16 February 2008

The Race for Delegates (Feb. 16)

The scoreboard watching is getting a bit more interesting.

After routing Hillary Clinton in the "Potomac Primaries," (hmmm, it feels like a reference to the Battle of Bull Run or Army of Northern Virginia would be appropriate here), Barack Obama opened up a 100-plus delegate lead in the race for pledged delegates:

Contrast that with his lead before the "Potomac Primaries," but after a coast-to-coast romp in Washington State, Nebraska, Louisiana and Maine:

Obama has nearly doubled his lead, from an advantage of 69 delegates, to 134. And his current lead is about five times the edge he had coming out of the Tsunami Tuesday standoff:

One thing the Main Stream Media is finally catching on is that the super delegate count really is somewhat inconsequential at this point. The Clinton campaign, until the rout of the Potomac, had always insisted on including the super delegate count as the overall package -- because Hillary was always in the lead that way. Now Obama is leading, no matter how you count the delegates.

But more important, super delegates are free to change their minds, all the way to the convention floor in Denver in August. Clinton may have built a 70-super-delegate lead, but that is tenuous. In fact, a number of prominent super delegates have openly talked about switching their commitment, and some already jumped ship. For the record, this is what the super delegate count looks like at the moment:

Obama leads in other areas that are more meaningful than the current super delegate counts:

1) States won (including D.C.)

Routs are defined as states won with either 60 percent of the vote, or by at least 20 percentage points (or both). Nailbiters are ones won by 2 percentage points or less. Wins are everything in between.

Obama has won twice as many states as Clinton. And as you can see, most of his wins are routs, six of which came during his current seven-game winning streak. Clinton's two routs are from Oklahoma and Arkansas, where she was the former first lady.

2) Popular Vote

For a party that likes to cry about "the will of the people" ever since losing the 2000 presidential election, this is a big deal. If the Democrats are still sore about Al Gore losing to George W. Bush eight years ago despite winning more popular votes, then they can't in good conscience send up a candidate that lost the popular vote battle during the primaries to the general election, can they?

Obama currently leads by a count of 9,377,155 to 8,670,342. That's a whopping 7.5%, a lead Clinton is unlikely to overcome. Clinton's people would like to include results from the Michigan and Florida primaries, even though the party and all candidates had agreed that the contests would be invalid and Obama's name wasn't even on the Michigan ballot.

But even counting Michigan and Florida, Obama still leads by about 83,000 votes, though that's a margin Clinton might be able to overcome, thus her campaign is hot about getting those contests to count retroactively.

Obama's road to the nomination is open, but it's hardly without obstacles. First, he must deliver two more victories in Wisconsin and Hawaii next Tuesday, contests that Clinton has feigned disinterest but is desperate to pull out an upset. Then, he must minimize his losses in Ohio and Texas on March 4. If he can somehow bag the Lone Star State, then the game might finally be over.

If not, the show must go on. (And so does the math.)

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