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The Secret Science Of Winning The Iowa Caucuses

By Steven Yaccino, Bloomberg News (TNS)

An hour before the Jan. 14 Republican debate, 250 of Ted Cruz’s most dedicated Iowa field organizers huddled in the Heritage Assembly of God church gymnasium in Des Moines. Over a dinner of potato chips and sandwiches, they sat down for a tutorial in caucus-night tactics.

In one sense, the Iowa caucuses, held this year on Feb. 1, are a quaint, almost anachronistic tradition — an assembly of neighbors deciding the next leader of the free world in churches and libraries and school cafeterias catered with hot chocolate and homemade pastries. But they’re also among the country’s most sophisticated, even arcane, political rituals, the culmination of months of organizing. For all the intimacy and homey trappings, they can have the intensity of a high-stakes playoff game.

“It’s laid bare,” says Rick Tyler, Cruz’s national spokesman. “You’ll see who has their pants down and who doesn’t. You’ll see who’s got it together and who doesn’t. I want Iowans to know we’re built to last.”

The tutorial in the church gymnasium was led by Joel Kurtinitis, who four years ago, as regional director for Ron Paul’s campaign, participated in one of the most remarkable coups in Iowa caucus history. Though Paul only came in third in the straw poll, he arrived at the Republican National Convention with 22 of Iowa’s 28 delegates, in part, by a shrewd mastery of the caucus process and the parliamentarian’s Bible known as Robert’s Rules of Order. Paul didn’t win a single primary — and yet ended up with almost as many delegates as Rick Santorum, who won 11.

This year, with the possibility of a contested convention higher than it’s been in decades, and the party verging on disarray, the slightest advantage in the delegate count could be even more important. For that reason Cruz’s campaign is leaving nothing to chance.

The training session was just one of several the campaign has offered in living rooms, libraries, and restaurants around the state, geared primarily toward educating captains in nearly all of Iowa’s 1,681 precincts. For rural areas, teleconferences were available.

On caucus night, turning out the most voters is only the first step. The ultimate trophies are delegates — party members who are elected by each caucus to represent their neighbors at county conventions later in the year. Some of those delegates will become the party faithful who will vote for the next Republican nominee at the national convention. That process begins at the caucuses, where winning delegates can be a whole other game, requiring a long night of political maneuvering and strategic execution.

Paul’s strategy was, at times, one of delay. During caucuses and state conventions, his supporters in Iowa and other states called for “points of order,” challenging procedural errors. They made motions to speak from the floor, and tried to oust presiding officers whom they believed were not sympathetic to their candidate, forcing votes that dragged out the proceedings. By the end, crowds thinned as people got bored and returned home to watch TV or tuck their kids into bed. That’s when Paul’s loyal army, who’d stayed until the bitter end and had the advantage, cleaned up.

This year, to win delegates, Republican campaigns are training Iowa voters to stay until the end of the caucuses — past the presidential straw poll, platform votes, and other party business. The first hurdle is finding supporters to nominate for delegate positions in every precinct. In more populated areas, mini-campaigns are mounted inside each caucus for a ticket to the county convention. Rural settings, however, are often desperate for delegate volunteers.

Each delegate is then voted on by the assembly. In some cases, to stop one candidate from collecting a majority of delegates, precinct captains from rival campaigns have struck deals and joined forces, using colored signs or text messages to signal when to cast their votes.

The delegates who emerge from the caucuses still have to run a gauntlet of conventions at the county and state level before reaching the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this summer. But while new GOP rules bind those delegates to the results of the caucuses for one ballot, delegates are not required to disclose who they would support in subsequent rounds of a contested convention.

The rules are a bit different on the Democratic side, closer to simple horse trading. Precinct captains have been known to encourage their supporters to back a rival candidate in order to keep a third candidate from picking up more delegates, or forming alliances with other campaigns, then splitting the delegates.

“What is the ratio in the room? What is the tone in the room? This is a very human process,” says Julie Stauch, a spectacled home gardener featured briefly in Hillary Clinton’s presidential announcement video, who has been hosting caucus training sessions at her home over the past six months. “You have to be informed. You have to understand who your candidate is, what they’re about, who your opponent is, and how to convince their supporters.”

