Wednesday, April 16, 2008

NBC makes embarrassing superdelegate errors

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From NBC News First Read:

Also note: Going back through our lists, we have taken two away [from] Hillary Clinton. One Clinton supporter, Ken Curtis, moved from Maine to Florida. (Florida is not included in the count, as the state has been stripped of its delegates to the national convention.) The other is Sarah Swisher (IA), who had been supporting Edwards then moved to Clinton and then switched to Obama last month. We added her in for Obama at the time, but still had her factored into our count for Clinton as well.
We took Ken Curtis off of our non MI/FL count on February 28, almost 7 weeks ago.

And we moved Sarah Swisher from Obama to Clinton Clinton to Obama on February 15. They moved her sometime last month? And then double-counted her since then? So NBC has had Swisher mistakenly in the Clinton column for 2 months? Incredible.

I have a couple of suggestions for NBC:
  • First, if they bothered to list the superdelegates who they were counting, then maybe some of their readers would have caught their mistakes. But they choose to keep this important information secret, and that therefore makes their numbers totally unverifiable.
  • Second, someone should tell Chuck Todd and the rest of the NBC News Political Team about this new invention called a spreadsheet. You put the superdelegates names in one column and the candidate they're supporting in another. Makes it kind of hard to double count someone...

20 comments:

Mike in Maryland said...

Matt,

"And we moved Sarah Swisher from Obama to Clinton . . ." should read "And we moved Sarah Swisher from Clinton to Obama . . ."

Mike

Matt said...

Fixed, thanks. At least we didn't take two months to fix our error!

Galois said...

Another issue is that they make it very difficult to contact them about mistakes (they don't read the comments). At least twice in the past month Domenico Montanaro wrote an article about the number of "elected" superdelegates who had endorsed either candidate. He chose to count only voting members of the US Congress and governors of US States. I was fine with that. He could count the category however he saw fit. He also presented the list of names, and from the list and the number it was clear he was counting the non-voting congressional delegate from the US Virgin Islands despite making it clear that he wasn't going to count any other non-voting congressional delegate. It was particularly troubling since the most recent instance was in a post entitled "Clinton still leads among elected supers" and if he had not counted the Virgin Islands (or had counted the other territories and DC) she would not have been leading. Oh well. By the way, it looks like Panetta was right, Harry Thomas, Jr. is switching to Obama. The Washington Post has the scoop.

Galois said...

Actually it looks like they made that same mistake again today. The 96-94 count in that group was clearly obtained by adding the three new representatives for Obama (Carson, Watt, and Price) to their previous 93-94 count. But as I noted above that count was based on counting counting Del. Donna Christensen (D-VI) in the group, while excluding all other non-voting congressional delegates. Include them or exclude them, but be consistent.

KCinDC said...

Galois, I don't think excluding them makes much sense anyway. Even if those House members don't vote, they're still elected. I suppose they could exclude the ones from places that don't vote for president, but then they should include DC and not VI.

David said...

Even if they suck at keeping track of superdelegates, the guys at NBC (or at the very least Chuck Todd) seem to know their way around a spreadsheet. Chuck Todd is one of the few big media guys who actually gets delegate math, both the state-by-state results as well as the overall picture and how meaningful a seemingly "small" lead is.

Mithridates said...

Ah yes, NBC. I remember that article about a Facebook poll where Ron Paul won the results of a poll with 43%, but the headline was "Facebook chooses Huckabee, so far" when he had only 22%. That was Domenico Montanaro who wrote that.

Here's the link:

http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/01/05/551646.aspx

About two days later they finally fixed the title, but you can see the comments below where people are simply baffled by the stupidity when it first came out. I'm not surprised that a group that couldn't figure out that 43 is bigger than 22 had some problems with something as complex as superdelegates.

Aunt Judy said...

Is John Edwards a Super Del? I was looking for him on your uncommitted page but couldn't find him. It was probably in front of my face but I couldn't see it.

Where should I look on your site for John Edward's status

Oreo said...

Edwards is not a super. He was when he was a Senator but not now.

Stephen C. Rose said...

A trifle smug. No offense. Different folk have different communication priorities. I maintain links to four of "you" and never do any two totals correspond.

Stephen C. Rose said...

Actually two of the 4 agree that the current differential is 22, the others are 19 and 25. As long as the keeps decreasing that's fine with me. Viva superdelegate anarchy.

Aunt Judy said...

REALLY?! Interesting. When I saw former Sen. Gore and Daschel and former Prez Carter and a few former Rep's, well, I just assumed.

If it's not too much trouble to comment, would you happen to know how the DNC decides who to strip of their Super Del status and who gets to keep it after they 'retire' or decide not run again?

On a personal note, I was anxiously waiting to see which way Edwards sided by the time the convention rolled around in August. I suppose I need to get used to never knowing his position for the 2008 election....short of voting for himself as a write-in, that is!

p.s. I removed my previous post 'cuz I accidentally said "former Prez Bush" instead of "Carter". I think I was getting anxious to put the word 'former' in front of Prez Bush!

Oreo said...

Stephen,
As part time bloggers who have no media connections and can't get the time of day from either campaign I think we have a little room to be snarky.

How much are these other people being paid to give their readers the info they're looking for?

Oreo said...

Judy,
You can see who is named a superdelegate here

Former Presidents and VP's are supers so that's Gore and Carter

Daschle is because he was the leader of the Senate. Speaker of the House is another way as is DNC Chair.

Aunt Judy said...

You're the best. Thanks!

cbsmith42 said...

Aunt Judy, I saw that Oreo already answered your question but I thought I'd chime in with a simple rule of thumb that somebody posted somewhere and it helped me a lot -- it's kind of like the Masters tournament (if you follow golf at all).

If you win a Masters tournament (President of Vice President), you're automatically invited any year that you choose to participate.

Otherwise, you have to qualify each year (election cycle) by winning another tournament or being explicitly invited. You can qualify as a Super by holding an office as a Senator, Congressman, etc (kind of like winning another tournament). If you're a former winner/office holder, you may get invited as an Add-On or for involvement with the party, etc.

I'm sure it doesn't cover every case, but it seems a better and better rule of thumb the more I think about it. But, all this being said, I'm an expert at neither golf nor politics ;)

Matt said...

David - You're right about Todd - I like him also. We're just having some fun here. Six weeks without a primary is driving everyone a bit crazy...

Aunt Judy said...

CBSmith42..

Ahh, thank you. That was actually closer to the type of info I was looking for. I appreciated Oreo's link too.

Still, I sure want to hear what Edward's really thinks. It' driving me nuts that he won't support one or the other! His campaign website is still up, I stumbled across it the other day. I wish he would walk-the-talk that I read on his campaign page!

http://www.johnedwards.com/about/

Aunt Judy said...

Great Mother Jones story here that's worth a re-read.

circa 1998 - Clinton

http://www.motherjones.com/news/outfront/1998/01/pritchard.html

Hillary said...
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