I’m not sure how many other non-Americans are actively following the nomination process as it rolls out, but it feels like a horse race. I realised yesterday that I’ve unwittingly ended up as a Hillary supporter, with no real reasons other than:

  1. I wrote a post in January saying that 2016 would probably be her year; and
  2. Apparently, I’m internally in favour of symmetric reversals of fortune. As in: wouldn’t it be cool if Bill swapped roles? I want Hilary to win so that I can find out what Bill would be called. Presidential Consort, maybe?

Those aren’t good reasons. But I’m not voting, so I’m okay with that.

Either way, one of my new favourite things is the fivethirtyeight Elections podcast, which comes out every Wednesday. Those kids know what they’re doing.

And I’ve learned things like:

  • The nomination race involves collecting pledged delegates, who are then “pledged” to vote for you at the party convention where the presidential nominee is appointed.
  • But there are also superdelegates, who are unpledged, and get to vote with whoever they want at the convention. Or, at least, that’s been the standard in both parties until last year, when the Republican National Committee ruled that the Republican superdelegates have to vote the way that their state voted. So the superdelegates in the Democrat party are the important people (and their vote counts for about 15% of the total).
  • But even then, superdelegates are unlikely to dramatically shift the vote because that would be unpopular. They can nudge if the race is close, but little more than that.
  • A primary is a ballot vote, while a caucus involves people splitting themselves in a room and trying to persuade other people to join their side (which sounds festive).
  • There are open primaries (in which anyone can vote) and closed primaries (where you can only vote if you’re a registered member of the party).
  • There are some states in which the delegates are split amongst everyone according to their split of the votes, and some states in which the winning delegate takes most/all of the votes (one of those is Florida, which is why everyone is looking forward to that next week Tuesday).
  • There are lots of people that don’t normally vote, except now they’re voting for Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.
  • Barack Obama didn’t take part in the Michigan Democratic Primary in 2008 because  there was some story around Michigan trying to get its vote in too soon (Iowa and New Hampshire jealously guard their first and second vote positions).
  • The delegate allocation between states is not altogether clear.
  • You can win lots of state primaries (like Mr Trump), but still not get the nomination if you don’t win by a large enough margin to score enough delegates.
  • Donald Trump lies a lot, blatantly, but his supporters don’t seem to care.
  • I really really dislike Ted Cruz.

As of this week, here is everyone stands in the delegate count (which is the important thing):

Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 9.03.23 AM Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 9.03.10 AM

Here’s how the Republicans are doing individually:

Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 9.04.58 AM Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 9.05.13 AM Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 9.05.26 AM Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 9.05.43 AM

And the Democrats:

Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 9.03.46 AM Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 9.03.58 AM

But when it comes to endorsements, which are “among the best predictors of which candidates will succeed and which will fail”:

Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 9.07.01 AM

And compared historically:

Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 9.07.36 AM

The thing that I’ve found most interesting is this:

  1. Donald Trump has consistently received about 35% of the primary votes.
  2. Even as other candidates have dropped out, he seems to be unable to get more than 35% of the votes.
  3. It’s why people are talking about his “ceiling”.
  4. Then there are the exit polls, with a lot of Republicans who would be unhappy if Trump is their presidential nominee.

Which is why people are making noise about a brokered convention. Now I’m still not really sure what that is, but here is a Vox youtube clip that is meant to explain it.

It’s entirely possible that I’ve listened to too many podcasts about polling and delegate math. Apologies if that all sounded obscure.

But seriously – check out the podcast.

Rolling Alpha posts about finance, economics, and sometimes stuff that is only quite loosely related. Follow me on Twitter @RollingAlpha, or like my page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rollingalpha. Or both.