quarta-feira, março 12, 2008

Outro contributo (para os que ainda não perceberam bem)

The first: the current total delegate counts have Obama at 1571 delegates and Clinton at 1470 (according to DemConWatch, but varies slightly depending on who you choose to get your numbers from) with 599 delegates remaining. Speaking purely mathematically, it is possible for both Obama and Hillary to reach the "Magic Number" via the pledged delegates. It is not likely, as he would have to win about 76% of the remaining delegates in every state left (a large margin even by his blowout standards), and Hillary would need to win a whopping 92.5% (if Mississippi splits evenly her required margins increase to 95%). The second flaw in this argument is the fact that it is hypocritical in its composure. Both Obama and Hillary's current totals, and more importantly the ultimate goal post, already factor superdelegates into the equation: 203 and 244, respectively, and 795 for the total.

The MSM is trying to frame the discussion about who can run up the majority of pledged delegates while using the superdelegate mile markers. To put this into perspective: in order to get to 2024 if superdelegates had no say whatsoever (which they technically do not) up until Denver, the victor would have to win a pinch more than 62% of the vote, which is obviously a good deal more than a simple majority. This becomes problematic when trying to describe who has won in terms of popular opinion, because the number make it seem like NEITHER candidate has. A few minutes thought can poke the holes in this presentation, seeing as there are only two candidates in this contest, and one has a significant lead, so one must be holding a majority opinion by pure logic.

Most reasonable people who have been following the exchange with tend to agree that the superdelegates are fickle creatures, they can and have changed their minds in the process and likely will do so in the future. Endorsements, therefore, are at best unreliable indicators of he final vote and really should be discounted. However, to properly frame the case for popular opinion, we have to wipe them from the equation. This leads to my major point in this article: the popular vote Magic Pledged Number (MPN) is not 2024, it is 1627. Also, in this frame of reference, Obama has 1387 delegates to Clinton's 1229.5 (via wikipedia's count). What's the big deal, you ask, making a distinction between 2024 and 1627 if both their numbers lower respectively? Well, the pledged delegate majority is the best poll we can get of the popular national opinion for the candidate (given that it is, you know, the actual election part of the primary process). Also, it encompasses the argument Obama is putting forward to attempt to sway those fickle elected officials who comprise the superdelegates. More importantly, the 2024 goal combined with excluding additional superdelegates makes the race seem closer than it is and more likely to be a deadlock. Worded differently: it makes Obama's 4.6% lead seem like a pithy 3.7% lead (note: both are fairly substantial leads at this point in the race, but we're getting to that).

So that's it? A less than 1% difference? That's what I've been ranting to you about? They both still need 76% or 92.5% of remaining pledged delegates, right? The answer, of course, is no. This, in fact, is where the truly interesting part of this analysis peaks into the light: setting the expectations. Hillary needs 404.5 delegates to reach the pledged delegate majority, while Obama only needs 240. Therefore, Obama only needs to win 40% of the remaining delegates, while Clinton needs to win a whopping 67.5% to claim a majority of the popular vote. We'll call these numbers the expectation floor (EF) for the candidates, meaning not a polling expectation, but the mathematical expectations they must overcome. You may notice those numbers do not add up to one hundred, this is because they are confounded by 36.5 phantom delegates that are either committed to John Edwards or not yet assigned, so we are ignoring them for the time being. The fact remains, as things stand Obama's expectations for remaining contests are 40% to Hillary's 67.5%. Now, due to delegate math, 67.5% of remaining delegates is somewhat difficult to translate into exact votes, but let us assume a 1:1 delegate proportion to voter percentage If you run the numbers over the previous primary/caucuses, the appointments really are not far off from this assumption, in spite of all the spinster's complaints about complications. For example: say Hillary pulls out a 60-40 win (Scenario 1). Multiply the 158 pledged delegates by 60% and you get 94.8 to Clinton, leaving 63.2 to Obama. The Slate's super scientific Delegate Calculator crunches all its numbers and dishes out 95 to Clinton and 63 to Obama. Shockingly similar, eh? Makes it real easy to do in Excel too, as it turns out. Anyhow, assuming Scenario 1, Obama would have made no dent in public opinion in Pennsylvania and Hillary would have exceeded poll predictions. Assume as well an equally unlikely, but possible, 50-50 split in Mississippi. Hillary would have beat polls in both states, and should be that much closer to having this nom, according to Harold Ickes, "locked up", correct? Oh how wrong you would be. By winning beneath her EF, she actually makes it more unlikely that she will win moving forward. Specifically, at that point she would have to win 72% of all remaining delegates. Suppose she digs into Obama's demographic support again, which she has not yet currently done at all, and manages to tie up North Carolina and Indiana. Heck, say she pulls 55% out of each, against the odds (call this Scenario 1.1). She would then only have to catch 86% of the remaining delegates to get the pledged majority. After winning! You can see where this is going. This would mean Obama was pulling less than 14% of the vote (effectively netting him no delegates). Huckabee has been outperforming those odds while being all but penniless and doomed. Each time she fails to get to the expectation margin, the bar gets higher and higher until it vanishes into nothingness.

