Fix the Primaries: Bellweather Sort Order

What if the order of primaries and caucuses were be based on which state’s vote percentage for the winner of the previous election was the closest to the national vote percentage for the winner. Eg. Obama won in 2012 with a national vote of 51.19%. 51.16% of Virginia voted for Obama.

In 2016, Virginia should have voted first.

State / Victory Rank 2012 vote Difference
Winner’s % (Obama) 51.19%
Virginia 51.16% 0.03%
Colorado 51.49% 0.30%
Ohio 50.67% 0.52%
Pennsylvania 51.97% 0.78%
New Hampshire 51.98% 0.79%
Iowa 51.99% 0.80%
Nevada 52.36% 1.17%
Florida 50.01% 1.18%
Minnesota 52.65% 1.46%
Wisconsin 52.83% 1.64%

By this measure, non accounting for any kind of butterfly-effect, Virginia would have been the lead primary in 2012 as well. Here are the top ten for the last six presidential elections. Iowa and New Hampshire are in bold to show that they’d still be early on:

2012 2008 2004 2000 1996 1992
1 Virginia Virginia Ohio New Mexico New Mexico New Jersey
2 Colorado Colorado Nevada New Hampshire Pennsylvania Iowa
3 Ohio Iowa Iowa Wisconsin New Hampshire North Carolina
4 Pennsylvania Minnesota New Mexico Iowa Wisconsin Washington
5 New Hampshire New Hampshire Colorado Florida Washington Georgia
6 Iowa Ohio Florida Oregon Iowa Minnesota
7 Nevada Pennsylvania Wisconsin Pennsylvania Florida Delaware
8 Florida Florida New Hampshire Nevada Tennessee Oregon
9 Minnesota Nevada Pennsylvania Michigan Missouri Michigan
10 Wisconsin Indiana Missouri Ohio Ohio Connecticut

South Carolina, on the other hand, would fall tremendously. Here are the first four states in 2016 and their ranking (out of 50 + DC)

2012 2008 2004 2000 1996 1992 Average
Iowa 6 3 3 4 6 2 4.0
New Hampshire 5 5 8 2 3 28 8.5
Nevada 7 9 2 8 32 35 15.5
South Carolina 22 24 30 33 33 24 27.7

Proposed Retroactive 2016 Schedule 

Date Winner percentage Diff from 51.19%
1/5/2016 Virginia 0.03%
1/9/2016 Colorado 0.30%
1/12/2016 Ohio 0.52%
1/16/2016 Pennsylvania 0.78%
1/19/2016 New Hampshire 0.79%
1/23/2016 Iowa 0.80%
1/26/2016 Nevada 1.17%
1/30/2016 Florida 1.18%
2/2/2016 Minnesota 1.46%
2/6/2016 Wisconsin 1.64%
2/9/2016 New Mexico 1.80%
2/13/2016 North Carolina 2.84%
2/16/2016 Michigan 3.02%
2/20/2016 Oregon 3.05%
2/23/2016 Washington 4.97%
2/27/2016 Maine 5.08%
3/1/2016 Georgia 5.71%
3/5/2016 Illinois 6.41%
3/8/2016 Arizona 6.60%
3/12/2016 Missouri 6.81%
3/15/2016 Connecticut 6.87%
3/19/2016 South Carolina 7.10%
3/22/2016 New Jersey 7.19%
3/26/2016 Indiana 7.26%
3/29/2016 Mississippi 7.40%
4/2/2016 Delaware 7.42%
4/5/2016 California 9.05%
4/9/2016 Massachusetts 9.46%
4/12/2016 Montana 9.49%
4/16/2016 Texas 9.81%
4/19/2016 Alaska 10.38%
4/23/2016 Louisiana 10.61%
4/26/2016 Maryland 10.78%
4/30/2016 South Dakota 11.32%
5/3/2016 Rhode Island 11.51%
5/7/2016 Tennessee 12.11%
5/10/2016 New York 12.16%
5/14/2016 North Dakota 12.50%
5/17/2016 Alabama 12.83%
5/21/2016 Nebraska 13.16%
5/24/2016 Kansas 13.20%
5/28/2016 Kentucky 13.39%
5/31/2016 Arkansas 14.31%
6/4/2016 Vermont 15.38%
6/7/2016 West Virginia 15.65%
6/11/2016 Oklahoma 17.96%
6/14/2016 Idaho 18.57%
6/18/2016 Hawaii 19.36%
6/21/2016 Wyoming 23.37%
6/25/2016 Utah 26.44%
6/28/2016 D.C. 39.72%

Fun fact: DC is the least-bellweathery of all, ranking 51st in the last six cycles.