As Obama Takes Lead in Superdels, Clinton Makes Unlikely Bid for Popular Vote


ABC News reports that Barack Obama has passed Hillary Clinton among superdelegates, with a current count of 276-275. A couple caveats: (1) Every major news outlet has a different count when it comes to Obama and Clinton’s superdelegate totals, and ABC News is the first to say Obama has passed Clinton. Nevertheless, the other networks will likely follow close behind — most others have Obama trailing Clinton by five to 10, and Obama has been closing steadily since Super Tuesday. (2) These numbers are constantly in flux, with new superdelegate endorsements coming every day.

Nevertheless, ABC’s announcement is a sign of things to come. We will soon reach a point where there aren’t enough outstanding pledged delegates and undecided superdelegates for Clinton to win the nomination. At that point, she either has to drop out or try to convince Obama superdelegates that they need to switch to her.

One way the campaign might convince superdelegates to do that? Winning the popular vote. Clinton is campaigning in Kentucky, where her campaign chairman addressed the issue with reporters:

Her goal is to surpass Obama in the national popular vote, said Terry McAuliffe, Clinton’s campaign chairman.

“This is why Kentucky is critical for us. We not only have to have a very good win in Kentucky but a very good turnout,” McAuliffe told Kentucky reporters. “I firmly believe … by the end of this process, we will have moved ahead in the popular vote.”

That is, to put it politely, improbable. According to MSNBC, Obama now leads Clinton by more than 700,000 (16,050,924 vs. 15,336,896). If you add Florida and Michigan (giving Obama Michigan’s “uncommitted”), it becomes 16,857,727 vs. 16,522,255. That’s a 335,000-vote lead for Obama

Here’s a reasonable projection of the remaining states, also from MSNBC.

Total votes Clinton Obama Split
WV: 400,000 240,000 160,000 60-40
KY: 500,000 300,000 200,000 60-40
OR: 600,000 270,000 330,000 45-55
SD: 100,000 45,000 55,000 45-55
MT: 125,000 56,250 68,750 45-55
Totals 911,250 813,750

Add that to the totals above and you’ve still got a 237,500 vote lead for Obama. And to be frank, I would be surprised by a 55-45 win for Obama in Oregon. It will likely be larger.

The Clinton plan to win the popular vote is looking unlikely indeed. It’s desperation time: that campaign is being run on false hopes and wishful thinking.

But I suppose we already knew that.