Sunday, August 02, 2015

17 candidates, only 10 in the debate- what to do?

On Thursday Aug 6 there will be Republican debate among 10 of the 17 (yes 17) candidates for the republican nomination.

1) There are 17 candidates. Here is how I remember them: I think of the map of the US and go down the east coast, then over to Texas then up.  That only works for the candidates that are or were Senators or Govenors.  I THEN listthe outsiders.  Hence my order is (listing their last job in government) George Pataki (Gov-NY), Chris Christie (Gov-NY), Rick Santorum (Sen-PA), Rand Paul(Sen KT),JimGilmore(Gov-VA), Lindsay Graham (Sen-SC),Jeb Bush (Gov-FL), Marco Rubio (Sen-FL), Bobby Jindal (Gov-LA), Ted Cruz (Sen-TX), Rick Perry (Gov-TX), Mike Huckabee (Gov-AK), Scott Walker (Gov-Wisc), John Kaisch (Gov-Ohio) Donald Trump (Businessman), Ben Carson (Neurosurgeon), Carly Fiorina (Businesswomen).
9 Govs, 5 Sens, 3 outsiders.

2) Having a debate with 17 candidates would be insane. Hence they decided a while back to have the main debate with the top 10 in the average of 5 polls, and also have a debate with everyone else. There are several problems with this: (a) candidates hovering around slots 9,10,11,12 are closer together than the margin of error, (b) the polls are supposed to measure what the public wants, not dictate things, (c) the polls were likely supposd to determine who the serious candidates are, but note that Trump is leading the polls, so thats not quite right.QUESTION: Lets say that Chris Christie is at 2% with a margin of + or - 3%. Could he really be a -1%?

3) A better idea might be to RANDOMLY partition the field into two groups, one of size 8 and one of size 9, and have two debates that way.What randomizer would they use? This is small enough they really could just put slips of paper in a hat and draw them. If they had many more candidates we might use Nisan-Wigderson.

4) How did they end up with 17 candidates?

a) Being a Candidate is not a well defined notion. What is the criteria to be a candidate? Could Lance Fortnow declare that he is a candidate for the Republian Nomination (or for that matter the Democratic nomination). YES. He's even written some papers on Economics so I'dvote for him over... actually, any of the 17. RUN LANCE RUN! So ANYONE who wants to run can! And they Do! I'm not sure what they can do about this---it would be hard to define ``serious candidate'' rigorously.

b) The debate is in August but the Iowa Caucus isn't until Feb 1. So why have the debate now? I speculate that they wanted to thin out the field early, but this has the opposite effect--- LOTS of candidates now want to get into the debates.

c) (I've heard this) Campaign Finance laws have been gutted by the Supreme court, so if you just have ONE mega-wealthy donor you have enough money to run. Or you can fund yourself (NOTE- while Trump could fund himself, sofar he hasn't had to as the media is covering him so much).

d) Because there are so many, and no dominating front runner, they all think they have a shot at it. So nobody is dropping out. Having a lot of people running makes more people want to run. (All the cool kids are doing it!)


  1. Your algorithm would work to find Donald Trump (NY) and Ben Carson (MD), although it arguably shouldn't work to find Rand Paul in Kentucky (since it is about 200 miles from the East Coast at its closest point).

    Still, I like it! But will it be able to survive if Sarah Palin decides to run? Or is that why she *isn't* running?

  2. How about: all candidates polling above 10% get an automatic invite, all remaining slots get auctioned off. Alternative: do away with political parties and end all government subsidies and favoritism of them.