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Political Calculus

How the race for president would be different if the Democrats had followed the GOP’s lead

Pledged delegate counts, superdelegate projections, total popular vote estimates—the 2008 presidential race has been the season of electoral fuzzy math for the Democrats, thanks to the party’s confusing, multitiered delegate selection rules.

With the Pennsylvania primary approaching (and nine beyond that), Obama had around 1,620 delegates, leading Clinton by about 150, with 2,025 needed to secure the nomination, excluding the disputed Michigan and Florida delegates. And the political Web site RealClear Politics.com said Obama held a 700,000-popular-vote lead out of 26 million votes cast.

But what if the Democrats had followed the Republicans’ system—the candidate who gets the most votes in a state gets all the nominating delegates? By that count, Clinton would have been ahead by 150 votes, even though Obama had won primaries and caucuses in nearly twice as many—albeit smaller—states. 

Here’s a breakdown of this ‘what-if’ scenario. 

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