Aha, but Florida and Michigan will have a play, will they not? We cannot, in good conscious, disenfranchise those voters. They're already talking about revotes. A paltry $20 million a pop for Hillary favored primaries and it's a done deal. They can save Hillary, no doubt. All is not lost, oh mathmonger me. But do they? Let's crunch the numbers again. Adding in Florida and Michigan, the new pledged magic number is 1784. Assuming a theoretical even Mississippi split, Hillary would only have to win 63.8% of remaining delegates. Meanwhile, Barack would just have to hold onto 45% to get to the lead. Scenario 1.1 would leave her needing 65.1%. The progression is markedly slower, leading to a long, drawn out process, but the result is the same. Is there any way for Hillary to have an advantage? What if, by some crazed political miracle the delegates in Florida and Michigan get seated as they are, in spite of the massive unfairness and rule breaking? Suppose Obama gets no delegates from Michigan, since his name was on the ballot, netting Clinton 70 free delegates based on her margin as the Uncommitteds wander off into the wilderness in search of purpose. Surely, then, the math would be in her favor, after changing the rules mid-game. Wouldn't they? Well, Obama's EF would jump to 56%. Clinton, then is sitting pretty at 66.5%. All that conniving and game changing to net a 1% point decrease in her EF. Why is Obama's so much higher while Clinton's stays almost the same? Remember those phantom delegates, now totaling 94.5 (almost a whole big state!)? They now constitute a significant enough portion or pledged delegates to stop a candidate from achieving the MPN. In any event, the only real benefit from this scenario is it brings Obama down perception wise and makes it possible that he will not meet the MPN, but simply have the most delegates. And, of course, it shrinks Obama's current 150 delegate lead to around 62. Interestingly enough, Clinton's EF is smaller doing the revote in Florida and Michigan, since she did not come anywhere near meeting it the first time around in the arguably unfair contests, though it is highly unlikely she would do better the second time around. And one can assume Obama would net more than zero delegates in a second Michigan vote, keeping his EF in the mid-40's.

