Saturday, May 31, 2008

Democratic Delegate Projections Under Post-RBC Meeting Numbers and Other Thoughts

(Note: I updated the delegate totals in this post to reflect MSNBC's count).

Well, with the conclusion of the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting, the delegate numbers have just changed. It is unclear whether the Clinton campaign will seek to appeal these decisions at the convention, but until then, these new rules stand.

According to MSNBC, the magic number for winning a majority of the total delegates to the convention is now 2,118. Obama picked up 68.5 delegates (actually, delegate votes) today, 63 pledged and 5.5 superdelegate votes (from 10 supers who have endorsed him) from MI and FL. The figure below shows how Obama's delegate allocation changed as a result of today's meeting. It also uses our projections to determine how close Obama will come to the new majority number of 2,118.


According to MSNBC, Obama now has 2055.5 delegates (pledged and superdelegates combined). That puts him 62.5 short of clinching the majority. Based on our projections, Obama will pick up 23 delegates from Puerto Rico, 10 from Montana, and 9 from South Dakota. This would leave him just 21.5 delegates shy of a majority. You can bet that the Obama campaign is going to be working as hard as possible to roll out 20-25 superdelegate endorsements by Tuesday evening so that the voters in Montana and South Dakota will put his campaign over the top.

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Though some of the numbers are a bit dated, this post is worth re-visiting in the wake of today's decision. It is an analysis of what the popular vote in Michigan would have been if Obama and Edwards' names had been on the ballot.

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One other thing to note about the decision on Michigan. The 69-59 division of delegates means that Clinton received 54% of the delegates while Obama received 46%. However, if you take just those who said, in the exit poll, that they had wanted to vote for either Obama or Clinton (in other words, you exclude those who wanted to vote for Edwards or other candidates), Clinton carried 56% of that vote to Obama's 44%. Thus, the 69-59 split was more than just a tabulation based on exit polls. If you split the delegates 56%-44%, that would come out 72-56. It appears that the Michigan Democrats were making allowances for the fact that Obama's name not being on the ballot meant a lot of his supporters stayed home.

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Finally, it seems to me that the Obama campaign totally mismanaged this entire episode. My guess is that two or three months ago, the Clinton campaign would have agreed to today's outcome. Obama could have gotten out in front of this issue back then and said he thought half of Florida should be seated and that something like a 69-59 compromise on Michigan would work for him. Even then, he had the delegates to spare to offer such a compromise and that move would have likely killed the whole story, rather than allowing it to build up over the last few months and come to a head like it did today. Of course, campaigns tend to be very risk averse and I'm sure the Obama campaign didn't want to risk any delegates at the time. But I'd bet they wished they had after seeing how that meeting ended today.

2 comments:

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Anonymous said...

I agree Obama could have handled the MI and FL situation better in the media. But, I highly doubt Hillary would have agreed to any proposal. She would have done what she's been doing as soon as she realized she would need the invalid results to catch up, spinning Obama and the media as the bad guys. The states were penalized, the candidates agreed not to participate, and many people didn't vote that would have. I fault the Democratic leaders for not squashing Hillary's pathetic argument more than I do any risk aversion from Obama.