Tag Archive for 'Super-delegates'

An update of my Obama numbers

Taking the data from Real Clear Politics today (14 March), here is an update of how Obama and Clinton have been going in running totals of pledged delegates:


As always, when calculating the percentages in the centre column, I’m ignoring pledged delegates that are too close to call and those with John Edwards.

Date Barack Obama: running total Barack Obama: share of pledged delegates Hillary Clinton: running total
3 Jan (IA) 16 51.6% 15
8 Jan (NH) 25 51.0% 24
19 Jan (NV) 38 51.4% 36
26 Jan (SC) 63 56.8% 48
5 Feb (Super Tuesday) 913 50.9% 879
9 Feb (LA, NE, WA, Virgin Is.) 1019 52.2% 934
10 Feb (ME) 1034 52.3% 943
12 Feb (DC, MD, VA, Dem.s Abroad) 1144 53.3% 1004
19 Feb (HI, WI) 1200 53.5% 1041
04 Mar (OH, RI, TX, VT) 1380 52.9% 1227
08 Mar (WY) 1387 53.0% 1232
11 Mar (MS) 1406 53.0% 1246

There are now 566 pledged delegates to fight for (assuming that Florida and Michigan don’t get redone), 26 with John Edwards and 9 that have been voted on but are still too close to call.

The gap in pledged delegates between the candidates is now 160.

I assume that the 35 delegates that are with Edwards or too close to call will be split 50-50 between Obama and Clinton. I actually believe that Obama will get more than half of them (22 of Edwards’ delegates came from states where Obama won) but let’s be generous and say that 18 go to Clinton and 17 to Obama.

That means that Clinton needs to close a gap of 159 with only 566 pledged delegates to come. She needs to win 363 or 64%. To stay in front, Obama only needs to win 204 or 36%.

If Florida and Michigan are redone, then we have 879 delegates to come, from which Clinton would need to win 519 or 59%. To stay in front, Obama would only need to win 361 or 41%. Given its large population of Hispanics, it seems clear that Clinton would do well in Florida, so it’s pretty obvious why she wants these two states back in play.

But is it plausible to think that she can win among pledged delegates? No, not really; not even if Florida and Michigan do get redone.

On the basis of pledged delegates, Clinton has only won 13 out of 46 contests so far. On the basis of popular vote, she has won 14 out of 40; 16 if you include Florida and Michigan (Iowa, Maine, Nevada and Washington haven’t released their popular vote counts).

In those states she won in pledged delegates, Clinton has averaged 57% of the delegates on offer: she got 688 to Obama’s 517.

So in order to win overall among pledged delegates, Clinton needs to win all 12 (if FL and MI are included) remaining contests and do better in every one of them than she has previously in her winning states. If she loses any of them, then she’ll need to absolutely blow Obama out of the water in the rest. I just can’t see this happening.

My past ramblings on this topic: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5]

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.

I was right, pretty-much-right and wrong all at once!

The girl’s got spunk. Back on the 20th of Feb, I predicted that while Hillary Clinton would win the popular vote in Ohio and Texas, she would barely win in the pledged delegates from those states. On that basis, I further predicted that Clinton would be written off by the 10th of March, even if she hadn’t conceded yet.

As evidence that you should always quit while you’re ahead, I was right on the first prediction, pretty-much-right on the second and, it would seem, not even close to being right on the third. Clinton won the popular vote in both states (1.46 million vs. 1.36 in Texas, 1.21 vs. 0.98 in Ohio). In the pledged-delegate counts, Clinton currently leads 92-91 in Texas (10 still too close to call) and 74-65 in Ohio (2 still too close to call). My prediction was bang on the money in Texas, but arguably a bit wide of the mark in Ohio. But when it comes to considering the on-going Clinton campaign, nobody is talking about Howard Dean tapping Clinton on the shoulder for a quiet chat now; all talk is about Pennsylvania in six weeks’ time.

That is a remarkable story and not because of the 3am telephone call or Obama’s views on NAFTA (although those certainly helped Clinton), but because of the successful lowering of expectations that the Clinton campaign managed to bring about. Immediately after Wisconsin and Hawaii, all talk was that Clinton needed to win, and win big, in both Texas and Ohio in order to go on. A week ago the talk was that she could justify going on if she won with a wide margin in at least one of them. In the day or two before, the word was that she would push on if she at least one the popular vote in one of the two. That lowering of expectations meant that when she won both popular votes by a solid margin and both delegate counts (albeit by small margins), it looks like a blow-out for her and gives the impression of renewed momentum.

My original observation, that Barack Obama has been in front since day one, still holds true. Using the data at Real Clear Politics, the running totals for pledged delegates have been:

Date Barack Obama: running total Barack Obama: share of pledged delegates Hillary Clinton: running total
3 Jan (IA) 16 51.6% 15
8 Jan (NH) 25 51.0% 24
19 Jan (NV) 38 51.4% 36
26 Jan (SC) 63 56.8% 48
5 Feb (Super Tuesday) 906 50.8% 876
9 Feb (LA, NE, WA, Virgin Is.) 1012 52.1% 931
10 Feb (ME) 1027 52.2% 940
12 Feb (DC, MD, VA, Dem.s Abroad) 1137 53.2% 1001
19 Feb (HI, WI) 1193 53.5% 1038
04 Mar (OH, RI, TX, VT) 1366 52.8% 1222


Two weeks to go

Continuing on my theme of predicting that the winner among the pledged delegates will win the Democratic Party’s nomination because the super delegates will (probably) flock to the leader among pledged delegates in order to build the appearance of unanimity and avoid a floor fight at the convention (see here and here), I’ve updated my table. I’m now using the data from Real Clear Politics for no particular reason beyond ease of extraction.

