Monday, April 4, 2016

Hillary + Bernie by the numbers: The facts

As many (if not all) of you regular J-TWO-O readers know, I am fascinated (and appalled) by politics -- and am a stickler for facts. (I majored in Political Science, and Russian, in college, and went on to get a Master's Degree in International Relations. And my first job was as a fact checker at a magazine based in New York City, where I often fact checked Donald Trump.)

I've been pretty quiet about this election because so many others have already voiced my thoughts. And I've been appalled by the uncivil discourse. I've been especially disturbed by some of the rhetoric and vitriol aimed at Hillary Clinton and her supporters by Bernie Sanders and his supporters. I thought that kind of name-calling, bullying, and telling or repeating of lies was limited to the Republican party -- and playgrounds. But I was wrong.

However, I do not want to focus on either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, the people or their campaigns or positions, in this post. I want to talk numbers -- and about the nominating process.

I am in agreement with Charles Blow (and many others) who say our nominating process is broken. The whole delegate system is whack -- and superdelegates and caucuses should go. The latter replaced by primaries.

It is crazy that 10,617 people, the total number of people who voted in the Alaska caucuses, should determine who the Democratic nominee for president is. And less than 24,000 people voted in the Idaho Democratic caucuses. That's just slightly more people than live in my little New England town! And what is considered an "insanely high" turnout in Maine? That would be 46,800 people, in a state with over 267,000 registered Democratic voters.

In Washington State, an estimated 230,000 Democrats came out to caucus, which sounds pretty good -- until you consider that there are over 7 million people living in Washington State and nearly 4 million of those had registered to vote as of January 31, 2016. I searched the Internet, and I couldn't find out the number of registered Democrats in Washington State, but I'm guessing it's over 230,000.

[For those interested in party registration by state, check out this table. As you will see, Washington State is not listed.]

As most people following the Democratic campaigns know, Bernie Sanders's "big wins" (or close calls) have come from these caucus states, where voter turnout tends to be low -- and peer pressure is high. Whereas Hillary Clinton has won more primaries, where far more people vote -- and voting is a private matter. (Those are not opinions. They are facts.) But I decided to dig a little deeper and count up not the number of delegates each Democratic presidential candidate has but how many people actually voted for Bernie and Hillary -- and I was pretty surprised by what I found.

As of today, Monday, April 4, 2016, 6,717,872* people have voted for Bernie Sanders -- and 9,136,072* people have voted for Hillary Clinton. Put another way, to date, over 2.4 million more Americans have voted for Hillary Clinton than for Bernie Sanders.

Granted, there are several big Democratic primary contests left -- most notably New York, Pennsylvania, and California (which doesn't hold it's primary until June 7th). And Bernie Sanders could conceivably garner a lot of votes in those races. But I'm guessing (and hey, I could be wrong) that if the pattern holds, Hillary Clinton will continue to rack up a substantial number of votes -- and delegates -- in those states. And, if she does, the Superdelegates will continue to stick with her, and she will be the nominee.

*NOTE 1: Here's another reason to abandon the caucus system: the winning numbers often  don't represent the number of votes won but the number of state delegates won. I neglected to read the fine print when I first calculated the total number of votes/voters -- and have revised my numbers for Iowa, Maine, Nevada, and Washington upward, to reflect the number of voters, not state convention delegates won.

For example, the actual number of Democrats who voted in Iowa was 171,109 [H/T Friend of the Blog Fact Lovin' Liberal], not 1,406, the number I had originally included, which was the total number of state delegate equivalents -- i.e., the numbers all the news outlets gave. Unfortunately, though, I am unable to find precisely how many of those who caucused in Iowa cast their vote for Bernie and how many voted for Hillary (or, more correctly, their delegates). Similarly, the number of Democrates who caucused in Washington State was estimated at 230,000, though, again, I could not find exact breakdowns, so I based the numbers on the percentage of votes each candidate won.

However, even correcting the state totals, Hillary still leads Bernie by more than 2.4 million votes.

NOTE 2: Please go to this post to see revised numbers, post Wisconsin and with American territories and Americans abroad factored in, and a state-by-state table. And check J-TWO-O after each primary for the latest vote counts.


VB said...

Thanks for doing math. But I kinds wish I didn't know how few people went out to vote.

J. said...

@VB, You're welcome, and I feel the same way. Very depressing.