The Momentum Is Building!

The number of people in favor of my plan to use statistical sampling to allocate Florida's Democratic presidential delegates has doubled. Now there are two ...
by | March 20, 2008

The number of people in favor of my plan to use statistical sampling to allocate Florida's Democratic presidential delegates has doubled. Now there are two of us.

Believe it or not, this second guy is an actual pollster. David Hill, writing in The Hill (no relation), argues for a concept that's similar to mine. Alternatively, you could say that I argue for a concept that's similar to Hill's, since we both published our ideas on the same day. Here's what he has to say:

As I understand it, the biggest sticking point in this on-again, off-again proposition is the cost of a statewide primary election, a problem my proposal addresses. Instead of spending tens of millions on a new statewide primary, why don't the Democrats conduct a cost-effective census-like sampling of registered Democrats in the state to ascertain their presidential preference? It would cost a fraction of what a statewide primary election would -- and produce an indisputable picture of what Florida Democrats want their delegates to do.

...

Researchers would choose by random means a statewide sample of 10,000 voters. These 10,000 voters should be sent an overnight letter notifying them of their inclusion in the sample that will select Florida's delegates for Obama or Clinton. Fourteen attempts should be made to telephone each voter over the seven days of the census, two calls per day at different times. Messages should be left with a toll-free number for the convenience of those who would prefer to call back for their interview.

(Hat tip: Pollster.com)

Hill thinks this approach wouldn't work in Michigan, since the state gives out delegates based on congressional district. But, if the Michigan Democrats are already completely changing their delegate allocation procedures, couldn't they also change to a statewide apportionment system?

It is worth noting that there are a couple of obstacles to this approach that I glossed over in my post the other day.

One is legal. The U.S. Department of Justice would have to certify that new contests in Michigan and Florida don't violate the Voting Rights Act. Have the feds ever evaluated the merits of a poll?

The other is political. The Obama campaign seems to think that revotes in Michigan and Florida aren't in its best interest. But, if support for the idea keeps doubling, the political momentum might be irresistible.

One more piece of advice from Hill:

Note that I use the word "sampling" to describe what cynics and critics might call a "poll." If proponents of my idea ever want to move the concept ahead, never use the word "poll" to describe what I am suggesting.

My bad.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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