In troubling news for Clinton, pace of superdelegate endorsements accelerating

The number of uncommitted superdelegates is rapidly declining. After 5 endorsements on Monday and 5 on Tuesday, the number dropped by 9 more today -- with a 10th superdelegate vote switching sides. At the end of the day, this is a net increase of 4 for Clinton, while Obama bests her with a net increase of 5. With every superdelegate that Obama pick-ups, Clinton's road gets tougher and the proportion of uncommitted superdelegates she needs to win increases.

Thus, these past 3 days have been as tough as any for the Clinton campaign -- and this despite Obama's rough patch and his at times dramatically declining poll numbers. Even the best results on May 6th will not help her if she cannot convince superdelegates to remain patient.

First, the Illinois and New York Democratic parties add-ons were revealed today. Both states are choosing figures who are unanimously supporting their Senators. Thus, NY's 4 add-ons (including state Attorney General Cuomo and state Comptroller DiNapoli) are Clinton endorsees, while IL's 3 add-ons (including Mayor Daley) are Obama supporters. The fact that some of the undecided superdelegate spots have not yet been allocated is one more obstacle that Clinton will have to overcome; indeed, there is very little Clinton can do to pick-up the share of add-ons she needs. Many of the slots will be filled by party committees in states that Obama won handily (Maryland, for instance, will choose its add-ons on Sunday) and these committees will be hard pressed to allocate these slots to Obama supporters.

Three non-add-on superdelegates also made news today:
  • After the president of Pennsylvania's AFL-CIO yesterday, John Olsen, the president of the Connecticut's AFL-CIO endorsed Clinton today.
  • But an AFL-CIO official in Texas, John Patrick, expressed his support for Obama.
  • Finally, the most high-profile endorsement came from Joe Andrew, the former chairman of the DNC from 1999 to 2001. A Clinton loyalist, Andrew was a Hillary supporter but he announced today that he was switching his support to Obama.
Andrew provided two reasons for his decision, and they are both likely to be touted by the Obama campaign in the coming days. He blasted the Clintons' "old politics" of which he said he has long been part. Responding to the Clinton campaign before it had even reacted, Andrew explained, "I will be branded as disloyal, power-hungry, but most importantly, they will use the exact words that Republicans used to attack me when I was defending President Clinton." Second, Andrew asserted that he was convinced the prolonged primary was hurting Democrats and that the party had to unite ASAP to prevent a McCain victory. This is of course a crucial argument the Obama campaign is voicing to superdelegates, while Clinton has been more successful in persuading them that no irremediable harm would be done.

As a former DNC chairman, Andrew is an insider with a lot of connections -- and that could lead other superdelegates to take notice of his choice and the arguments he is using and to come out with their own endorsements. To halt the superdelegate movement before it is too late, Clinton needs to deal a truly powerful blow to the Obama campaign on Tuesday in Indiana and North Carolina -- her Pennsylvania victory was evidently not large enough for superdelegates to take pause.

That the number of uncommitted superdelegates declined by 19 in 72 hours also suggests that Obama could get close to the "magic number" of 2,024 faster than we were expecting, especially when the delegates of Indiana and North Carolina are allocated. The Obama campaign is now placing itself 283 delegates away from the nomination. The closer Obama gets, of course, the higher the proportion of remaining votes Clinton will have to snatch, though the Obama campaign's calculations are based on a convention with no Florida and Michigan delegates seated. If any arrangement is found in those two states, and even if just the superdelegates are allowed to sit, Obama will find himself further to a majority, breathing new life to the Clinton campaign. (Just imagine how different our conversation might have been right now if the Clinton campaign had succeeded in scheduling a revote for FL and MI on June 3rd...).



  • Don't worry Fl. and Mich. are going to be counted. The supers, as Carter said, reserve their right to flip either way so a predicted outcome is nearly impossible. A presumption of Obama's winning is as poisonous to him as one for Hillary would be. This rush to wrap things up just flushes out the losers. If you can't handle the race until it ends, then you lose. A need to cut the process short is not a good sign.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 01 May, 2008 19:12  

  • Talk about whistling past the graveyard....There wasn't much of this desire to drag things out from the Clinton camp when they thought they could talk the Super Ds down out of the trees. Remember, 'it will all be over after Super Tuesday'?

    If MI and FL are counted - and some sort of deal will be brokered - it isn't going to do her much good. At best, she'll get a modest edge in those delegations.

    The Super Ds will not hand her the nomination if she can't win it through the process at hand - it would be a worse disaster for the party than ratifying an Obama nomination despite a concern that McCain could defeat him in November.

