- Current Pledged Delegate Totals. Looking over a survey of delegate totals by six organizations covering the election, the highest, non-contradictory pledged delegate total currently stand at Obama 1,135, Clinton 993 and Edwards 12. I have updated these numbers in a chart that can be seen here.
- Remaining pledged delegates. Including Democrats Abroad, which has yet to announce its results, there are 1,081 pledged delegates up for grabs in the contests that will take place between now and Puerto Rico on June 7th. Additionally, there are another 14 delegates in Iowa that were originally assigned to Edwards but which both campaigns will fight for at country conventions on March 15th. Further, there are 18 pledged delegates from states that have already held nominating contests and announced the results, but where counting and the delegate allocation process continues: Colorado (9), California (3), Maryland (3), D.C. (1), New York (1), Washington (1). All told, that makes for 1,113 pledged delegates that could still be added to either Obama or Clinton's column.
- Super Delegates: The best superdelegate count available is Democratic Convention Watch. Currently, it lists the superdelegate endorsement totals at Clinton 238 and Obama 161.5. While every superdelegate could still change his or her mind, that leaves 396.5 superdelegates who have yet to make an endorsement.
- Florida and Michigan: In the event that either Michigan or Florida have their delegations seated at the convention, a substantial number of delegates will be added to the above totals. In Florida, that means 185 pledged delegates and 25 superdelegates. In Michigan, that means 128 pledged delegates and 29 superdelegates. The delegation currently projected from Florida is Clinton 105, Obama 67, Edwards 13 in terms of pledged delegates, and Clinton 7, Obama 3, undecided 15 in terms of superdelegates. The delegation currently projected from Michigan is Clinton 73, uncommitted 55 in terms of pledged delegates, and Clinton 7, Obama 1, uncommitted 21 in terms of superdelegates.
Six Delegate Counts
All told, this leads to the following six delegate counts, sorted from lowest to highest totals:
- Pledged delegates only, no Florida or Michigan: Obama 1,135--993 Clinton. 50% +1 equals 1,627. Currently, 1,113 delegates are outstanding or committed to other candidates. Obama magic number 492 (44.2%), Clinton magic number 634 (57.0%)..
- Pledged delegates only, with Florida but without Michigan: Obama 1,202-1,098 Clinton. 50% + 1 equals 1,720. Currently, 1,126 delegates are outstanding or committed to other candidates. Obama magic number 518 (46.0%), Clinton magic number 622 (55.2%)
- Pledged delegates only, including Florida and Michigan: Obama 1,202--1,171 Clinton. 50 % + 1 equals 1,784. Currently, 1,179 delegates are outstanding or committed to other candidates. Obama magic number 582 (49.4%), Clinton magic number 613 (52.0%)
- Pledged plus super delegates, no Florida or Michigan: Obama 1,296.5--1,231 Clinton. 50% +1 equals 2,025. Currently, 1,509.5 delegates are outstanding or committed to other candidates. Obama magic number 728.5 (48.3%), Clinton magic number 794 (52.6%).
- Pledged plus super delegates, with Florida but without Michigan: Obama 1,366.5-1,343 Clinton. 50% + 1 equals 2,130. Currently, 1,537.5 delegates are outstanding or committed to other candidates. Obama magic number 763.5 (49.7%), Clinton magic number 787 (51.2%)
- Pledged plus super delegates, plus Florida and Michigan: Clinton 1,423--Obama 1,367.5. 50% +1 equals 2,208. Currently, 1,611.5 delegates are outstanding or committed to other candidates. Clinton magic number 785 (48.7%), Obama magic number 840.5 (52.2%)
It is unlikely that either campaign will concede as long as it leads in at least one of these six counts. The first step to ending the campaign is thus for one candidate to take the lead in all six of these counts.
For Obama, 61 net delegates of any sort is a key number right now, as it would give him a lead in all six delegate counts. With 534 pledged delegates up for grabs between now and then, he would need 55.8% of the pledged delegates at stake, and less if he continues to pick up super delegates at a faster rate than Clinton. This seems quite possible, though certainly not easy. If Obama leads in all six of the above delegate counts before Pennsylvania, and he wins Pennsylvania, then the campaign ends on April 23rd. If Obama leads in most, but not all, of the above six delegate counts before Pennsylvania and wins Pennsylvania, then he will wrap up the nomination at some point between April 23rd and June 7th. If Obama leads in most, but not all, of the six above delegate counts and loses Pennsylvania, then the campaign will continue until at least June 8th with messy fights over credentials waiting in the wings.
For Clinton, 87 net pledged delegates, and zero net superdelegates, are the key numbers right now. In order to take the lead in all six delegate counts, she needs a net gain of 143 delegates on Obama within pledged delegates. As such, it is not realistic for her to pass Obama in all six counts by Pennsylvania (which would require 60% of the delegates between now and then) or possibly ever (which requires 54% of the delegates between now and June 7th). As such, the key for Clinton is not to take the lead in all of the above delegate counts, but to take the lead in as many delegate counts as possible.
Clinton can win the nomination by taking Pennsylvania, moving ahead in at least four of the above delegate counts, and moving within 55 or fewer pledged delegates in the first count. A pledged delegate deficit of 55 or fewer is key for Clinton, because at that point she can stake a claim to the pledged delegate lead via Michigan and Florida. This would probably keep her super delegates more or less in line, swing the credentials committee her way, and generally give her the necessary momentum to slowly seal the deal. Right now, in order to pull that off, she needs to manage a net gain of 87 pledged delegates on Obama between now and June 7th, all the while making sure that Obama does not make further gains within superdelegates (which is why zero is also a key number for her campaign). At this point, barring a spectacular reversal of fortunes in Wisconsin and a crushing March 4th sweep, I don't see any way for Clinton to knock out Obama before at least May 6th, which is the date of the Indiana and North Carolina primaries. In truth, she probably can't knock Obama out before Puerto Rico on June 7th.
My best guess is that as long as Clinton wins either Ohio or Texas, her campaign will continue on to Pennsylvania no matter what. Even if Obama reaches his key number of a net gain of 61 by March 15th, it is unlikely that he will do so by a margin that Pennsylvania would be unable to reverse. As such, there is no reason for Clinton to not at least try Pennsylvania, given the long break and that the demographics there are reasonably favorable to her (very old, not very creative class, and a closed primary).
So, Obama needs a net gain of 61 delegates of any sort, while Clinton needs a net gain of 87 among pledged delegates and a net gain of zero among superdelegates. Additionally, Pennsylvania also appears to be a potentially decisive, and inevitable, showdown. That is a far more specific than you will find from major news outlets, but if I wasn't providing something they lacked, there would be no reason to read me at all.