Why Obama Can Rightfully Claim Victory

by on May 21st, 2008

Barack Obama is not quite ready to claim victory yet in the race for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. However, he would be justified in doing so — and that’s even if the results from Michigan and Florida are figured into the equation. All one has to do is crunch a few numbers to see why.

Including the results from yesterday’s Kentucky and Oregon primaries, Obama now leads Hillary Clinton in pledged delegates by approximately 155. Not counting Florida and Michigan yet, there are three nominating contests remaining — in Puerto Rico on June 1st, and in South Dakota and Montana on June 3rd.

These three venues offer a total of 86 pledged delegates. Assuming Hillary Clinton garners 60% of those delegates (which is unlikely, but I’m being generous to her for the purposes of my argument), she would only net a total of 18 delegates from them (52 to Obama’s 34). That would cut Obama’s pledged delegate lead to 137.

Now let’s assume that the Rules Committee of the Democratic Party decides to include the results from Michigan and Florida, giving Clinton proportions of delegates that match the margins she won by in those respective primaries. Michigan would have had 156 delegates and Florida would have had 210.

In Michigan, Clinton got 55% of the vote to Obama’s 0% (since his name was not on the ballot there). That means Clinton beat him by a margin of 55%, netting her 86 delegates (156 x 55%).

In Florida, Clinton got 50% to Obama’s 33%, giving her a margin of 17%. That would net her 35 delegates (210 x 17%). That would still leave Obama with a margin of 16 in the pledged delegate race, with no more races left and no states to add back in.

Now, most super delegates have indicated that they will support whoever wins the most pledged delegates. Therefore, they would likely coalesce around Obama (as they are already doing), even assuming circumstances that would unrealistically favor Hillary Clinton.

Terry Mitchell