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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Delegate Math

by George Dienhart

Generally, an election will be won by whoever receives more votes. Sure, there are complications sometime- hanging chads and electoral colleges, but most of the time the winner of the popular vote wins the election. In light of that, I would like you to review some numbers. Four numbers, to be exact. The first two are the results of the Democratic primaries, under the rules that are now in place:
Obama 16,071,846

Clinton 15,492,344.

That is Obama 50.91% to Clinton 49.09%. That is a pretty close election. Tantalizingly close for Hillary. So close that she wants to change the rules. Changing the rules is an old Clinton tactic- if you do not like the way something works, change the circumstances of the outcome. When the Democratic National Committee excluded Michigan and Florida, they stumbled into a minefield. Here is our second set of numbers. This is how the Clinton campaign is counting:

Clinton 16,691,639

Obama 16,648,060

That puts Hillary ahead 50.06% to 49.94% That is even closer, but it is a result that super delegates will be hearing repeatedly. They will be told that this means Hillary is the people’s choice, and as such, they should cast their lot in with her. To a floundering Hillary, this slimmest of leads provides a lifeline. The problem with a lifeline is, it is dependant on someone catching it and hauling you in. That means the ball is back in the super delegate court- and they have been treating that lifeline like a spent rod of uranium. It has been strictly hands off for some time now.

How bad are things at Camp Clinton? My informal count puts Obama ahead 28-6 this week. Super Delegates continue to line up behind Obama, forsaking “the peoples choice” Hillary. The news for Hillary gets worse- even if you count Florida and Michigan she is still behind in delegates 1995 to 1912. Even when using Hillary’s math, this still leaves her almost 300 delegates short of the nomination.

This made me think “Where are Hillary’s Super Delegate strengths?” The DNC breaks the Super Delegates into several categories. Hillary is ahead in only one- Distinguished Party Leaders. You could call this one “friends of Bill”. She leads 9-6, (with 6 votes uncommitted). Obama leads in Governors 14-11 (6), Senators 20-13 (15), Reps 93-81 (50) and Party officials 149 to 148 (100).  As you can while she is behind in nearly every category, there is room in each category for her to catch up- but not enough for her to make up the ground she needs over all. If the delegates continue to break as they have this week, Obama will get about 125 of the remaining 176. This is not enough to seize the nomination if you include the Florida and Michigan votes. Even if Hillary sweeps the remaining super delegates, wins the states she is forecast to win, and we continue to include Florida and Michigan, she still comes up short- as does Obama.

This is the silver lining for Hillary, and the minefield for the DNC. The best she can hope for is a brokered convention. If memory serves right, no one is bound to any kind of commitment after the first vote in this situation. As usual, what is good for the Clintons is bad for everyone else. That is unless you are a McCain fan…