Delegate Math Myth and Fact

by: Chris Bowers

Wed Mar 26, 2008 at 14:21

One of the aspects of the 2008 primary campaign that I have not enjoyed is that I repeatedly have to disagree with friends and colleagues who I respect quite a bit. During the 2004 primaries, I was a relative unknown in politics blogging out of my bedroom, and did not know a single staff member for any of the Democratic campaigns. Four years later, even though I still blog out of my bedroom, I know multiple staff members on every campaign, and had relationships with them before they even joined the campaign. Mainly, we got to know each other during the 2004 general election and the 2005-2006 midterm cycle, when we were always pretty much on the same page. In 2007-2008, it has not been fun to disagree with these same friends and colleagues in public on a regular basis.

A case in point comes from a recent memo by Peter Daou, a member of Hillary Clinton's senior staff who I consider both a colleague and a friend. Two days ago, he released a memo entitled "Three Myths About the Democratic Race", that included a section arguing that "the delegate 'math' works decisively against Hillary" is a myth. This just isn't true, and let me explain why as simply as I can:

Myth: The pledged delegate count is close
Fact: Obama leads pledged delegates by 6.0% with only 17.4% remaining

According to the best available count, Obama currently leads among pledged delegates 1,415.5 to 1,253.5, a margin of 162 with 18 delegates currently for Edwards and 566 left to be determined. In terms of percentages, this translates to Obama 52.7%--46.7% Clinton, with 82.6% reporting. In any other campaign, if a candidate led by 6% with 83% reporting, all major news outlets would project that candidate as the winner. 6.0% is greater than the margin by which Bill Clinton won the 1992 election, and also greater than the margin by which Republicans won the 2002 midterms. I don't know anyone who follows politics who considers those close campaigns.

Myth: Clinton can use Michigan and Florida to catch up
Fact: The Obama campaign will dictate what happens in Michigan and Florida

Some delegate totals include the Michigan and Florida delegations projected based on the result of the January primaries in those states. This is a mistake, and not because of any arguments about democracy or rules or whatever. Instead, it is a mistake simply because it is inaccurate. The fact is that there will be no revote in Michigan and Florida. The fact is that any pre-June deal on the Michigan and Florida delegations will have to be approved by the Barack Obama campaign. The fact is that after June 10th, the credentials committee takes jurisdiction over the matter. The fact is that Barack Obama will control the credentials committee, since its members are elected by pledged delegates. The fact is that even if the credentials committee submits a minority report on the Michigan and Florida delegations to the floor of the convention, Florida and Michigan delegates will not participate in that vote. In other words, the fact is that unless Clinton catches Barack Obama in non-Florida and Michigan delegates, then Obama will be able to dictate how Florida and Michigan are seated at the convention. As such, Clinton cannot use Florida and Michigan as a means to catch up unless the Obama campaign allows her to do so.

Myth: Clinton can use a combination of pledged and superdelegates to catch Obama
Fact: There are only 841 delegates left, and Obama leads by 141

As already mentioned, there are only 566 pledged delegates yet to be determined by primaries and caucuses. It should also be noted that there are only 263 superdelegates left to be determined, and that 455 of the 718, or more than 63%, of the superdelegates have already endorsed. This is because 76 of the superdelegates are actually "add-on" delegates, that are basically the same as pledged delegates in terms of campaign vetting and intense loyalty to a given candidate. Because he has won more states, currently Barack Obama is projected to win 40 add-on delegates, Clinton 24, and 12 are still to be determined by states that have yet to hold primaries or caucuses. Overall, this means that Barack Obama only needs 42.7% (359.5 of the 841) of the remaining pledged, add-on, and undecided superdelegates in order to reach 2,024, at which point he can dictate favorable delegations from Michigan and Florida and secure the nomination.

Here is an example of just how bad things are for Clinton. Even if Obama loses Pennsylvania by 20%, and then only draws even in Indiana and North Carolina, two states where he currently holds double-digit leads, then Obama will need less than 40% (196.5 of 492) of the remaining delegates to reach 2,024. If a 20% Pennsylvania victory and ties in both Indiana and North Carolina actually put Clinton further from the nomination than she currently is, then yes, the delegate math is decisively stacked against Clinton.


In summary, reaching 2,024 will give Obama the nomination, and he has an extremely low bar to reach 2,024. The Clinton campaign seems to be banking almost entirely on the fanciful notion that they can convince pledged and super delegates who have declared their support for Obama to switch. Consider the following remarks from Hillary Clinton herself when asked about the delegate math:

Neither of us will reach the number of delegates needed. So I think that that is, you know, the reality for both of our campaigns. And all delegates have to assess who they think will be the strongest nominee against McCain and who they believe would do the best job in bringing along the down-ballot races and who they think would be the best President. And, from my perspective, those are all very legitimate questions, and as you know so well, Mark, every delegate with very few exceptions is free to make up his or her mind however they choose. We talk a lot about so-called pledged delegates, but every delegate is expected to exercise independent judgment.

The actual Clinton delegate math is convincing Obama delegates to switch. Whenever a campaign is stating that it needs to flip delegates from an opposing campaign in order to win, it has admitted that existing delegate math is decisively stacked against it. If you need your opponent's delegates to win, then you can't win with just your delegates.

Now, as long as she wins Pennsylvania, I still don't think it is justified for Clinton to drop out before Indiana and North Carolina. However, it is necessary to point out that there is no realistic path to the nomination for Hillary Clinton. Preventing Obama from securing 42.7% of the remaining delegates, and / or convincing Obama delegates to flip to Clinton, are both fantasies. It is about as realistic as John Boehner arguing that Republicans won't be in the minority in 2009-2010 because, even if Republicans take their expected beating at the ballot box, he is going to convince 30 or so House Democrats to become Republicans. That just is not going to happen.

Chris Bowers :: Delegate Math Myth and Fact

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Despite the math, there is one reason for Hillary to drop out before Indiana/North Carolina (4.00 / 15)
And the reason is the type of campaign she seems determined to run.

If she could remain "positive," then I don't think anyone would mind her staying in the race for a few more months.  So, it's not really that we want her to end her campaign, it's that we want her to end her attempt to raise questions about Obama.

