Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk Myself to Death: Guam Fails to Break It All Open

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Guam Fails to Break It All Open

You've no doubt heard that Barack Obama won in the Guam caucuses by the barest of margins. Interestingly, I received an e-mail last night from a Hillary supporter goading me (and other recipients) about Obama's margin and suggesting that a Clinton/Obama ticket was still possible. I suppose the appropriate response is to ask about the color of the sky in that e-mailer's world. If Obama doesn't win big enough, he seems to be suggesting, the Democrats will have no choice but to go with the candidate who got even less votes than he did. That seems to be the level of debate in pro-Hillary circles these days. Despite Obama's lead in every quantifiable measure (delegates, popular votes, states), somehow, someone (presumably the superdelegates) will decide that they've got no choice but to nominate Hillary anyway. Why will they have no choice? Silly readers, don't ask foolish questions. On Friday, Timothy Noah had an excellent piece in Slate demanding that any media reports that still want to consider Hillary's candidacy as viable should spell out exactly how that viability will work. He wrote this before Guam, which appears to give Obama and Hillary another two delegates each, but that doesn't undermine the logic, at all.

The only number that matters, however, is 2,025, which is how many delegates a candidate will need to secure the nomination. Obama has 1,488 primary delegates to Clinton's 1,334, according to the Associated Press delegate tracker. Add in superdelegates and Obama has 1,736 to Clinton's 1,602. Obama needs 289 more delegates to win the nomination. Hillary needs 423. There are three ways to win these additional delegates:

1. In the nine Democratic primaries and caucuses that remain, in which about 400 delegates are at stake
2. By winning over still-undecided superdelegates, of whom about 290 remain
3. By persuading the necessary number of superdelegates and/or primary delegates among the 1,736 pledged to Obama to change their allegiances. The former will be difficult to achieve, and the latter, though permitted, will be extremely difficult to achieve

It's numerically impossible for Hillary to get to 2,025 through the remaining primaries and caucuses.

He goes on to put forward various scenarios of Hillary winning the remaining contests by different percentages (which is worth reading, if you're into the science and speculation of the delegate count--a delegate geek, in other words, like me or Don at Article 19), but none of them provide reasonable scenarios that could lead Hillary to the nomination. North Carolina and Indiana will provide more clarity--or not, as the case may be. Regardless of how they turn out, they'll further illuminate just how far removed Hillary is from a legitimate win.


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