April 16th, 2008


Obama has already beaten Clinton, so why isn't it over?

Returns are coming in on election night; the race has been close and polls show either candidate could win. Now, with 83% of precincts reporting, candidate A is leading 53% to 47% over B. It's an insurmountable lead, and the race is called for candidate A.

That's where the Democratic primaries are: Of the 3253 pledged delegates available, about 83% have already been voted on, and Obama is leading Clinton by about 53% to 47%. We can call the race now.

Or, look at it another way: There are 566 pledged delegates left from states that haven't voted yet. To catch up with Obama, Clinton needs to win about 65% of those, which means she needs to average about 65% of the vote in the remaining states. She doesn't win by that margin pretty much anywhere. So far, Clinton has received more than 60% of the vote in exactly one state: Arkansas. Her second-best result was 58% in Rhode Island. Her other home state, New York, gave her 57%.

If every state from now on goes as well for Clinton as her home state of New York did, then she will get about 322 of the remaining pledged delegates, and Obama will get about 244, for a net gain of about 78... leaving Obama still ahead by about 80-90 pledged delegates! Remember, that's what will happen if Clinton gets a New York level win in every state. Not gonna happen. She might do that well in Pennsylvania, but the next-biggest state to come is North Carolina. We also have states like Oregon and Indiana coming.

One way to look at it is this: For every state where Clinton gets less than 65% of the vote from now on, she's losing ground! Imagine you're a runner 100 feet from the finish line, and there's someone ahead of you who's only 50 feet from the line. If, in the next second, you run 30 feet while the leader only runs 25, now you're 70 feet from the finish and the leader is 25 feet from it. Sure, you just ran a little faster, but your chances of overtaking the leader before the finish have gotten even smaller.

In other words, even if Clinton wins Pennsylvania 57-43, that actually puts her further away from catching up to Obama, not closer. She'll do considerably worse than that in most remaining states.

It's over: Obama will go to the convention with more pledged delegates, and will be the Democratic nominee for President.

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In other words, if you want a Democratic president, you should vote for Obama, regardless of which candidate you prefer.

States that still have primaries coming up:
April 22: Pennsylvania - 158 delegates
May 3: Guam - 4 delegates
May 6: Indiana - 72 delegates
May 6: North Carolina - 115 delegates
May 13: West Virginia - 28 delegates
May 20: Kentucky - 51 delegates
May 20: Oregon - 52 delegates
June 1: Puerto Rico - 55 delegates
June 3: Montana - 16 delegates
June 3: South Dakota - 15 delegates

[ table of delegate counts by state ]

Update: I also posted this on Daily Kos and on MyDD. If you have accounts in either place, please recommend?