Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Delegate Math

A big night for Clinton, pretty much a best case scenario. Obama still has a measurable delegate lead, but in terms of optics, Clinton achieved what she needed to in spades. The whispers to end her campaign, over, Obama's inevitability, mute, what we have is a scenario which won't end anytime soon. There are many Democrats today, asking themselves where to we go from here?

The Obama argument still revolves around the delegate math, and while his lead is hardly impressive percentage wise, nor will it be enough to get the required majority, it is enough for his campaign to crow, enough for Clinton to face a daunting challenge. But hold on, there is a glaring ASTERISK here for Obama, and it speaks to the same "will of the people" argument, used to support his campaign. If Obama were to win, without the imput of voters from two huge states, Florida and Michigan, that detracts from the purity argument. In fact, in a race this close, this contentious, Democrats should be bending over backwards to find a way to include the shunned states, afterall the voters shouldn't be punished because of party rules, devised by non-elected hacks. With Clinton's victories last night, it is hardly surprising to see a new push developing.

Today in Salon:

Should Florida and Michigan vote again?

It will be extremely hard for Clinton to close Obama's lead in pledged delegates, but it will also be hard for Obama to win the number of delegates he needs to decisively win without superdelegates. Lately I find myself wondering: Why aren't more powerful Democrats in both the Obama and Clinton camps lobbying for a revote in Florida and Michigan?...

If the 366 delegates from these two states were somehow again in play, the daunting arithmetic that makes it almost impossible for Clinton to pass Obama in pledged delegates would be far more forgiving.

The Atlantic:
A Revote In Florida and Michigan?

But the idea makes a certain amount of sense.

The thinking, here, is that the ONLY way that Clinton makes up her delegate gap is to get Michigan and Florida's earned delegates to count. The ONLY way they count is to re-run the vote under the umbrella of the DNC's rules.

The chutzpah here is that she already won Florida -- and is challenging Obama, essentially, to a fair fight... daring him... saying, "I can win this fair and square... same with Michigan... let's give the voters in those states a real voice."

Obama's response would no doubt me: "Well, wait a minute. You and I agreed to the rules. And now you want to change them at the last minute?"

He may not have a choice: if Florida and Michigan resubmit delegate plans to the DNC, if the DNC approves the plans, and if the states can find a way to pay for primaries, the contests would be on.

Potential complications: who's paying? A Florida primary would cost $10M (though I'd bet HRC's supporters could raise $10M in a moment's notice to pay for it), and Michigan Dems -- some of them -- might want a primary.

The most likely dates: mid-April or mid-June.

Stay tuned...

There are 747 delegates left, 1113 if you include Florida and Michigan. I expect more people to buy into this idea of a re-vote in the two big states, the idea is hardly inconceivable, not even a stretch with some political will. No matter which candidate American Democrats back, there is a certain intrinsic appeal in ensuring that all 50 states have say, particularly in a race that is so competitive. With all the talk about super-delegates, is it really attractive to have a partial process, essentially decided by the party hack in the DNC. Yes, Michigan and Florida didn't follow the party rules, but beyond that, should that mean the voters are punished?

If all 50 states vote, and nobody has the required delegate count, at the very least, the leader has the moral clarity to declare victory. In a muddled race, disenfranchising certain voters, from two key states, leaves a bad taste, the process clearly flawed. It will be interesting to see how this storyline develops, the Clinton camp obviously on side, but the Obama camp might see the merit too. Last night gave Clinton life, and in the process, expect the Florida/Michigan debate to get much louder.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this! It supports my theory completely.

This is not an "I told you so" statement as much as it is an "I knew it" moment.

Here is what I posted on Scott Ross's blog first thing this morning - prior to seeing anything in print - because it just seemed so obvious to me last night contemplating Hillary's wins. I think her campaign will push for it . . .

"I think if Hillary is smart (and she is) by the end of the week, if not the end of the day, she will be challenging that Michigan and Florida must re-vote. NOT have their delegates counted now, but re-Vote.

