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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hillary's Math Problem

The candidate stood in front of a backdrop of smiling supporters, as candidates always do. One supporter waved a sign that read "COUNT EVERY VOTE," while Hillary Clinton advanced an argument that doesn't count every vote. "I believe that with your help we will send a message to this country because right now more people have voted for me than have voted for my opponent,” Clinton said. “More people have voted for me than for anybody ever running for president before."

Hillary Clinton and her surrogates have been arguing that she's won the popular vote. But the equation it takes to reach sum takes a detour through BS land. Clinton is including Michigan, where Barack Obama wasn't on the ballot, and discounting caucus states that haven't officially released their numbers. So, if you count the elections that don't count and discount a few that do, Hillary Clinton has a whopping 26,000 vote lead. With 33 million votes cast, that's less than 0.0008% -- a figure known among math wizards as "nuthin'."

ABC News' Jake Tapper takes on Clinton popular vote argument and concludes it's mathematically challenged. "One problem with these claims," Tapper writes, "they don't appear to be true."

The bottom line: Sen. Barack Obama likely won the popular vote as well -- even with those disputed contests in Michigan and Florida counting.


Tapper relies on pollster Gary Langer's analysis. Clinton's math requires that you give her a lot of rope. Langer points out that much of her numbers are pulled out of thin air. He runs his own numbers and comes to an entirely different conclusion. "Using these estimates of actual voters in the Iowa, Nevada, Maine, Washington and Texas caucuses, rather than the initial delegate counts, we get a net total Democratic vote to date of 17,607,152 for Obama and 17,504,742 for Clinton, an Obama lead of 102,410 votes –- even with Michigan and Florida included," Langer tells us.

Run real world math and Hillary's "lead" drops to a six-digit negative. Ouch.

For his part, Barack Obama claimed a major benchmark last night. "The polls are closed in Kentucky and votes are being counted in Oregon, and it's clear that tonight we have reached a major milestone on this journey," he said in an email to supporters. "We have won an absolute majority of all the delegates chosen by the people in this Democratic primary process."

So, not only has Obama won the popular vote, but the pledged delegate vote as well. In fact, Obama is also ahead in superdelegates. By no real measure is Hillary Clinton leading in any category. "Hopeless" is not a strong enough word to describe Clinton's situation. I believe the correct word for this is "screwed."

Still, Obama isn't running victory laps.

New York Times:

But even as Mr. Obama moved closer to making history as the first black presidential nominee, he stopped short of declaring victory in the Democratic race, part of a calibrated effort in the remaining weeks of the contest to avoid appearing disrespectful to Mrs. Clinton and alienating her supporters. Instead, he offered her lavish praise.

“Senator Clinton has shattered myths and broken barriers and changed the America in which my daughters and your daughters will come of age, and for that we are grateful to her,” Mr. Obama said.


There is some reason to worry, though. Kentucky seems rife with dumbasses. NYT reports that "just half of the Democratic voters said in exit polls that they would back [Obama] in the general election this fall."

On the other hand, it's hard to see either Clinton or Obama taking Kentucky in the general election. It went to Bush in 2000 and 2004. The electoral college is winner take all and a narrow loss is just as decisive as a landslide. The number by which a candidate would lose a state is irrelevant.

Still, I think this is as much a problem for Clinton as for Obama. Hillary's going to go back to the Senate very soon and, if she's seen as the person who lost '08, she's going to have a very bleak political future. She's going to have to campaign long and hard to make up for the damage she's done to the party.

At the moment, Obama and the Democratic party can afford the damage. A Quinnipiac University Poll shows McCain losing big to Obama -- 40% to 47%. As of this writing, Gallup daily tracking shows McCain losing 44% to 47%. Still, it's sad to see dumbasses willing to vote a sour grapes ticket. Any Democratic voter who believes McCain would be better than Obama is a brand-new kind of stupid. But it also seems to be an irrelevant kind of stupid.

Still, an untreated wound may fester. In her campaign to tear down Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton has delivered blows that are going to hurt. And BS arguments about the popular vote aren't going to help any. Clinton made the cut, so Clinton's going to have to stem the bleeding. She needs to get her dumbasses in line and back to reality. John McCain would be George W. Bush's third term.

It's pretty clear that Hillary Clinton's not going anywhere. "This is nowhere near over," Clinton said after winning Kentucky. "None of us is going to have the number of delegates we’re going to need to get to the nomination, although I understand my opponent and his supporters are going to claim that."

Here's a crazy idea -- just spit-balling here -- but what if Hillary attacked John Freakin' McCain? What if she acted like a damned Democrat and not a Republican? What if she started giving a crap about her party and her nation? What if she stopped making arguments requiring crazy math and actually got people to worry about the possibility of yet one more neocon presidency?

Like I say, it's a crazy idea. But it's an idea whose time has come.

-Wisco

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