While the Iowa Caucus is fresh in the news, I want to take a bit of umbrage with how the media reports the outcome. From the coverage you see on TV, you'll think that Kerry won by a landslide, Dean lost big time, and Kucinich was absolutely slaughtered, with only 1% of the votes. Well, that's the problem, the media keeps talking about the number of delegates like they're an exact representation of the number of voters for a particular candidate, when they are most certainly not. It's like the electoral college, it can distort the actual votes by the people, and, as we saw in 2000, may actually be different than the outcome of the popular vote. Now, I'm not having sour grapes here, and trying to claim that Dean really won, or anything like that. I'm just saying that you can't take the number of delegates as the true representation of the votes that were cast. Let's take my precinct, for instance. The four delegates from our precinct look like this:
Kerry - 2 Dean - 1 Edwards - 1
Well, looking at that, obviously Kerry had twice as much support as Dean or Edwards, right? That's what the media will say. And nothing comes from the district for the other candidates who didn't have enough people present to earn a delegate. What were the REAL numbers at the caucus though? At ours, it broke down like this, we had 56 people in attendance:
Kerry - 21 Dean - 17 Edwards - 12 Kucinich - 6
When you look at the numbers like that, it's pretty obvious how the number of delegates distorts the actual results. Kucinich doesn't get a delegate and earned only 1% of them statewide, but he had over 10% representation in our precinct. And Kerry gets twice as many delegates as Dean, though he only had 4 more supporters. Dean has 5 more supporters than Edwards, (a larger difference than that between Dean and Kerry), but receives the same number of delegates. The four Gephardt supporters threw in with Edwards, as there were only 8 people in his camp when the caucus started. The Kucinich people should have joined one of the other three camps, since they gathered no delegates, but apparently they didn't have a preference among the remaining candidates, so they chose none of them, and thus probably should have stayed home.
So what's the take-home message here? That the number of delegates a particular candidate receives is not equal to the amount of support they had in the state.