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Hillary Clinton must be the Democratic nominee; Do The Math

bringiton's picture

[Readers, the comments section is long and noisy, but interesting. See if, in your judgment, the points the bringiton makes are addressed head-on, or not. And watch for the duellling haikus! --lambert]

[Update below, 11 May 08, bottom of main text - BIO]

Only one thing matters; winning the Presidency in November. Hillary Clinton has proven she is by far the strongest candidate an most likely to achieve that victory. How can she convince the Democratic Party delegates?

Many arguments have been advanced about how to settle the Democratic nomination. Barak Obama argues that winning the majority of pledged delegates should decide the race – but he is wrong. Clinton argues that perhaps the total popular vote should decide the issue – but she is wrong. Earnest people are calling for immediate reinstatement of the primary delegations from Florida and Michigan, saying that is the key – but they are wrong. All that matters is electability.

This nomination will be settled by a few superdelegates, most of whom are allied with Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Some time between now and the end of June, those three and their allies will make the decision that all of the primary elections and caucuses could not resolve. They will base their conclusion on one factor and one only; which of the two candidates is best equipped to beat John McCain. How should they reach that decision?

Not even the primary delegate totals are an accurate indicator of a candidate’s strength in the general election. Caucuses are an inaccurate reflection of voter turnout for ballot elections, and even ballot election results can be distorted and overthrown by subsequent machinations during county and state level conventions. Further deforming the process is the awkward system by which primary delegates are awarded to each state; a very complicated arrangement based on previous voting patterns, the number of sitting Democratic office holders and bonus delegates for holding elections within certain dates that does not reflect the relative worth of each state in the general election. A seemingly democratizing provision, awarding delegates proportionately, does not mimic the winner-take-all* system that is our Electoral College and this is the only metric the Democratic Party must consider – who can command the most votes in the Electoral College?

In 2004, George W. Bush won 286 electoral votes from 31 states while John Kerry took 251 electors from 19 states plus DC. (John Edwards received 1 electoral vote, legal because the electors are free to ignore the will of their state’s citizen voters and cast their ballot for whomever they please; just like the delegates to the Democratic Convention. Consider that un-democratic constitutional provision a measure of the “Founder’s Intent.”) Looking at the voting level state-by-state can provide some instruction regarding the work that needs to be done by the Democratic candidate to win in 2008.

Of the states that went Republican in 2004, Bush was victorious in 24 of them by more than 5% – TX, NC, VA, GA, IN, MO, TN, KY, AL, AZ, LA, SC, OK, MS, AR, KS, UT, WV, NE, ID, MT, SD, ND, and WY. Those states have a total of 213 Electors, and provide a formidable base for John McCain on the way to capturing the 270 needed to win election. While the unpopularity of Bush and Republican economics may hand over some of these states to the Democrats, it would be more prudent to assume that all of them will go Republican again this year and look for support elsewhere.

Of the states that went Democratic, 13 gave Kerry a victory of more than 5% – CA, NY, IL, NJ, WA, MA, MD, CT, ME, RI, DE, VT, HI – as did DC. This aggregation yielded 183 Electors, and assuming that the Democratic candidate can capture them again this year it will still leave a structural Electoral College deficit of 30 votes that will need to be overcome; not a trivial matter against a formidable candidate like John McCain, the coordinated smear machine and Get Out the Vote capabilities of the VRWC, and the MSM echo chamber condemnation of the Democratic candidate sure to come regardless of which candidate is tendered.

The states where Democrats will have to go to win the White House are those where the 2004 voting margin was closer – less than 5% either way. These so-called Swing States – PA, OH, FL, MI, MN, WI, CO, OR, IA, NM, NV, and NH – have 142 Electors; Democrats must make a strong showing to seize the 87/55 advantage they will need. (An electoral College tie would be unfortunate and risky; probably the House and Senate would install the Democrats, but with the Blue Dogs nothing is certain.) What the superdelegates have to ask themselves now, their one single, overriding concern, must be: Which of the two candidates is most likely to carry those Swing States, and by a resounding margin?

How ever would anyone know? Fortunately, the Democratic Party has already asked that question of the people most likely to know the answer – the Democratic voters of those self-same Swing States. There have already been elections or caucuses in PA, OH, MN, WI, CO, IA, NM, NV, and NH. The primary elections held in FL and MI were clearly in Clinton’s favor, and the scheduling conflict with Rules & Bylaws over seating delegates has no bearing on evaluating the opinion of the voters; she won both contests handily. One more Swing State, OR, will have it’s primary on May 30; Obama is comfortably ahead in the polls and has been for some time, so at this point we could reasonably assume that he will win there.

What does this referendum tell us, and the superdelegates? Table 1 tallies the Electoral votes available in November from the Swing States, assigned to the primary victor in each state on a winner-take-all basis. The judgment of the voters could not be clearer.


By a majority of more than 2 to 1 in Electoral College strength, the Democratic voters of the Swing States prefer Hillary Clinton. A preference of 99 to 43 is not even close; it is definitive. The voters who are most in a position to know, who actually live in these states and know not just their own opinions but those of their friends and neighbors, have made a resounding decision; they want Hillary Clinton as the Democratic presidential nominee. This overwhelming popularity is why a delegation of elected officials from Swing States have written an open letter to the superdelegates, arguing forcefully that Clinton is not only the clear best choice as the Presidential nominee but also will make the greatest contribution to winning the down-ticket races.

