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Monday, January 07, 2008

It's the delegates, stupid...
While the mainstream media waves their arms over the horserace and "momentum" angle of the march to the nomination, I want to talk about what really matters - the delate count. As you can see in the right sidebar there is a new addition courtesy of Jerome Armstrong of MyDD. These two delegate calculators tell us who the delagate leaders are and who is moving toward the goal needed to wrap up the nomination. When I first saw this my jaw dropped at the absolute coolness of his little tracking too. [sigh] (I am just one sick nerdy political junkie). He has graciously made it available to any blogger that would like to add it to their site. The calculators only count the state delegate count and not the 'Superdelagates' as they are non-elected and there is a slight possibility they could shift their pledge to a different candidate depending on what scenario turns up. This election cycle looks to be a bit more combative on the delegate front than 2004 where John Kerry pretty much had it locked up after the Dean campaign imploded in the post Iowa caucus debacle.

To make the point more emphatic about just how combative this nomination fight is likely to be, Chris Bowers over at Open Left has a great post breaking down the realities of the delagate count and who has the advantage and is at a disadvantage. It's a sobering account of what faces Obama, Clinton and Edwards as far as delegate counts go and what lies head for each of them. He shows how foolish it is to count Hillary out, though she is bleeding, as the primaries move toward closed contests, where independents are not allowed to vote, and only Democrats and Republicans are able to cast ballots in their respective primaries. Chris’ assessment helps keep activists and junkies, like myself, focused on where the meat of the race is and what the candidates need to do as they plan their strategy. He then goes on to show us how Hillary is still in the driver’s seat no matter what happens after New Hampshire:
“For a long time, I have argued that Obama is poised to sweep to the nomination in the event that he sweeps Iowa and New Hampshire. However, now I am not so sure. In a development that has flown under the radar, it now seems to me that, as long as Clinton wins Florida and California, she will be ahead in delegates after February 5th no matter what happens in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.”
Advantage, Hillary. Then there are those “superdelegates,” of which there are 797, and are DNC delegates not elected in primaries or caucuses. They are composed mostly of elected Democratic officials in Congress such as members of the House of Representatives or Senators and officials of the DNC (such as chairperson Howard Dean). Looks like Hillary has a sizeable lead there as well:
“Most were undecided before the Iowa caucuses, but among those who have endorsed a candidate, 160 picked Clinton. Barack Obama has the support of 59 while 32 support John Edwards.”
Then he drives home the uphill battle facing Obama where the bottom line is the delegate count, not momentum:
“Collectively, Clinton's advantage in Super Delegates, Michigan, and February 5th home states provides her with roughly a 500 delegate advantage on Obama. If she were to also win Florida and California, which combine for 555 pledged delegates, it would be impossible for Obama to be ahead on delegates after February 5th. He could win every other state between now and February 6th, and never make up that sort of delegate deficit.”
This race is far from over and the bumps in the road for each of these candidates all center around stamina, organization and perseverance. Read the whole post, it will be worth you time if you are as much a helpless junkie as I am.


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