Saturday, February 23, 2008

First March 4th Democratic Delegate Estimates: Clinton 196, Obama 174

We are still over a week away from the March 4th primaries that most agree are crucial to determining whether Clinton will remain in this campaign. It is not entirely clear what the bottom line is for the Clinton campaign. If she wins Ohio but not Texas will she remain in the race? What if she wins both, but only narrowly? What if she loses both but only narrowly? And how important is the delegate count to these considerations?

As I've done since Super Tuesday, I'll be using survey data to estimate how the delegates will be allocated on March 4th. For the most part, these estimates have been fairly accurate (see here and here). For Ohio and Texas, I'm using the average of the recent surveys conducted in each state. In Rhode Island and Vermont, the only recent polling I've found was conducted by American Research Group last week. While American Research Group surveys have often produced odd results (most recently in the days leading up to the Wisconsin primary), it is all we really have in those states right now. The estimates for the March 4th states are presented in the figure below:

These estimates show that Clinton would pick up a net gain of about 20-25 delegates on March 4th. By most counts, Obama presently holds about a 150 delegate lead among pledged delegates, which means he would still hold more than a 100 delegate advantage over Clinton after the March 4th primaries.

However, there are three reasons to be cautious about these estimates. First, we are still over a week away from the primary date, and a lot could change in that span of time. Second, at least in recent primaries, the polling has tended to underestimate Obama's support. This was not only the case in Wisconsin, but also in the Potomac primaries. It is unclear whether that will be the case on March 4th as well.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, the Texas system is quite complicated and it is not easy to estimate how things will turn out there. They use a primary-caucus hybrid, which is explained in their delegate selection plan (summarized on p. 32 of the document). Essentially, 126 of Texas's pledged delegates will be allocated according to the results of the primary. However, on the night of the primary, Texas will also hold precinct caucuses. Those caucuses will eventually determine the division of the remaining 67 pledged delegates. Obama's strength in caucuses is well-known by now...he has been winning caucus events by 2-to-1 margins. If this advantage holds up in Texas, then Obama could come out of the state with a lot more delegates than the polling suggests.

I will update these predictions over the the next week and a half as we get more polling in these states.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, because of Texas these estimates are totally useless. Not just because of the caucus, but because delegates are weighted according to 2004/6 election voter turnout, and districts demographically favorable to Obama have more weighting than those favorable to Clinton. So, this is pretty weak.

Anonymous said...

It is true that the Texas situation vastly complicates any attempt to project the delegate outcome on March 4th but the estimates are not totally useless. They can serve as a baseline best case scenario for Clinton (assuming that the results at the polls on March 4th are similar to the results of the most recent polls).
Bottom line: Clinton will still have a very steep hill to climb after March 4th, and that is her best case scenario.

Anonymous said...

According to RealClearPolitics, Obama has a lead of 159 in pledged delegates with less than 1000 left to go. Clinton would have to win the upcoming delegate battles by 16% -- 17% in order to catch up.

If she doesn't pick up roughly 50 delegates (or more) on March 4th then she will fall even further behind. For example, if she nets 24 delegates on March 4th then the bar rises and she will have to win the remaining delegate battles by 22% in order to catch up.

Anonymous said...

The Clinton/Bush set will steal this nomination for Hillary Just as they stole the last 2 elections for Bush.Why dems can't see that Hillary is just more of the same is beyond me,wake up people!its time for ANYONE not named Clinton or Bush for the love of god and counrty elect someone else