Democrats choose their delegates in each precinct by making campaigns gather their supporters in separate corners of the room to be counted. There will also be a place reserved for anyone who is still not decided (uncommitted groups won the Democratic Iowa caucuses in 1972 and 1976).

Each precinct has a “viability” threshold that candidates must reach in order to be eligible for delegates. In most precincts, that amounts to 15 percent of the vote. If the threshold is not reached, supporters of ineligible candidates are free to support someone else, creating a bidding war between campaigns on the caucus floor.

When persuasion doesn’t work, more creative methods are called into play. Stauch gets almost giddy as she recalls elections when she forced bidding wars for her votes. A Wesley Clark supporter in 2004, she agreed to realign with John Kerry’s campaign if they helped elect two Clark supporters as delegates that night. Precinct captains for John Edwards and Howard Dean decided that price was too steep. More than a decade later, Stauch shakes her head remembering Dick Gephardt voters who walked out halfway through her local caucus that year. “They could have gotten something,” she says, still annoyed years later by the wasted opportunity. Statewide, Edwards lost the Iowa caucuses that year to Kerry by about 5 percentage points.

Stauch relays past caucus stories each month during her living room training sessions, which about 70 people have attended this cycle. One week they played “Jeopardy!” with facts from Clinton’s biography. Another week, the group rehearsed caucus night speeches. Last month, they played a card game she invented — caucus poker, Stauch calls it — to practice viability math and different negotiation scenarios.

Sometimes, when Clinton’s Iowa campaign is working late on data entry, organizers and volunteers will hold practice caucuses over what movie to watch or which restaurant they’d like to order dinner from. Other times, they rehearse caucus strategies, substituting gummy bears as stand-ins for Iowa voters. Earlier this year, Clinton’s Iowa staffers divided into corners of the room during a mock caucus to pick their favorite presidents — The West Wing’s Jed Bartlet, House of Cards’ Frank Underwood, and Veep’s Selina Meyer were all front-runners.

Joan Amos, a sweet, outspoken 73-year-old chair of the Democratic Party in Lucas County, attended one campaign caucus briefing a few months ago and told me Clinton volunteers are being encouraged to vote for Martin O’Malley in cases where making him viable would prevent his voters from shifting to Bernie Sanders.

Amos says that, at least in her county, food can also be a strategic consideration. A neighbor once gave her an expensive bottle of wine and asked her to switch her vote to a rival campaign (she didn’t). In 2008, she said the Clinton supporters in Lucas County separated their home-cooked dishes from the main community potluck table on caucus night in order to make their corner of the room look more inviting. When I asked if the Clinton campaign intended to bring food this year, one local volunteer, Susan Cohen, clarified: “It’s not bribery, it’s all about hospitality and making it a good experience for everybody.”

The Sanders campaign, in turn, says its focus is split between trying to demystify the caucuses for first-time supporters and train precinct captains, some of whom are also attending their first caucus this year, to make sure the process is as smooth and accessible as possible to newcomers.

“If there’s disorganization, you might lose people,” says Fred Trujillo, a first-time precinct captain for Sanders in Des Moines, who has attended a handful of training sessions by the campaign and nonprofit groups.

The central message the Sanders campaign is putting forth to its supporters can be summed up simply: caucusing is easier than it sounds. “If you’re showing up for the first time, it’s not like you’re going to be crunching numbers,” said Rania Batrice, the Sanders campaign’s Iowa spokeswoman. “Just find your candidate’s sign, stand next to said sign, you’re caucusing.”

The Iowa GOP insists it will be more prepared this time to handle the kind of procedural fights that Paul instigated in 2012. “It almost ruined our party,” says Jeff Kaufmann, chair of the Iowa Republican Party.

“I think it’s less likely to happen this year,” Kaufmann continues, noting that the party will have held more than 300 caucus-training sessions for precinct and county chairs by February, so they won’t be surprised by parliamentary gambits.

The success of Ron Paul’s strategy has at times been overstated; in 2008 and 2012, while causing headaches for GOP nominees, he collected nowhere near enough delegates to win the nomination. But with Republican leaders now planning for a possible contested convention this summer, every delegate may matter in the end.

