Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Oregon and Kentucky Delegate Estimates and an Update on the End Game

Another Tuesday brings another pair of primaries. And it appears as though it will also bring another split, with Obama holding a strong lead in the polls out of Oregon while Clinton holds a commanding lead in the polling out of Kentucky. Three pollsters (Survey USA, ARG, and Suffolk) have conducted surveys in both Kentucky and Oregon over the past several days. The figure below plots the margins these polls found for Obama in both states along with the Pollster.com averages (the margin is just the percent for Obama minus the percent for Clinton). (UPDATE: I have now added Poblano's predictions to the figure). ARG has the best case scenario for Clinton--a margin of greater than 35% in Kentucky and only a narrow win for Obama in Oregon. Survey USA predicts a bigger (double-digit) margin for Obama in Oregon, as does the Pollster.com average.

As always, I will use the pollster.com averages to generate predictions for today's primaries. Because of the enormous margin that Clinton has in Kentucky, she is poised to pick up a net gain of more than 19 pledged delegates in that state. Obama will only be able to partially off-set Clinton's Kentucky gains with his win in Oregon, meaning that Clinton should gain about 13 delegates on Obama tonight.

Despite the fact that Clinton will win more delegates on Tuesday night, the 45 delegates that Obama is poised to win should be more than enough to allow him to clinch a majority of elected delegates. According to the Democratic Convention Watch site, Obama currently holds 1,612.5 pledged delegates, just 15 shy of a pledged delegate majority (a benchmark I predicted Obama would reach on this very date back in March).

But what about the magic number of 2,025 total delegates? Well, Obama is not too far from that benchmark either. If you add the 302.5 superdelegates that Democratic Convention Watch tallies for Obama, then he is just 110 delegates short of 2,025. If he captures 45 delegates in tomorrow night's primaries, that will put him within 65 of a majority. However, as the figure below shows, there aren't quite enough pledged delegates left to get him there.

Based on the only poll out of Puerto Rico (showing Clinton with a 50-37% lead), Obama would pick up 23 delegates in that primary on June 1st. I have not seen a poll out of Montana, so let's split those 16 delegates evenly, giving Obama 8. In South Dakota, the only poll I've seen puts Obama up 46-34%, which would give him 9 more delegates for a total of 17 on June 3rd.
If not a single superdelegate endorses Obama between now and June 3rd, he would fall 25 delegates shy of the magic number when all the voting ended. The question remains, can the Obama campaign line up enough superdelegates so that the pledged delegates from the June 3rd primaries are the ones that put him over the top for the nomination? Even though we know who is going to win, it should be interesting to see how it ends.

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