No Objective Delegate Math

by: Chris Bowers

Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 19:15

After spending a lot of time thinking about this over the past few days, I have decided that the only accruate way to count delegates is to present two separate counts: the Obama campaign count, and the Clinton campaign count. Ultimately, because this is a political process rather than an objective, mathematical one, the only accurate counts are the ones claimed by both campaigns. And so, here are the two counts.

Obama Campaign Delegate Count
Type Obama Clinton Edwards Remaining 50% + 1
Pledged 1,494 1,333 18 408 1,627
Super 234 256 0 304 --
MI + FL 184 184 0 0 NA
Total 1,912 1,773 18 712 2,208

The pledged delegate totals are taken from the results center on the Obama campaign website. The superdelegate totals are taken from Democratic Convention Watch, although I have asked the Obama campaign if it will provide a superdelegate total of its own. The Florida and Michigan totals are based on a 50-50 split of the two states, as proposed by the Obama campaign. I have also asked the Obama campaign for more clarity on exactly what it is proposing in Michigan and Florida.

Clinton Campaign Delegate Count
Type Obama Clinton Edwards Remaining 50% + 1
Pledged 1,491 1,336 18 408 1,627
Super 234 256 0 304 --
MI + FL 103 167 18 80 NA
Total 1,828 1,759 36 792 2,208

The pledged delegate totals are taken from Green Papers, although I have asked the Clinton campaign if they intend to publish a public delegate total of their own. The superdelegate totals are taken from Democratic Convention Watch, although I have asked the Clinton campaign if it will provide a superdelegate total of its own. Considering the Clinton campaign's argument that Michigan and Florida should be seated as is, delegate totals from the two states are based on the result of the nullified Florida primary (105C-67O-13E), the Michigan district conventions (47C-31O-5E), and current superdelegate endorsements from the two states. The 80 "remaining" delegates come from the 14 Florida superdelegates, 21 Michigan superdelegates, and 45 Michigan pledged delegates are still to be determined according to this argument.


So, we now have two competing delegate totals. The Obama total should be taken as useful indication of when the Obama campaign will declare victory, while the Clinton campaign total should be taken as a good indicator of whether they think a convention challenge will have any success. If the Clinton campaign can't win even according to its own delegate argument, then it is implicitly stating it can't win the nomination even if it doesn't say so in public. By the same token, if Obama has not reached 2,208 according to its own arguments, then it is implicitly admitting that the nomination is not yet warpped up.

It is important to note both that neither delegate total is the "real" total, and that there is no "real" total. There is no objective delegate math, since the credentialing of delegates is controlled by the two campaigns in a political process on the credentials committee, and since delegates are able to switch allegiances if they so desire (though extremely few, will actually do so). What will happen is that both campaigns will fight to make their respective delegate totals reality, and more than likely the outcome will end up somewhere in between. However, Obama not only leads in both delegate totals, but he will also have more political power to make his delegate total a reality, given that he will hold a plurality on the credentials committee, and probably a majority (but at least a plurality) of unchallenged delegates on the convention floor. The situation does not look very good for Clinton at all but, even according to the Obama campaign's own count, he is still 296 delegates short of the nomination.  

Chris Bowers :: No Objective Delegate Math

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Obama needs 99 Supers? (4.00 / 1)
Based on your latest projection, Obama gets 197 delegates out of the remaining contests.  So if he accomplishes that and gets 99 superdelegates, he wins.  But how likely is that, and how does that not leave us without a nominee before June?  The supers really need to come out soon, otherwise whomever the winner is at the end, they are going to be limping to the finish.  Better let the supers declare, boosting the favorite and having them finish strong.  Maybe there needs to be a call for supers to declare if Obama wins Indiana.  That might cause a Clinton concession, and lead to Obama finishing with several wins.

Thanks for the great work (0.00 / 0)
I hope you don't get discouraged and stop posting these delegate diaries. I've probably learned more from your analyses than from anyone else's.

Seconded (0.00 / 0)
I think some people misunderstand Chris' (outstanding) delegate coverage because they don't read or absorb all of it. Others just want him to be partisan.

