Saturday, February 16, 2008

Updated Predictions on Unpledged Democratic Superdelegates

Discussion of Democratic superdelegates continues as the Democratic race remains close. While Clinton presently leads Obama among super delegates who have pledged their support, about half of the superdelegates remain uncommitted. So who will these unpledged superdelegates support?

I have now updated the predictions for which candidate unpledged Democratic superdelegates are likely to support. As before, I use information about the superdelegates who have committed to a candidate to generate predictions for 321 unpledged superdelegates. I exclude superdelegates from DC and the territories because we lack complete data from those areas, and from IL, NY, and AR because superdelegates in those states have nearly unanimously cast their support for their native son/daughter. As always, information on the superdelegates is provided by the Democratic Convention Watch site. You can find more about they methodology I use here.

Check out the distribution of predicted support among unpledged superdelegates below. Superdelegates who are between 40% and 60% likely to vote for Clinton/Obama are labeled as "unclear." There are a lot of superdelegates in this range, 144 to be exact. There are 138 unpledged superdelegates who are at least 60% likely to vote for Obama; 51 unpledged superdelegates are at least 60% likely to vote for Clinton.

What these numbers suggest is that Obama may be able to significantly cut into Clinton's superdelegate lead with those superdelegates who have yet to decide. According to the Democratic Convention Watch site, Clinton currently holds a 76 delegate lead among pledged superdelegates. However, these estimates show that more of the unpledged superdelegates are likely to cast their votes for Obama than Clinton.

If these estimates are even remotely accurate (so far, the model has performed reasonably well), then it is unlikely that Clinton would be able to take a net advantage of more than a 100 superdelegates once all is said and done. This means that if Obama is able to build more than a 100 delegate lead among pledged delegates, it is unlikely that Clinton could make up that advantage with superdelegates.

You can see the estimates for each unpledged superdelegate here. As with the last estimates, the most likely supporters for Clinton come from MI, CA, and OH. Obama's most likely supporters come from VT, SD, WY, ME, NH, and MS. As always, these are estimates based on various factors (makeup of the state the superdelegate comes from, gender of the superdelegate, etc) and are useful for understanding tendencies, but less useful for making predictions about particular individuals.

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