“It’s something that anybody looking at a long-term strategy, not a short-term strategy, would do,” said Ryan Rhodes, Iowa state director for Ben Carson’s campaign, which has held more than a dozen trainings around the state. “We’re not just preparing for a flash-in-the-pan campaign. Delegates are not bound after the first ballot. You don’t want another campaign having any sway over those delegates if there’s a floor fight. Anything else is just short-term political thinking.”

The Cruz campaign says it now has more than 10,000 volunteers knocking on doors and phone-banking statewide. “We will know, to the best of our ability, who our voters are coming in and our precinct chair will know who to look for,” says Cruz Iowa state director Bryan English, sitting in his office at Cruz’s Iowa headquarters, a well-mannered but bustling single- story building in a suburb near Des Moines. On his desk, within short reach, is a copy of Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War.”

Toward the end of our conversation, English was asked how the average Cruz supporter was going to know which delegates to vote for on caucus night. He smiled, then deflected. “Ask me that again in February,” he says, “how that process worked.”

©2016 Bloomberg News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: Republican U.S. presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz waves to the crowd at the Fox Business Network Republican presidential candidates debate in North Charleston, South Carolina, January 14, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane  

Why The Dream Of A Contested Convention May Come True This Year

By Steven Yaccino, Bloomberg News (TNS)

NEW YORK — It is the holy grail of political geekery, wished-for every four years, and exceedingly rare: a contested political convention. In the past few decades, this has been mostly a fantasy, but this year, many in the GOP are taking that prospect very seriously. At a Washington, D.C., dinner on Monday at which more than 20 Republican establishment figures gathered to talk fundraising and other party business, the topic arose toward the end of the evening, according to sources who attended the meeting, which was first reported by The Washington Post.

The math behind a deadlocked convention is simple: If three or more Republican candidates are still competitive in the presidential race beyond March 15, as seems increasingly possible, it will be difficult to avoid a situation in which no candidate accumulates over 50 percent of delegates, so multiple ballots could be needed to select the Republican nominee in Cleveland next summer. The working assumption is that one of those candidates will be Donald Trump — which has brought considerable focus to the establishment mind.

A brokered convention hasn’t occurred in American politics for more than 60 years. The last one was on the Democratic side, in 1952. Adlai Stevenson, then governor of Illinois, had no intention of being the nominee when he walked into the Chicago convention hall that year; he was drafted as a compromise candidate when two senators — one from Georgia, the other from Tennessee — failed to rally enough backers. It took three ballots before Stevenson stood behind the dais and, immediately after accepting the nomination, declared, “I should have preferred to hear those words uttered by a stronger, a wiser, a better man than myself.”

It’s perhaps no coincidence that 1952 was also the first year political conventions were broadcast on television, beaming intra-party brawls into the living rooms of general election voters nationwide. The complex drama may have been an electoral drag: Stevenson was trounced by Republican Dwight Eisenhower that November. (The last time Republicans had a multi-ballot convention, in 1948, they too lost the general election).

In the years since, conventions have been, increasingly, scripted and stage-managed extravaganzas — less a venue for party business and more a pep rally for the nominee presumptive.

This year, the equation has been rewritten. Trump’s persistent strength and sky-high negatives, coupled with the inability thus far of the mainstream Republicans to coalesce around a single candidate, and a series of rule changes that encouraged more states to award their delegates proportionally, make it easier than ever to imagine a contested-convention scenario. And given the GOP’s turmoil over the possibility of Trump-the-nominee, Cleveland could very well become the establishment’s last stand, a place where they can wield their influence — and where they actually may have an advantage.

“I think that the candidates are all aware of this and they’re all planning up to a certain level for it,” Vin Weber, a Jeb Bush ally and former adviser to Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign, said in an interview conducted before he attended the Monday RNC dinner.

Like others in the party, Weber said it’s too early in the race to predict a nomination stalemate, but admits that the state of the GOP race incentivizes campaigns to plan for a long and arduous delegate fight.

“I think the dynamics are being set up perfectly for it to happen for the first time in over a generation,” said Michael Steele, former head Republican National Committee. “Every candidate on the ballot will get a piece of something,” Steele continued, describing states that will vote before March 15. “It may not be a big piece, but it will be a piece and, accumulated over a six-week period, where we’ll have well over 50 percent of the delegates being chosen, you’ve written a recipe for a brokered convention.”

