Congressional districts with an African-American voting age population of 35% or below.
Pictured below are the demographics for each of Georgia's 13th Congressional districts:
What's my point?
My point is this:
59% of the black vote in a Congressional district with a 11.08% black voting age population (that's the 11th Congressional district by the way) isn't going to put any candidate, black or white, in a position to win a majority of district-level delegates there. You need between 35% and 45% of the white vote to win, and right now, Barack Obama doesn't have that in Georgia. To me, that poses a serious problem for him when it comes to racking up the delegates in the Peach State.
So, I'm going to make a prediction, and you can hold me to this if you want. In Congressional districts two, four, five, and twelve, Barack Obama will receive a majority of the delegates. However, in Congressional districts one, three, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, and eleven, Hillary Clinton will receive a majority of the delegates. The thirteenth district, I believe, will break even with Hillary and Obama receiving three delegates a piece. And at the state-level, Obama will win a majority of the delegates.
When you add those delegate totals up, Obama (who, as I said, may win the state-wide popular vote) may end up with forty-one of Georgia's eighty-seven pledged delegates (25 district-level, 10 at-large, 6 PLEOs) and Hillary may end up with forty-six of Georgia's eighty-seven pledged delegates (32 district-level, 9 at-large, 5 PLEOs).
In other words, Obama won the state-wide popular vote (which I believe he will) but lost the delegate count. There's less than two weeks until Georgia's primary, so we'll see how my predictions hold up, but I'm pretty confident in what I believe may happen.