Michigan, Florida and Accurate Representation
by TCQuad, Sat May 31, 2008 at 05:45:52 PM EDT
The question of whether or not the Florida and Michigan compromises are fair will resonate between now and the end of the campaign.
It's a difficult question to answer, since the nature of the primaries themselves muddle the question. How many people would have voted if they knew it was going to count? Does the vote accurately reflect the will of the people in those states? Is the compromise fair to the voters, the candidates and the other 48 states?
A simple, but imperfect, answer is to look at the number of votes cast in the primaries versus the number of delegates that have been alloted. Blue represents Obama, magenta represents Clinton, light blue circles show the compromises. I left the Obama and Clinton dots at 0 in MI/FL (where they were before) so people could track which compromise point was for each candidate.
The black line represents the best fit for all primaries (both candidates), with a fairly decent fit (R-squared is .85 out of 1). For the sake of display, I cut off the far primaries (California, for instance), but the fit was generally pretty close out there as well.
As you can see, the light blue dots fall close within the noise around the linear fit. In a perfect statistical world, you'd expect Clinton 29.5, Obama 23 in Michigan; Clinton 68, Obama 47 in Florida. Instead, we have Clinton 34.5 (+5), Obama 29.5 (+6.5) in Michigan; Clinton 52.5 (-15.5), Obama 34.5 (-12.5) in Florida (numbers taken from Alegre's old diary).
The deals do have a slight Obama edge (under-represented by 6 rather than Clinton's 10.5), but considering the limitations of the situation, it is fairly impressive how close these compromises come to weighing the Michigan and Florida votes equally to those in every other contest.
I realize I'm looking at this numerically rather than emotionally or personally, so some are going to disagree. But dealing with an imperfect primary is a difficult thing, and the compromises does decently in a bad situation.[editor's note, by TCQuad] Forgot to mention in the methodology, uncommitted votes in Michigan were taken as votes against Hillary (since it was basically her versus uncommitted) and awarded to Obama.