The reason a contested convention is possible this cycle isn’t only the dynamics of the field, with its problematic front-runner and several establishment contestants splitting votes. The GOP itself inadvertently cleared the way with a newly condensed GOP primary calendar, which could give candidates less time to break away from the pack, and new GOP rules that force every state (with the exception of South Carolina) voting before March 15 to award their delegates proportionally. In the end, more than 60 percent of states around the country will divide up their delegates between more than one presidential contender.

The new rules were drawn up following Mitt Romney’s protracted 2012 primary race, which party leaders believe damaged his chances in the general election. Wanting to give their 2016 standard-bearer an open, fair, but smoother, runway to the convention, the RNC shrunk its primary calendar by nearly two months, limited the number of Republican debates, and encouraged more states who want early primary dates to dole out their delegates proportionally, which gives lesser-known candidates a better shot at competing in the compressed nomination fight.

Another person at the RNC dinner Monday, Ron Kaufman, a Republican committeeman and member of the party’s rules committee, defended those rule changes, but concedes they could actually allow more candidates to go further in this race than in previous elections. “It is uncharted waters,” he said. “We do have some different candidates who no one thought would be doing so well. And the open process is playing to their advantage.”

The possibility of a Donald Trump candidacy was not factored into the rules changes, Kaufman said, but Republican leaders discussed the possibility of other outside candidates crowding the field. Asked whether he thought the new rules increased the likelihood of a contested convention, he deflected. “If it happens, it happens, but I know this: if we didn’t do it that way, our chances of putting together a coalition and winning the presidency would be even worse,” Kaufman said. “The unknown could be a problem, but it was the right thing to do.”

To some, the speculation about a contested convention is nothing more than a quadrennial daydream, given further fuel by Trump. “It’s mathematically possible, it’s just not very likely,” said John Sununu, an adviser of John Kasich’s campaign.

But campaigns are treating it as a real possibility. Mark Stephenson, former data chief for Scott Walker’s campaign, who had began mapping out the delegate calendar before Walker suspended his campaign in September, said other candidates are already looking for ways to pick up delegates in proportional states, congressional district by congressional district, without necessarily having to win the full statewide vote.

He and other Republican strategists said they expect roughly half of the GOP candidates to suspend their campaigns by the end of February and hang on to their delegates, however few, for leverage later in the race. By mid-March, the nomination contest is likely to dwindle to three or four candidates whose polling, delegate tally or fundraising abilities are strong enough to keep them competitive. At least one of those candidates will come from the party’s establishment lane (Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, etc.). Another will likely represent the conservative, anti-establishment wing (Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, etc.). Trump, who is self-funding his campaign and still leads the field with more than a quarter of the vote in national and state polls, has established his own separate, third lane in the nomination fight.

The most commonly discussed path involves a scenario in which early states get divided up between three or more candidates. (For the sake of this hypothetical, let’s say Cruz wins Iowa, Rubio wins New Hampshire and Trump wins South Carolina). Those three candidates would be well-positioned to then split up states that vote in early March, when all delegates are rewarded proportionally and make up more than a third of the total 2016 delegate count, and advance to the winner-take-all phase of the race with somewhere around 300 to 400 delegates each. (Rick Santorum won 245 delegates total in 2012).

By March 15, if three candidates divide up delegates in such a way that produces no clear leader, a front-runner could sweep more than half of the remaining delegates and not reach the nomination threshold. If three campaigns are still neck-and- neck after the March 15 contests (which include Florida and Ohio, two winner-take-all states), someone could snag more than two-thirds of the remaining delegates and still fall short. That percentage would be even higher with four candidates still in the race.

If no candidate breaks away by the time New York votes on April 19, it could be mathematically impossible for anyone to secure the nomination without a deadlocked convention. Depending on how many delegates other candidates scooped up in earlier states, it may be even sooner.

