The Truth About Delegate Math

I really can’t believe how many people who claim to be “political junkies” don’t even seem to want to understand how primary delegates work. I am getting so sick of people propagating pure bullshit because it doesn’t comport with what they want to be true, and people who wish the reality was different treating everyone who tells them the truth as if there is something inherently wrong with them.

Look, it is a FACT that Hillary Clinton is probably going to win the Democratic nomination. And frankly, it’s really not all that bad. I mean, have you seen the other side? The problem is math. The winner has to get a majority of delegates to the Democratic National Convention and she’s well over halfway there and Bernie Sanders is only about one-third of the way there. Yes, half the delegates still have to be allocated, but, contrary to the Republican rules, there are no “winner-take-all” primaries. And yet, I keep seeing crap like a graphic noting that Hillary “only” has a lead of 325 delegates and California has 546.

First of all, that count conveniently leaves out super delegates. With super delegates, Hillary’s lead is actually about 740. Also, California only has 475 pledged delegates to win; the other 71 are super delegates, with more than 40 of them are already supporting Hillary, so there’s that. In order for Bernie Sanders to even knock her pledged-delegate lead in half, Bernie would need roughly 75% of the vote. In California. That ain’t happening.

See, this is the problem. Primaries are proportional, which means you only get the delegates voters give you. It’s not a contest in which the first person to win 26 states wins. Bernie lost too many southern states by 50-60 points because he apparently decided to blow off a “50-state strategy,” something that Bernie Stans are always on Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s ass about.

Here’s another popular meme I keep seeing:

Delegate count

While I won’t say “the media” isn’t lying to you, this chart is extremely misleading, if I can be disingenuous for a second.

Again, it conveniently leaves out the superdelegates. There are 712 of them. What that means is, there are only 1,682 PLEDGED delegates left to be allocated. As of today, Hillary actually has 1,606 delegates, counting pledged and committed super delegates, which means she needs about 776 more delegates out of that 1,682, whereas Bernie would need 1,531. See the problem? Now, look; if he puts together a win streak unlike anything we’ve ever seen before, he could persuade a lot of super delegates to switch to him. But that means a lot of big wins. It won’t be sufficient to eke out a 0.2% win in Wisconsin or a two-point win in New York, Pennsylvania or New Jersey.  He has to blow her away in those states, addition to winning all of the smaller states that are left by wide margins. In order for him to get enough delegates to make up the difference, he has to win really big, like winning two-thirds of the vote in all remaining states. Basically, it would take Hillary doing what Bernie did throughout the South.

I also keep seeing variations of this graphic all over the ‘Net:

delegate targets snip

What this is, is a list of delegate targets Hillary and Bernie each have to hit to make their goal. Bernie’s targets are in the right column. Looks easy, right? Except for one thing. It comes from Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight and it was compiled before the primaries. Click on that link, and you’ll see that those targets are no longer accurate because Sanders has missed his targets in most states so far.

Look at the Forecasts for upcoming primaries; they’re grim for Bernie, unless he does a hell of a lot more than win. His target for the next three primaries, for example, which are Arizona, Utah and Idaho, is 74 of the 131 pledged delegates available. But even if he meets that, he only cuts Clinton’s lead by 17 delegates. On the biggest day left, June 7, which is the day in which California and New Jersey vote, if he meets his target, he will gain 14 delegates more than her. Neither of those will put a dent in anything. Both of those days, he will have to get at least 75% of the vote to even cut her pledged delegate lead in half. And that is the biggest day left to come. And I’m sorry, while I can envision Bernie possibly winning California, it’s likely to be more like a point or two, not 30-40.

The delegate math isn’t in his favor now. If you want to pick a fight with someone, go after Tad Devine, who apparently thought it was a good idea to blow off southern primaries and place all of his eggs in the caucus basket.

Now that we have all that out of the way, it’s time all progressives come together. Keep pushing Bernie’s ideas and demand that Hillary appropriate them, which she is doing. But then, when she does, turn your attention to making sure Democrats win in November. All Democrats, not just a few.

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