democrats, edwards, Hillary Rodham Clinton, iowa, Obama, Politics, USA

Did Hillary really lose in Iowa?

This is what Bill Clinton must mean when he talks of the anti-Hillary bias in the media: the number of state delegates each Democratic candidate received has been widely reported; while the number of national delegates each candidates will get from Iowa has been massively under-reported. Why? Because otherwise the story would no longer sound as a crashing defeat for Hillary Rodham Clinton. In fact, Clinton got one more national delegate than Edwards (15 to 14), and only one less than Obama (16) – even though she got way less state delegates than Obama and a few less than Edwards, thereby giving raise to the embarrassing percentages that have been all over the news in the past two days. With the national delegates’ numbers, that are the only actual numbers in terms of who will be nominated, it looks a lot more like a race split three ways than the Obama triumph reported by the media (apart from the obvious fact that, counting national delegates, Hillary came second in Iowa and not third).

One more reason why it is unfair to report only the state delegates is, obviously, that while for Republicans we know the actual number of votes, for Democrats we only know how those votes translate into state delegates. So it is possible that, just like the number of national delegates is very close, so is the actual number of votes, which we are not going to find out. In the absence of the sheer number of votes, there is all the more reason for reporting both state delegates and national delegates.


11 thoughts on “Did Hillary really lose in Iowa?

  1. I’ve been trying to find out what exactly the purpose of state delegates is. No luck, so far (granted, I haven’t looked beyond Wikipedia). \

    If they are useless, then yes, she did come in second place.

  2. state delegates, for what i understand, gather to elect national delegates… towards the end of the caucus people who got elected were being told where and when to go for the state convention. as i understand it, its just the smaller version of the national process. state delegates go to the state convention to elect national delegates, who go to the national convention to elect the nominee

    so having more state delegates should amount to more national delegates… only, it doesnt.

    ill see if i can find the explanation. the sources i have seen so far did not explain behind: thats the proof of how complicated iowa caucuses are! very helpful, ain’t it?

  3. this makes it only more complicated:

    Delegates selected at precinct caucuses move on to a county convention (99 counties; 1 March for Rs, 15 March for Ds), where a sub-set of delegates is selected to attend the district, then state convention. At the state convention (14 June), a sub-set of delegates is selected to attend the national convention.

    still no explanation on why more state delegates can result in less national delegates… even though with all these sub-sets of delegates, its easy to see how the proportions might get overturned

    one possible explanation is the following (which mirrors the national convention): just as some of the national delegates are not elected at the caucus – and thats how hillary has more national delegates than anybody even though she has come third in the only contested state – it might be that some state delegates are not elected at the caucus. so that hillary gets more national delegates from iowa even though she got less elected state delegates because she already had a majority of non-elected state delegates (just like she has a majority of non-elected national delegates)

    im afraid this is just my own guess though 😉

  4. so,

    apparently my guess was partly, but only partly, right. here is some stuff from wikipedia about 2004:

    Of the 45 delegates that were chosen through the caucus system, 29 were chosen at the district level. Ten delegates were at-large delegates, and six were “party leader and elected official” (PLEO) delegates; these were assigned at the state convention.

    if 2008 is the same, then it might be that hillary has a more of these 6 unelected than edwards, and that would explain it

    but there is another possible explanation:

    The delegates chosen by the precinct then go to a later caucus, the county convention, to choose delegates to the district convention and state convention. Most of the delegates to the Democratic National Convention are selected at the district convention, with the remaining ones selected at the state convention.

    because there are precints, then counties, then districts, and then the state convention, it is possible that it not only matters the number of state delegates that each candidate got at the precints, but that it also matters where those delegates are from. so that, if hillary’s vote was more geographically focused, then that will pay off in county and district conventions, resulting in a majority in the number of national delegates that are sent from iowa on behalf of hillary

  5. So, if I’m getting this right, the 16 Ob / 15 Hi / 14 Ed national delegates are those chosen by the district conventions, while the state delegates (940 Ob / etc.) will later choose some more national delegates of their own? Nicely Byzantine.

  6. kind of, only there are no other national delegates to be chosen: some of the 16,15,14 are chosen by the district conventions – to which those state delegates selected at the county conventions go, some by the state convention, to which those state delegates chosen by the district conventions go

    not sure, though 😉

  7. Pingback: more votes, less delegates, and the anti-Hillary bias « an insatiable yucca

  8. jennifer says:

    I am delegate form my county for Hillary. Got book today about convention. Says we have to pay $15.00 to even get in to the convention. This is our local one not even state. why do we have to pay. Also convention in 6 days and we are no just finding it out.

  9. JC says:

    Did Hillary loose Iowa… I’m from Iowa, and I have personally watched as Hillary has lost in Iowa twice now. Coming up in about 6 days I will get to watch her once again loose. The first time was a crushing blow, the second time I found comedic as a large percentage of her delegates failed to even show up to the county conventions (oops!). Now we head into the district convention (where you have to pay even more money this time Jennifer) and I expect to see even more fallout!

    As for the whole purpose, cost, time. Here is the deal if you said I want to be a delegate you should have really known what a delegate is to start with. There is no fee to be a delegate it is a “donation” they just make it look very mandatory. I think you should pay it anyway, because the state party does need money to keep itself going! It takes a lot of work to organize these conventions, and as such they need a lot of time, and that is why we don’t get informed until a week or so ahead of time. That said I will once again go back to my original argument that you should know what a delegate is, and you might want to know when your convention is so you can take that day off from work ahead of time. When you put your name down you are saying that you want to be responsible for upholding the decisions of all the people who made you a delegate back in your precinct, or county conventions. The key word there is Responsible, something I feel most people seam to have a hard time with!

    The purpose for the conventions was stated above, to elect delegates to the national convention. Well that is the ultimate goal if you are looking at the national scene of things. More of your time will be spent going over local policy, and platform issues! It takes about one hour to determine how many delegates are moving on, and about 9 hours debating the platform. So there is another example of why it’s important to know what a delegate is!

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