WTF Just Happened?

Spencer wants to know. Part of the reason I’ve been blogging so sporadically is because I have to file a feature piece for the Nation and don’t want to cannibalize my good material. But, as for the fact that Obama actually won more delegates, which is causing some confusion, here’s my understanding. (This is based on an hour-long chat with the man who actually invented the current Iowa caucus model back in 1972 and who was in Vegas this week to share his vast knowledge with the Nevada state party organizers. I’ll have more on that later)

The short answer to this question is that the weighting of the ratio of registered voters to state convention delegates favors rural counties over urban counties: 100 registered rural voters choose more delegates to the state convention than 100 registered voters in urban areas. This was done so as to try to force candidates to campaign all over the state, and since Obama won everywhere in the state except for the urbanized Clark County around Vegas, he can (we still don’t actually know) end up with more national convention delegates.

But, more complicatedly, I should lay out what happened today. Each one of the 1,754 precincts in the state of Nevada had a caucus, along with nine at-large precincts on the strip, for a total of 1,763 caucus sites. At each of those caucuses the assembled people elected delegates to their local county convention. County conventions will be held in a few months (I think!) and at the county conventions, the delegates there assembled will elect delegates to the state party convention. At the state party convention the assembled delegates will elect the delegates to send to the national party convention. At the national party convention these Nevada delegates will cast their vote for the nominee. In other words, it’s representative democracy four times removed.

You caucus for a delegate who chooses a delegate who chooses a delegate who chooses a delegate who votes for the nominee.

This is what democracy looks like.

Chris Hayes is the host of All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC.

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