Today Adam Nagourney has a nice Times piece looking at the facts behind the week’s campaign buzzword: delegate.
As it turns out, the primaries are actually about selecting delegates to the national conventions. Shocking, isn’t it?
It’s easy to loose sight of that basic, elemental fact when the press, especially the TV talking-commentariat, spends the first weeks of the campaign narrativizing the early wins, losses, and essential-ties. If you want to win that pundit primary, you must win early and often, even though there are preciously-few delegates up for grabs before super-monster-tsunami-mega Tuesday. And you can’t do well in the latter delegate-rich states without a conventional-wisdom enabled mantle of victory from Iowahampshiriganolina.
It’s an obvious point, but we’re stuck in a decades long distortion-loop, where press emphasis of the early states forces candidates to double-down. And that draws even more coverage, which raises the stakes even further. This year’s breakneck schedule doesn’t make it any easier, but that’s just as much a symptom of the disease as a cause.
And now, without an early clear winner, the press is recognizing the importance of delegate counts in a way they haven’t for a long time. But they’ve always been important; press-assisted perceptions aside, they’re the only thing that actually matters. Ignoring that only makes the problem worse.