Monday, January 7, 2008

Don't write her off just yet: Clinton ahead in delegate count

One positive effect of this election year is that more Americans seem to be learning about how our electoral system works than in any previous campaign. For a variety of reasons, more people are engaged in the process, and that's got to be good.

So you probably learned a lot about how the Iowa caucuses work, (and the fact that the Republican and Democratic ones run differently). Now we gear up for the New Hampshire primary tomorrow, January 8. It's hard to avoid hearing the latest polls, but in case you didn't know, most of the current polls show Barack Obama with a double-digit lead ahead of Hillary Clinton. But don't write off Clinton just yet. She already has more than twice the number of delegates as Obama:

Number of Delegates as of January 3:
Clinton: 169
Obama: 66
Edwards: 47

If you're making that Scooby Doo sound now (huuunhh?), you've forgotten this is just the nomination process. CNN has a nice summary of how it works:
• There are currently 4,049 total delegates to the Democratic National Convention, including 3,253 pledged delegates and 796 superdelegates. The total number of delegate votes needed to win the nomination is 2,025.
• Superdelegates in the Democratic Party are typically members of the Democratic National Committee, elected officials like senators or governors, or party leaders. They do not have to indicate a candidate preference and do not have to compete for their position. If a superdelegate dies or is unable to participate at the convention, alternates do not replace that delegate, which would reduce the total delegates number and the "magic number" needed to clinch the nomination.
The delegate count for the Republicans is much closer:
Romney: 26
Huckabee: 20
Thompson: 6
• There are currently 2,380 total delegates to the Republican National Convention, including 1,917 pledged delegates and 463 unpledged delegates. The total number of delegate votes needed to win the nomination is 1,191.
• Unpledged delegates in the Republican Party do not have to indicate a candidate preference, but a majority are elected just like pledged delegates. Of the 463 unpledged delegates, 123 are RNC members who become delegates automatically.
And that's today's fix for all you political junkies out there. Perhaps another day we'll take on the Electoral College ....


scepter66 said...

Thanks for the great info. I've never been sure as to how it works, but you have helped me immensely. at least i feel motivated to look it up some more. great CNN link

Sue J said...

I was really surprised last night when I was watching the results coming on C-SPAN. A caller asked this very question about where all Clinton's delegates had come from, and the host couldn't answer! It was clear she had no idea how the "super delegates" worked!

It's a detail that many average folks like us don't know about, but I would have thought someone who is supposed to be a "political reporter" would be able to answer a question about how the delegate count works!

Mauigirl said...

Sue, thanks for posting this! I had no idea how it worked.

But how come anyone gets delegates before the primaries? I find this very confusing. Do candidates just twist their arms and get their pledge? Doesn't it have anything to do with the voting in primaries?

I also looked at the CNN site and it seemed as if Obama and Clinton had similar #'s of "super delegates." I find this whole process mystifying.

And how was it that in the past you could have a convention and not even know who was going to win at that point?