Superdelegates Line Up for Obama

Thursday, 13 Mar 2008 10:57 PM

 

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A funny thing is happening. While Hillary and Bill Clinton appeal to superdelegates to override the will of the voters and back Hillary, the superdelegates are doing just the opposite.

The latest delegate count posted on realclearpolitics.com shows that Hillary’s lead among superdelegates, once a comfortable 60 votes, has now been cut almost in half, to 36 delegates. The latest tally has Hillary leading among superdelegates by 247 to 211. So, with 57 percent of the superdelegates decided, Hillary’s lead is shrinking.

In fact, Barack Obama’s total delegate lead has swelled to 163 votes among elected delegates and 127 among all delegates. With 1,614 votes, he isn’t far from the 2,025 he would need, without Florida or Michigan, to win the nomination.

Of the remaining 566 delegates to be selected, Hillary should enjoy a slight edge. She’ll probably win Pennsylvania (158 delegates), Indiana (72), Kentucky (51), West Virginia (28), and Puerto Rico (55). Obama will likely win North Carolina (115), Oregon (52), Montana (16), South Dakota (15) and Guam (4). If this turns out to be so, Hillary would lead in states with 364 delegates, while Obama would prevail in states with 202. But even if we assume 10-point wins for each candidate in each state (and the margin will likely be much tighter), all Hillary would get from her states is 36 more delegates while Obama would get 20 from his — still leaving Obama with a lead of 147 in elected delegates.

At that point, Obama would have about 1,900 votes, within spitting distance of the 2,025 he’d need to win. Hillary would have to win the remaining superdelegates by a top-heavy margin of 2:1 in order to win (steal) the nomination from Obama, who will have won the most elected delegates.

Even if we factor in possible do-over primaries in Florida and Michigan, the nature of the proportional representation process is not likely to change this outcome significantly. Hillary might get an extra 20 delegates if she wins both states, but she’s not likely to get more.

Can Hillary carry the remaining super delegates by 2:1 when she is carrying the ones who have committed by only 247 to 211? Not very likely. The pressure on these delegates to vote as their states voted will be very intense and few are likely to stand up to it.

Remember that these superdelegates are either elected officials in their own right, which means that they need to get re-elected, or party officials in the various states whose ears are very close to the ground. Particularly in caucus states that Obama carried heavily, they are not about to antagonize the party activists who backed Obama by undercutting their will and switching to Hillary.

In fact, the track record of the super delegates so far indicates that they are abandoning Hillary and signing up with Obama as his delegate lead mounts.

So even if the Clintons try as hard as they can (and they will) to steal his election, their chances of doing so are getting increasingly remote.

© Dick Morris & Eileen McGann

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