Sean Wilentz backs up what was said a few days ago by Wesley Little on Rasmussen (see post here): “Under a winner-take-all primary system, Hillary Clinton would have a wide lead over Barack Obama — and enough delegates to clinch the nomination by June.”
We’ve been having a few discussions here on The Dem Daily about the Democrats convoluted mess of a system to choose a nominee — Wilentz is on the money:
Unlike the Republicans, the Democrats in primary states choose their nominee on the basis of a convoluted system of proportional distribution of delegates that varies from state to state and that obtains in neither congressional nor presidential elections. It is this eccentric system that has given Obama his lead in the delegate count. If the Democrats heeded the “winner takes all” democracy that prevails in American politics, and that determines the president, Clinton would be comfortably in front. In a popular-vote winner-take-all system, Clinton would now have 1,743 pledged delegates to Obama’s 1,257. If she splits the 10 remaining contests with Obama, as seems plausible, with Clinton taking Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana and Puerto Rico, and Obama winning North Carolina, South Dakota, Montana, Oregon and Guam, she’d pick up another 364 pledged delegates. She’d have 2,107 before a single superdelegate was wooed. You’d need 2,208 to be the Democratic nominee. That would leave her barely a hundred votes shy, and well ahead of Obama. It is almost inconceivable that she would fail to gain the required number of superdelegates easily. No more blogospheric ranting about Clinton “stealing” the nomination by kidnapping superdelegates or cutting deals at a brokered convention.
But Clinton does not now have 1,743 delegates. According to CNN estimates, Clinton has about 1,242 pledged delegates to Obama’s 1,413. Most of that total is based on the peculiar way that delegates are apportioned in 2008. Some of it is because Obama’s backers are using the same kind of tactics as George Bush’s camp used in Florida in 2000.
Crucially, Team Obama doesn’t want to count the votes of Michigan and Florida. (And let’s note that in a winner-take-all system, Clinton would still be leading in delegates, 1,430 to 1,257, even without Michigan and Florida.) Under the existing system, Obama’s current lead in the popular vote would nearly vanish if the results from Michigan and Florida were included in the total, and his lead in pledged delegates would melt almost to nothing. The difference in the popular vote would fall to 94,005 out of nearly 27 million cast thus far — a difference of a mere four-tenths of 1 percentage point — and the difference in delegates would plummet to about 30, out of the 2,024 needed to win. Add those states’ votes to the totals, and take a sober look at Clinton’s popular-vote victories in virtually all other large states, and the electoral dynamic changes. She begins to look like the almost certain nominee.
Go read it all and chime in here…