Bulls Eye! (4.00 / 5)
I think back to other major candidates who didn't have much hope to win, once their opponent had a comanding lead but stayed in the race.

2004 - John Edwards
1992 - Jerry Brown
1988 - Jesse Jackson

To the best of my recolleciton, all of them ran positive campaigns, and never said a bad word about the frontrunner.  They just urged people to vote for them in order to send the frontrunner a message or help them be seen as a leader, but that was it.

I'm too young to remember all the dynamics of Mondale/Hart, but I can't recall a single race where the loser was spraying such vitriol.

[ Parent ]
Kennedy Carter (4.00 / 2)
was at least as hard fought.  Hart vs Mondale was less so.  

[ Parent ]
Both turned out very badly.... n/t (0.00 / 0)

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!

[ Parent ]
Agreed. (4.00 / 2)
We lost both years, but in 1980 the incumbent lost.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
We need an exit strategy (4.00 / 2)
for this race.

If you go back and read about the last two tough primary fights, the delegate narrative gained strength with each contest.   And so the challengers were forced to come up with increasingly unlikely scenarios to justify continuing.  See if this sounds anything like Hillary Clinton's strategy:

There is no scenario by which [the candidate] can win the nomination." said a top front runner spokesman.  This is hotly denied by the challenger's aides, who have drafted a strategy that depends less on delegate totals than on persuading the party that the [front runner] cannot win in November. [challenger] aides are counting first on big primary victories in urban states like California, New Jersey and Ohio. At the same time, they are making a concerted effort to recruit delegates nominally committed to [the front runner], arguing that the [front runner's blunders] are fatally weakening him as a candidate. The [challenger's] strategists believe that by convention time they will pick up enough support to force a change in the rules [which] will lead to a deadlock and...finally to a [challenger] win. To many Democrats the strategy sounds improbable

The problem was that no one in 1980 or in 1984 could figure out a way to get the challenger to recognize the simple math.   My worry in this cycle is that we are going to repeat the experience in '80 and '84.

Not with Harold Ickes as Hillary's delegate counter . . . (4.00 / 3)
He played that role for Ted Kennedy in 1980 too.

In still think that she will back down.  Perhaps Harry Reid can offer Hillary majority leader and Howard Dean can apologize to her donors for the folly of the 50-state strategy (which he then continues).

Something will be done in May.  

Maybe her money will dry up as reality sinks in.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
Howard Dean can apologize to her donors for the folly of the 50-state strategy (0.00 / 0)
THAT is faking funny!!! Rahm and Carville deserve nothing less.

Michael Bloomberg, prince of corporate welfare

[ Parent ]
Money won't dry up (0.00 / 0)
Unfortunately, her money is coming in two forms: $2300 GE contributions from the usual suspects she will have to give back if she doesn't get the nomination (so they're not really risking anything, but it makes her fundraising look better), and True Believers, mostly her "older female" base for whom this isn't a matter of math, but of faith, for vinidcation of "second wave" feminism.  They were convinced it was their turn for a president, and no matter how it goes down, they're going to feel she was cheated out of it.  Obama could reach the convention so far ahead he could seat FL/MI as-is, and they'll still feel the patriarchy conspired to keep a woman from taking power.

At this point, I think the only thing keeping the party from dropping the hammer is that they're hoping Hillary will move to heal the rift, and she's not going to do that unless we play it all the way out.  We can't afford for those old white women to stay home any more than we can afford to lose the black vote, and they're considerably more likely to vote McCain out of spite without a graceful exit by Hillary.

[ Parent ]
20 points in IN? (0.00 / 0)
Chris, is that a new poll?  That would be amazing news for Obama.

What are you referring to? (0.00 / 0)
Am I missing something, or did you misread something in the post?

[ Parent ]
Sorry, misread, but "double-digits"? (0.00 / 0)
"Even if Obama loses Pennsylvania by 20%, and then draws even in Indiana and North Carolina, two states where he currently holds double-digit leads,"

Is that from an old poll?  I thought the last one I saw had him up like 4 or something in IN?

[ Parent ]
Only one that I know of (0.00 / 0)

had him up by 15 a month ago.

[ Parent ]
Ah, thanks... (0.00 / 0)
Hmm.. thought I saw a different one, but perhaps that's the one I was thinking about.  For some reason it didn't register as a "double digit" lead to me, probably because of the huge number of undecideds.

Wonder when we'll start seeing some more polls there... We've already had a few of NC, and that's the same day.

[ Parent ]
It's generally a bad sign (4.00 / 1)
If you have universal name-recognition but are losing to "undecided" 35-25.  Especially when your opponent has consistently out-performed you with people who decide within a month of the election.

Still, polls with high undecideds usually get to more "strong" support by not pushing undecideds one way or another, so it's also a bad sign for Clinton that, according to at least one poll, Obama has a 40% base.

But I've seen saying this for awhile: Indiana, to my eyes, is much closer to Iowa, Kansas, etc than it is to Ohio.  And it shares its longest border with Illinois, and as such I imagine has lots of media market overlap, leading to good name free media for Obama for almost 4 years now.  Northern Indy is technically "rust belt," like PA and OH, but I've always gotten the impression that it's been much less hard-hit by economic depression (though someone can correct me if I'm wrong).  Culturally, demographically, etc, Indy white voters have always struck me as precisely the type that go for Obama, along the lines of the midwest/breadbasket and pac NW, rather than the Baptists and Rust Belters that Clinton seems to do so well with

[ Parent ]
Indiana is its own little world.... (4.00 / 1)
....for better or worse.  And I say this as someone who's lived in Gary, Valparaiso, and Terre Haute, and who has relatives in Michigan City, Portage, Hobart, Demotte, Lebanon and Hamilton Township (plus has relatives by marriage in Tippecanoe County and a couple of the older suburbs of Indy).

In part because of its extensive Interstate highways, parts of Indiana have tended to always either get snagged into cross-border media markets, or became their own.  Indianapolis and Evansville are their own, for example, while Northwest Indiana is part of Chicago, New Albany/Jeffersonville are part of Louisville, Ft. Wayne is kinda/sorta part of the Toledo/greater Detroit market, and southeastern Indiana is part of the Greater Cincinnati market.  (South Bend is independent to some degree, but it seems to be getting slowly pulled into the Chicago media market.)