She'll challenge Obama to support it. If there is ANY hesitation, she'll go after him for not wanting voters to have their say in choosing the nomination.

That is not a position he would want to be in . . . seen as wanting to "coast" into the nomination from his point of relatively small delegate lead and not enough pledged votes to win outright. She has nothing to lose from it and might very well re-win those states, particularly Florida where Obama is not polling well against McCain (Clinton polls better in the hypotheticals). She might also win Michigan again, though I think that would be closer.

When you look at those populations and delegate counts, it could change the pledged delegate amount enough for Clinton to move ahead as well as give her a final win in another critical swing state.

I really expect we'll see a move like this once they are able to ride the wave of winning these states for a day or two."

NOW, Scott Diatribe posted a compelling article from Time magazine saying the numbers won't work even with Michigan and Florida. But I don't see how that can be when there would be nearly 1100 in play with those included. I think they are extrapolating a bit too far to reach that "conclusion" (a most premature word in this instance).

Steve V said...


It's not like Obama is way ahead, in fact it's almost a draw, by any measure. What if it ends up Obama is ahead by 12 delegates at the end of this process, is that a mandate? The three big states left, if you allow this propositon are Penn, Mich and Florida, representing about half the remaining delegate pool. Is it really inconceivable that she could pickup 50-70 delegates here?

I read a piece on MSNBC, both governors from Flo and Mich are demanding a re-vote, so this idea is gaining tractions, and I expect a formal push from the Clinton campaign.

Steve V said...

One other point, Obama can't reach the magic number either, so the goal for Clinton now, make it so close, as to be inconclusive. What if she goes ahead in the popular vote, but trails in delegates, a circumstance far more likely that the Time article allows for. Factor in Flor and Mich, this scenario is feasible.

As an aside, Michigan wasn't contested, Florida had the demographics, but still, you can't assume Hillary. I don't buy the notion that Obama should fear these states, based on what happened in two NOTHING contests, one's in which he didn't campaign. Both have very strong demographics for him, so hopefully they won't fight it, based on a flawed perception.

Monkey Loves to Fight said...

I think they should call a re-vote in Michigan and Florida since using the current results would be unfair, but so would excluding them.

Oxford County Liberals said...

Clinton did well to stop the losing streak, but let not's get carried away Steve. She will have gained by all estimates after Obamas's expected win in the Texas Democratic caucus a grand total of 10 delegates on Obama - not exactly a "dominant performance"

Add to that everyone expects Obama to wipe that net gain out with wins in Wyoming and Missouri in the next week, and Clinton is still in deep trouble.. last night just put back the day of reckoning somewhat. She by all estimates will have to win 60-65% of the remaining delegates in play even to get close to overtaking him. I sincerely doubt that's going to happen.

Obama's the Democratic Presidential nominee. Book it. Bank it.

Steve V said...


The difference between you and me here, you are a Obama guy, I'm on the fence :)

Who's getting carried away, she shaved off 250000 popular votes last night, and she did win more delegates, she did win 3/4 states, Ohio very convincingly. This isn't over, and the fact no one is telling Clinton to get out proves it in spades. A lot can happen (see the last four days).

I agree, the odds favor Obama, but if she can close the gap, win Pennsylvania, Indiana, West Virginia, throw in Michigan and Florida, the gap will be a few delegates, with Obama well short of what he needs. That scenario means all bets are off, superdelegates will determine the race, and won't be bullied by a clear frontrunner. In fact, what if she is ahead in the popular vote, in the end, which could still happen?

Let's keep an open mind here, that's all I'm doing.

Steve V said...

"She by all estimates will have to win 60-65% of the remaining delegates in play even to get close to overtaking him. I sincerely doubt that's going to happen."

BTW, that is math excluding Florida and Michigan.

Some rough math here.
Let's say she is 100 behind, without those states 767 left, which means she needs 430, he 330. That's your 60% scenario, now throw in another 360 odd from Florida and Michigan, the percentage is less, and much more doable.

KC said...

