February 06, 2008

Kafkaesque primaries

It's coming on 1230am at Charlie's house in DC. (She's back from her Super Tuesday nerdfest party awaiting results from California.) So far it's a good night for McCain fans, with the former POW assuming the role of presumptive favorite (though Huckabee's near sweep of the South is v. interesting).

The Dems continue to be neck and neck, with Obama winning more states and Clinton slightly ahead in the delegate count (so far). Speaking of delegates, jesus nuts this is some kafkaesque shit!

This may well lead to some serious head-scratching. In California, for example, if Clinton wins with 50.1 percent of the vote in a congressional district that has three delegates, then she gets to take two delegates, and Obama gets to take one. But if she wins a congressional district with four delegates 60 percent to 40 percent, she gets two and Obama gets two. (The number of delegates allocated to each district depends on the Democratic vote for president last time around.) In this and just about every midsize and large state, it is possible to win more votes than your opponent—and fewer delegates. (See College, Electoral, Baleful Potential of.)

So maybe our American readers should keep that in mind next time their rolling their eyes at someone else's Byzantine election process. As it stands now, neither race is yet decided. But don't hold your breath for meaningful foreign policy debates as the primaries taper off: as before, it's the economy stupid. Iraq (much less Afghanistan) will have to wait.

Update: Networks are calling Cali for Clinton. But the projected delegate math for the night works out to Obama's advantage: Obama 841, Clinton 837. (H/T: Josh)