It also has tended to centralize in ways other states have had a hard time dealing with, while determined to remain firmly decentralized in terms of its communities - for example, the consolidation of high schools in what I think was the late 1950s/early 1960s (which led to such interesting results as the dreaded Tri-County High School in Wolcott), while fighting to its last breath the creation of divisions for the high school state basketball tournament such that small schools no longer compete against large ones.  (A personal example is that my parents won't drive from Lebanon to nearby Frankfort anymore because the local Blockbuster in Lebanon moved to Frankfort, and both are still pretty steamed about it.)

Indiana also has tended to be different when it came to such things as its relationship to the auto industry.  Instead of building cars, it built parts, which required smaller plants, usually, and worked more effectively in the large number of small-to-middle-sized towns throughout the state.  When Michigan and Ohio took their knocks as the auto and steel industries downsized, much of Indiana retooled to account for the changes - Michigan City is a good example of that - and only now is Indiana, throughout the state,  feeling the job and benefit losses other states have felt for many years.  (Yes, northwest Indiana took it in the shorts in the late 1970s when the steel industry downsized, but note that I said "throughout the state", and big chunks of that area have changed to adapt with the passage of time, of which unfortunate examples of inability to do so are Gary and East Chicago.)

Is it like Illinois or Ohio?  Well, I'm told that the first Richard Daley got most of his ideas on how to control Chicago by watching Indiana pols at work, and I've been told that the strong small town emphasis of the state is much like Ohio.  My dad's family will tell you that Indiana and Illinois were so close that there are records of family members in the 1840s-1850s moving from one state to the other and back again, never mentioning the state names, but only the counties.  But I also suspect geography could show that same trick with families in other parts of the state in relation to Ohio, Kentucky or Michigan.  You take your pick.

My two bits....

[ Parent ]
IN/IL (0.00 / 0)
Just from my own personal experience I think most of the historical movement is IN to IL. My mother's entire side is originally from IN by way of Ohio and PA. Of course nowadays people move every which way and the dominant east to west migration lines fall apart.

[ Parent ]
Thank you for a well-reasoned and detailed analysis (0.00 / 0)
without all the hype.

Any candidate who attempts to steal pledged delegates who were selected in sanctioned primaries and caucuses will be the true Judas of this cycle and will destroy the Democratic Party.

Thanks again for such a clear post.

Hillary has released her delegates (4.00 / 6)
I don't want the Obama campaign trying to recruit Clinton delegates, but now that she's said her delegates have no obligation to vote for her I'm fine with accepting any Clinton delegates who are having buyer's remorse into the Obama fold.

[ Parent ]
goose gander sauce for the loon (0.00 / 0)

Michael Bloomberg, prince of corporate welfare

[ Parent ]
Clarity (0.00 / 0)
Thanks for making this clear, Chris. I've been trying to explain this to friends of mine, both Hillary and Obama supporters, and now I can show them this.

Very well argued (4.00 / 3)
Here's the bad news for Obama supporters: if her entire argument is based on convincing pledged and super delegates to switch sides, then -- since delegates of both types can switch whenever they want -- there is no reason for HRC to drop out before the convention.

This is, effectively, her final goalpost shift but it's a doozy: the measurement of her strategy takes place, by definition, at the convention. This way it doesn't much matter if she continues to achieve less than what is needed to comeback.

Of course she needs some kind of argument to take to the super delegates. The more memes she's got in her Bag O' Negativity the better. The more momentum the better but she can claim momentum just by winning more states than him, which is very doable given the states involved (PA, WV, Kentucky, Guam and 1 or 2 more.)

That loud, annoying sound you here is the combined effect of the initial shifting of the goalposts and lowering of the bar.

But it cuts both ways (0.00 / 0)
If Obama's total just keeps rising, she increasingly looks like Bush hoping for a pony in Iraq.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
Sure. (0.00 / 0)
Don't get me wrong -- I don't think that her argument is going to convince the delegates. My point is very narrow -- one of the logical results of her argument regarding delegates is that the only votes that count are the ones that take place at the convention. And as an added benefit she gets to use her new-found rightwing conspiracy buddies to dig up new dirt on Obama.

I suppose she could wind up looking so foolish under certain circumstances that she would drop out. But it's not a given, especially considering this new line of argument they're developing.

[ Parent ]
Great job, Chris (4.00 / 1)
but she is justified in dropping out right now.  She has already assured her legacy in the Jesse Helms Racial Campaigning Hall of Fame and probably doesn't need to build an entire new wing dedicated to 'how the Democratic Party lost the African-American vote'.

She's in the gutter and there is no justification for it.

Clinton has until May 6 (0.00 / 0)
Excellent analysis, Chris. This is why it is reasonable for the superdelegates to wait until after Pennsylvania, Indiana, and North Carolina, but if Clinton doesn't win dramatically large victories in all 3, then it will be time for all of them (those who have previously endorsed Clinton too) to publicly endorse the inevitable pledged delegate leader and presumptive nominee. If Clinton wins those states by 70-30 margins, then we can let the rest of the primaries play out and she can make her case that Obama is crippled goods and a superdelegate coup is needed for the sake of winning in November. But if she can't pull that off, then she needs to drop out, endorse Obama, and let Democrats begin the work of winning this crucial election.

She could also buy a lottery ticket! (0.00 / 0)
I think the odds are much better with the Lotto. This is more a problem with the Clintons themselves. Any other candidate would have been pushed out by now.

[ Parent ]
Remember those Dark Dark Ages Ago.. (0.00 / 0)
... oh, a couple of weeks ago when Eliot Spitzer was the Gov. of New York???

Who is to say that there is no chance that Barak Obama will crash and burn in the next few weeks/months?

It won't take many more "Wright" events to take him out.

Hillary should stay in till the end.

Of course, she could crash and burn too.  

Eh... (4.00 / 2)
If something was going to come out on Obama by now, we would've heard about it. He's been in the media spotlight for more than 15 months from running for president...and if the worst that the media can get on him is out-of-context videos of his ex-pastor, nothing else will come out. If there was something shady on his tax returns or his earmark requests, they would've come out - but they're in public, and no one has brought out anything.

