Facing the numbers as we approach the endgame

I read this article in the New York Times. Some interesting parts were:

Mr. Obama’s aides said they hoped to end the voting season with a delegate lead of more than 100, which they would seek to portray as a decisive affirmation by Democratic primary voters of Mr. Obama’s candidacy. Mrs. Clinton’s advisers said they were looking to bring the margin down significantly below 100 in hope of arguing that the result was too close for delegates to consider in deciding how to vote.


Mr. Obama’s campaign said that he had a lead of 1,139 to 1,003; by the count of the Clinton campaign organization, Mr. Obama was doing even better: 1,141 to 1,004 for Mrs. Clinton.
There are 1,082 delegates left to be selected.


By any measure, Mr. Obama is in a much stronger position on Wednesday than he was just a few days ago and in a significantly stronger position than Mrs. Clinton thought he would be at this point. That is because Mr. Obama not only won a series of states, but also won them by large margins — over 20 percentage points — so that he began picking up extra delegates and opening a lead on Mrs. Clinton.

And that is the problem for Mrs. Clinton going forward. If these were winner-take-all states, Mrs. Clinton could pick up 389 delegates in Texas and Ohio on March 4. Now she would have to beat Mr. Obama by more than 20 percentage points in order to pick up a majority of delegates in both states.

I think, speaking realistically, that this interpretation is probably true. If Obama ends up with a substantial (more than 100) won delegate lead at the end of the primary season it probably is only reasonable that he be made the nominee.

We can quibble about this or that (whether caucus states are less democratic than primaries, whether Florida votes should count, etc.) but the fact of the matter is that those were the rules of the game going in and the only thing less fair than those discrepancies would be changing the rules mid-game.

So while it is still my hope that Hillary can reduce Obama’s pledged delegate lead so that things are close enough that it would be reasonable to let the super-delegates decide based on other factors than just the raw delegate numbers, I accept that if she cannot reduce his pledged delegate lead to less than 100 that Obama should probably be made the nominee.


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