Date Barack Obama: running total Barack Obama: share of pledged delegates Hillary Clinton: running total
3 Jan (IA) 16 51.6% 15
8 Jan (NH) 25 51.0% 24
19 Jan (NV) 38 51.4% 36
26 Jan (SC) 63 56.8% 48
5 Feb (Super Tuesday) 906 50.8% 876
9 Feb (LA, NE, WA, Virgin Is.) 1012 52.1% 931
10 Feb (ME) 1027 52.2% 940
12 Feb (DC, MD, VA) 1134 53.2% 996
19 Feb (HI, WI) 1185 53.6% 1024


The RCP data still include estimates and don’t include 56 delegates that have nominally already been allocated (26 are with Edwards, 30 RCP aren’t willing to estimate one way or the other, but since 10 of those 30 are in Hawaii, it seems safe to say that they’ll break for Obama overall). For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume that the 56 break down as 30 to Obama and 26 to Clinton (that’s 53.5% of them to Obama). That gives us 1215 for Obama and 1050 to Clinton to-date.

There are 988 pledged delegates to go (giving 3253 in total). To win the pledged delegates race, a candidate needs 1627. That means that Obama only needs 412, or 41.7%, of the remaining 988 to-be-pledged delegates. Clinton needs 577, or 58.4%, of the remainder.

As an indication of how tough that will be, Clinton’s best vote performance so far was 57% in New York. She has only managed to break 55% of delegates pledged in 9 out of 37 primaries/caucuses so far and that’s including American Samoa that only had three delegates to give. If she is going to do it, her wins in Texas (193 to-be-pledged delegates) and Ohio (141) will need to be huge. I just can’t see it happening.

The polls do have Clinton up with 50.2% vs. 42.6% in Texas and 52.7% vs. 38.0% in Ohio on average. That’s a pretty big undecided gap, but I can’t see it all breaking for Clinton given the apparent movement towards Obama in the more recent polls. By comparison, the betting markets at InTrade put Obama at a 68% chance of winning in Texas and a 49% chance of winning in Ohio. I suspect that the betting market is a little overly pro-Obama, just as it was in the lead-up to New Hampshire, but just like in New Hampshire, I think that although Hillary Clinton will win the headline vote, she’ll barely win in the delegates pledged.

So, my prediction: Come the 5th of March, Obama will still be ahead in pledged delegates and will probably still be ahead after adding in the ridiculously apportioned super-delegates by the Main Stream Media estimates. Look for it to be all over bar the shouting in two weeks.

Are we at the tipping point?

Just after the Maine primary, I wondered whether Obama may have been in front all along on the basis that he has been ahead all the way in pledged delegates and the super delegates will probably flock to the leader among pledged delegates in order to build the appearance of unanimity and avoid a floor fight at the convention.

We’ve just had the primaries in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia and as expected, Barack Obama appears to have won all three by strong margins. Here are the updated table and graph, although the data for the 12th of February are still very much estimates:

Date Barack Obama: running total Barack Obama: share of pledged delegates Hillary Clinton: running total Hillary Clinton: share of pledged delegates
3 Jan (IA) 16 51.6% 15 48.4%
8 Jan (NH) 25 51.0% 24 49.0%
19 Jan (NV) 38 51.4% 36 48.6%
26 Jan (SC) 63 56.8% 48 43.2%
5 Feb (Super Tuesday) 903 50.1% 898 49.9%
9 Feb (LA, NE, WA, Virgin Is.) 998 51.4% 944 48.6%
10 Feb (ME) 1013 51.5% 953 48.5%
12 Feb (DC, MD, VA) 1111 52.5% 1006 47.5%


And just as I predicted (well, Chris Bowers predicted and I agreed), we are starting to see twitchy movement in the super delegates. On the one hand, we have people calling for them to vote according to the will of their constituents. Ryan Avent is typical:

[I]t seems that Obama has an excellent chance at winning the District primary tomorrow. Should that be the case, it would be incredibly unfortunate if the District’s superdelegates essentially undid the wishes of the voting public … It is especially galling that D.C. Councilmembers, so familiar with the frustration of disenfranchisement, would contribute to the further erosion of the District’s electoral clout.

… and the super delegates are listening. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives and one of the most influential of currently-neutral super delegates, is “leaning” towards Obama:

A senior adviser to Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, has suggested that she – along with other “party elders” – will step into the ring to end this extraordinary contest if it threatens Democratic hopes of winning back the White House or maintaining control over Congress. Ms Pelosi says that she is “torn” and that “the people will speak – that’s the beauty of a democracy,” before adding: “My focus is on re-electing a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives.”

Her voice would carry great authority among uncommitted super-delegates on Capitol Hill – and she is said to be “leaning” towards Mr Obama. “The party Establishment is not going to turn its back on a candidate who is generating this tremendous excitement and bringing all these new voters into the political process,” said a source close to her. Mr Obama’s team are pressing the same message, especially to members of Congress in districts where he has already won and who may not wish to alienate their core vote in an election year.