©2015 Bloomberg News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: Republican U.S. presidential candidate businessman Donald Trump (L) speaks as former Florida Governor and fellow candidate Jeb Bush reacts during the second official Republican presidential candidates debate of the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, United States, September 16, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Republican Debate Selection Process Is A New Wild Card In Presidential Politics

By Steven Yaccino, Bloomberg News (TNS)

NEW YORK — A month from now, 10 Republican presidential candidates will walk out onto a prime-time debate stage in Cleveland and confront each other face to face for the first time. If the debate were held today, Donald Trump would be one of them. Two sitting governors, a U.S. senator, the runner-up for the 2012 GOP nomination, and the first female CEO of a Fortune 50 company would all be excluded.

That’s an estimate based on qualifying criteria described by Fox News, which will host the GOP showdown in partnership with Facebook on Aug. 6 in Cleveland, using an average of five as-yet-unspecified national polls to determine the lineup. The network should be celebrating its coveted role of hosting the first debate of the Republican primary season, with the prestige and audience that it brings. But instead, the news organization may have stumbled into a political minefield.

In an unprecedentedly large field of 16 presidential contenders, at least half are statistically on the bubble of not qualifying for the debate stage, with only a month to differentiate themselves. The result is a campaign-within-a- campaign, with very different imperatives from the ones the primary process is designed to produce. Campaigns who are in danger of not making the cut may try everything possible to improve their chances over the next four weeks — taking extreme, news-making positions; dumping opposition research on opponents; inundating email inboxes; and blitzing the Sunday television circuit, late-night talk shows, conservative radio airwaves and cable news programs. Instead of spending resources on political operations in early-voting states, candidates may blow that cash on national TV ads to boost name recognition at the eleventh hour.

For candidates on the bubble, the most frustrating thing about the process may be its uncertainty and near-randomness. An analysis by the Bloomberg Politics polling team of the entry criteria released by Fox News suggests that it will be virtually impossible to know which candidates will qualify for the first debate until just days before the event, regardless of what they do in the coming weeks. And because of the varying sample sizes, margins of error, and targeted respondents featured in different national polls, the winners and losers of this new debate primary season may have little relation to their prospects of becoming the eventual nominee. Methodologically, they might as well be drawing straws.

“A microscope has not yet been invented that enables us to determine the difference between the 10th-place person and the 11th-place person,” said Ken Goldstein, a professor of politics at the University of San Francisco and a polling analyst for Bloomberg Politics. “That difference, literally, will be less than half of a percentage point. And maybe even less than that.”

Fox News will be averaging the five most recent national polls “conducted by major, nationally recognized organizations that use standard methodological techniques,” the network said in a statement in May. The polls must be published before 5 p.m. ET on Aug. 4. The 10 candidates with the highest averages will make it into the debate. That number could increase if candidates are tied.

“National polls are the traditional, time-tested yardstick by which presidential hopefuls have long been measured and remain the fairest, most objective and most straight-forward metric for gauging the viability of these candidates,” Michael Clemente, executive vice president of news for Fox, said in statement to Bloomberg. “We will use a range of quality polls that people are currently seeing out there and although all of them may not be identical, all will use methods that are accepted by the polling community. We have already made clear we won’t use partisan and online polls.”

Fox promised to give non-qualifying candidates “additional coverage and air time” that day in Cleveland, which amounts to a 90-minute forum broadcasted on the network during the afternoon — essentially a kiddie-table consolation prize.

In defense of Fox, there is no easy way to host a substantive debate for more than a dozen candidates on one stage. The network points out that there have never been more than 10 candidates in a Republican debate. To be sure, missing the first debate doesn’t necessarily spell death for a candidate’s campaign, and there’s a precedent for selecting debate participants in this way. Four years ago, the network used a similar approach to host a Republican presidential debate in South Carolina. The May 2011 debate featured only five presidential hopefuls after several others (including Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Jon Huntsman, Newt Gingrich, and Trump) decided to skip. The network did not release which polls it used, but given the complexities of the 2016 field, and the attention this process is getting, Fox is more likely to disclose that information this year.

The Republican Party has maintained it has no problem with the process. “We support and respect the decision Fox has made which will match the greatest number of candidates we have ever had on a debate stage,” party chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement.

