Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Myth of the Popular Vote

The latest sign that Hillary Clinton's campaign has officially reached the "Desperately Flailing" stage: claiming that if Hillary receives a larger share of the popular vote she should be the Democratic nominee, regardless of delegate counts, the official process, or other such minor issues.

There's just one teeny tiny problem, though: Hillary doesn't have a larger share of the popular vote.

And neither does Obama.

Neither candidate has a greater share of the popular vote for the simple reason that nobody has competed in a contest to see who can attract the larger share of the popular vote.

If this were a contest for the popular vote, both candidates would have conducted themselves quite differently. They would have spent more time and money in more populous states rather than small ones with disproportionate delegate counts; appeared on TV at different times and places; courted different endorsements; and probably even championed different issues. The voters too would have behaved differently, perhaps abandoning other candidates in favor of Hillary or Obama to make their vote count. There is simply no way of knowing how the popular vote would have broken down in a contest that never took place.

Any claim about the popular vote by either candidate makes as much sense as saying that the New England Patriots should be the Superbowl champs because they held the ball for more time than the New Jersey Giants of New York.

No comments: