Thursday, March 6, 2008

Dept. of Fuzzy Math

The Obama campaign has been helpfully doing the math for anyone who will listen, showing that Hillary Clinton cannot win enough delegates to secure the Democratic nomination. What they're not saying, though, is that neither can he. According to CNN, the current delegate tally stands at:

Obama: 1,520
Clinton: 1,424

Remember, it takes 2,025 delegates to win the Democratic nomination. Basically, at this point neither one can win the nomination without the super delegates. The role of the super delegates is to use their own best judgment to vote for a nominee. That is what makes the m different from the pledged delegates. I understand the emotion behind those who would argue that super delegates should follow "the will of the people," but that's not their mandate. That's the role of the pledged delegates. Maybe we should get rid of the super delegates in the future, but I don't think we should force them to change the basis of their vote in this election, not at this point.

And next up, folks, is the Electoral College! That's right. There's some mighty fuzzy math coming out of the Obama camp concerning this issue, as well. From RealClearPolitics:

Add up all the states he has won in his historic drive to become the nominee, including all of those small and deeply "red" Republican states where the Obama supporters boast of their candidate's transcendental appeal, and so far Obama has won in places representing 193 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency. Add up Clinton's victories thus far and she has triumphed in states representing 263 electoral votes.

Of course, some states in Clinton's column -- Texas comes most readily to mind -- that have a large trove of Electoral College votes are highly unlikely to wind up Democratic in the fall. But the same holds true for Obama, whose strength in southern Democratic primaries has rested on the huge margins he has run up among African-American voters. African-Americans are a crucial constituency for Democrats, but their votes in recent contests haven't been enough to win such states as Alabama, South Carolina or Georgia.

So how has Obama fared in those states that are the crucial building blocks of a Democratic general election strategy? He's won his home state of Illinois, plus Wisconsin, Washington and Minnesota. Together, these states account for 51 electoral votes. Clinton has won her home state of New York, as well as California, New Jersey and Michigan, representing a total of 118 electoral votes. This sum deliberately leaves out Ohio and Florida, which will be hotly contested in the fall.

There is no papering over the depth of the problem Obama faced there. He won only five of the state's 88 counties, an inauspicious foundation for a general election campaign. Clinton trounced him among Catholic voters, 63 percent-36 percent, according to exit polls. She beat him among voters in every income category and bested him by 14 points among those making less than $50,000 annually.

This is why Pennsylvania, which is demographically similar to Ohio -- and a must-win state for Democrats in November -- is considered such fertile ground for Clinton on April 22.

The Democratic Party is indeed developing a general election problem, and it's only partly because Obama and Clinton will be sniping at one another for the next seven weeks. Obama, the leading candidate, still hasn't shown he has appeal in a large battleground state that will be pivotal in the fall. In this sense, Pennsylvania is where Obama's back, and not Clinton's, is up against the wall.


Artois said...

This is a great way to succinctly state the "big picture". I had almost forgotten about the electoral college due to the incessant talk of delegate numbers. I wish the mainstream news would slightly mention these things to us. Thanks.

Sue J said...


So glad to hear from you! The MSM will mention it once they are done covering the issue of the day to death: delegates.

Cootamundra W said...

This is a very good post.
You do a very good job.
I am going to point a number to this post...
Thank you.

KELSO'S NUTS said...

Sue J:

I had to come over her for a chill-out moment because the Obama folk over at BAC's site were driving me around the bend.

Tell me that I'm not crazy. Do they not realize how -- yes -- BOURGEOIS they sound? And I write this as a wealthy man.

I really want these folks including John King and Wolf Blitzer to explain to be what is so silly about an unemployed worker? What is so silly about collective bargaining? What is so silly about elderly people without food or health care?

Sorry, I came to chill-out. But just tell me that I'm paranoid or something and that Obama's great for working people.

1/1mm get as lucky as I got in life, but how does someone FORGET what they saw as a child? Where's the respect?

A little secret by the way: I know a lot of men who are just like me. Didn't grow up with much, had family in the unions, got there in life yet are class-conscious Democrats and aren't buying what Obama's selling.

Mauigirl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mauigirl said...

Sue J, very good post and analysis of the situation. You bring up a lot of good points. That's why I always like coming here to get your perspective on things.

I am unsure whether we can translate the wins in primaries to being able to win a state in November, or not. If a state goes for Clinton over Obama, it doesn't prove that that same state would not go for Obama in November if the choice were Obama vs. McCain. But I admit it is a concern.

I agree it all hinges on the superdelegates. Neither can win on voted delegates alone.

Kelso, I agree these are two very different candidates and each appeals to their own constituencies. And you are right, there are a lot of folks who are not on board the Obama train. My mom, for one!

Sara said...

hmmmmm.... and lets add those beauty contests in, too... MI and FL

Sue J said...

Cootamundra W., thank you for your kind words!

Kelso, you're not crazy. I think supporters on both sides are saying stupid things. I've been very happy that everyone who comes here seems to want to have a reasonably intelligent conversation, whether they support Clinton or Obama. I had to stop reading Americablog because it's become a Hillary Hatefest over there.

Maiugirl, you're my case in point. I know you support Obama, but I always find your argument for him well articulated and well thought out. Thanks for giving me your perspective as well.

Sara, how many delegates are involved in the "beauty contests" that Clinton won? The math may get even fuzzier, eh?

BAC said...

This is excellent, and supports what I've thought about this contest -- that Clinton is the stronger general election candidate.


Sue J said...

BAC -- thanks for the link!