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Obvious Point of the Day


Not to belabor the point, but there’s some nonsense going on in this comment thread regarding the Florida primary. The content of the nonsense appears to be the argument that, regardless of the delegate situation, the Florida result represents a true enough picture of the preferences of the Florida electorate. In particular, aimai:

Florida voters could and did turn out in record numbers to cast protest votes for all three candidates in the hope that their votes *would* ultimately count. I just don’t see that “campaigning” or “not campaigning” made any difference at all in such a hotly contested and noisy election. What’s your evidence that people who wanted to vote for obama didn’t turn out for this non race? What poll shows a depressed turnout because of the no campaigning rule?

This spurred me to do a bit of what the kids like to call “research” and “arithmetic”, which produced the following:

New Hampshire:
Democrats: 284104
Republicans: 233381
Reps as % of Dems: 82%

South Carolina:
Democrats: 529771
Republicans: 442918
Reps as % of Dems: 84%

Democrats: 1684390
Republicans: 1920350
Reps as % of Dems: 114%

And that excludes Iowa and Nevada, where turnout is much harder to measure, but in which literally everyone agrees that the Democratic turnout vastly exceeded the Republican. So I’d say, yes, the evidence does pretty conclusively demonstrate that either a)campaigning, or b)the presence of actual delegates has a strong effect on turnout. Strangely, a large number of campaigning politicians seem to agree with this conclusion; they seem to think that the presence of a candidate, the mobilization of his or her political organization, and the spending of tremendous amounts of money on advertising could affect whether people vote and who they vote for. Who knew?

Now, you can make the argument that the Florida Democratic result would have been the same if the candidates had been allowed to campaign, but in doing so you’re making a claim that would need to climb several rungs of plausibility to reach the level of “evidence-free assertion”. In the absence of a campaign from any of the candidates, the Florida result was almost inevitably going to reflect the greater name recognition of Hillary Clinton; indeed, she held similar leads in other states before the actual campaign began.

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