Most estimations of the Super Tuesday results have shown Obama getting a few more delegates out of February 5th. My Friday morning state-by-state breakdown showed Clinton ahead by 23 pledged delegates, with 70 still outstanding, mostly from Obama states.
A look at the websites of the state parties has allowed me to allocate the outstanding delegates in three states (check the full updated 02/05 delegate count here):
- In Alabama, the four remaining delegates spit equally 2-2, for a final breakdown of 27 Obama, 25 Clinton (an explanation of how this can be so close is provided below).
- In Tennessee, the four remaining delegates also split equally, for a final breakdown of 40-28.
- In New York, the final outstanding delegate went to Clinton, for a final breakdown of 139 to 91.
That gives Clinton a 822 to 798 lead with 61 delegates still to be attributed, 27 from Colorado, 20 from Georgia and 14 from Illinois. The exact district-by-district results are needed for those to be allocated and those numbers are not easily available. But this much is clear: Obama needs to win 43 of the remaining 61 delegates to emerge with a delegate lead out of February 5th, holding Clinton at 18. Now such a split is very much possible given that all three states have gone to Obama big. But that would mean a more than 2:1 distribution, which is by no mean certain considering Clinton has more than half of Obama’s delegate in both Illinois and Georgia right now.
So Clinton looks like she might emerge with the biggest share of February 5th’s pledged delegates, contrary to most media reports. This is due to California in particular. In his oft-cited analysis the night of Super Tuesday, NBC’s Chuck Todd came out with a 4 delegate lead for Obama but that was by giving Clinton a 34 delegate lead out of the Golden State (and Todd said that was a generous estimate). It now looks like Clinton got 44 delegates more than Obama in California, which explains the possible reversal here. I will update the delegate count page with numbers from CO, IL and GA as they are available.
The delegate count will obviously be profoundly affected by tonight’s results, and Obama will have a pledged delegate lead after tonight thanks to his triumphs in NE, WA and LA. But the question of who won more delegates on 02/05 remains interesting.
Meanwhile, it is interesting to look at the delegate allocation mechanisms a bit more closely, starting with Alabama. Obama won that state 56% to 42% but only has a 2 delegate lead, 27 to 25. And that certainly deserves an explanation. In my Super Tuesday preview of last Tuesday, I explained why the problem of even/odd districts could lead to some strange delegate math (refer to that page if you don’t remember how the odd/even delegate math works). And despite losing the statewide vote by 14%, Clinton tied Obama among district-level delegates, 17 to 17:
- The district with the biggest African-American population (AL-07) split its 7 delegates 5-2. But two of the three other districts with large black populations (AL-01 and AL-02) were four delegate districts. So despite winning those comfortably, Obama was forced into a 2-2 tie in both (he would have had to get more than 62% to get a 3-1 split).
- The state’s least black district (the 4th) went for Clinton overwhelmingly, as the racial polarization of Southern primaries kicked in. The 4th was a five delegate district, and that allowed Clinton to get a wide 4-1 lead. Since Obama was not able to open up a gap among the parts of the state that strongly voted for him, he had to settle for a 17-17 split.
- The statewide allocation went 10-8 for Obama.
There were many cases in which Obama benefited from the delegate allocation rules, especially in New York City. Clinton won the populous and strongly Democratic NY-14 and NY-15 (Rangel’s district) with 57% and 55% respectively, but was forced to split delegates 3-3 in each district because she did not cross the 59% threshold.