Clinton, on the other hand, is a walking time bomb when it comes to contradictions.

[ Parent ]
She could Suspend her race. (4.00 / 1)
Or she could continue her Kneecap tact.

[ Parent ]
I hate to be the one saying it (4.00 / 1)
But I think if a campaign is likely to collapse because of an unexpected sex scandal that the media has been trying to avoid covering out of "dignity", I don't think the likeliest candidate is Obama's

[ Parent ]
The Huckabee model (0.00 / 0)
I only wish hadn't taken the party down this negative path. She, for some reason has hurt us all.

WRT the delegate count being close (0.00 / 0)
Another way to put it is to point out that the current margin is exactly 4.5 times the margin by which HRC won California and more than 3.5 times of the margin by which she won New York.

Dear Hillary, It's Time To Go... (4.00 / 4)
For over a month it's been clear that Hillary's only path to the nomination is an ugly one.  The failure of her supporters to recognize that dynamic is what has raised the temperature of this race (are you listening, Jerome?)

When the delegate math got to the point where HRC could only win by tearing Obama down and wishing that the superdelegates would come to the conclusion that he was thus unelectable, things got ugly.  The Enlightened Ones (that's us) got it, but for some reason HRC and her believers hung on.  The best rationale I can come up with for her tenacity is that she was the presumptive nominee for so long that it's psychologically and emotionally difficut for her to confront reality and accept defeat.  Her sense of entitlement must be huge.

When this thing started HRC had $100 million in the bank, 96 committed superdelegates, a very famous husband who was the most visible and influential Democrat in the Party, major name recognition after two terms as First Lady, a compliant media that had all but annointed her the next President, and many, many friends and political allies in the Democratic Party hierarchy.  It is almost impossible to imagine a candidate going into a campaign with a greater headstart than HRC enjoyed.  No wonder it's tough for her to quit. I also think she has received considerable encouragement and funding to stay in the race from the fat cat Wall St. Democrats like Bob Rubin.  They desperately need a big business-friendly President in the White House to bail them out of their various crises.

You've gotta love point #2. (0.00 / 0)
At least Chris admits straight out that it is ultimately Barack Obama who is disenfranchising the Democratic voters in Florida and Michigan.  And you really call yourselves progressives?  Wow.

Power at the end of the process (4.00 / 3)
When no compromise agreements can be reached, all that is left is power. And, in this case, Obama has that power.  

[ Parent ]
Again, wow (0.00 / 0)
Power over democracy.  You heard it here first, folks.

[ Parent ]
It's too late to have a fair election (4.00 / 1)
That's the problem, and it's not one that Obama created.

The problem is that, in Michigan, many Democrats voted in the Republican primary because the Democratic primary had been "whistled dead."  Ideally, one would want to let them participate.  But at the same time, one would not want to invite Republicans who are voting simply to monkeywrench the process -- the Limbaugh types -- to participate.  (They wouldn't have participated in January, even if the Democratic primary had not been whistled dead, because they had a "live" Republican primary to vote in.)

So, if you say that only people who didn't vote in the Republican primary, or who did vote in the Democratic primary, are eligible to vote in this election, you disenfranchise what was potentially a large group of Democratic voters.  This also introduces a bias, because with Hillary as the only major candidate on the ballot her voters were less likely to opt for the other primary.  On the other hand, if you allow anyone to vote in true "open primary" fashion, regardless of whether they voted in the Republican primary, you allow the GOP monkeywrenchers in, to an extent that would have have been possible in January.  It is lost on neither candidate that the monkeywrenchers favor Hillary -- without actually supporting her.

So, at this point there is no way to honor democracy via a revote.  It's unfortunate that that's so -- but the representatives of Michigan's voters are the ones made the choice that led to this state of affairs.  Blaming Obama is both unfair and something you'll regret in seven months.

I speak only for myself, not for those voices in the next room that won't leave me alone.

[ Parent ]
Give me a break... (4.00 / 3) can blame the DNC if you want, or the state democratic parties (who are the real culprits), but you cannot tell me, that if the situation were reversed, that Hillary Macbeth wouldn't be a stickler for the rules and would be mocking the Hillary campaign for complaining about it?  The only reason this is an issue is that Hillary is behind....

I'm sure the delegations will be seated in a way that does not "disenfranchise" those who voted knowing that the primary didn't count for anything...

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!

[ Parent ]
And you really call yourselves progressives? (4.00 / 2)
I think it is the progressive position, yes. I think Obama's active refusal to cooperate with re-votes is a bad move. It is not in the spirit of democracy. But to count those contests as they stand now would be to legitimize the rule-breakers, and would make it impossible for the DNC to shape the schedule of future primaries.

Since I agree that the primary schedule needs to be changed, I also agree that the rules in this cycle must be abided. Otherwise, it will be impossible to stop Iowa and NH (and many other states) from moving their contests to earlier and earlier dates. Enforcing the rules is necessary in the interest of creating a fairer Democratic primary in future cycles.

"Don't hate the media, become the media" -Jello Biafra

[ Parent ]
Even with FL and MI (4.00 / 3)
Obama would still be ahead. And if re-votes happened, he'd get an even larger share of those states than he has now. But neither one would change the course of the campaign or its outcome. What re-votes would do is prolong the inevitable by giving Clinton two more straws to grasp at. And grasp she would, battering and kicking, shouting how she's going to go all the way and win. By shutting down the re-votes, Obama is playing hardball, yes. I can't blame him.

[ Parent ]
Chris, this is why... (0.00 / 0)
...Florida and Michigan remain relevant. Obama may have power over who does and doesn't get in from the Florida and Michigan delegations, but how he uses that power will have a big impact on his perceived legitimacy. Technically, he may have untrammeled power here, but when you take political considerations into account - which your analysis does not do - his power is significantly more circumscribed.

[ Parent ]
Clinton has a remote possibility at (4.00 / 2)
a HUGE Penn blowout - say 25%.

With that big win, she gets momentum, and then:

Indiana win by 5-8%.
North Carolina tie.

