Do the delegate math and the outcome is no longer hazy

It is probably just as well that I did not bet any money on Hillary Clinton being our next president. Last summer I gave her 4 out of 5 odds that she would be our next president. I certainly was not calling the election more than a year in advance but I pointed out that the dynamics were heavily in her favor. More recently around Super Tuesday, I said I still had confidence that she would be the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee. No longer. What happened? Clearly, Barack Obama proved to be a very formidable candidate but overall the primaries and caucuses have been quite close. While neither has enough delegates to claim the nomination yet, CNN calculates that Obama has a lead of 137 delegates. It gives Obama 1,622 delegates (1,413 pledged, 209 superdelegates) to Clinton’s 1,485 (1,242 pledged, 243 superdelegates).

2,024 delegates are needed to win the nomination. John Edwards also has 18 pledged delegates. So 3,125 delegates have been awarded. 692 delegates (566 pledged, 126 superdelegates) have yet to be selected in the remaining primaries and caucuses. By my calculations, this leaves 232 superdelegates uncommitted.

You can see the result of my math below. I used recent polling where available, and split the difference where unknown. Clinton has to rustle up 539 delegates to win the nomination. Obama needs 402. Hillary must win 59% of the remaining delegates and superdelegates to clinch the nomination. How likely is that? It is very unlikely. My estimate is that she will get 479 delegates, or fall 60 delegates short. I might add that I was being optimistic about many of her primary wins. I awarded committed superdelegates in proportion to those currently earned, where she has a 52% to 48% advantage.

State/Terr Delegates

Total (Pledged)

Clinton Obama
% Vote Delegates % Vote Delegates

187 (158)

57 (55)

90 (85)

43 (45)

68 (73)


9 (8)

50 (50)

4 (4)

50 (50)

4 (4)


85 (72)

50 (51)

37 (38)

50 (49)

35 (34)


134 (115)

45 (42)

52 (48)

55 (56)

63 (67)


39 (28)

65 (67)

18 (20)

35 (26)

10 (8)


60 (51)

58 (65)

30 (37)

42 (30)

21 (14)


65 (52)

50 (41)

26 (21)

50 (59)

26 (31)


63 (55)

50 (68)

28 (38)

50 (32)

27 (17)


25 (16)

45 (41)

7 (7)

55 (57)

9 (9)


23 (15)

40 (55)

6 (9)

60 (45)

9 (6)


690 (570)

298 (307)

272 (263)

Uncommitted Superdelegates






Committed + Super








Total Delegates at Convention


It does not take a rocket scientist to say Hillary Clinton faces very long odds at winning the Democratic nomination at this point. I put her odds at 1 in 15. Moreover, I suspect I am being optimistic.

If somehow she does manage to eke out a win, it will be either because Barack Obama’s campaign imploded (which is very unlikely) or because she managed to convince a very large number of superdelegates to vote against the majority of the pledged delegates. The latter outcome, if it happens, would be the worst thing that could happen to the Democratic Party. It would likely tear it asunder. It would also make it very likely that John McCain will be our next president. Republicans praying for a miracle are praying for this one.

I doubt very much that either of these scenarios will happen. Hillary Clinton will not win this nomination but Barack Obama will. Despite Hillary’s claims that she is the more electable candidate, I strongly disagree. Unless the Democratic Party implodes, the dynamics are highly in the Democratic nominee’s favor.

As for Michigan and Florida’s delegates, it is clear that neither state will redo their primaries. In neither primary did candidates compete openly. Therefore, it is likely the DNC will split their delegates 50/50 between Obama and Clinton, effectively giving no candidate an advantage.

It is not clear to me why the media has not picked up on this story. Perhaps if they were to explain it the way I explained it to you, much of their revenue would dry up. Pretending there is suspense in the Democratic nomination when in reality there is little probably feeds their bottom line.

Barring some catastrophe, Barack Obama will be our 44th president.

Update 5/8/08 – For my own amusement I have been keeping track of primary results to see how close my predictions came to the actual result. Thus far Obama has been doing slightly better than I anticipated. Items in parentheses show the actual percentage vote and pledged delegates awarded. The total delegates column shows pledged plus super. I have added the pledged delegates in parentheses. So far it looks like my predictions will be quite close to the actual final results.

One thought on “Do the delegate math and the outcome is no longer hazy

  1. The numbers don’t lie and Hillary Clinton does, hopefully Pennsylvania voters will figure this out and put us out of her misery. I’m so sick of this campaign and I’m really, really sick of Hillary Clinton, and Bill Clinton and Howard Wolfson and DeeDee McClain and Lanny Davis.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.