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There’s an American Presidential Race On - Who’s Winning So Far?

This blog originally appeared in the Huffington Post here

In the race to become President of the United States of America this year losing is winning.

We’re four primaries down on the race to select the next President of the United States and the facts are pretty clear, even if their significance is murky. On the Democratic side, Hillary has one win and Bernie has the other. On the Republican team Ted Cruz has scored one and Trump the other. But if you believe that you haven’t been following closely because this year winning and losing isn’t what it used to be.

With the labyrinth of primaries and caucuses it’s easy to be confused about what’s happening. One key is that this isn’t a race for voters, it’s a race for delegates. Based on rules in each state, which differ between the two parties, the delegates are gained in each contest. Whoever gets the most delegates wins the nomination at the party conventions later this year. Although at this stage of the campaign winning delegates is a bonus, it’s much more important to capture the news cycle.

Take the Iowa Caucus where Hillary Clinton barely won on the Democratic side over challenger Bernie Sanders. According to the rules at each precinct a winner has to be declared, even if there is a tie amongst the participants. In some of the precincts, where there were equal votes for each candidate, the delegates were awarded after a coin toss. The toss followed official party rules which state: “Heads Hillary wins. Tails Bernie loses.” Bernie didn’t do well on the coin tosses, but then the way he complains about big money all the time, if I was a coin I wouldn’t flip for him either.

In the end Hillary won by getting the most votes and the most delegates. But was that the story? No. Bernie won by beating something more important than his opponent. He beat the expectations game. Which as it’s the media playing the game, and they’re doing the reporting, it’s the most important game in town. Hillary might have won the vote. Bernie won the day.

For the Republican caucus in Iowa something else happened. Ted Cruz beat Donald. This was a Big Deal. Trump had been dominating all the polls for months before the vote and because as Trump will tell everyone he is a winner. Full stop. Period. Stop the Press. He isn’t a loser. You are. Not since Charlie Sheen’s ‘Winning’ rant has winning been so popular in America.

In the end Trump got fewer votes than Cruz. Makes it look like he’s come second. But according to Trump that’s still a win! Trump declared that his second place finish wasn’t a ‘loss’ because he only got one delegate less than the person who came first.

Trump has redefined winning. It’s not who came first, but how well HE did - and he alone - that matters.

Marco Rubio, also on the Republican ticket, won Iowa as well, by placing third. He was playing the same expectation game Sanders was, and managed to win by surprising people. It meant when he headed into New Hampshire, more people wanted to hear what he had to say. Unfortunately, once they heard it, and heard it again, and heard it again, and heard it again he ended up finishing fifth.

Why am repeating myself? Because that’s what he did. Rubio has long been criticized for being a lightweight who just spouts talking points. And in New Hampshire that’s exactly what he did. He repeated the same phrase three times in about 30 seconds and sounded like a man who was buffering. Lots of campaigns talk about rebooting themselves after a setback. For Rubio it’s not an analogy. He had to be turned off and back on again.

Which brings us to the New Hampshire results. Bernie got 60% of the vote but tied Hillary in delegates awarded from those votes. How? Because some of the delegates are super. Not awarded by voters (what do they know) but are party grandees that declare in advance of the voters will who they will support. Sounds super doesn’t it? Super rigged.

Trump also one big in New Hampshire. Finally it was a proper victory for him and a loss for humanity. Another man you’ve never heard of John Kasich came second, thus winning against the ‘everyone else’ category. But that will be his only win until March 15th when they have the primary in his home state of Ohio. If you’re mind is filling up with too many details about the election, you can easily forget his name until then, the media already has.

This weekend we had results from the Democrats caucus in Nevada and this time the ties were settled by a deck of cards. Hillary won the state - it looks like voters weren’t ready to take a gamble on Sanders.

In South Carolina, the Republicans had their primary and Trump won big with just 35% of the vote. Since the other candidates split the rest. So a landslide is about a third. Kind of like the Conservative victory here in the UK.

Trump also did well in Nevada. He didn’t need the deck of cards to win. He’s already the Joker.

Going forward, with the exception of Trump, just remember to ignore the total votes to tell you who has won, pay attention to whoever still has any money left. That’s what decides the victor these days.

This blog originally appeared in the Huffington Post here

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