Friday, April 25, 2008

Hillary Math Doesn't Add Up

Increasingly desperate as it becomes more and more obvious that Senator Barack Obama has a virtual mathematical lock on the nomination, Hillary's supporters are resorting to some awfully dubious math to say that she is still in the picture--or even in the lead!

One of the more fascinating aspects of these mathematical gyrations is that both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are giving them favorable play. The Times, of course, placed only the thinnest of veils on its endorsement of Hillary for President. The WSJ, on the other hand, only wants Hillary as the Democratic nominee, in the clear hope that she will make it easier for John McCain to be elected President in November.

So what of Hillary math? One good example can be found on Not Larry Sabato, the entertaining, often newsworthy, and widely read blog of Virginian Ben Tribbett, a prominent Hillary supporter in the Commonwealth. NLS has a Democratic Delegate Count on its website that might surprise those who rely on the Mainstream Media for their information.

According to NLS, it is a very tight race indeed! Obama has 1794 delegates, just 8 ahead of Hillary, who has 1786. And both have a long way to go, needing 2208 delegates to win--not the 2025 you'll see on most delegate counter websites.

How does NLS get these numbers? It's not really explained, at least in an easily accessible manner, but you can figure it out. NLS includes Michigan and Florida in the totals. Well, kind of. You see, NLS gives Hillary full credit for the delegates she would have won based on her showing in the Michigan and Florida primaries. But since Obama wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan, his supporters had to vote for "uncommitted." NLS doesn't credit Obama with those "uncommitted" delegates however. Instead, they are in a separate "uncommitted" category.

Add the 55 uncommitted Michigan delegates to Obama's total, however, and he now has a 63 delegate lead over Hillary, even with her getting the full benefit of both those contests. Now, here at the Curmudgeon, we've said all along that we'd be willing to seat the full Florida delegation based on the outcome there--we doubt a new primary would alter the result at all.

Michigan is a different story, however. Hillary cheated. She had her name on the ballot, the others didn't. It wasn't a valid election in any sense--many of Obama's people clearly stayed home--the turnout proves it. Yes, Hillary would probably win Michigan--it's like Ohio and Pennsylvania. But we doubt if her margin would be as large.

In any event, the NLS numbers, which aren't explained (at least in any easily accesible manner, such as clicking on the delegate table) seem to be a bit optimistic even with the various assumptions NLS has made.

We looked at a website that's pretty good--and neutral--with numbers: Democratic Convention Watch. They list the numbers with all kinds of options for Florida and Michigan, and in the one that gives both candidates the Michigan and Florida results (as is, but with Obama getting the 55 uncommitted Michigan delegates) he has an overall lead of 67, probably because he's picked up a few more superdelegates than NLS is willing to give him credit for.

Every day it seems, Obama picks up one or two more uncommitted superdelegates--he's certainly been racking them up at a greater clip than Hillary for the past two months. So after North Carolina and Indiana, his lead will still be quite sufficient, regardless of Michigan and Florida.

Bear in mind also that the ultimate decider of whether and to what degree the Michigan and Florida delegations get seated is the convention as a whole (excluding the challenged delegations). In such a showdown--we shiver at the prospect and hope it will never occur--Obama's fairly large lead in pledged delegates from states excluding Michigan and Florida should be enough to put him over the top in terms of any floor challenge.

So, Hillarymath or not, Obama still leads. And that will be enough to sway the majority of remaining uncomitted superdelegates his way, and to make sure that any floor fights over Michigan and Florida work out in his favor as well.

Indeed, Hillarymath is just about as good as McCainmath, under which it is now okay to cut taxes to the point they bear no relationship to expenditures. Evidently, McCain, like W Bush, has no objection to China and a bunch of Arab oil states owning the United States via its debt.

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