Barack Obama will still win the Democratic nomination

There’s my prediction. The idea that Democratic Party super-delegates will side with the winner among pledged delegates has gone mainstream, with Jonathan Altar writing yesterday in Newsweek: “Hillary’s New Math Problem“.

Superdelegates won’t help Clinton if she cannot erase Obama’s lead among pledged delegates, which now stands at roughly 134. Caucus results from Texas aren’t complete, but Clinton will probably net about 10 delegates out of March 4. That’s 10 down, 134 to go. Good luck.

I’ve asked several prominent uncommitted superdelegates if there’s any chance they would reverse the will of Democratic voters. They all say no. It would shatter young people and destroy the party.

I’ve been saying this for a while (here, here, here and here). Altar suggests that if Clinton can at least win the overall popular vote, she might have an argument, but even that’s going to be hard, to say the least. Obama will certainly win a majority of states (he already has), will almost certainly win a majority of pledged delegates and will probably win a majority of the popular vote. There is no way that the super-delegates won’t come down on his side.

As it stands, using the Real Clear Politics figures, 2642 out of 3253 pledged delegates have been decided: there are 611 left to play for, 28 unallocated yet because they’re still too close to call and 26 are with John Edwards. Assuming that the unallocated and Edwards delegates split 50-50, Obama currently has a pledged-delegate lead of 144. To catch up, Clinton needs to win 378 of the remaining 611, or 61.8%. To stay ahead, Obama only needs to win 234 of the 611, or 38.3%. It would take a minor miracle for Obama to lose the pledged-delegate race.

On the popular vote side, it’s a little hard to make a fair comparison. Several states have not released the number of voters, while Michigan and Florida make things complicated. With all of those states ignored, Obama still has a serious, albeit smaller, lead (N.B: popular-vote figures prior to 26 Jan should be taken with a very large grain of salt):


People looking to a Clinton win in the popular vote are eyeing off her performance in Michigan and Florida, but Obama did no campaigning in these states (he wasn’t even on the ballot in Michigan) and for these states to be counted, they will need to be rerun. Florida does have a large Hispanic population, but even if Clinton expands her winning margin there, it probably won’t make up for her losses in Michigan.

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