[ Parent ]
Very useful as always (0.00 / 0)
And echoing Semblance's point: I really appreciate a huge amount of work to do as thorough a job as you do, and have learned a lot.  It's very disappointing that the campaigns -- who should be providing this information -- are leaving it to others; we're all very lucky that you put in the time and energy to make the information and analysis available.

It'll be interesting to see whether the campaigns respond to your requests for clarification ...


I think this is a real smart way to do it. (0.00 / 0)
It's also a reminder that, for all of Clinton's arguing about FL and MI, even by her own count she has no chance to take the pledge delegate lead, even with two-to-one wins in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Puerto Rico (which combined would only net her about 50 delegates at the most, and that's not even counting North Carolina and Oregon, which are gonna go for Obama).

So: once again. This nomination battle is not going all the way to the convention.

There is no Clinton count (4.00 / 1)
in this analysis other than Florida and Michigan. Read the diary again.

All figures other than Florida and Michigan are from sources other than Clinton or her campaign so this comparison of the two campaigns numbers is not a comparison of the two campaigns numbers at all.

Until Clinton provides actual numbers generated by her campaign then there can be no real comparison. Chris said where the numbers came from but it is confusing people because he says it is a comparison of the two camps own numbers and it really is not.

[ Parent ]
Clinton Count (0.00 / 0)
So are you contending that whatever count the Clinton campaign is working with internally is drastically different than this count? Math is still math. And I think Chris is arguing that his Clinton count is one that is favorable to Clinton, and therefore probably similar to how their camp perceives the numbers. He clearly states that where he got the numbers from and that the Clinton camp has not provided their own numbers.

Anyway, it seems like a reasonable estimation to me.

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

[ Parent ]
Can Clinton Get Credentials Committee Plurality? (0.00 / 0)
It seems the seating of the credentials committee is the central point in the remaining primary fight so several process questions seem crucial.

The following propositions seem likely:

a) Clinton won't obtain a plurality of pledged delegates ex-Michigan and ex-Florida and

b) Clinton also will not gather enough super-delegates to overcome her pledged delegate disadvantage.

Given a) and b) is Clinton's only hope then to nevertheless manage to seat a plurality of Clinton votes on the credentials committee?

How likely is that?

What mechanisms does Clinton have to get the committee stacked in her favor despite her losing the pledged delegate count ex-Michigan and ex-Florida?

Do super-delegates play in the seating of the committee or is it based only on pledged delegates?

Who else has a vote to seat the credentials ommittee?  

plurality is not what is needed (4.00 / 1)
My understanding--Chris, correct me if I'm wrong--is that you only need 20% to get a minority report out of committee and to the convention floor.  Which pretty much guarantees a floor vote on seating disputed delegates if the Clinton campaign wants one.

[ Parent ]
So Credentials Committee doesn't matter (0.00 / 0)
Given that you only need 20% to take a minority report to the floor, the makeup of the Credentials Committee ultimately is just not that important.


[ Parent ]
Credentials Committee (0.00 / 0)
If I recall correctly, I believe that Howard Dean gets to appoint 25 members of the Credentials Committee and the remaining seats are filled proportionally based on the number of delegates each candidate has.  

The 25 appointments by Howard Dean could be critical if we get to a credentials fight.    However, I really want it over before then.  

[ Parent ]
Delegates (0.00 / 0)
Obama states that he needs 291 delegates to clinch the nomination.  I was reading the announcement of David Hu endorsement and found this posted

Wu is Senator Obama's 240th  Superdelegate endorsement. Senator Obama is now 291 delegates away from winning the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

What is required, in your own words. (0.00 / 0)
The best scenario for each candidate is (based on 2208 delegate requirement):

Obama needs 296 delegates, and Clinton needs 380.

Given the remaining contests, based on current projections (Chris Bowers, Apr. 24, 2008, 15:38) Obama will receive 197 delegates and Clinton will receive 211 (mind you, I think Obama will receive more and Clinton will receive less).

This means Obama will need an additional 99 SDs compared to Clinton's need for 169 SDs to secure the nomination.  The differences are great, even if the observer wants to be kind.  Clinton has all but no chance of overcoming these differences.  And, I do think that the benefits of these projections favor Clinton--which makes it all the more likely that this race is over.  

