For those who consider politics as sport, or live for horserace politics, the 2008 Democratic contest is like a dream come true. Pardon me while I pinch myself purple!
Between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, this is all about delegates now -- pledged delegates, super delegates, stolen delegates, you name it. The more the better. And doesn't matter where you get them. If it takes kissing the ring of snake-oil salesman John Edwards, pucker up.
But the delegates business is a confusing one. Unlike the Republican race, which features a number of winner-take-all contests and more streamlined proportional allocation in others, the Democrats have a system that basically rewards participation. They are afraid to hurt the candidates' feelings -- there's no place like first place, except second place, sometimes third place. For instance, when Clinton finished a distant third in Iowa, she got 15 delegates, exactly one fewer than Obama's 16.
To ease some of the confusion, as a public service, I'm here to provide a scoreboard for the ongoing Democratic contest. This will be updated each time primaries and caucuses are held.
SECTION ONE -- PLEDGED DELEGATE COUNT
RCP 1004 925
CNN 986 924
CBS 999 922
AP 964 905
AVG 988 919
NOTE: It seems like even the news orgaizations cannot agree on the methodology of counting delegates, so we are accepting all their numbers and taking the average. As of now, Obama leads in all four by an average of 69 delegates.
SECTION TWO -- SUPER DELEGATE COUNT
RCP 140 213
CNN 135 224
CBS 140 210
AP 160 242
AVG 144 222
NOTE: Unlike pledged delegates, super delegates are beholden to no one -- and they may change their minds at any given time, all the way to the convention. Clinton has a lead of about 78 on average, but that may shift quickly.
SECTION THREE -- STATES WON
* Also won U.S. Virgin Islands; ** Also won American Samoa
NOTE: "Winning" is defined strictly on more popular votes received, even if the "winning" candidate earned equal or even fewer delegates than the losing candidate, i.e. Clinton is considered to have won Nevada even though Obama took more delegates, 13-12.
SECTION FOUR -- FORECASTING THE REST (19 STATES PLUS D.C. AND PUERTO RICO)
Next primaries/caucuses: Feb. 12 in Maryland, Virginia, District of Columbia
OBAMA ROUTS: MARYLAND, D.C., WYOMING, MISSISSIPPI, OREGON, MONTANA, SOUTH DAKOTA
OBAMA WINS: VIRGINIA, WISCONSIN, HAWAII, VERMONT
TOSSUP: RHODE ISLAND, NORTH CAROLINA
CLINTON ROUTS: PUERTO RICO
CLINTON WINS: TEXAS, OHIO, PENNSYLVANIA, INDIANA, WEST VIRGINIA, KENTUCKY
NOTE: "Rout" is defined as a candidate expected to win by 10 percentage points or more. The forecast owes much of its existence to the invaluable regression analysis done by Poblano of the Daily Kos. The only issue I take with the model is the inclusion of "Southern Baptists" as a variable. I believe this explanation by an Andrew Sullivan reader may be more relevant in locating a more revealing variable in terms of racial politics.