“The Math” or when will Obama hit 50%+1

Personally I’m not a big fan of Chris Bowers. I think his Googlebombing is bullshit (and when you have to use a term like “search engine optimization techniques”, you’ve lost in my opinion). So I read his stuff with a skeptical eye. When I was reading his math analysis piece on Open Left, and started seeing his mention of 50%+1, I was wondering what he was trying to finesse. What new metric was he trying to drive home? Even though we both want to see Obama win, what was the angle? Then on the drive home from work it then hit me. No finesse here. 50%+1 is the time when Hillary cannot win the nomination. It’s when she becomes the Huckabee of the Democratic party. Duh…yeah I know should have been obvious when I first read it, but being the skeptic that I am, I like to ponder things.

Bowers lays out 4 scenarios:

  1. April 22nd, Pennsylvania: An Obama victory in Pennsylvania would be a huge upset, given that Clinton currently leads by an average of 16% in the state. It would also shoot down every single argument the Clinton campaign has put forth on the electability front. Pennsylvania is a big state, a swing state, a blue state, a state with a large number of working class white voters, and a state with very few independents. An Obama win here would end the campaign, and the articles pointing out that Clinton has only a small chance to win the nomination would turn into articles stating that she has no chance whatsoever. However, Clinton starts out way ahead in Pennsylvania, and it is also one of the demographically favorable states for Clinton in the entire country. A victory for Obama here is very unlikely.
  2. May 6th, Indiana and North Carolina: May 6th is shaping up to actually be much more important than April 22nd. For one thing, more pledged delegates are at stake in Indiana and North Carolina (187) than in Pennsylvania (158). Secondly, while Pennsylvania looks like a blowout, current expectations are for both May 6th states to be reasonably close. Third, May 6th is the first date when Obama can reach 1,627 pledged delegates, or 50% + 1 of pledged delegates. Right now, he needs 173.5 pledged delegates to reach 1,627, or 49.7% of the 349 to be determined between April 22 and May 6. Fourth, after May 6th, only 217 pledged delegates will remain, effectively making it the last major primary day in the nomination campaign.
    If Obama sweeps Indiana and North Carolina, while hitting 1,627 on the same day, the campaign is over. Accomplishing both goals means that Clinton will have made up absolutely no delegate ground from March 4th through May 6th, and that her final option will including winning the support of more than 70% of the remaining superdelegates. A sweep on May 6th plus hitting 1,627 would be game, set and match. The latest North Carolina poll shows Obama with a commanding lead.
  3. May 20th, Kentucky and Oregon: May 20th is the latest possible date that Obama will reach 1,627 pledged delegates. If he has failed to reach 1,627 by this point, that means he has not done well in preceding primaries. However, if he wins Oregon and reaches 1,627 on May 20th, there is an outside chance that could end the campaign.
  4. June, reaching 2,024: If the campaign has not ended after all the voting is completed on June 3rd, then the last remaining option for Obama to knock Clinton out of the campaign will be to reach 2,024 at some point in June. To do so will give him control of the credentials committee, and the majority of the non-disputed delegates on the floor of the convention. In other words, he will have secured the nomination whether or not Clinton drops out. Even a worst-case scenario for Obama at this point only requires about 40% of the undecided superdelegates to support him in order to reach 2,024 by the end of June. This would not be the ideal circumstance, and Obama would probably start out behind McCain in the general election, but reaching 2,024 does give Obama the nomination.

Bowers seems to think option #2 is the best for Obama. No argument here, but a can a sweep occur? I dunno. According to Pollster.com there has been one poll recently 2/18 that shows Obama ahead 40% to 25%. One poll does no trending data make, and I’m with Josh Marshall when it comes to polls the trends are the important part. Pollster.com also shows a strong trend for Obama in North Carolina. So we can chalk that up to Obama. But Indiana…what if he looses there? What if it’s a tie? Or a small win by either candidate? I’m no delegate math genius, I’ll leave that to Chris and Chuck Todd, but it seems that if they split Indiana and NC, we’re in it until the convention.


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