Monday, February 11, 2008

Back to the Delegate Race...

It's taken a good long time, and New Mexico is almost certainly going to be recounted, but I'm going down the list and getting a delegate count estimate done for the Clinton-Obama race... or, more properly now, the Obama-Clinton race.

By my current math, with final delegate numbers in for all but five of the Tsunami Tuesday states, Obama pulled down twenty-one delegates more than Clinton on Feb. 5. Since then he's swept five contest by margins that range from impressive to overwhelming to, in the three-delegate Virgin Islands primary, crushing. (Ninety-ten vote splits will do that.)

Factoring in estimated delegate counts from various sources, I show Obama's lead among pledged delegates over Clinton to be 1,035-942-- over an eighty delegate margin. This is not counting tomorrow's contests in Washington D. C., Maryland and Virginia. I can't find any polls for the District of Columbia, but the fact that the district is overwhelmingly black leads me to predict an 80-20 vote split for Obama. He also leads handily in the two states voting tomorrow according to various polls- about a 60-40 split in both states.

Based on a prediction of 60-40 Obama wins in Maryland and Virginia, and an 80-20 split in DC, I estimate Obama going into Wisconsin a week from tomorrow with a lead of 1,139 to Clinton's 1,006- a lead of over 130 delegates.

Now- those are pledged delegates. Let's look at superdelegates- those elected Democrats in Congress, state governors, and other notables who get a vote in the Democratic convention too. There are nearly eight hundred superdelegates- one-fifth of the total number of delegates who get to vote at the convention. Superdelegates are not controlled by popular vote- they can endorse who they choose, and change their mind at any time.

Roughly half the superdelegates have already publicly announced their choice. CBS News estimates 210 superdelegates support Clinton, versus 140 for Obama. CNN makes the count 224 to 135. Split the difference (217 to 137) and add them into our totals so far, and you get Obama 1,276 to Clinton's 1,223.

In other words, after tomorrow night Obama will hold the delegate lead even with superdelegates factored in.

But what comes after that? It's difficult to say, since a lot of the states to come haven't been polled, and in some cases (like Hawaii) probably won't ever be.

Taking them in chronological order: begin with a week from tomorrow. Hawaii is a caucus, which fact alone is likely to make the difference in much the same way as happened in Maine yesterday. Call it 60-40 Obama. Wisconsin, however, is a primary, and although it's next door to Obama's home state Clinton held a ten point lead in polls immediately after Tsunami Tuesday. If that holds, Clinton will get two more delegates than Obama on Feb. 18.

After that comes March 4, when I vote here in Texas and others vote in Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont. I'm sad to say that Hillary is up by at least ten points here in Texas according to the most recent polls (just before Super Tuesday). Ohio hasn't been polled since the Nevada caucus, and then Hillary had a slightly larger percentage there than Edwards and Obama combined. I'd call Ohio an even split. Rhode Island has a new, but not all that well done, poll out from Brown University showing Hillary up 36-28... with a truly massive undecided margin. Vermont's most recent poll was taken still including John Edwards; presuming Edwards voters go to Obama (as trends have shown outside the South), the two are almost tied, with Clinton holding the edge. March 4 could be a sweep for Clinton...

... but it's a good long time from now until then.

And there's the final large state- Pennsylvania, in late April. Before then are Wyoming and Mississippi: tiny Wyoming favors Obama, while Mississippi seems likely to break, like Tennessee, for Clinton. Pennsylvania hasn't been polled since right around the New Hampshire primary, where she had 40% of the vote against an Obama-Edwards combination of 31%. Given trends since then, right now she and Obama should be dead even. Will Obama's momentum help swing those numbers his way?

If nothing changes, my current estimate is that after Pennsylvania, and absent superdelegates, Obama will hold a lead of about a hundred delegates. With superdelegates, he holds a marginal lead- in essence a tie- with nine states to go, and all of the top ten largest states already voted. (My numbers: without superdelegates, Obama up 1458-1354; with 'em, 1595-1571.)

If this looks like it's going down to the convention... it is. Nothing can stop this race going to the convention short of Clinton or Obama dropping out. After tomorrow there will only be 1,016 pledged delegates unassigned. Given that Obama will sweep by no worse than 60-40 tomorrow, and leaving out superdelegates, he would need 886 of those 1016: to get them, he'd have to average no worse than 88% of the total vote in all the remaining primaries. Clinton, who is behind, would have to do slightly better.

And even if we factor in the already endorsing superdelegates, but allow those still neutral to remain that way, Obama would need about 750 delegates to get the 2,025 needed to win the nomination. That would require a 75-25 split in Obama's favor through all the remaining primaries and caucuses- something Obama achieved only in Idaho and the Virgin Islands, and Clinton only in American Samoa.

So this is going to superdelegates, to endorsements, and likely to the Denver convention... unless one candidate or the other is persuaded to drop out.

I expect that will be Clinton. The remaining neutral superdelegates do not want, under any circumstances, to be the ones to be seen as deciding the race in a smoky backroom. Even those superdelegates who support Clinton will be uneasy about continuing to support her if Obama holds or expands his lead in pledged delegates- which seems likely.

And THAT is why your vote still counts, if your presidential primary hasn't come yet. The more people vote for Clinton, the more likely she is to keep on to the convention and try to steal the nomination by seating delegates from Michigan and Florida- states she won the popular vote in with no actual competition (and with Obama not even on the ballot in Michigan). The more people vote for Obama, the more likely it is that the superdelegates will try to follow popular opinion and support him, taking their support away from Clinton.

So go vote- it matters now than ever before.


Anonymous said...

8 years ago with the brain washing of CNN's propaganda you voted in a silly little cunt by the name of Bush, what a great president Al Gore would of made, now your going to vote a puppet, who scriptwriters work for Operah, and Oprah wants power for her own carrier.

Obams wife is a thicko, something there between her and Operah.

Ladies, whos the cleverest clinton or Obama. Obama only wanted one more shoot out Clinton wanted 5, look and see, Clinton again will show Obama you have too much to learn, does America want a school boy for a preacher oh sorry meant president

Anonymous said...

McCain im sure if you dig a litle under the surface there is a can of worms waiting to pop out about Obama. Clintons benn vetted and double vetted.

McCain you must be happy that your oppenant will be a a pre paid CNN advert who knows nothing about politics.

One to one against clinton, have you read your schhol books Obama. If we all vote for you, will we get cheaper flights to Kenya, and see that stupid sack you call grandmother. Go back to Africa, and do something there, because the world will distance itself from America.