If the above happens, a HUGE shift, downticket, for the next contests.  All remaining contests go 10% to 20% for Obama.

This puts the pledged delegate difference, so small, as to be not a deciding factor for superdelegates. (Say within 50).  Thus, she then cleans up, having won April, May, June, final contests.

Is this LIKELY??

Of course not, not in the slightest.  

Still, I have no problem with her staying in the race, and seeing what happens in the three states, Penn, North Carolina, Indiana.  Remember, people have contributed, what, 150 million over the course of her campaign?  She owes it to those contributors, not to get out easily.

However, if Obama holds in North Carolina and Indiana - which I expect him to do - then I expect the superdelegates to "seal the deal" for Obama, by declaring, within a week after May 6th. Or, as Chris has said, right after Obama has the 50+1% lead in pledged delegates.

I actually don't expect, and shouldn't expect, that Hillary gets out on her own.  I EXPECT that the superdelegates do their job, come May.  If Obama is still ahead by over 100 pledged delegates after May 6th, it's time for them to move en masse to declare for Obama.  Such that all the counters, at ABC, CBS, NBC, RealClearPolitics, CNN, etc, will REFLECT a projection of Obama's, that is OVER the 50% total.  

If they don't do this, in that circumstance, I will be very surprised.

Was just thinking about this... (4.00 / 2)
"She owes it to those contributors, not to get out easily."

I was just thinking she owes them an apology for stringing them along.  Someone in another thread just said they dropped another $150 for her campaign upon seeing the Blue Majority endorsement. I just feel bad about that now.

[ Parent ]
Edit (0.00 / 0)
All remaining contests go 10-20% for Clinton.

[ Parent ]
Obama would still be ahead. (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
It is possible (0.00 / 0)
Don't forget that this is not just a matter of the popular vote. Obama has proven his campaign's uncanny ability to thrive in the delegate race even in states he loses (or "loses"). So I think Hillary's uphill battle is even steeper than you suggest.  

"Don't hate the media, become the media" -Jello Biafra

[ Parent ]
Momentum doesn't exist (4.00 / 1)
Obama's Iowa momentum lead to popular vote losses in NH and NV.  Clinton's big two-fer comeback lead to a rout in SC.  On Feb 5th, Obama dominated states demographically favorable, where he'd invested a lot of time and resources.  Clinton dominated states with local machines behind her, where she invested a lot of time and resources.  Post-Feb 5th, Obama ran off a string of big victories in states demographically-favorable, his wins multiplied by the fact that they were basically uncontested.  All that momentum lead to...popular vote losses in 3 out of 4 states on March 4th.

And that momentum sapping day lead to...big wins in Wyoming and Mississippi.

Momentum has nothing to do with it.  Demographics, culture, money and time invested.  That's what decides these things.  As I noted above, Indy strikes me as a state populated by precisely the type of white voters that like Obama, and North Carolina has the research triangle + A-A population that is pretty much Obama's coalition epitomized.  "Momentum" won't have anything to do with it.  The demographics are there, the local cultures are right, and you better believe he'll campaign there and invest a lot of money there, and he'll win, no matter what happens in PA.

[ Parent ]
I don't disagree (0.00 / 0)
Nevertheless, I am gaming out a possible scenario for Hillary - and with the vote close enough, at this point, that the - very unlikely - but possible scenario still exists - I can understand why Hillary doesn't get out.  

[ Parent ]
Agreed (0.00 / 0)
I can understand why Hillary won't quit yet, just as I can understand why some people are calling for her to drop out. And I will also understand if party leadership steps in to try and end her campaign.

"Don't hate the media, become the media" -Jello Biafra

[ Parent ]
Momentum is for early on (0.00 / 0)
Early in the process, when voters are trying to decide who is "viable", or picking their second choice (or third, or whatever), momentum counts.  But once nearly everyone has picked a side, momentum stops being a factor.  Momentum's effect came to an end on February 5th.


[ Parent ]
Michigan / Florida (4.00 / 5)

Hillary made a mess of MI and FL, and has nobody else to blame.  She took the low road and tried to steal the delegates from those bogus primaries.  What kind of country would count the votes from an election in which the candidates and the voters were told that the results wouldn't count in the first place?  We'd look like some kind of halfass banana republic.  Her claim that somehow it's a tragedy that the voters in those two states are being disenfrancised is clearly a self-serving attempt to get a bunch of delegates for free.  If she is so deeply concerned about fairness, then what about all the voters in Michigan who didn't cast a ballot on that day because they were told by the DNC that their primary was illegitimate?  How would our Party explain to the millions of African-American voters in Michigan that Obama wasn't even on the ballot, but Hillary is going to walk away with all the delegates?  

Her mistake was in trying to garner those delegates for herself.  If she cared deeply about the process, she should have advocated for full and fair primaries from the beginning, not for counting the results of an obviously flawed election.  Ask yourself this-  If Obama had come out ahead in those primaries, would Hillary be running around and righteously advocating for the inclusion of those states at the convention?

I don't think so, either...

Self-Serving Obama in MI and FL (0.00 / 0)
So, Mr. Obama, who pretends to be a "new" kind of candidate, cares not a whit about the voters of FL or MI??  This is neither a democrat, with a small "d" or a big "D".  We cannot win without those states.

Clearly, Mr. Obama is just another egomaniac "who'll do anything to win."  I use quotations there because when Mrs. Clinton does something like this, it's evil.  But, somehow that changes if done by Mr. Obama.

Note:  I concur that Mrs. Clinton's concern about these delegates should have come months ago--before the voting began.  That said, her wrong does not justify Mr. Obama's putting his own interests over the Democrats of FL and MI...and likely, therefore, our ability to win this election.

[ Parent ]
Interests (0.00 / 0)
It is also in the best interest of the Democratic Party that the rules are enforced. Otherwise, we jeopardize the DNCs ability to reform the primary calendar in future cycles.

And yes, both candidates are maneuvering to use FL and MI for their own best interest. But since we are talking about a HUGE gray area, I don't think it is fair to blame either candidate for trying to thrive under these strange circumstances.