“Of the fifteen districts rated “toss up” by the Cook Political Report, Hillary has now won ten. Of the 20 districts we picked up in 2006 that had gone for President Bush just two years before, Hillary has now won 16. She is strong in the places we must win to hold and expand our majority.”

These are voices that must not just be listened to, but thoroughly respected and heeded.

But what if these elections are an anomaly? What if there is something about the Swing State voters that is somehow aberrant, that does not reflect the opinions and preferences of the Democratic Party? Where would we look for confirmation? How about the voters in those states that were solidly Democratic in 2004?

Table 2 shows the Electoral vote totals for so-called Blue States, awarded winner-take-all to the primary contest victor. Again, the voters’ judgment is abundantly clear.


Clinton dominates these states, crushing Obama 117 to 66. Clearly, the voters of solidly Blue States agree with voters in the Swing States, overwhelmingly preferring Clinton as the Democratic nominee. While these states should stay in the Democratic column, it only makes sense to run the candidate who has shown the ability to win them – especially when they are the same candidate who so handily wins the Swing State group.

The nomination decision is no longer disputable. It cannot be that anyone rational would expect the Democratic Party to nominate a candidate whose support is based on primary results from states that are unlikely to deliver Electoral College votes in November. It was of course important that Democratic voters in Republican-dominated states be given an opportunity to participate and voice their opinion, but victory for the Democrats in the general election is not going to be attained through dependence on a nominating scheme reflecting popularity contests attended by a few thousand people in Idaho or Wyoming. The only matter at hand is fielding a candidate who can achieve an Electoral College majority; Red State resident or Blue, everyone must agree that the candidate with the best chance of winning the general election must be made the nominee.

Even though the issue is clearly settled, it is important that the rest of the primaries be conducted for the sake of party unity. It is also important that Barak Obama be afforded every opportunity to make his case to the superdelegates in early June, even though there is no longer any possibility that he can catch Clinton in the only measure that matters. He must not be harassed into withdrawal. He has made a noble effort, especially for someone with such a limited resume, and should be given the opportunity to chose for himself the time and place of his inevitable concession. That is the decent thing to do.

Concede he must, for the good of the Party; persistent divisiveness would be unbecoming and disloyal. He is a young man, and surely will at some point take up his role as a United States Senator in a meaningful way. Perhaps he could, just to see what it’s like, hold oversight hearings, or write meaningful legislation; maybe he could ease into the job by showing up for votes (currently third highest missed-votes rate at 40.1%, right behind Sen. Tim Johnson who is still recovering from his stroke.) He might also author another autobiographical meditation; a lessons-learned reflection, “The Mendacity of Trope” or a campaign journal – “Me, Michelle and I.” With on-the-job effort and some improvement in his debating skills he may even be able to successfully win over the voters in 2016. His followers this time around should not despair; although such aspirations may now smack of audacity, there is always Hope.

In summary, the voters of the states that the Democratic nominee must win have clearly spoken, and what they have decided must be respected; to do otherwise would be utterly foolish. The superdelegates, as the conscience and repository of wisdom for the Party, must do their duty and ensure that the strongest candidate receives the nomination. Without question, that nominee – and the next President of the United States – must be:

Hillary Rodham Clinton

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[Update: Laambert requested clarification of the rules for the presidential nomination process, to correct false assertions made in comments. An overview is downthread, here.]

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* OK, Maine and Nebraska are nominally proportional, but neither state has ever split their electors and is unlikely to do so in this election.

[Prophylactic: I make no argument here that Obama is unelectable, that he cannot beat John McCain; I believe he can, but with somewhat greater difficulty than Clinton – why take the risk? But this post is not about my opinion; it is solely and only based on the opinions of millions of voters from the states that Democrats most need to win in this election. Since all Obama enthusiasts, like all Clinton devotees, are first of all loyal supporters of the Democratic Party and will respect the unequivocal will of the voters – as they have been calling on Clinton to do for so very long now – there should be no discussion here over what is so clearly irrefutable. Please do the right thing and fall in line submit come along without complaint, for the good of the Party, the Nation and the World. Additionally, please do not clutter up the discussion thread with meaningless repetition of OFB talking points; if you have nothing new to offer, kindly hold your peace.]

No votes yet


Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

You've put Oregon into the Obama column -- they haven't voted yet.

In addition, when making this argument, the only delegates that matter are the ones allocated using the formula


The "super" delegates are free agents, not won during the caucus/primary season.

But L love the EC analysis anyway! ;-)

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

You give Obama MI, which some of his supporters are claiming he would win(we would know if Obama hadn't resisted a revote, too bad) Clinton still beats him 72-60.

Bill Clinton for First Dude!!!