    It is what it is - he has a number of Super Ds in the bag, and he's running them out on a daily basis to underscore the continued momentum in the face of the Wright situation. Despite these hopeful predictions and casting of spells from Clintonistas, they're not going anywhere unless (a) he suffers a crushing defeat in IN (and 8% isn't that); (b) she comes within 5% +/- in NC; and (c) his general election numbers plummet. Sure, it could happen, but it's equally likely (or unlikely) that he'll maintain a robust edge in NC+; stay competitive in IN; and stabilize his poll numbers. Fanatics on both sides have a tendency to extrapolate linearly based on fragmentary data.

    Wright did him an immense favor, and please, no conspiracy theories. He forced his hand on walking away from the preacher's excesses, which allowed him to reaffirm his belief in moderation as opposed to Wright's rantings. Don't know if it's too late in the cycle to help him next week, but it may pay dividends in the longer run.

    By Anonymous zoot, At 01 May, 2008 20:15  

  • The superdelegates would be there if it weren't for a similar situation with McGovern that cost the party the WH. It would simply be foolish to allow that to happen. Wright will no doubt rear his ugly head. Michelle's Princeton thesis will show a longterm segregationist bent. The Rezko trial will pull in Barack. To mention just a few looming problems. This nomination will not be settled until the convention and no one can do anything about it. Whether or not next weeks races are decisive, it won't change anything. If Obama implodes then maybe she wins by default sooner. That seems very likely at this point.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 01 May, 2008 20:54  

  • This nomination will not be settled until the convention and no one can do anything about it.

    Quite the confident assertion. But I see little reason for superdelegates to sit on the fence after June 3, when the last primaries are held, and they'll be under a lot of pressure to make a decision. So my speculation is that it will be over shortly after that date at the latest.

    By the way, if one looks at the 55 add-on superdelegates yet to be named, they at best will split if they follow their states' results (California's chair said CA's add-ons will be split 3-2 Clinton in accordance with the statewide results). If that happens, it makes Clinton's climb that much steeper.

    By Blogger dsimon, At 01 May, 2008 22:00  

  • I agree with zoot that if Obama can keep IN competitive (ie single digits) and win NC by double digits then the movement of SD's to Obama will quicken.
    Maybe by May 7th we will see this thing essentially over (depending on IN and NC results).

    By Anonymous Mike, At 01 May, 2008 22:07  

  • My Prediction on how this will end.

    The only real Demo way out, without creating a disaster.

    SD simply split 50/50 (400 each candidate). Then seat the FL and MI delegates. With 140+ Delegate lead after the primary. He has more than enough room to spare if the SD split evenly.

    Cleans everything up in a nice package. FL, and MI seated. SD simply split down the middle. The "Voters" choose.

    I really don't see any other way out that will not fracture the party. People still won't be happy, but its the best they can do at this point.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 01 May, 2008 22:29  

  • 208 PDs left.

    I predict: Clinton gets 206, Obama gets 202. This prediction gives Clinton record-breaking landslides in KY, WV, PR, GM and Obama margins less than his average in NC, MT, SC and OR. It gives Clinton a moderate win in IN, but not a landslide.

    Margin: Clinton +4

    Obama: 1527 + 202 = 1729 PDs
    Clinton: 1367 + 206 = 1573 PDs

    Margin: Obama + 156



    Obama: 248
    Clinton: 265

    Margin: Clinton +17

    Obama: 1729 + 248 = 1977
    Clinton: 1573 + 265 = 1838

    2025 - 1977 = 48

    Obama: 48 delegates away from the nomination

    2025 - 1838 = 187

    Clinton: 187 delegates away from the nomination.

    282 SDs left to declare.
    Clinton must get a 187 SD MARGIN in order to get the nomination.

    187 is 66.31% of 282, she needs a 66.31% MARGIN, meaning, she needs to pick up 83.25% of the remaining supers, or now more than 4/5 of the supers, to get IT.

    The is the math for her.

    All Obama has to do is to pick up 48 more SD endorsements between now and the convention.

    That is the math for him.

    By Blogger Mark, At 02 May, 2008 03:24  

  • And this math is assuming that he does exceptionally poorly in the last 9 contests.

    By Blogger Mark, At 02 May, 2008 04:06  

  • Mark,

    Thanks for all the very useful math! But it is also assuming that there is no resolution at all in FL and MI.

    By Blogger Taniel, At 02 May, 2008 04:12  

  • And a typo above:

    "208 PDs left"

    Should be "408 PDs left"

    By Blogger Mark, At 02 May, 2008 04:19  

  • Oh, superdelegates have had enough of Hillary's hypocrisy and dishonesty. Those who continue to back her feel they have owed her politically or are afraid of endangering their relationship with the Clintons. Most of the supers voting for her have a long history of ties to the Clintons.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 02 May, 2008 15:08  

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