"Don't hate the media, become the media" -Jello Biafra

[ Parent ]
Meh (4.00 / 6)
Clinton's campaign made MI and FL a referendum on her.  It was her surrogates (Nelson in FL and Granholm in MI) who drove the moves up in the calendar in each state; it was her campaign and those same surrogates who demanded--and even threatened to sue--to have the delegations seated "as is" instead of doing re-votes, for almost 2 months straight; and it was her campaign and its surrogates who resurrected the issue to demand a re-vote after she got nothing out of March 4th and  her campaign realized they'd need more than just PA to pull this out.

In short, it was her campaign who turned this into a political football, and whining now that Obama's campaign has responded by playing it as politics and beating her at it is rather disingenuous.  You don't have the moral high ground here, and what's more, I thought a central rationale for her candidacy was that she knows how to get things done and he doesn't...and yet now you're complaining that he's out-maneuvering her on this and crying victim.

It's also pretty disingenuous for the candidate who wants to dismiss entire swaths of the country as "insignificant" to make a fuss about other states not counting; a candidate saying we should ignore pledged delegates in favor of the popular vote to argue that it's vitally important to have these delegates seated; and especially disingenuous for the candidate who's now arguing not even the popular vote matters (its the Electoral College!) to make these self-serving paeans to democracy.

Please.  It's insulting.

[ Parent ]
Gee, but I thought that in Iowa and New Hampshire (0.00 / 0)
she said that the MI and FL results wouldn't count!

Remember, if she had said then what she said now, she'd have lost New Hampshire and maybe finished a distant third in Iowa.

I speak only for myself, not for those voices in the next room that won't leave me alone.

[ Parent ]
DNC Ceding MI & FL to McCain (0.00 / 0)
Howard "HooHa" Dean continues to demonstrate that he has learned little in the arena of Presidential Politics. His determination to set the primary rules and punish those who refuse to comply with his control freak agenda will threaten the chances of any Democratic hopefull come November. As a disenfranchised Michigan Democrat I cannot and willnot support or vote for any candidate who did not actively campaign in the Michigan Primary. HooHa Dean has forgotten the origin of the term "Reagan Democrats"...which, this year will morph into "McCain Democrats". Michigan, for two full years, has been the poster child of the economic conditions that are now spreading across the country. Yet old Hooha and his DNC cronies decided that Iowa and NH are more representative of the needs of the Democratic voter. They have done so at the peril of their own interests and those of any Democratic nominee at the local, state or national level.

[ Parent ]
The rationale (4.00 / 2)
The rationale behind NH and IA coming early on in the primary calendar is that they are smaller states and are therefore easier for a small poorly funded candidate to campaign in.  There's no argument that they are somehow "more representative of the needs of the...voter", Democratic or otherwise.  If MI and FL were the first states to have primaries, no one but the best funded candidates would ever get a look-in.  NH is always the first primary and always has been the first primary because it's mandated by statute that it has to be held at least 7 days before any other legally scheduled primary.

The people who disenfranchised you, as far as the primary goes, are your state representatives who voted to have your primary early, knowing that the primaries wouldn't count as a result.

[ Parent ]
MI the new Dixiecrat state! (0.00 / 0)
I say if MI Democrats don't come out and vote in November over this, the party should just drop the state as a major target like we did the Dixiecrat South and focus our attentions on the West.  Let MI become the new Indiana, there are plenty of electoral votes out West to make up the difference and then some.

The crying by Democrats in Michigan and Florida (a state whose votes can't be trusted as accurate anyway) against the party and especially the candidates themselves is just plain sad and sickening.  If enough individuals exist like Phoff to hand Michigan over to McCain, then let's declare them abettors to their cheating local party who caused the whole mess in the first place and just drop our party support in the state for a couple of cycles.

[ Parent ]
All righty then (0.00 / 0)
Fortunately, we have a presumptive nominee who can put the Plains states into the Dem column simply by selecting the right running mate (say, Sebelius), and render the corrupted electoral machinery of Florida and Ohio moot, and still have MI a dead heat (while not even needing to win it).

Howard "Hooha" Dean has shown that we don't have to keep playing the same rigged game, but can shift the playing field and turn the whole contest on its head.

The Democrats never had to lose the Plains, or the Mountain West, and they certainly don't have to watch the Pacific Northwest go the same way, which is what they would do with Hillary as the nominee.  We can stop letting our president be picked by Ohio and Florida, and just give them the finger on the way to the White House.

[ Parent ]
Howard Dean controls the credentials committee (4.00 / 2)
I have to disagree on one point.  While Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will control larger percentages of the credentials committee, the Dean appointees will effectively control any vote done along candidate vs. candidate lines by providing the key swing votes.

I feel that it's very, very probably that the credentials committee will vote to uphold the penalties levied against Michigan and Florida because of the Dean bloc.  This group includes a few of the people who were on the DNC rules and bylaws committee that voted nearly unanimously against Michigan and Florida in the first place.  And who were the co-chairs of that rules and bylaws committee?  Alexis Herman and James Roosevelt Jr., who happen to be two of the three co-chairs of the credentials committee.  I sincerely doubt they will be pushing to overrule themselves and I think that Dean will have picked his appointees to the credentials committee primarily on how they will vote on Michigan and Florida since I'm not sure that there is anything else near as important for them to consider. Roosevelt is already on the record with the Boston Globe:

Roosevelt, asked whether the party might yield to a compromise to seat the Florida and Michigan delegations that did not include another contest approved by the Democratic National Committee, said: "As long as it could affect the outcome, [there's] no chance of that."

So, while Barack Obama has numerical superiority on the credentials committee, Howard Dean has had effective control of the committee, since his appointees will provide the swing vote on any substantive matter.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both

Or they will ratify whatever deal is cooked up (0.00 / 0)
Like giving each one a half vote, or dividing them equally.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
6% (0.00 / 0)
It seems invalid to count the 6% as if it were a figure coming out of a primary or caucus on election night.

The figures from a primary or caucus will generally be out of one state, which will have a demographic mix that will be less than a state to state comparison.  In other words, two counties in Texas are going to have a closer demographic composition than the composition of, for example, North Carolina v. Pennsylvania, and to the extent that remaining counties in Texas are in some way different, simliar counties have probably already come in as a basis for a projection.