CNN, which hosts the second Republican debate in mid-September, announced its own plan to limit the debate stage to 10 candidates, averaging all national polls taken from July 16 through Sept. 10. Unlike Fox, CNN released a list of the polls that would meet its standards and requires candidates to have at least one paid campaign aide working in two of the four early voting states. CNN will also hold a second prime-time debate for candidates that don’t make it into the top 10. “CNN developed a format that will allow all of the Republican presidential candidates, who meet the eligibility criteria, an opportunity to discuss their visions for the future,” the network said in a statement.

For candidates at the front of the pack like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, none of this matters. But while lesser-known candidates like former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina have described the debate thresholds as a motivating goal, other presidential hopefuls have been quick to claim the process is unfair. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum immediately called the 10-candidate cutoff “arbitrary,” reminding everyone that at this point in 2011, he barely registered in national polls but went on to win the Iowa caucuses and 10 other states. Last week, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses were “headed for oblivion” if national polls became the debate criteria norm.

They have a point. Limiting the stage to 10 candidates doesn’t reflect a natural cutoff point in the current Republican field. As it currently stands, there’s probably a top tier of five or six candidates; from there, ranking the field gets far more difficult. “There’s no difference between John Kasich and Bobby Jindal except one’s going to be in and one is going to be out,” said Doug Usher of Purple Strategies, which conducts polling for Bloomberg Politics. “Or maybe they’re both going to be out.”

Perhaps the biggest question mark, pointed out by presidential candidates and political experts, is that using national polls to determine strength in a primary election does not accurately reflect how the parties have traditionally chosen their presidential nominees: by a series of competitions over many months for convention delegates, chosen in caucuses and primaries. That is a fluid, dynamic process, one in which early contests in states like Iowa and New Hampshire can propel unknown candidates into the national limelight.

Clemente said a candidate’s performance in early states often gets reflected in national polls. But the first GOP contest is still six months away and not every state has the same primary rules. There are some that limit their primary contests to Republicans only. There are other states that permit independents or all voters to participate. In some states, only a couple thousand people take part. In others, millions. Simply put, using national polls as a prerequisite for debates will force candidates to compete in a single nationwide primary election, albeit one that does not actually exist. It changes the game.

“People have lumpy strategies in different states,” says Sasha Issenberg, a Bloomberg Politics contributor and author of “The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns.” “Their election strategies are predicated on not having their support evenly distributed. You look at Chris Christie and John Kasich banking on doing well in New Hampshire. You have Rand Paul banking on doing well in Nevada.”

Issenberg added, “This could turn their whole election strategy on its head.”

But differing methodologies complicate that calculation even more. Not every poll targets the same types of voters. There are polls that include independents. There are polls with self-identified Republicans, polls with verified registered Republicans, and polls that take an additional screening step to find only respondents who are likely to participate in their states’ primary election or caucus. Each method produces a different result, with broader survey samples benefiting candidates who are perceived as moderate — and candidates who have high name recognition, but not necessarily strong support in key early states.

“They’re using different definitions about who is relevant,” says J. Ann Selzer, president of Iowa-based Selzer & Co., which also conducts polls for Bloomberg Politics. “We’re not dealing with a common denominator.”

In the end, the set of candidates who make it to the debate stage in August will likely hinge on less than a handful of randomly selected voters. Sample sizes for national polls are small; in one recent national poll conducted by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News, the GOP horserace numbers were calculated based on the preferences of 236 Republicans who said they would vote in the primary. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 6.38 percentage points.

In that poll, only the four candidates — Bush, Walker, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson — received more than 10 percent. The 10th-place candidate, Fiorina (2 percent), and other contenders like Graham and Kasich (1 percent each), were statistically tied. When you do the math, the difference comes down to no more than two or three respondents.

The system Fox has designed, with its distortions and uncertainties, is a new wild card in presidential politics. And for the network, the silver lining may be that all the drama — and Trump — may help attract viewers. But the effect on the process is more questionable. “To a statistician it looks like they’re just bumbling around in the dark,” Selzer said. “They’re just throwing ingredients together and hoping it makes a cake.”

She added, “There’s a lot for candidates to complain about.”

(Margaret Talev contributed reporting.)

(c)2015 Bloomberg News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: ario via Flickr