Submitted by hipparchia on

if the party were truly interested in measuring 'electability' they'd gladly hold new primaries for both florida and michigan. a lot has been said and done, and learned about the candidates, since january. would those 2 states, or any of the early-voting states, still vote the same way today? or in november?

you've made a good case for one of my favorite campaign reform ideas: anybody can run for president, they can't formally declare their candidacy until january of election year, hold a national primary in august [all on one day, like election day], conventin shortly thereafter, and the general in november.

if iowa ans new hampshire still want to go first, let them. in february.

intranets's picture
Submitted by intranets on

I agree people should only be looking at swing states in terms of who can win in Nov. But it is not winner take all between Obama and Clinton.. And to look at it this way is dumb.

Instead the table should be swing states and winner take all between Obama v. McCain or Clinton v. McCain. It's just not sound logic or smart to compare winner take all of the subset of Democratic primary voters ONLY. First of all the election in November is not just Democratic voters. Secondly, your premise is electoral college and then you try and make tables and pretend the electoral college is somehow a runoff between Clinton and Obama. It isn't.

(v. McCain)
Obama Clinton
PA ~0% +6%
OH +2% +7%
FL +8% ~0%
MI ~0% -5%
MN +10% ~0%
WI ~0% -4%
CO ?? ?? (-5 to -10%)
OR +9% ~0%
IA +7% -3%
NM ~0% ~0%
NV ~0% ?? (-8%)
NH -8% -4%

If you look at the polling trends (above data is approx from it appears Clinton might lose IA compared to Obama but do better in PA and OH. In addition, OR, MN, FL go from easy win to tossup.

So is polling worth anything as the trends have already swung quite a bit?? Also the Dems have wasted a lot of time being negative towards each other and leaving McCain alone. Right now it looks like they both will lose unless the really start campaigning against their GOP opponent.

Submitted by lambert on

... which is why I'm stickying it.

I should stress, because my posting has been scattered on this issue, that the whole FL/MI thing drives me bonkers, and that I think Obama muffed a chance to really lead by not taking Carville up on his $15 million offer, and I think it's wrong to even appear to deny people votes. I also understand that the only duty of the automatic delegates, the SDs, is to render a judgment, and that, like it or not, the popular vote is just one of their inputs. Them's The Rulez. My understanding also is also that the pledged delegates can reverse themselves between now and August, making the breathless countdown to a "magic number" both meaningless and disingenuous. Yes? Might be nice to have an UPDATE on that in this post, just to wrap everything up in a tidy package.

UPDATE That Blue Dog scenario for an electoral college tie is horrific; deserves a sticky for that alone. And that's weapons-grade snark in the paragraph starting "Concede he must...."

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

corinne's picture
Submitted by corinne on

Starting with Atrios

At this point, however, Obama's won. There's no nomination path for her which doesn't involve rewriting the rules in a way which would never be seen as legitimate, or a massive shift in superdelegates which would likewise be problematic, and even those paths range from unlikely to impossible. I don't think Clinton has to drop out. She can continue to campaign through to the last contest if she wants (she doesn't need my permission to do so), though hopefully this article is correct and the, uh, emphasis of the campaign shifts away from Obama's supposed lack of appeal to real Americans.

It's sad to see him finally succumb to the Conventional Wisdom.

Definitely share it with Jerome Armstrong who tells the Obamabots to Deal With Defeat

In WV, Clinton is blowing Obama away in numbers that she has not been seen since Super Tuesday. And while Obama supporters have claimed that the her voters will move over to support Obama in the GE, this poll doesn't quite show that happening in WV

Submitted by lambert on

It would be interesting to lay the numbers in Krugman's clinging to the data against the Electoral College material here.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by lambert on


The following week, Barack Obama has planned a party to claim the nomination in Portland, based on his own campaigns measurement. He can say whatever he wants, but it's an insult to intelligence to believe it until it happens by the rules. As Howard Dean has said many times, MI and FL are going to be resolved and seated. Obama has now agreed with that position. Like it or not, the working number of delegates is 2209. There's not a rule that says if you get a plurality of the pledged delegates, you win.

The Obama campaign will declare that there's never been a candidate denied the election who had the most pledged delegates. True. But has there been a candidate denied the nomination whose had the most votes? I don't think so. But neither of those metrics matters. 2209, or whatever the number is after the resolution of MI and FL happens to be, is all that matters. Until then, we don't have a nominee.

Wow. A party. Will there be balloons? Will their be ponies?

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

corinne's picture
Submitted by corinne on

My invitation must have gotten lost in the mail. I'll be sure to cry myself to sleep over it /snark

MOBlue's picture
Submitted by MOBlue on

He won in only the typical Democratic strongholds. Clinton won the rest of the state. Last SUSA poll 4/11-13 Clinton 47% McCain 46%, Obama 42% McCain 50%.

27% of Democratic voters will vote for McCain rather than Obama.

cenobite's picture
Submitted by cenobite on

Based on state polls and monte carlo analysis. Monte carlo analysis handles the quantized nature of the electoral college (you either win or you don't, the electors are not awarded proportionally).

He takes the state head-to-head polls, turns them into a probability of either candidate winning, then runs 10000 elections with a random number generator.

