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Super Tuesday Brain Map

By Joel Achenbach
So many states, so few brain cells. Super Duper Tsunami Fat Tuesday is a historic challenge, both politically and neurologically. Quick, how many delegates are at stake in Idaho? Is North Dakota winner-take-all? Why is West Virginia holding a Republican convention rather than a primary? How many California delegates are awarded according to the statewide vote and how many by congressional district? When do the polls close in London and how soon thereafter will we learn about the delegates representing the Democrats Abroad?

How will Hispanics influence the vote in [insert name of state here]?

Delaware: Discuss.

What we all need is a mental map, something akin to CNN's magic wall, that fancy touch-tone screen that enables John King to check precinct reports county by county in, say, Alabama, and even, if he wishes, to peer into individual living rooms to judge the mood.

I find that a form of phrenology comes in handy at a time like this: Different parts of my skull correspond to different states. Press a forefinger just behind the left ear, and boom: Oklahoma.

It's critically important to know the precise delegate-awarding rules in each congressional district, because the "winner" may actually wind up with a tie, as John McCormack explains in the Weekly Standard:

"Even if the popular vote in a congressional district with four delegates ended up 60 percent to 40 percent, Obama and Clinton would each get two delegates. In districts with three or five delegates, a one-point win would have the same effect as a 20-point win on that district's delegate allocation; they would split, two to one and three to two."

Perfectly clear -- but you must press the right part of your skull at the right moment to access this data.

In the New York Times, Adam Nagourney tries to help us organize our thoughts:

"The delegate count might matter more officially, but the state results could count more politically, and that will be the central tension of the night."

Got it? You need to separate your "official" thoughts from your "political" thoughts. It's like separating cerebral analysis from intuition. There is thinking, and there is feeling. This isn't just about numbers, after all: It's about our emotional reaction to the numbers, and more importantly, how we feel about our emotional reaction to the numbers. And how that will "play" politically.

Whatever you do, don't overthink it.

By Web Politics Editor  |  February 5, 2008; 5:08 PM ET
Categories:  A_Blog , Joel's Two Cents , Primaries  
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