On Elections

How people elect parliaments

Trump, Sanders win presidential races in New Hampshire

As expected, Donald Trump secured a solid win today in the New Hampshire election of delegates to help decide the 2016 Republican nominee for President.

[Update 11 February: 100% of New Hampshire votes are now counted. Candidates Carly Fiorina and Chris Christie have today announced their withdrawal from the Republican race for nomination.]

Trump has won 36% of the votes, outpolling John Kasich on 16%, Ted Cruz 12%, and Jeb Bush on 11% and Marco Rubio just below 11%.

In the matching Democratic party contest, Bernie Sanders on 61% has handily defeated Hillary Clinton on 38%, also a result widely predicted by the polls.

Turnout of voters backing Republican candidates reached over 281,000 voters (up from 248,000 in 2012 and 235,000 in 2008), with 247,000 voters backing Democrat candidates (down from 280,000 in 2008; sitting President Obama was not challenged in 2012).

The real measure of success is the party convention delegate tallies. The New Hampshire Republicans will award 20 delegates, while the Democrats (with their larger convention) will award 24.

The delegate allocation rule used in New Hampshire is broadly proportional, but with a significant kicker favouring the candidate who wins the most votes.

According to state law, elected delegate positions are awarded to candidates in proportion to their vote, with the ratio rounded off to the nearest whole number. For example with 20 Republican delegates to be won, a vote share of 17.3% would score 3 delegates, but 17.7% would score 4 delegates.

However all vote shares below 10% score no delegates at all. Since such votes might have potentially scored 1 or 2 delegates, the existence of minor candidate vote totals (such as Chris Christie’s 7%, Ben Carson’s 4%, and Carly Fiorina’s 2%) creates a pool of unallocated delegates. The specific combination of roundings applied to the vote shares of stronger candidates may also leave some unallocated delegates.

In New Hampshire the rule is that all these remaining delegates are awarded as a bonus to the candidate with the highest vote.

Under this formula, today’s Republican election has panned out with a sizeable Trump bonus:

Candidate votes vote share delegates
Donald Trump  100,735 35.7% 7 + bonus 4
Governor John Kasich  44,932 16.0% 3
Senator Ted Cruz  33,244 11.8% 2
Jeb Bush  31,341 11.1% 2
Senator Marco Rubio  30,071 10.7% 2
Governor Chris Christie  21,089   7.5% 0
Carly Fiorina  11,774   4.4% 0
Ben Carson  6,527   2.3% 0
Others     0.7%

The result leaves the Republican establishment in a very awkward position, with it’s support divided between several candidates. None of these candidates are surging, but at least three or four have enough justification to stay in the race for the time being. The prospect of Marco Rubio consolidating the public support of this group has soured with his weak 5th place today.

With just two significant candidates the Democrat race is simpler, with no bonus seats created by rounding:

Candidate votes vote share delegates
Senator Bernie Sanders  152,181 61.3% 15
Hillary Clinton  95,324 38.5% 9
Others     1.2%

It’s noticeable that the Republican result is more disproportional, which is unfair to both its candidates and its voters.

The threshold rule will have a powerful effect over the primary season, depriving minor candidates of their fair share of delegates and handing these delegates by default to the more successful candidates. It will get worse in the second half of the season, when the Republican party will allow 13 states to give all their delegates to just one candidate on the winner-take-all principle.

Over the four months of primary elections the leading three Republican candidates, and perhaps a fourth, will be awarded more than their fair share of delegates at the expense of all the other minor contestants.

This syndrome won’t affect the Democratic race this year, because of its two-candidate simplicity. The final shares of elected delegates between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton should be a fair reflection of their support among the voters.

However even after the voting is complete, each party still reserves a significant number of conventions delegate places for sitting politicians and party officials.

Combined with the known commitments of unelected Democratic delegates and the results from last week’s Iowa caucuses, the leading candidates within each party are currently:

  • Hillary Clinton (231 delegates to Bernie Sanders on 39)
  • Donald Trump (18 delegates to Ted Cruz 11 and Marco Rubio 9 and Jeb Bush 4.)

Full update on the delegate tallies here.


10 February 2016



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This entry was posted on February 10, 2016 by in Current issues, United States, US presidential primaries.
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