This is a good methodology (in fact it was something I wanted to try myself) but I can't vouch for the implementation details, because I don't know them:

Obama-McCain, 89.9% probability of McCain win:

Clinton-McCain, 74.7% probability of Clinton win:

orionATL's picture
Submitted by orionATL on

thanks bringiton.

this represents a LOT of work.

i have not read this post carefully, nor the one i'm going to point you to,

but both seem to arrive at about the same conclusion.

my only caveat about either of these is that voter opinion in politics can change a good deal between now and november.

but i'm for clinton, period. no qualifiers needed, ever.

at No Quarter there is a post up this am entitled "math that matters most".

within, it references "an analysis by mr. x", who is, or claims to be, a canadian programmer.

i skimmed his analysis and i'm going back shortly to look it over more carefully.

but i think he, and bringiton, and karl rove are all on the same page about which democrat can win in November.

it looks as if the obama campaign has managed to stampede the superdelegates in their direction. that, most regrettably, is how politics works, in the congress especially. and how we get very bad legislation.

that is why it is very important that clinton not end her campaign until there is a formal vote in august.

orionATL's picture
Submitted by orionATL on

at No Quarter

see the post up this am entitled

"math that matters most"

within is a citation to "an analysis by mr. x " who is a canadian programmer

said mr. x does a very extensive numerical analysis with maps and comes to a conclusion simsilar to bringiton's.

the numberical analyses are converging in one direction and the superdelegates are stampeding in the opposite direction.

to paraphrase delong, why o why can't we have wiser political leadership?

koshembos's picture
Submitted by koshembos on

It is difficult to believe that the super delegates will stray too far from the Democratic leadership in the last 8 years. Therefore, the undecided will go with Obama because doing otherwise requires fortitude, belief in your strength and a backbone. We know too well the the Democratic leadership is genetically lacking all those character traits.

The post fails to cover an important point. In retrospect, Hillary could have won on all counts quite easily. Something is terribly suspect when you realize that Obama won all caucuses but one. Hillary didn't have enough monitors and enough information on voting in the caucuses. Only lately, it was divulged that the Texas caucuses went Obama due to his people downright cheating. There is a good reason to believe that Texas was not an aberration.

The timeout Hillary's campaign took after super Tuesday cost her a lot and is absolutely unclear why it happened.

Nominating Hillary still has to overcome the fact that she didn't run a good campaign at significant spots. Why should we expect this to change?

Submitted by lambert on

and no, I'm not sure that Hillary campaign did well on that; the decision seems entirely unmotivated. She hit her stride late, and I can only hope not too late.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

This is why, despite looking at the Math and the media, I just can't quite bring myself to accept Obama will be the nominee. It's not that it's shocking to me that we would pick someone so much less qualified, we've done that before. It's that he's pretty much been on a downward trend the last several months in crucial states while Clinton has been on an upward trend in those same states. He's a considerably weaker GE candidate now than he was in February and Clinton is stronger. And that has been the trend for two months and I think it is important that it's the trend now because look at how much campaigning has been done. People know a lot more about both candidates than they did in January or February.

Like I said, I hear the Math and media - and the Goddesses know this would not be the first time the democratic party all held hands and jumped off a cliff together, we are the party of the noble loss - but I just can't believe that the party overall wants to lose this chance at a major victory across the board.

jackbrown's picture
Submitted by jackbrown on

This is a giant reach at best...

The head to head polling between McCain and Obama is very similar to the Clinton-McCain matchup, and cooking numbers, while a great national pastime for blog-junkies, doesn't do a great job of representing the true picture.

Bottom line is McCain is VERY beatable, and either Dem will do it.

myiq2xu's picture
Submitted by myiq2xu on

You say either candidate will easily beat McCain. We say Hillary yes, Obama not so much.

Clearly we all agree that Hillary will easily beat John MCain.

That makes Hillary the obvious unanimous choice.

" . . . we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender . . ."- Winston Churchill

Submitted by lambert on

That's why I don't feel any need to do a thing for Obama other than vote for him -- and since his supporters wouldn't be comfortable working with racists, anyhow, why not give them a break -- but instead look at downticket races, or policy issues like universal health care. And it seems that he, Donna Brazile, and the Boiz have all made the same calculation, so who am I to quarrel with the experts?

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

cenobite's picture
Submitted by cenobite on

The head to head polling between McCain and Obama is very similar to the Clinton-McCain matchup, and cooking numbers, while a great national pastime for blog-junkies, doesn’t do a great job of representing the true picture.

Bottom line is McCain is VERY beatable, and either Dem will do it.

This "true picture" -- it is based on what? The hairs on the back of your neck? Many of us thought that Kerry couldn't possibly lose in 2004. We need to be hard-headed about this. The opinion polling, head to head, is very bad for Sen Obama and getting worse not better.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Paul L: Thank you for the kind words. I did give OR to Obama, for several reasons. One, he is well ahead in the polls so it seemed only fair, two I wanted to give him – and his supporters – every benefit of the doubt, and three it let me write in a definitive manner, with no loose ends. The decision for the Party leadership and their superdelegates isn’t going to be based on any of the metrics we’ve all been fussing over – not that the fussing was anything but worthwhile, explaining how the process works and how it doesn’t is absolutely valuable – but this time, this cycle, they will have to decide based on gut feel; politics as it should be played, I absolutely love it!