Second, the time element is huge, as candidates rise and fall everywhere, everyday.

In particular, superdelegates aren't the same demographically as pledged delegates anywhere.

That doesn't invalidate the rest of the post.  I just don't see it as a defensible benchmark for determining how large the margin is.

The whole point of the delegate system (4.00 / 1)
Is precisely to "smooth out" all the differences between states by giving each state its proportional weight.  As such, it's entirely appropriate to discuss the difference in delegates along those lines.  It's a zero-sum game: there's X number of delegates, you need 50.1% of them to win, Obama has X %, Clinton has Y%, Edwards has Z%, that is it.  We can do totals too, but the net effect is the same.  

I'd add that a lead can't both be small and insurmountable, and Obama's lead on this metric is for all intents and purposes insurmountable.  

[ Parent ]
You have to admit, if this was any other candidate (4.00 / 6)
the calls to end this thing would be deafening. excellent post.  

Endorsing Obama (4.00 / 1)
To Bowers, Kos, ACTBlue, etc.,

I have spent 35 years fund-raising and working for Democratic candidates, and I intend to continue to do so.

However, none of your venues will be the avenue through which I act.  Simply put, having chosen to endorse Obama at this stage sends one very clear message:

To the 48% of the voters in the democratic party, YOU DON'T MATTER.

These writers/sites no longer can represent me.  Nor, obviously, do you care.

I will vote against McCain, but I know many who will not.  Congratulations on guaranteeing a McCain presidency.

GBCW (4.00 / 3)
Congratulations on guaranteeing a McCain presidency.

And congratulations to bloggers everywhere for finally obtaining the power to completely change the outcome of a national election.

"Don't hate the media, become the media" -Jello Biafra

[ Parent ]
ActBlue? (4.00 / 1)
I hate to interrupt a good rant, but why on earth do you blame ActBlue for this endorsement?  ActBlue is a neutral conduit for donations.

You could just as easily set up your own ActBlue page to accept donations for Clinton and whatever other candidates you like (thereby telling supporters of any other candidates that THEY DON'T MATTER, I guess).

[ Parent ]
48% vs 52% (4.00 / 1)
Democratically speaking, which one wins?

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
Affront. (4.00 / 5)
   I'm amazed by the number of people who take personal offense to a progressive blog's endorsement of the front-runner in a Democratic presidential primary.  Everyone is Eric Cartman these days: "Screw you guys, I'm going home."  

John McCain lets lobbyists shape his economic policy

[ Parent ]
you matter (4.00 / 1)
and i value your 35 years of experience!!!

[ Parent ]
You matter to me (0.00 / 0)
Simply put, having chosen to endorse Obama at this stage sends one very clear message:  To the 48% of the voters in the democratic party, YOU DON'T MATTER.

I like Obama better on most of the issues, and I firmly endorse him to everyone who's interested in knowing who I endorse.  But I don't think that I represent you one way or the other, any more than OpenLeft does, Kos, whoever.  I don't think MyDD has failed to represent me either as a result of their support for Clinton, because a blog doesn't represent people.  It's a forum for exchange of ideas and somewhere to start a conversation.

But I don't think you don't matter.  I heartily respect the many years you've been fund-raising and working for candidates, which is more years than I've been alive.  I think you are just as deserving of a fair deal in healthcare, education, personal and national security, and all the other areas where we clearly have common ground as the next Democrat, and dare I say it, the next Republican.  I care very much and find it very sad that you see one person's - or a few blogs' -  reasoned support of one candidate to invalidate your own choices.  You do matter, and the common ground we share as Democrats, liberals and progressives is far more important than the heats and turmoils of the primary contest.

Courage, mon brave!  

[ Parent ]
You matter (0.00 / 0)
Nobody is telling Hillary's supporters they don't matter.  We're trying to remind you that the nomination is not the prize, it's just the gateway to the real contest: The general.  And the time has come to stop pretending the nomination is in doubt, and move on to preparing for the general.

Hillary was a strong candidate.  I wish she'd run in 2004.  But this wasn't her year.

[ Parent ]
Just win already! (4.00 / 2)
I hope it will be decided before that:

PA is now Texas II, although the expectations are different here.

If in PA Obama remains within 10% (maybe 15) of Clinton, then it's over. A group of superdelegates will probably move against her as they intended after Texas.

But if he doesn't then the thing continues... as it should. What good is a candidate who can't win any ddecisive battle?

It's Obama's Job to win, not Hillary's duty to lose.

The question is not whether but how (4.00 / 2)
The question is not whether the contest should continue beyond this point, but how. The tone of the campaign is so toxic and damaging to both candidates that it is hurting the chances of either one to win in the general.

If Obama's got the nomination sewn up, then Clinton should act like a good Democrat and get behind him. She doesn't have to quit or even suspend her campaign, but the lying, the smearing, the dog-whistling, the mud-slinging, the innuendoes MUST STOP.

This is a primary, it's not "anything goes, no holds barred". Obama and Clinton are ultimately supposed to be on the same team, only Clinton doesn't act like it. If she were running a clean campaign, Edwards-style, with a positive message that she's a good candidate, more power to her. But she's not, and that's got to stop.  

[ Parent ]
Talk about myths... (0.00 / 0)
1. 6% lead.  That's worth shouting about? Considering the undemocratic nature of caucases, it should be seen as at best a tie. And if we're sticking to the rules here (Caucases are legal! Screw MI & FL!), then the rules also say that any pledged delegate count short of 2024 means bupkis. It's just a metric among many in weighing a decision.

2. MI & FL, as other posters have pointed out above, are only out because Obama shut them out a la Bush 2000. Armando has got this exactly right:

Let me put it bluntly, the dirtiest politics practiced in this campaign was Barack Obama's blocking of the Michigan and Florida revotes.

I just saw a lady in Florida with a teeshirt that said I (thought I) VOTED. You cannot blithely ignore the will of 2 million voters, no matter how much you adore your candidate.

3. Superdelegates are pledged because they've endorsed? Hardly--they can still vote for whomever they want, witness John Lewis's switch.  And if the good ship Obama starts sinking, they should switch.

