Yesterday, as I was reading the latest headlines for political news in the U.S., I came across another article that had the name ‘Nancy Pelosi’ in the headline. I’ll admit that whenever I see hat name, it’s a bittersweet moment. Because she is a party ‘elder’, a powerful Democrat, and a pretty apt politician, I’m always eager to read what she has said. But it’s a bitter task, because I know that one word out of her mouth, and Barack Obama’s chances in the primaries could be through.
This time, however, the title of the article said:
I broke into a sweat immediately. Could it mean she was letting them go their own ways, and allowing Clinton to get the nomination? Could the superdelegates, in that process, tear the Democratic party apart? How much damage could they possibly do?
I read the article carefully and attentively. Then I read it again so that I knew that I hadn’t made a mistake. I digested it, thought for a minute, and then I knew.
I knew that Barack Obama would be the Democratic candidate.
Why? You just need to read what Pelosi has to say:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says it would be damaging to the Democratic party for its leaders to buck the will of national convention delegates picked in primaries and caucuses
The ‘will’, thus far, of the pledged delegates is for Barack Obama to be the nominee. He leads the race on pledged delegates. From anywhere between 110 to 150+, he leads. Pennsylvania is coming up, but as I’ve written about a few times already, North Carolina will counter that. There are a string of states that Obama is primed to win afterwards, which means Clinton can’t make any grounds what-so-ever on him.
But that’s been known for some time. Since March 4, that’s what’s been said. What makes Pelosi’s words important and absolute?
If the votes of the superdelegates overturn what’s happened in the elections, it would be harmful to the Democratic party
The person saying this is a superdelegate. The person saying this is one of those delegates who will decide this race. More than that, she is one of the 3 most powerful superdelegates that are out there! And she is saying that the person who goes to the Democratic National Convention with the most pledged delegates should win:
It’s a delegate race. The way the system works is that the delegates choose the nominee.
Just read those words, and think about who is saying them. The Speaker of the House of Representatives. Second in line to the presidency. A woman who, along with Howard Dean, has the most political clout in Democratic politics these days. This is the person who is saying that the superdelegates should go with the candidate who has won the primary race.
The only way that Obama would not become the Democratic nominee is if Clinton manages to peg back his lead, and then forge some sort of her own lead. It is statistically improbable. Sure, it’s is mathematically possible, and here’s how:
- Let’s say that Clinton wins 60% of the Pennsylvania delegates, and then two more; Clinton +96, Obama +62, difference of +34 to Clinton (that’s more than what a lot of other pundits are giving her);
- Now, let’s go on the same 60% for North Carolina, but Obama’s way; Obama +69, Clinton +46, difference of +23 to Obama;
By the end of those two, Clinton has only gained +11 delegates on Obama. With the rest of the states, there are only 293 delegates available with voting. That means Clinton needs to hold Obama to ~21% of the available delegates, which sees a spread of 232 for Clinton, 60 for Obama, and a +142 nett delegate gain for Clinton. In other words, Clinton needs to get 79% of the rest of the delegates. Now, let’s have a quick run of them, and some predictions:
- Guam, for 4 delegates. Who knows, as there is no polling data. It’s a caucus, so Obama’s strength, but it’s probably not in anyone’s strategy. I’ll give all 4 to Clinton;
- Indiana, for 72 delegates, next to Illinois and Ohio, and it seems to be going the way of Obama. Polling done in and around March 4 had Obama up by double-digits. Let’s use a ~10% win for him; Obama +40, Clinton +32, difference of +8 for Obama;
- West Virginia, and its 28 delegates. Obama won Virginia convincingly, 64% to 35%. There are no polls out on the state at the moment, and we won’t go by Virginia’s results. Let’s say a ~5% win for Clinton somehow; Clinton +16, Obama +12, difference of +4 for Clinton;
- Oregon, with 52 delegates, is a state that Obama should romp home. He won Washington, and Oregon is more liberal than it. The demographics, if I recall, could come into play, and while Obama should win by 15% or more, let’s say it’s only ~5%; Obama +27, Clinton +25, difference of +2 for Obama;
- Kentucky, with 51 delegates available, is one of those Southern ‘red’ states that Obama has continually won. But say something freakish happens, and Clinton gets up and wins by even ~10%; Clinton +28, Obama +23, difference of +5 for Clinton;
- Puerto Rico, with 55 delegates tied to the vote, is a caucus, and Obama goes well in them things, and has the support of the main politicians in Puerto Rico. But, having a large ‘Latino’ vote, let’s say it goes to Clinton by ~16%; Clinton +31, Obama +24, difference of +7 for Clinton;
- Montana, with 16 delegates, is a state that Obama will win (‘red’, mid-West). He has won states like this by 20% to 30% in the pats, but let’s say it splits here; Obama +8, Clinton +8, difference of nothing;
- South Dakota, and its 15 delegates, is another state Obama will win. He will win this by so much, but let’s say its only ~10%; Obama +9, Clinton +6, difference of +3 to Obama;
Taking the +11 delegates that Clinton scores from the Pennsylvania and North Carolina primaries, and adding all this maths together, Clinton gets another +7 on Obama, and finishes only gaining +18 delegates on Obama. He still has a 110+ lead! What I outlined above are reasonable, and expected, results from the states. And by arriving at the maintained 110+ lead for Obama, it still leaves a lot of wiggle room for Clinton to gain more delegates, and still be behind by a significant margin*.
So, while it is mathematically possible for Clinton to eliminate Obama’s lead of +140 by winning 79% or more of the remaining delegates, it is statistically improbably, near on impossible. The only hope she ever had was that the superdelegates would bail her out.
And, finally, we come in a circle. Pelosi has said that the superdelegates should go to the candidate who has the most pledged delegates come the D.N.C. That candidate will be Barack Obama. Barack Obama will be the Democratic candidate for the November 4 election. You’ll hear people say “I knew it all along”, but never had it been more clearer or certain that the moment Nancy Pelosi finished her previously mentioned statement.
Just to repeat: Barack Obama will be the Democratic candidate.
*With all of that said, Michigan and Florida are pushing for a re-vote. It’s likely to happen in some form. If they come into play, it could throw things out of whack, but with Obama’s bargaining power, I don’t expect him to settle for any re-vote scenario that would allow Clinton a chance to eliminate his +140 lead that he has now.