Now I ask you, Why does Clinton insist on continuing this contest.  Don't say, to count all the votes. That statement is just phoney..., and is nothing less than an excuse for destroying the candidacy of a viable democratic candidate: Barack Obama.  Clinton MUST stop her destruction of our chance to take back our government.

You are right ... (0.00 / 0)
just look at the Rethugs .. both Huckleberry and Mittens dropped out before McCain had actually clinched the Rethug nomination .. because there was no chance they'd make up the ground necessary ... and the way I see it now .. the only sure things for Clinton are WV and KY .. the rest are Obama's  .. or places like IN .. where he can definitely win

[ Parent ]
PA results (4.00 / 2)
Why not look at this another way.

Right now, by the "Clinton" count: Clinton needs 449 out of the remaining 792 delegates, or 56.7%, while Obama needs 380, or 48.0%.

That provides a better means of evaluating future results. For instance, prior to PA Clinton needed 533 out of a remaining 950, or 56.1%, while Obama needed 454, or 47.8%. So, the results out of PA took Hillary FURTHER from the nomination - she now needs a greater percentage of the remaining delegates. Not much of a victory.

That's how I've been looking at it. (0.00 / 0)
Every time Clinton wins a contest by less than 20%, her chances of hitting 2024 go down. And realistically, every time Clinton doesn't win a contest on her turf by at least 30%, her chances of hitting 2024 go down. The establishment media are delusional about this in reporting that Clinton improved her standing after Pennsylvania. No, she worsened it considerably. She needed to obliterate Obama, but instead he improved among many of her key constituencies, cutting her down to 9%.

Combining GP's pledged delegate count with DCW's super delegate count, Obama leads 1725-1592. He needs 42.0% of the 408 left to reach 2024. Clinton needs 60.7% to reach 2024.

Adding in the pledged and super delegates of MI and FL and giving Obama just 27 of the uncommitteds (with the other 28 remaining uncommitted for now), Obama leads 1824 - 1785. Obama needs 49.7% of the 775 left to reach 2209. Clinton needs 54.7% to reach 2209. Even if we give her the 31 Edwards delegates too - her most optimistic (delusional) count possible - she's still 8 behind Obama, needing 50.7% of the 775 available. And as others have pointed out, barring a major scandal hitting Obama, there's no way she's going to be able to win on the basis of counting MI and FLA as is, and probably in any fashion at all.

Shorter post: Clinton has no realistic chance of winning. Her fantasy scenario involves chaos at the convention and a civil war that may well destroy the Democratic Party. Her other fantasy scenario, I suspect, is sabotaging Obama and paving the way for Clinton vs. McCain 2012.

[ Parent ]
Clinton numbers should be all 0's (4.00 / 2)
Chris, if you really think about what the Clinton campaign has been saying about the pledged delegates, you'll realize that they will likely never give you a delegate count, because, in their mind, any delegate can vote for anybody for any reason.
So, from their point-of view, the numbers are really Obama 0, Clinton 0, with 4415 delegates still out there. So all this talk about she has to win this % of supers or what his magic number is - they'll disagree with the whole premise of the question. In their minds, both Clinton and Obama face the same challenge - win 50%+1 of the delegates.

Even if they give you a pledged delegate count, they still won't give you a superdelegate count, for the same reason. Every vote they concede to Obama makes their job and their spin harder - so why should they?

I will be interesting to see if they do respond.


Delegate Math + MI & FL (0.00 / 0)
I have a problem with the delegate math as presented by Hillary, but it may be a bit of ignorance on my part.

I've been under the impression that 2025 is based on available delegates, which necessarily excludes Florida and Michigan, since at the start of the process, they were disqualified.  Shouldn't the 50+1 go UP if the Michigan and Florida delegates get a vote? Is it only the Michigan and Florida SUPERDELEGATES who get a vote that counts toward the 2025, and if so, was that factored in at the start? (Corollary to this - why didn't the dems make clear that superdelegates are obliged to vote with their constituencies if they insisted on having an unauthorized primary?  Wouldn't the superdelegates expressing the will of the people solve the FL/MI crisis?)  


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