Tag Archives: John Edwards

2008 vs. 2016 — The Delegate Numbers

Unlike in some other countries, the United States does not directly elect its head of state.  Instead, both for the primary and the general election, the U.S. has an indirect system in which the voter technically elects other people (delegates in the primary and electors for the general election) who actually cast the votes.  For the most part, for both parties, the overwhelming majority of delegates are either legally or morally bound to follow the directives of the voters in their respective state or district and the system for choosing electors has mostly resulted in electors following the directives of the voter.  Thus, at the end of the day, in figuring out who is leading or who has won a nomination battle, we look to the pledged delegate counts.  For the general election, we look to the number of electors won.

For multiple reasons, nomination fights rarely go to the end of the process.  Candidates who are hopelessly behind drop out leaving the path clear for the leading candidate to win the nomination.  In 2008,  however, the Democratic race was so close that it went down to the last primary.  Especially as one of the two finalists is running again, that allows us to use the 2008 numbers as a base going forward to measure who is doing what they have to do to win the election.

There are, of course, differences from 2008.  First, is that, in 2008, John Edwards did well enough in the first six states to get delegates in four of those states.   Additionally, due to Michigan going early, Barack Obama and John Edwards were not on the ballot in Michigan and their supporters had to vote for a slate pledges as uncommitted.  So there were 55 “pledged” uncommitted delegates from Michigan and a total of 32 Edwards delegates from Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida.  For comparison purposes, that leaves two measures for these five states and nationally — President Obama vs. Hillary Clinton (a national net of +17 for President Obama), and the “field” vs. Secretary Clinton (a national gap of 104 delegates).  In this year’s race, Martin O’Malley did not pick up any delegates; so it will just be Bernie Sanders vs. Secretary Clinton.  Given that both candidates need to win the uncommitted/Edwards delegates, my own opinion is that the “field” comparison is more useful. Continue Reading...

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