Persily On Super Tuesday Primaries

Press contact:
James O’Neill 212-854-1584 Cell: 646-596-2935
February 4, 2008 (NEW YORK) – Columbia Law School Professor Nathaniel Persily, an expert on American politics and election law, is available to speak with reporters about the implications of tomorrow’s “Super Tuesday’’ presidential primaries.
The way the news media covers Super Tuesday will be more significant than the actual results of the voting, Persily said.
Nathaniel Persily, Professor of Law, can be reached on his cell at 917-570-3223 or at [email protected].
PERSILY: “The semi-national primary which will be held tomorrow presents a challenge to candidates and voters, but it also poses new challenges for the media, which is completely unprepared to cover delegate selection processes in half the country. In many ways, how the media covers the results will be more important than who wins how many votes.
“The televised media plans to cover these results as they do general election results -- with anchormen ‘calling’ certain states for one candidate or another. That approach will seriously misrepresent what actually matters in this primary campaign -- how many delegates each candidate wins. On the Democratic side, a close second will often be just as important as narrow victory, but the media will cover each state as if one candidate has ‘won’ it. Given the way delegates are allocated among congressional districts based on historic electoral performance, it is possible that a candidate could easily win a majority of delegates while losing a majority of votes in the state.
“For similar reasons statewide exit polls will be a very poor guide to which candidates win delegates given that such polls are not accurate for geography as small as a congressional district.”
Nathaniel Persily, an expert on voting rights, election law, constitutional law, and American politics, has been a court-appointed expert for redistricting cases in Georgia, Maryland and New York, and has served as an expert witness or outside counsel in similar cases in California and Florida. He has an upcoming book on the Supreme Court.
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