I agree with the idea of a revote 100% even though I prefer Obama and the revote will probably mean a net gain for Clinton but 50-70 delegates? I kind of find that hard to believe. Clinton kicked butt in Texas and Ohio and her net gain wasn't even close to that amount.

Unfortunately I think this thing is going to come down to what the superdelegates decide.

Steve V said...

Governor's of Florida and Michigan have released a joint statment on their delegates.

Anonymous said...

Hillary did NOT "kick but" in TX. She won 51% of the vote. Not exactly a blowout.

Anonymous said...

Look, she did not have some sort of miraculous victory. She barely beat him in Texas (plus he'll win the Texas caucuses) and she won by 10% in Ohio. Keep in mind that she had a 20% lead in both these states two weeks ago and that these are perfect for her demographically. She will most likely lose in Wyoming on Saturday and Missippi on Tuesday. She only gained 4 delegates yesterday. Obama has won more key states including Missouri, Virginia, and Wisconsin. If there are revotes in Michigan and Florida, Obama might very well win Michigan and he can't do worse than his last result in Florida. Plus, these might be caucuses which plays to Obama's organizational strength.

Oxford County Liberals said...

Hey Steve:

It looks like Obama might end up with MORE delgates from Texas then Hillary thanks to him looking like he's going to win the Texas caucus:

Obama could pick up a net gain of three delegates, after all the dust settles.Here’s how Dem officials say that’s possible:

Clinton won the popular vote, and could pick up as many as four delegates from that. Obama appears to be winning the caucus voting on delegates, and could pick up as many as seven delegates there.

If that holds true, Obama would end up with three more Texas delegates than Clinton.

So much for the Clinton comeback.

Anonymous said...

At the end of this day, the difference in delegates between them will be less than 100.

I know its a random number in a sense, but that is psychologically too close for Obama to want to "bank" the nomination and coast into the convention.

At the end of the road, I do believe Obama will be the nominee. But is is NOT a given today.

I strongly believe any attempt by him to short-circuit the process or call for the curtain when there are more than 1100 pledged delegates left to count (including a re-vote of some form in Florida and Michigan, which Hillary WILL demand) will burn him badly.

If he is smart, he'll get in front of this now and state that a solution for Florida and Michigan must be found. He can even suggest caucuses, since that is his campaign's strong point. If he doesn't and Hillary goes there first, she will come RIGHT AT HIM on it, and he'll have egg on his face for not wanting to let the "voters have their say."

It will make Nafta-gate look like child's play when the populist with ideals appears to be side-stepping democracy.

The stars are aligning in the direction of some type of vote or re-vote for Michigan and Florida, and he'd better be on the right side of the argument.

Anonymous said...

It is bizarre that the Obama camp keeps claiming that she can't over take him in delegates as its mathematically impossible.

Go to CNN's delegate counter and play around. Its possible. With close wins in smaller states and bigger wins in Puerto Rico and Pennsylvania, even if she loses a couple its possible.

When his team does this sort of stuff it just gets weird. Like the 50 superdelegates they were going to announce this week that has turned into 1 superdelegate from Georgia.

Like the more than 50 million raised in Feb??? But no numbers released.

When they play these games, they look well like liers and like they are trying to force her out of a race that is still competative, which just makres more women vote for her.

Lies also don't sound a lot like Hope or Change.

Anyways go to CNN delegate counter game its fun.

Steve V said...


Weren't you the blogger who posted on "why are people so emotionally invested in the American election?" ;)

Joseph has it right, probably the nominee, no where near short circuiting the process, no where near claiming some overwhelming mandate from the people.

I would add, I'll take a primary over a caucus everyday of the week. Some of these caucus states should be ashamed to call them an expression of democracy, pretty much orchestrated theater, controlled by a few party hacks.

Steve V said...

Pretty good read in the NYT.

Everyone was ready to run to Obama, some had even started, what Tuesday did, beyond the math, is allow everyone to step back and wait it out, there is no groundswell now to get behind Obama.

Steve V said...

I would seem others share my opinion of caucuses.