When I was young, my uncle taught me a game.  “The winner,” he explained, “is the person who can hit himself the hardest.  You go first.”

After hitting myself—not as hard as I could, but hard enough to cause some pain—my uncle said, “Congratulations, you win.”

In a sense, the states that award delegates proportionally, as opposed to a winner-take-all system, are similar to that game.

That is, for instance, suppose a candidate works his tail off to increase his vote share from 30 to 35 percent.  If the state has, say, 60 delegates to award, then this increases his delegate count by only about 3.

If, on the other hand, the state awards delegates by a winner-take-all system, then the same effort—if it also allows the candidate to move from second to first place—increases his delegate count by 60.

Of the seven states that will hold an actual primary tomorrow (instead of a caucus, as will occur in the less populous states of Alaska, Idaho, and North Dakota), the three that come the closest to a proportional system are Vermont, Oklahoma, and Massachusetts.

Vermont adopts an almost perfect a proportional system. Oklahoma and Massachusetts adopt a system where a large fraction of their delegates will be awarded proportionally.  The rest will be awarded by congressional district.  Specifically, each district will have 3 delegates, and these delegates will be awarded proportionally to the candidate’s vote share in the district.

Although Santorum is expected to win Oklahoma (that is, to win the most votes in the state), even if he does win, his prize will likely be hollow.  That is, the vote shares of Santorum, Romney, and Gingrich are all likely to be near 30 percent.  Therefore, each is likely to win approximately 30 percent of the delegates—no matter who actually wins the most votes in the state.

The opposite is true with Ohio.  Of its 66 delegates, 15 will be awarded proportionally.  More interesting is that almost three-quarters will be awarded by a winner-take-all system within each congressional district.  If, say, Romney wins only 35 percent of the statewide vote, but wins the most votes in each congressional district, then he will win something like 85 percent of the state’s delegates.

Virginia uses a system similar to Ohio’s.  However, it will be less interesting since Santorum and Gingrich will not be on the ballot.  No matter what happens tomorrow, Romney should win approximately 80-90 percent of Virginia’s delegates.

Georgia and Tennessee fall in between the Oklahoma and Ohio models.  Each awards approximately 40 percent of its delegates according to a proportional system.  The rest are awarded by congressional district, where the district adopts a sort of “winner takes two-thirds” system.   That is, if the candidate wins the district, but fails to win by an overwhelming fashion (by 66 percent in Tennessee, 50 percent in Georgia), then he wins two of the district’s three delegates.  The second-place finisher gets the third delegate.

Although tomorrow night's television coverage will focus much attention on all ten Super Tuesday states, my main focus will be on only one, Ohio.

Joined
May '10

### Re: Why Ohio Will Be The Most Interesting State to Watch on Super Tuesday, Why Oklahoma Will Be Among The Least Interesting

Puzzling about OH is that Santorum is up in every poll (though they're all very close) but Romney's up 82-18  or so on Intrade. What makes the bettors so confident in Romney?

Joined
Feb '11

### Re: Why Ohio Will Be The Most Interesting State to Watch on Super Tuesday, Why Oklahoma Will Be Among The Least Interesting

Proportional awards result in a primary system that makes the political process in Italy look good in comparison.

Joined
Apr '11

### Re: Why Ohio Will Be The Most Interesting State to Watch on Super Tuesday, Why Oklahoma Will Be Among The Least Interesting

Going by signage, Santorum is going to do well in OK.

Joined
Apr '11

### Re: Why Ohio Will Be The Most Interesting State to Watch on Super Tuesday, Why Oklahoma Will Be Among The Least Interesting

What fool designed this process? I can't think of a more arcane and bizarre method of selecting any one.  Either make the whole thing a running popular vote, or if you wish to create more equality between the states have a system of allotted delegates with either a winner take all system or some sort of delegate distribution. But, whatever you do just make the darn thing uniform across all the states.

We are selecting a national candidate through the integration of 50 independent nominating systems. It is insane.

Joined
Apr '11

### Re: Why Ohio Will Be The Most Interesting State to Watch on Super Tuesday, Why Oklahoma Will Be Among The Least Interesting

 Scott Reusser: Puzzling about OH is that Santorum is up in every poll (though they're all very close) but Romney's up 82-18  or so on Intrade. What makes the bettors so confident in Romney? · 4 hours ago

Monday's polls had Rick ahead in 2, Mitt ahead in 3, and one tie. I think Intrade is overconfident, with Nate Silver's 65% Ohio Romney chance being more reasonable. I don't think Nate takes early voting into account enough, though, so I'm thinking it's closer to an even shot. The momentum has been very late, and pro and anti Romney ads (Santorum + Newt + Obama + unions) seem to have been slightly tilted against Romney. It's also a Pennsylvania neighboring state, so this may be the one place (that isn't Pennsylvania) that Rick has a ground game advantage.

My current over-under is for Mitt to get a little under double  Santorum's delegates, narrowly losing Ohio, but beating him in the easy states, caucus battlegrounds, and Georgia, competing nationwide. I suspect Coburn's endorsement will swing the needle a couple of points in Oklahoma, for instance.

Joined
May '10

### Re: Why Ohio Will Be The Most Interesting State to Watch on Super Tuesday, Why Oklahoma Will Be Among The Least Interesting

James, I read somewhere that early voting was Pro-Romney by a 5 pts or so. (can't remember where)

James Of England

I don't think Nate takes early voting into account enough, though, so I'm thinking it's closer to an even shot.

Joined
Apr '11

### Re: Why Ohio Will Be The Most Interesting State to Watch on Super Tuesday, Why Oklahoma Will Be Among The Least Interesting

Scott Reusser: James, I read somewhere that early voting was Pro-Romney by a 5 pts or so. (can't remember where)

James Of England

I don't think Nate takes early voting into account enough, though, so I'm thinking it's closer to an even shot.

23 minutes ago

This is an unusually anti-Romney margin of early voting. ;-) Romney traditionally does well amongst old people, business travelers, and other absentee voters. He also, in many states, has an excellent ground game that encourages people to lock in their Romney votes early. If Romney's base was voting almost equally, that's not at all a good sign.

Joined
Apr '11

### Re: Why Ohio Will Be The Most Interesting State to Watch on Super Tuesday, Why Oklahoma Will Be Among The Least Interesting

Incidentally, regarding the original post, WTA by CD is a pretty common way of distributing the bulk of the delegates. See, eg., Michigan. It is very unlikely, though, that Romney would be close state-wide, but win overwhelmingly by CD. It would be virtually impossible for him to win 35% of the vote and all districts.

Joined
Jan '11

### Re: Why Ohio Will Be The Most Interesting State to Watch on Super Tuesday, Why Oklahoma Will Be Among The Least Interesting

Right now I am in Ohio's (consolidated) 9th congressional district and am trying to decide whether to take a Repub ballot and vote in the Presidential primary or take a Demo ballot to vote for Marcy (look for the union label) Kaptur because I don't want to be represented by Dennis (the menace) Kucinich better known around our house as Howdy Doody or historically Clevland's dum- er- youngest mayor ever.  Decisions decisions. Ohio will be very important in the general so it is a good state to watch in the primary.  I tell my cousin she being from New Hampshire gets four votes in a contested presidential primary.   I being from Ohio get two votes in a contested presidential general election. Any advice that I can get regarding this choice before voting at around 5 Pm would be appreciated.

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