Oh and thanks ever so for putting up the pledged delegate allocation formula (that’s from the Democratic Delegate Selection document, and isn’t it a doozey?) Takes me back to that year of high school freshman algebra I spent staring at the extravagantly expanding breasts of the lovely young girl with the big blue eyes sitting next to me – ah, the memories!

I may have it wrong, but IIRC the actual formula is:


Based on numbers from the last three presidential elections (1996, 2000 and 2004) where SDV = state's democratic vote, TDV = the total popular vote for the democratic candidate, SEV = the state's electoral vote and 538 = the total number of votes in the Electoral College; must put those parentheses in just the right place or we might end up with President Sharpton. Why is this particular formula being used? No one seems to know. Plus, the total state allocation also includes the number of elected officials, party officials, and some At-Large delegates apparently just because, not to mention the “bonus delegates” given to states that played nice with Rules and Bylaws. Which would I suppose be fine and all except that giving weight to states that will not reward the Party with Electors in the general makes no sense at all. (Sigh. She was such a lovely girl….)

Aeryl, MOBlue, exactly. If Obama had won the MO primary by 100,000 votes he won’t win it in the general; probably neither of them will win it this year, so that victory is irrelevant when considering who will be the stronger candidate against McCain. Just doesn’t matter.

Aeryl, about MI: Clinton won 55.2% of the vote, majority. Play whatever games you like, give ALL of the other votes to Obama and she still wins by more than a 10% margin – a blowout in any election. What the OFB wants plus four bucks will get you a half-caf-half-decaf grande soy mocha with a dollop of whipped cream and still leave 20 cents for a tip – the “Creative Class” is generous like that, Reagan “trickle down” economic ideas are the best. Clinton won Michigan. Crushed the opposition. They need to deal with it.

Hipparchia, I hear ya but all we can do now is work with what we’ve got in hand. The primary system is, oh, what’s the term of art I’m searching for, ah yes – All Jacked Up. Needs to be fixed. Needs to be destroyed and replaced, actually. An interesting task for another day.

Intranets, old fellow, how are you? “Close” is, IIRC, the kindest word you’ve ever given me; much appreciated. As to “dumb” “not sound logic” and “pretend” those of us who ride the short bus do the best we can. My premise here, and it may well be “dumb”, is that the voters in the swing states know what they’re about. They understand that the whole point is winning the general, and so they will vote in their state for the candidate they see as most likely to win in that state. It is the Electoral College race that matters, surely we agree on that; I simply add in the notion that people voting in the PA primary have a fair collective sense of who will be the best candidate in PA in November, where “best” means most likely to win the state, and so forth. A far more reasonable means of assessment than sniffing around the pollsters, IMHO. (Oh, and how about that Guam vote, eh? Any thoughts on vote-rigging there, since Obama was supposed to take it handily? Any rumors on the integrity of the recount? I’m all ears.)

Lambert, thank you kindly for compliments and the sticky, as well as for the added assignment. I’ll do something tonight or tomorrow as time allows. The whole process is FUBAR, that’s one reason I can’t work up too much heat over inequities; beating people up over undemocratic processes within a fundamentally undemocratic process, well, great fun but misses the larger point – IMHO. Re: the BlueDogs, can you just imagine the machinations in the Senate should the VP be decided there? Joe Lieberman swings it to McCain and we have a split Administration, one where the Dem President has to spend four years in Cheney’s old undisclosed location governing by teleconference, to avoid assassination. Fabulous stuff.

Corrine, have at it. This is all public information; get busy circulating it. Take what you like, rearrange and add to, send it to everyone you know. Be the change, baby!

Cenobite, OMG, a Monte Carlo Analysis! Lovely stuff, I’d seen that write-up and agree, absolutely delightful, but, and thre is always a “but”, the problem is with the input data – the polls. GIGO, I’m afraid, plus how many superdelegates will either take the time to look at it or understand what it might mean? Just guessing here but I’ll put my bet down on Double Zero. Still, a terrific theoretical and definitely agree with you, you smart statistician you – absolutely a recommended read, for both the technique and its limitations.

Orion ATL: Please, put up some links to those articles. Hopefully I am not “on the same page” as Karl the Slug, the stench will never come off.

Koshembos: Yes, yes, yes and yes. What I’m trying to do here is get past all the what if and coulda shoulda and micro analysis, to put the question in a simple but rational way that avoids argument from people named “fruitless” and the like, and can be propagated in a few simple words “Hillary wins the states that matter”. Agreed, the Hillary ground game should have been better, but is that a rational reason to use as a basis for selecting the better candidate? Probably not, since in the general there won’t be any caucuses or county conventions or secondary selection committees – just a simple vote with actual voters and ballots. Someone who wins with ballots, in states that matter, that’s the Ticket.

BDBlue, agreed, so start writing. Dean, Pelosi and Reid – they are the target. If we can convince them, then Hillary gets the nomination. Go, sic ‘em!

Jackbrown: Please. Obama can beat McCain, I said so. Hillary beat Obama, in the states that matter; whipped his ass. Therefore – stay with me now, this is not hard – Hillary is the stronger candidate. End of argument. Now go away unless you have something new to offer. Nothing new, no more responses – please, everyone; if you pay attention to them, they just keep hanging around.

myiq2xu's picture
Submitted by myiq2xu on

Props, when the Scary Smart One gives you recognition (in a good way) you're doing something right!