Bottom line: You've got a candidate now on the cusp--will white voters reject him for the Wright association or not? If they do, in significant numbers, the supers would be fools to follow him down the rabbit hole. If he makes it close in PA, beats her in IN & NC, then she is probably toast. If he doesn't, and the trend is downward, they should throw the bum out.  That's not fanciful, that's survival.

You Can't Handle the Truth... (0.00 / 0)
MI & FL, as other posters have pointed out above, are only out because Obama shut them out a la Bush 2000.

The Florida congress shut FL out.  In regards to MI, the people backing this revote want to exclude anyone who voted in the Republican primary.  A lot of Dems voted in the Repub primary because they were urged to vote for Romney by progressive bloggers--these people were under the impression their vote wouldn't count in the Dem primary.  They had no idea there would be a revote and they'd be excluded.

Now you can continue the "Blame Bama" game, but there is plenty of blame to go around on this matter.

[ Parent ]
RE: Talk about myths... (0.00 / 0)
2. MI & FL, as other posters have pointed out above, are only out because Obama shut them out a la Bush 2000.

Seriously? Cause i seem to remember the DNC telling both MI & FL that if they moved up their primaries they would be striped of their delegates, and they did it anyway. I also seem to remember that this was agreed upon by all of the campaigns, including Clinton's.

Look, if you want to argue that Obama is in the wrong for not pushing for re-votes, fine. But to say that he is solely responsible for disenfranchising 2 million voters shows you're just ignoring the facts that are inconvenient. All actions have consequences, but saying that those that happen to be unfavorable to your preferred candidate shouldn't count or blaming those consequences completely on their opponent is pretty ridiculous.

[ Parent ]
A 6% lead is worth shouting about (0.00 / 0)
with over 80% of the delegates apportioned already, if you know anything about the delegate-selection process.  You'd know, e.g., that it's too big for Clinton to over-come save winning 10 in a row on a level comparable to her rout in the uncontested Arkansas competition.  Unlikely, to say the least.

As for a candidate "on the cusp", please, nobody but the most diehard Clinton supporters believe that.  An NBC poll came out saying Clinton, not Obama, has seen her favorables drop the most in the weeks post-Wright.  His dips in national polls in the days immediately following the release of those clips have all erased.  That story is dead, whether you (or your candidate) accept it or not.

As for the supers, if you want to get a taste of what they're thinking, go here

Some quotes for you to chew on:

But one undeclared delegate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the recent tactics are turning her and other superdelegates off.

"I don't think anybody's saying 'step aside,' but 'stop with the garbage' is what people want to say," the delegate said. "Just chill a little bit."

As activists committed to the party, they said, they have been impressed by Obama's ability to bring new Democrats into the fold, and they worry that Clinton is threatening that.

"We like the fact that there is a candidate that has won so many states overwhelmingly," the delegate said. "We're feeling her advisors are leading her in a path that diminishes her as well as him."


The final straw, though, were Clinton's comments Tuesday, when she said the Rev. Jeremiah Wright "would not have been my pastor." Several superdelegates saw it as a direct, personal attack on Obama.

"I think it's very dangerous for any candidate to constantly thrum on what they perceive as sensational criticisms of their opponent," said Debra Kozikowski, an uncommitted superdelegate from Massachusetts. "I would be more likely to respond positively to discussions of issues that effect Americans versus what might be perceived as character flaws."


One delegate said the Clinton campaign is "using Jeremiah Wright to scare white people."

Oh, and as for the ever-shifting arguments about how Clinton is actually really close, or leading or whatever?

"Periodically, over the last couple of weeks, you will see a news story or get something from the campaign, and you'll go, 'How stupid do you think I am?" one uncommitted superdelegate said. "All of us watch television all the time, read the newspapers. We all play with the little charts online too. We know it is virtually impossible."

Really sounds like her efforts to win over the supers are working!

[ Parent ]
Two spins don't make a right... (0.00 / 0)
Yes, I do want to argue that Obama is in the wrong for opposing re-votes, and apparently 83% of registered Dems agree with me.

I'd also be a little skeptical of an MSNBC poll that oversampled AA's and Dems, and where the AA MOE was over 7%.

520 interviews with whites is +4.3%
177 interviews with African Americans is +7.4%"

I'd be more concerned with this:

Over a third of voters (35 percent) and a quarter of Democrats (26 percent) and independents (27 percent) say Obama's relationship with Rev. Wright has caused them to have doubts about him. Here the racial breakdown is stark: 40 percent of whites and 2 percent of blacks have doubts.

or this from SUSA

Minnesota consistently was in John McCain's column until our February polling. On 2/18, it was Obama by 15; on 2/29, Obama by 7. As of this past Monday, it's McCain by 1...

In neighboring Wisconsin, Obama remains in the lead, but by 4 points, compared with 11 two and a half weeks ago...

Looking so far at the results in just the three states we've posted today - Ohio, Missouri, and now Kentucky - it seems the Wright videos  have definitely cost Obama some support. The counter-impact of Obama's speech is not yet known, and obviously, is not reflected in these numbers.

SUSA hasn't got the numbers since The Speech, so we'll just have to wait and see the real damage.  It didn't change my mind, but maybe it worked for others.

As for the comments about "too big a lead for her to overcome"--there's no lead she needs to "overcome" except 2024.  As for the supers comments, that just reinforces my main argument--supers are free to debate exactly as they're doing.  Some will switch (like those above to him), and some will switch to her.

[ Parent ]
Reality Checks (0.00 / 0)
This isn't going to end before IN and NC.  It would be better for the party if it did, but it obviously isn't.

Just as obviously, it is almost certainly going to end shortly thereafter.  We're not going to Puerto Rico, we're certainly not going all the way to the convention.  And the reality is that barring an "Act of God" level change in the dynamics, that end will be the end of Hillary's campaign.  It's time to start accepting that.

I can accept that if the "Act of God" occurs, Obama turns out to have an illegitimate white baby or 3 more wives he married in a secret Muslim ceremony on his trip to Kenya, he's not going to be the nominee.  Can you accept the reality that short of that, he will?

[ Parent ]
And for a refreshing alternative to partisan analyses... (0.00 / 0)
Check out

A very good analysis with a key point:

A little more respect for the uncertainty of the future is called for here.


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