Sunday, February 3, 2008

Democratic Super Tuesday Delegate Count Estimate

Ok, so this is really a fool's errand. First, we don't have any polls for a handful of states. Second, in the states where we do have polls, they are often relatively inconsistent. For example, of a handful of polls taken in NJ over the past few days, pollsters are reporting anything from a 43-42 (Zogby) Clinton lead to a 51-39 Clinton advantage (Survey USA). Third, and perhaps most importantly, my methodology really over-simplifies how delegates are allocated in each state. Nevertheless, I took some time during the slow first half of the Super Bowl (but, wow, what an ending!) to come up with a rough calculation of how Clinton and Obama would divide the delegates if the polling is correct.

I began with Rasmussen polls, mostly because they covered the most states (11). Then I tried to fill in other other polls where they were available and had been conducted within the last week. (The only exception is Colorado, where I used a poll taken 1/20-1/21). There were six states (and Democrats Abroad) where I could not locate any 2008 polling.

I used the percentage each candidate received in each state's poll to then allocate that state's delegates. I did this by calculating each candidate's share of the two-candidate vote. So, in the latest Alabama survey, 46% supported Clinton, 41% supported Obama, and 13% went to undecided or other candidates. However, that 13% will likely end up with Clinton and Obama on election day, so my transformation gives Clinton 53% of the two-candidate vote and Obama receives 47%. Based on these percentages, I simply allocate each state's delegates proportionally. Once again, this is not exactly how it is done in most states, but this is just one of many sources of error with my estimate and all the more reason to not take this estimate all that seriously. That said, my calculations produce the following estimate:

Based on these calculations, Clinton would win 784 delegates on Super Tuesday, Obama would win 757, and there are 148 delegates in states where we have no polling whatsoever. If you allocate the 148 evenly between the candidates, it would mean that Clinton would come out of Super Tuesday with a very small delegate lead.

NOTE: I will update these estimates with the most recent polling on Monday night.

NOTE 2: The estimates are a bit more difficult to create for Republicans since the rules differ so much from state to state. However, if I can, I'll try to produce a Republican estimate as well this evening.

NOTE 3: In the original post, I mistakenly transposed Clinton and Obama's numbers in Illinois, but have fixed it here and in the updated post here.

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