" . . . we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender . . ."- Winston Churchill

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Reduced to a sentence, I am, but a good one:

"...winning a primary in a state where your party is in the minority is not an electoral advantage, even in a landslide win, because that does not change the relative strength of your party in comparison to the dominant party."


jackbrown's picture
Submitted by jackbrown on

Obama vs. McCain according to, an aggregate of dozens of polls,
pegs it at Obama 45.4% , McCain 45%:

Clinton polls stronger at 46.6% vs. 43.8 for McCain, and is trending in that direction as of recently.

And Kerry didn't lose, by the way- he should have forced Ohio to account for their votes and proved it.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Using your numbers - without any links, again, don't be so lazy next time - Obama v. McCain is a tossup. Clinton, however, has a clear lead over McCain. Hillary Clinton is the stronger candidate.

Glad to see you're catching on.

PS: Kerry who? The little Blue that came in second at the last Kennel Club show? Nobody cares anymore. We've moved on. It is 2008 now; try to keep up.

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

National polls are meaningless, but when it comes to comparisons between Clinton and Obama, they are especially meaningless.

That is because there is a significant difference in where Obama and Clinton's strengths are. Obama is strongest in heavily Republican states, while Clinton does far better in swing states.

It might be a great thing for the future of the party if the Democrats lose Wyoming by only 15% because Obama is on the ballot rather than Clinton, but its meaningless in terms of the future of this nation. Losing by less in heavily GOP states, and losing by small margins in Pennsylvania, means losing the White House.

That being said, I do have a question about these polls because I doubt if they adequately account for the demographic differences that would occur if Clinton or Obama is the candidate.

I think that we can expect to see higher female participation (relative to male) if Clinton is the nominee, and higher AA participation if Obama is the nominee -- we're really talking two different demographic models here. Are ANY of these national polls compensating for that?

jackbrown's picture
Submitted by jackbrown on

If you insist on a footnote to backup what I spelled out for you, who's being lazy?

Regarding Kerry, my post was a response to cenobite who referred to Kerry's "loss", which I would simply call the second consecutive stolen election... since both Gore and Kerry actually won I don't buy the hype about Dems needing to change message, tactics, etc.- just the counting.

As for keeping up, here are the only numbers that really matter:

Obama: 1,865, 160 needed
Clinton: 1,696, 327 needed
#needed for victory: 2,024.5

Everything else in this thread is something akin to denial of the present reality- I'd suggest that you keep up with that.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

Dems "lost" in 2000 and 2004 because the GOP didn't get crushed in two key demographics: women and Hispanics. A shift of a few points in each demographic and Gore would have stomped Bush. A few points shift in '04 and Kerry would have overcome Bush's popular vote edge. Clinton gets those two key demographics as everything indicates. With Hillary, you don't have to suppose different turnout models to make your case. And now that Hillary has proven to be a helluva fighter, she's making inroads to her largest hurdle, white men.

markg8's picture
Submitted by markg8 on

is right. Comparing Obama vs Clinton to get Obama or Clinton vs McCain is beyond pointless.

It's six months til the election. Six months ago Guiliani was the Repub frontrunner and Hillary was our inevitable nominee. A lot happens in six months. Polls today mean very little for November.

Polls today also reflect 15 months of Dem on Dem warfare, the worst of it since February while McCain has had a free ride from us in all that time.

Recession or worse staring us in the face, losing two wars, and don't think average Iraqis won't weigh in with the only vote they get to make their point: IEDs which is going to devastate the case for Senator Surge is Working, fresh stories of Republican corruption and incompetence every week if not daily, the American people's proclivity to throw one party out of the WH after 8 years, and a dynamic Dem candidate with a tested, incredibly well funded campaign machine compared to McCain's lobbyist ridden, financially hamstrung operation. Not to mention McSame's phoniness, propensity to blow his stack and flip flop like a fish out of water.

We're going to cream him in November. My guess is Hillary knows it too and that's why she's hanging around hoping someone comes up with a video of Obama having sex with a camel.

Submitted by lambert on

Jack asks Who's being lazy?


NOTE Jack, plenty of people use A tags without any problems. Generally, Corrente does NOT remove them. If you need help with the markup, please feel free to ask.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Nothing meaningful, same old regurg. Go find something new or on topic.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

You didn't include the links, you're the one who is lazy. Blaming Corrente for your laziness/incompetence is typical. Failure to make any new argument. Failure to add to the conversation. Go away.

myiq2xu's picture
Submitted by myiq2xu on

It’s six months til the election. Six months ago Guiliani was the Repub frontrunner and Hillary was our inevitable nominee. A lot happens in six months. Polls today mean very little for November.

Six months ago, nobody had voted yet. We're not looking at polls, we're looking at actual votes.



" . . . we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender . . ."- Winston Churchill

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

or damn near; state polls are not much better, as we've seen again and again in this campaign. After the Dems have decided and the public has a chance to reflect a little, then we'll see.

I only responded because it was so absurd for jackbrown to cite poll results that show Obama behind compared to Clinton, acting as though that somehow argued in Obama's favor. With these fanatics Obama could crap on their faces and they'd lick their lips; "Mmmmm, chocolate!"

