Opinion: Understanding Political Mathematics

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The 2016 election cycle has stirred up both controversy and massive political involvement all over the country. States have been seeing record-high turnouts in the primaries, and the high turnouts are revealing a backlash against “establishment candidates” like Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz.

Donald Trump has won more state primaries than anyone would have guessed, currently leading the republican race for delegates. Bernie Sanders also has grown from his measly 3% polling at the beginning to being now neck and neck with Secretary Clinton for the democratic nomination. However, most people don’t know how delegates are even awarded to the candidates.

Many States have its Democratic and Republican delegates awarded to candidates by a proportional system. While on the republican side many states have a “winner take all” system. A state with a proportional system will divide delegates between the candidates based on the portion of the state that voted for them. Take New Hampshire for example. The state had 32 delegates up for grabs in their democratic primary. 8 of those delegates remain unbound to any candidate until the other 24 are divided proportionally. Bernie Sanders won around 60% of the vote there, and so he was awarded 15 delegates, Hillary Clinton, with the remaining 38% (1.7% was awarded to “other”) walked away with the remaining 9 delegates. The argument for this style of primary due to the fact is most accurately represents the feelings of the state toward the candidates. This is the way our Democracy should be. America was founded on the premise of equal representation and this is the best way to make that a reality. Florida on the other hand, held a winner take all for its Republican primary. Donald Trump, while winning around 46% of the vote in Florida, won all 99 of the delegates. Both Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz together won around 34%, yet received no delegates due to the nature of the primary. The argument for this style of primary is that it keeps competition high. However, that leaves a large percentage of a population simply unrepresented.

The “winner take all” system of awarding delegates is a terrible way to represent the true values of the state. In the case of Florida, the results of this primary caused Rubio to drop out of the race for president. He did win parts of the state, and in a proportional system that would be represented fairly. Americans who had voted for Rubio for whatever reason, now had put support behind Donald Trump in his 99 delegates he then earned. This winner take all system has people not fully represented in the way you would expect from a democracy.

Democratic “Super Delegates” are also a factor for Democratic candidates. These delegates are not bound to vote for a candidate based on their performance and popularity with voters. Super Delegates are party leaders, former presidents and vice presidents, and members of congress. The Super Delegate system was created to allow the Democratic Party members to prevent the nomination of candidates they considered to be unelectable. Consider the fact that there are 712 Super Delegates in the 2016 election cycle, not only do we have an elite class of people enacting their will onto our political system despite support for candidates by voters but Super Delegates also make up one third of the delegates necessary to win the democratic nomination. This is a gross misrepresentation of voters. In the 2016 election cycle the Super Delegates quickly moved to support Hillary Clinton. When the election cycle started back in November. Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders had single digit poll numbers, with Hillary Clinton holding an obvious lead. O’Malley is the former Baltimore mayor and Maryland Governor and Sanders is Vermont’s current Senator. Hillary Clinton has had a long political history including Former Secretary of State and New York Senator. However throughout the election cycle we have seen Bernie Sander gain a huge amount of support. This is not represented in the amount of delegates he has. If you took Super Delegates out of the equation he would be only 251 delegates behind Secretary Clinton. But as it stands he is 690 delegates behind Hillary Clinton. The Super Delegates are an unfair and unjust way to have nominations for America’s political system.

This is no doubt one of the most important election cycles in American history. There is an obvious divide between the far left and far right of the political spectrum. All over the country voter turnout is at a record high. Regardless of whether or not you agree that a proportional system is the way to go, It is important to understand how these two camps earn their victory. A victory that ultimately win the nomination for their respective party.

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