Political Math. How do we sort through all of this?

This is going to be a long post but I tried to provide headings so you can just read the ones that interest you.  Irma & Billie I hope this answers your questions.


As it stand today neither Obama nor Clinton can win the 2,024 delegates required to win the Democratic Presidential nomination without some combination of elected delegates (those chosen in primaries and caucuses) and superdelegates (party and elected officials who are automatic delegates to the Democrats’ Denver convention this summer).   So, Hillary has to secure the party nomination by securing those unpledged delegates at the Convention. 


What is a Superdelegate? 

A superdelegate (also called an unpledged delegate) is simply a delegate who is not pledged (or committed) to vote for a particular candidate at the convention.  


Superdelegates tend to be elected officials, party activists and other distinguished party leaders as defined by the party (State’s Governor, Members of the State legislature, people appointed by the party).  Each superdelegate has one vote.  Some of the superdelegates have already announced their intention to vote for a particular candidate.


The Democratic Delegate Math*:

4047 = Total Democratic Develops at the 2008 National Convention

3253 – Number of pledged delegates who commit to vote for one of the candidates based on the state primary elections, caucuses, or conventions (how ever the State Party has decided to determine their delegates).

794 – Number of superdelegates.  This number can change slightly.

2024 – Majority of Delegates needs to win the Democratic nomination to be the parties’ candidate for President. 


*Remember the numbers and methods differ for the Republican Party which tends to have winner take all primaries.


Why do we have Superdelegates?

Believe it or not the idea of creating unpledged delegates from party leaders was a recommendation from a Commission in the early 80’s that was reacting to Democratic losses with Jimmy Carter and George McGovern.  The new rules enacted attempted to create a class of voters who were older, more experience, and more loyal to the party then delegates chosen by primaries and caucuses. 


What is up with Florida & Michigan?

Even more interesting in this tangled web is the fact that Florida and Michigan’s delegates will not be seated at the Convention (have a vote) because the State legislatures moved up their primary dates (in a move to be relevant to the primary election process.)  The Democratic Party said any state that moves up their primary date will not be allowed to count their delegates at the Convention.  So now the Florida & Michigan are working the DNC (Democratic National Committee) and the candidates to try and figure a way to have their delegates participate in the process.  I don’t think anybody really thought the race would be this close.  (On a side note, Republicans did the same thing and attempted to punish any states that moved their primary election dates, however the Republicans punished the state by only allowing ½ of their delegates to participate in the National Convention.)  Some of the candidates did not even campaign that much in Florida and Michigan because their delegates were not going to count.  Now we have to figure out how to give the citizens of those states a voice at the Convention. 


What is this Texas Primary & Caucus thing?

Yes, Texas has a primary election and a caucus to determine the Democrat delegates.  Why?  This was done by the Democratic Party in Texas to give the general public a vote in the election of a Presidential Candidate, while also allowing active party leadership to have an additional influence over the delegates from Texas.  It was done to ensure that those politically astute democrats can make sure Texans don’t put their substantial amount of eggs (delegates) into the wrong basket (a candidate not supported by the party establishment). 


So let us do a little math and see if I can explain this. 


Texas Democratic Primary Math:

228 Democrat Delegates in Texas

193 are Pledged Delegates

35 are Super delegates (unpledged)


Texas Democrats have 228 Delegates who will go the Democratic National Convention in August and vote for their Presidential Candidate (Hillary or Obama).  Of the 228 Delegates, 193 are pledged delegates and 35 are un-pledged (super delegates).


193 Pledged Delegates – how are these determined?

  • 126 of these are determined by your primary votes.  Delegates are allotted based on primary results by district. (Remember, D’s like to split up their primary votes so everyone gets a representative portion. Even though Hillary won the most primary votes, if Obama won in a certain district he would get that delegate.) 
  • 67 of the 193 Pledged Delegates are determined in the statewide caucus held by the Democratic Party. This is normally done at the State Convention (held in the summer).  These 67 people are statewide party leaders, elected representatives, and local party leaders.  These 67 people and their vote (Obama or Hillary) are determined at a Caucus. I won’t get into it but Texas D’s has three different methods for caucusing. 


What is interesting about the Texas process is that historically Obama has done better in a caucus situation.  So, what does that mean for Texas 228 delegates?  They could be evenly distributed between Hillary (who won the primary votes) and Obama (who does better in Caucus situations.)


35 Super Delegates – what is their job?

These super delegates are unpledged, which means they can vote for whomever they decide at the Convention in August.  These are part of the pool of people whom many believe will help swing this election. 


Food for Thought:

What I find interesting about this whole processes is the quandary the Democratic Party currently finds themselves in.  Superdelegates could end up giving the Nomination to someone who does not have the majority of general election voters (i.e. the Nomination goes to Hillary yet Obama has more primary votes in his favor).   What does this say for a Party that spent four since in early 2000 screaming that George W. Bush was not elected by a majority of the people.  (I am not even going to go into this old debate as President George W. Bush was elected as a result of the rules outlined in the US Constitution (the Electoral College)).  Additionally, which candidate do they choose?  You have one candidate who is raising twice as much as the other one (Obama).  You have one candidate taking the large states (Hillary).  You have one candidate that elicits a severe dislike from a lot of people (Hillary).  You have one candidate that lacks experience (Obama). 

I used to say we could not have a Clinton/Obama ticket but I think that is what the D’s are going to have to do.  And it would need to be Clinton on the top of the ticket. 


For me…this is all very fascinating. 

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2 Responses to Political Math. How do we sort through all of this?

  1. Tracy says:

    This breakdown made more sense to me than the ones they post on CNN 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to do this.

    This whole process is fascinating and frustrating at the same time…but I just can’t get enough of it.

  2. Irma says:

    Fascinating…yes, unecessarily complex…YES!! Does it really have to be this discombobulated, I mean come on!?!? Coming up with a candidate should not be this complicated!!

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