Sad, actually.

intranets's picture
Submitted by intranets on

My point is that I don't think it is useful to examine winner take all between two dems.

In the swing states you have to consider:
- make up of registered Dems vs Rep vs independents
- the Obama / Clinton take of Rep and Indep
- the turnout of general voters versus primary voters

I agree people should focus on who can win the swing states, but I don't think it is as simple as more Dems voted for Hillary therefore she is the bet choice to win electoral college in a given swing state. While statewide polling is pretty lame, it does take into account part of the above concerns.

So for one thing you may have independents who do not vote in a primary, or even Republicans who might vote for Obama and would never vote for Hillary. I agree with your tables IF we were talking about states that were 70% registered Dems. But the reality is more complicated than assessing winner take all to a single Dem candidate.

You might look at the 2000 & 2004 history of swing states and compare the primary winner versus general election winner.

At any rate, my point is that you are trying to make the case of electoral college votes but then apply them to a Dem primary, which I think is not realistic.

Your table about Blue State electoral votes probably is relevant, but then again either candidate will win versus McCain in Nov, so I don't see that as a strong justification unless you are talking about fundraising, because those don't translate to the swing states.

It is akin to Obama supporters trying to point to how well Obama does in Red states primaries against Hillary... Again, so what? they don't matter in November and those states will not elect Obama in Nov.

jeqal's picture
Submitted by jeqal on

Your analysis makes sense. Thanks for the work you put into it. As a voter who watched all the BS in Michigan, you can rely on where my vote will be and where a triumph of angels would not inspire me to and hoard of demons would not possess me to vote for or drink Koolaid.
If he isn't concerned about the offense in MI, he will not be concerned about any issue of value to me.

"The great divide in this country is not by race or even income, it's by those who think they are better than everyone else and think they should play by a different set of rules," --Bill Clinton

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

about things we cannot know. If we knew this, and if we knew that, then we'd know more than we do; but we don't. We have to get by with what we do have, and the information is always sketchier than we'd like.

Unless the polls are hugely disparate, say looking at preferences between oh, me versus McCain and Obama versus McCain, where one person is way out ahead, I think you really do have to be very skeptical. Once the two major candidates are selected people will begin to sort out their hard choices, absent the taste of anticipated sour grapes and in the full glare of the consequences. By then, of course, if the Party has made the wrong choice it is too late for a take-over.

What we can do today is look at what has actually happened, where individual people went to the trouble to cast a ballot or show up at a caucus, not just answer a voice on the phone while making the grocery list or watching QVC or fighting with their spouse who voted for the "other" candidate.

I am supposing that the people who participated in these primary elections had a clear idea of why they favored one candidate or another, and that generally speaking they are culturally reflective of the geographic areas in which they live. I don't think those assumptions are really outlandish.

Where that leads me is to believe that they, the voters, are more likely to select someone who can win in their state; let me rephrase – choose between the two candidates and select the one who is likely to receive the highest general election vote total in their state, and thus be the person most likely to win. I don’t think that belief is overly a stretch, either.

Can we agree that, generally speaking, the voter preferences in the solid 5%+ margin states from 2004 have not moved sufficiently - Red or Blue - to put many of them, if any at all, in play? Obama winning the primary in Idaho or Wyoming does not mean he will carry those states in the general, true? Obama losing California and New York does not mean he will lose them in November, also true? It is, then, down to the Swing States.

To my mind, the best indicator we can get of who would be the strongest candidate in the Swing States is to look at the results of the elections just held in those states. When we do, Hillary Clinton obliterates Barak Obama. It is not even close.

I cannot see a conclusion here other than that Clinton is stronger in the Swing States than Obama, and that therefore Clinton is more likely to prevail over McCain in the Swing States than is Obama. If there is a flaw in this reasoning, please point it out; simply saying fooey isn’t constructive. By assigning the Electoral College votes as they would be in a general election, winner-take-all, the picture is IMHO made all the more stark, all the more clear; clarity is, after all, what we are seeking.

And no, I do not agree that there is much to be gained by looking at who won what in some primary in a past cycle. The assessment that needs making is this primary, this cycle, this time. This general election will be won or lost in the swing states. Hillary Clinton is stronger than Barak Obama in the Swing States, by an Electoral College count of more than 2:1. That is not to say that Obama will lose to McCain. What it does say is that Hillary Clinton will more likely beat McCain.

I fail to see what is still open to question. Hillary Clinton is the stronger candidate in the states that matter most. Hillary Clinton must be the nominee.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

you have to also include McCain's appeal to white men, independents and swing voters as well in your list--not to mention that he actually has a resume and real accomplishments, and a record of "unity" and working with the other party on bills and laws, etc. (he still sucks, but he has enormous appeal to millions of voters in every state)

Submitted by lambert on

... I think that's going to make a lot of people very, very unhappy. And I think they will be willing to share their feelings. Rather reinforces the E-L-E-E-T meme, wouldn't you say -- further alienating exactly the people he needs to broaden his base.