Fine, you say, Obama will have more delegates. But, he'll have been beaten up badly and likely will be losing a morale war, even if he'll be awash with money from swooning, delusional supporters. Never good as far as superdelegates decision making is concerned. And, of course, there is the latest Clinton trump card talking point: the popular vote. Even if she does not meet the strange, coldly logical EM number she faces, she can pull out a win in the popular vote. After all, over 27 million people voted and there is only a 600,000 vote advantage to Obama (Obama: 13,005,114, Clinton: 12,414,786 according to RealClearPolitics). Why, if you add Florida and Michigan (where Obama was not on the ballot, getting zero votes, which will never, in the Clinton camp's wildest dreams, be considered a valid line of argument, especially if she is still behind in delegates), she actually manages to squeak ahead in votes, by a whole 30,000! In any event, and ignoring the glaringly obvious problem that Nevada, Iowa, Maine, and Washington, the first of which was a close contest and the last three are fairly populous, all having voted for Obama by big margins, have not released popular vote totals. This means they are not included in any popular vote total you may see (go ahead and check if you don't believe me). It is entirely possible Obama's lead is in the range of a cool million votes, but I digress. Let us not jump to conclusions and assume a 600,000 vote difference, based on the numbers we have. Now then, how to estimate the total number of voters in upcoming states to establish a reasonable EF for Hillary to make up in this regard? None of the upcoming states have voted in recent primaries, and this year has been all about records. So, in the spirit of fairness, I went ahead and took the 2007 US Census estimates for state population totals, assumed 80% of people would be eligible to vote, and that 25% would vote in these upcoming primaries. Keep in mind, 27% was the highest primary turnout among all eligible voters (not just Dems or Rs) and that was in 2004. But these are record breaking years, Dems have outnumbered Rs in almost every race, etc. If you doubt my estimates consider it this way: if this methodology were applied to the states that have already voted so far, the popular vote totals would be 55 million people thus far, more than twice the actual number, so I think everything is covered by a safe margin of error (one that will prove in favor of Hillary Clinton) in this hypothetical. Using this extremely bold estimate, actual voter turnout in the remaining states (and Puerto Rico) would be 8,667,123 people. To make up the 600,000 vote deficit, Hillary would have to win a 7% point margin above Obama in every remaining contest, or an EF of 53.5%. In all likelihood, this will not happen. If you remove from the equation the Obama favored states of North Carolina, Oregon, South Dakota, and Montana, meaning they pull a 50-50 popular vote split, that margin increases to 10.5%. This is, of course, much more achievable than beating her EF for pledged delegates, but these estimates are best case scenario, with likely record breaking turnout increases of 400% or so. And it is still highly unlikely that this outcome will happen in even the rosiest of scenarios. Not to mention, if Clinton just barely squeaks out a popular vote total, while losing overall delegates, she still does not have a very good case to make.

So what do all these numbers mean? Essentially, they point out that the best hope for Hillary Clinton to win the election is for Barack Obama to be struck by a meteorite, so long as it kills him and does not grant him any (more?) superhuman powers. Beating her EF of 67.5% in all states is an outlandish proposal. The only election she's done that so far was in Arkansas, her sort of home state. She was just shy of that margin during her incumbent run for Senate in NY (for those not well versed in Senate elections, incumbents nearly always win and its rarely a contest). More than likely, even if everything went Clinton's way, she would be down in both pledged delegates and popular vote. As far as I am concerned, by the way, given than 3 of the 4 states not reporting vote totals fell huge for Obama, pledged delegates are the most accurate representation of the will of the American people we have available. The purpose of this post was to portray this fact as accurately as possible, and define the terms anyone truly interested in the popular opinion should look to.

If these figures seem unfair to Hillary Clinton, when, "the people have not all yet spoken," I encourage you to remember that there are only 11 contests left, with 43 having already been decided. The people HAVE spoken. They have with enough of a margin where if this were an election night, it would already have been called by every network weeks ago. This is not, however, a call for Hillary Clinton to step down. How she proceeds at this point in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds is her right. I may feel it is damaging to the party, or a waste of money, or any number of things, but it is not incumbent upon her to step down. She has come very far and deserves to be heard, when she says rational things at least. Nor do I feel this is a good excuse for Obama or his supporters to take it easy or rest on their laurels. If anything, that was the cause for his receding support in the days leading up to last Tuesday. The 50 state strategy is proving to have some good coattails, just look at Bill Foster in Illinois or the SurveyUSA numbers, and we cannot afford to have a weakened or lazy candidate walking out of this primary whenever it is finally called. I do feel like this should be a message to the superdelegates to put pressure on Clinton to stop the negative attacks and outright character assassination she employs against Barack Obama, in her ridiculous effort to bring about what, at very best, amounts to a shady backroom deal behind closed doors, defying the will of the people. To stop the open endorsements of John McCain over Barack Obama. To stop the accusations of falsehood regarding his positions on NAFTA and the Iraq war that he has stayed consistent on for years and has no reason to lie about. To stop the claims of impropriety in regards to Tony Resko when she herself has a laundry list of shady donors that includes the very same individual and several of his Co-defendents. To stop the bitter infighting on the trail while giving John McCain leave to sneak into the White House and swap the locks on the doors.

DailyKos (antes do Mississipi)


Blogger Ana Cláudia Vicente said...

Pensas que a gente não te lê por não passar correntes, mas tu desengana-te, Francisco; a malta de vez em quando tem insónias, outras vezes trabalha até tarde, por isso passa por cá não vá haver novidade. E ou sonhei ou esteve aqui um post bem bonito acima deste e agora não está. Mas pronto. Vou dormir.

2:23 da manhã  

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