Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Obama's problem

Let me preface this by saying that for the past two months (since Wisconsin), I have argued that Obama would win the Democratic nomination. I have no evidence that argues to the contrary. But, I want to poke a few holes in the Obama aura.

First, Obama came out strongly for the pledged delegate count being the "people's will". Besides the fact I don't believe popular will can be found out at the voting booth (thanks William Riker), I certainly don't believe that pledged delegates do this very well. Proportional pledged delegates award large winners bonuses when you start to rack up the score (30+ margins in districts). This is an automatic advantage to Barack Obama. Case and point is South Carolina. Obama beat Clinton by around 30 points. He won 12 more delegates in the state. In Pennsylvania, Clinton beat Obama by around 9.5 points. She won around 12 more delegates in the state. On its face, you might think that this was advantage Clinton. Not so. Clinton actually won by a margin of 50,000+ more votes in PA than Obama did in SC. There are numerous examples of this... To be fair, it happens in reverse as well (Georgia, Obama got screwed because of the lack of delegates assigned to Georgia despite the massive turnout). But that only strengthens the point, even in a primary, pledged delegates aren't a fair assessment of "popular will".

I'm not going to go through the whole caucus problem (there is one and a lot of it is Clinton's fault for not seeing it coming), but only to say that it strengthens the argument against pledged delegates being the "popular will".

The popular will can also be measured through popular vote. The system is not perfect, and I'm not arguing that its any better than pledged delegates. But it does provide an opening of sorts for Clinton.

The lead is at around 600,000 votes. Clinton has gotta knock that down to around 400,000 votes. Here's the reason: her margin in Florida over Obama combined with her margin over Uncommitted in Michigan is around 400,000. Remember these two states voted, but their delegates aren't counted.. and Obama stalled on a revote. The question is where does she get 200,000 votes? To find out if she can get it, I use a popular vote calculator (which is at best a little bit of a guessing game, it actually nailed the vote total difference in PA exactly, but underestimated turnout and overestimated Clinton's percentage of the vote) created by Jay Cost (smart dude coming out of the University of Chicago).
-Here's what I find: I give Clinton victories in Indiana (by 5 points), West Virginia (by 25 points), Kentucky (by 30 points), Puerto Rico (by 25 points). I give Obama victories in North Carolina (9.5), Oregon (10 points), Montana (10 points), South Dakota (10 points). In pretty much every way to count the votes where I include Florida, I find that Clinton is ahead of Obama. When I include Michigan, in every scenario (including figuring out how many Uncommitteds voted for Obama), I find Clinton beating Obama.

Are my projections a little favorable to Clinton? Yes, they are. But they aren't the realm of possibility. And an interesting thing we are seeing is that more voters to the polls might close Clinton's percentage, it actually has no effect on the amount of votes she wins as comparable to him.

This is the opening.

Do superdelegates buy it? I have no clue. I don't know if I even buy it.

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