A bit off topic, but with bringiton stomping all the opposition so effectively, there's really nothing for me to do but natter about on the margins. Haw.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

What if, just blue skying here, Hillary holds a big party the day before Obama and declares herself the victor? Why not? The claim by Obama is specious, it means nothing but it will get publicity. If she has her party a day ahead, poof, there goes the air out of that balloon; all the press will be about who had the better party, who got what press coverage, meta-meta instead of his coronation story.

Somebody call Carville....

markg8's picture
Submitted by markg8 on

Don't need to bring anything new to the same old arguments.

Obama's tied or leads in superdels. 10 supers have switched from Clinton to Obama and none have switched the other way. Since Super Tuesday he's gotten 5 to 1 more of them than she has. It's very likely (rumors all over the place) that a lot of the supers are already committed to Obama but don't want to go public because they don't want to hit her when she's down from a combination of fear and loyalty. Obama and his supporters have been insulted with every fucking name under the sun but are waiting (with varying degrees of patience) for you and her to get it. It's over.

He leads in endorsements by governors, members of Congress, pledged delegates, popular vote, states won (by a large margin and in a lot of states with blowout margins), and cash on hand bigtime. BTW if you really believe in her electability so much put together a million of her supporters and get them to contribute $25 each right fucking now so you can convince the majority of the Democratic party that even if she can't field a competent, winning campaign she can at least raise money from her stalwarts. I for one don't want Obama paying off the mulitmillionaire Clintons' debt with one dollar of my contributions. I want it all going to bury McCain and if there's any to spare defeating goddam Republican senators and house reps. Bill can go cozy up to another fucking thug dictator who murders his opponents and union organizers to pay off her debt.

93% of the primaries are done. There are six states to go (including Puerto Rico). They will probably split three for her (WV, KY, PR) and three for him (OR, MT, SD).

Most of us will patiently wait for you to come to your senses in a few weeks but it's Saturday night, I'm tired after canvassing today for my local house candidate, I'm into my 5th beer and I'm not feeling very charitable after being personally insulted and having my intelligence insulted here for days. You write eloquently but you're deluded. It doesn't matter how you slice, dice, blend and puree the numbers trying to make her case. She's lost.

Process that emotionally and figure out what you're going to do now. There's 23 Repub senate seats up for election and 12 Dem to defend, not to mention every house seat. If you're too emotionally crushed by this nomination fight to support Obama then help them. Both Obama and Clinton have sucked up pro staffers, volunteers and a lot of cash that normally would go to those campaigns long before now. It's time we all turned what we have to offer against Republicans. Like him or not President Obama can only be as progressive as his congress let's him be.

myiq2xu's picture
Submitted by myiq2xu on

We'll make it a surprise party for her, and hold it on May 19th!

" . . . we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender . . ."- Winston Churchill

Submitted by lambert on


[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

plus "I'm into my 5th beer" really sealed the deal; opened my eyes, fer shur.

Same old rant, even a drunk can spew it out. Go sleep it off. Maybe sober you'll have something directly responsive to say, but I doubt it.

Hillary kicks Obama's ass all over the block in the states the Dems have to win. She absolutely owns him. Why in the hell would I want to back the loser?

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

will come from one of his very very many Credit Suisse/Hedge fund/Wall St/Ethanol/Lobbyist and Lawfirms/Nuclear Power/etc and other "big money fundraisers", like the one he held just on Thursday-- "He headlines a big dollar event Thursday in Chicago--still aimed at collecting money for the primary--not the general--election." --

Why's he collecting primary money and not general election money? And who do you think is going to be there? (hint--it's not you or his other small individual donors, who are not the ones who made his totals in the hundreds of millions of dollars)

oops, i forgot to mention Gas Companies--from January--"... the one in Gold Coast for 250 A-list contributors paying more than $1,000 each to visit Obama in a ritzy condo 10 floors up.
... Desiree Rogers, Obama fundraiser hostess.

The big Obama fundraiser Thursday at the home of Peoples Gas president Rogers ..." --

We'll have to ask his Campaign Finance Chair billionaire Penny Pritzker about his banking big bucks too -- Obama Finance Chair Linked To Subprime Industry --

Submitted by lambert on

but he forgot one or two points:

1. You repeat every metric you guys have on your blastfax from Axelrod except the one that bringiton posts on: The electoral math.

2. Then you insult us by saying our support is "emotional" ("Oh, you know what women Hillary supporters are like.")

3. And then you complain about being insulted.

But what would I know? I'm a racist. Uncreative, too. Don't get too drunk; reading this in the morning won't help your head.

Oh, and I closed your ital tag for you. No problem. Mom always cleans up after you.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

markg8's picture
Submitted by markg8 on

Six months ago, nobody had voted yet. We’re not looking at polls, we’re looking at actual votes.

You're looking at votes in Dem primaries and trying to extrapolate that to GE votes against a Republican six months into the future. The vast majority of voters who voted for Obama or Clinton will not stay home or vote for McSame in the November election. Go look at the state vote totals, not just lately but when Mittens, and the Huckster looked viable. Look at the states where Repubs had serious statewide downballot races to fight over among themselves. Their turnout is puny while in state after state people have reregistered to vote Dem. Most of them are not going back for the guy who doesn't know the difference between Sunnis and Shiites.