More Superdelegate Math

On March 25, 2008, in General, by Neil Stevens

As the unpledged Party Leader and Elected Official delegates to the Democratic National Convention weigh their solemn duty to decide who will be the 2008 Democratic Presidential nominee, arguably their chief job is to choose the candidate who is best equipped to win. No Democrat who has to run on the ballot (most PLEOs are elected officials) has a need to see another George McGovern.

So following is the kind of math the delegates are most likely looking at as the Democratic nomination process wears on:

Here is a table of the ten closest states in the 2004 Presidential election, their winners in the 2008 Democratic process, and the electoral votes carried by the states.

WisconsinKerry +0.38%Obama +18%10
IowaBush +0.67%Obama +8%7
New MexicoBush +0.79%Clinton +1.14%5
New HampshireKerry +1.37%Clinton +2.64%4
OhioBush +2.11%Clinton +10%20
PennsylvaniaKerry +2.5%(Rasmussen) Clinton +1021
NevadaBush +2.59%Clinton +5%5
MichiganKerry +3.42%Clinton +15%17
MinnesotaKerry +3.48%Obama +25%9
OregonKerry +4.16%7
ColoradoBush +4.67%Obama +24%9

Quite a mixed bag of results. Poor superdelegates. There are more ways to grapple with this list than hands to weigh them in:

  1. Obama has taken four to Clinton’s four to five (depending on how you count Michigan), with Pennsylvania likely her way, too. Point for Clinton.
  2. Obama has taken the two closest states, and has won states with the largest margins. Points for Obama.
  3. The close states won or will be won by Clinton add up to 72 (or 55, depending on Michigan) EVs to 35 for Obama. 20 EVs are quite a lot when your party starts behind. Point for Clinton.

I believe any smart superdelegate has to ignore the emotional appeals of the supporters of each candidate. The Democratic Party, for better or for worse, has chosen to use a nomination process less responsive to the popular will than even the US does in the general election, between the randomness of the ‘proportional’ district results in which winning some districts by a point wins you more delegates and winning others by a point will not, and the large number of superdelegates themselves who are guaranteed to have the power to choose the winner in any close race such as this one, due to the mathematics of requiring a majority on the floor.

The system is what it is, and if one believes the party is the only hope for America, the party has to win. Do delegates or popular votes in the primaries matter, or do electoral votes for November matter? I think the answer is clear, and that is why the superdelegates yet refuse to swing the election for Barack Obama. They want Clinton, and no amount of netroot whining will change that.


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