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March 2008

Bad Week for Obama… Not!

So, CNN dumped a bunch of delegate updates today. There were some new superdelegates who declared preferences recently and are now counted. But CNN also updated the delegate breakdowns in California, DC, Georgia, Maryland, Maine, Nevada, Ohio, Vermont and Wyoming, presumably representing finalization of the results in those states. Between all of that, today Obama picked up 26 delegates and Clinton picked up 10.

So, one might ask, where does that put us for the results of the previous seven days? (That is, since right before Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont voted.)

One week ago Obama had a 109 delegate lead over Clinton.

Today Obama has a 115 delegate lead over Clinton.

One week ago Clinton would have needed to win 54.9% of all remaining delegates to win.

Today Clinton needs to win 56.8% of all remaining delegates to win.

In the last week, Clinton gained 169 delegates. Obama gained 175 delegates.

And, by the way, this still does not include the results of the Texas Caucuses, which are going to be a net gain for Obama.

OK, there is one place where Hillary came out ahead. In percentage terms one week ago the gap between the percent of delegates allocated was 4.1%. It is now 3.8%. So in percentage terms she narrowed the gap slightly.

But because the number of delegates left is less than it was a week ago, despite narrowing that gap somewhat, because she wasn’t narrowing the gap at a pace that would be on track to actually take the lead and win, she now has a HARDER road to the nomination now than she did a week ago.

Now, I will admit, 56.8% of all remaining delegates is a big number, but it is not 70% or 80%. It is within the realm of political possibility, although it obviously represents doing MUCH better than she has so far (she has won 47.7% of all the delegates so far).

Now, these are percentages of ALL remaining delegates, both pledged and super. But I think it is still valid to look at it this way.

In any case, yes, it is “the math” and yes, nobody wants to hear about the math. It is just too damn complicated. Boo Hoo. People want to hear about wins and losses!!! But wins and losses of states DO NOT MATTER in this system. Delegates matter. And the math matters.

The way the coverage has gone this week is absolutely non-sensical. Clinton resurgence! Woo Woo! At the BEST part of this week, she had very slightly reduced Obama’s lead and was still nowhere near catching him. And as the week progressed and more results came in… and then the Wyoming caucuses… she just gave up what she had gained. One week later, she is WORSE OFF than before she “won” Ohio, Texas and Rhode Island. And never in that time was she in the lead. This race has not been going back and forth. Not since February 13th when Obama first took the lead has the leadership of this race changed hands.

What’s the real story here? Clinton did better in the March 4th elections than she had in quite awhile. But it was still NOT GOOD ENOUGH to be on a pace to catch Obama and win. That spin would be what is really going on. But somehow the “story” in the mainstream media is very different than that. Not because it is in any way true or meaningful, but because a horse race and a battle all the way to the convention is the better story.

Even more so… look at the graph. Look at the whole history since the beginning of January. The Clinton trend, aside from a couple of bumps, has been a steady upward trend. The Obama trend, aside from a couple small bumps, has been a steady upward trend.

Yes, it looks like Hillary has decided to fight this out to the end. Up to the very end. Potentially even trying to change the minds of superdelegates who have already decided. Perhaps even trying to change the minds of pledged delegates.

There are ways for her to win this. But they all involve either changing the minds of delegates already in Obama’s camp, or winning a MUCH higher percentage of delegates (both pledged and super) than she has managed so far.

Tomorrow is Mississippi. Expect Clinton to fall even further behind.

Then, unless Obama manages an upset, she’ll close the gap a bit in Pennsylvania. But, unless the split is much more in her favor than current polls show, it WON’T BE ENOUGH.

But that won’t matter, because the spin out of Pennsylvania will be that Wyoming and Mississippi were small and didn’t matter, and SHE WINS PENNSYLVANIA!!! And nobody will even give a crap that after that she’ll most likely be even further away from winning the nomination, even though she “won”.

Very depressing.

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