Thursday, February 21, 2008

Primary Education

About six or so weeks ago -- well before Super Tuesday -- I was at a party with a guy sporting a very obvious Hillary button. While not in the conversation pit myself, I did overhear him say the following:

If Hillary doesn't win Super Tuesday, Pennsylvania becomes a battle ground.
... or words to that effect. I was, I will admit, in the process of throwing back my seventh Railbender, so he could have just as easily said that Edmund Hillary wasn't going to win the Superbowl on Pennsylvania ground, which would have made sense at the time, considering he had just died.

Where was I? Ah yes:

This random (to you) dude's prediction seems to be coming true, much to my dismay.

As of today, Hillary and Obama are split either 1,112 to 1,117 or 1,351 to 1,262, according to the NY Times. With 161 and 228 delegates, respectively, Ohio and Texas are the next big prizes on March 4th. After that, the only two contests that break triple digit delegate counts are Pennsylvania (188) and North Carolina (134).

Because of the complex way that the Democrats assign delegates (at-large, district, party leaders, and super delegates), there is a very good, nay nearly odds-on, probability that votes are going to be split, whether 60/40, 40/60, or even 50/50.

Based on the most optimistic number above, so far Obama needs 674 delegates to clinch the nomination. If he wins all the delegates from all the states between now and Pennsylvania, he wins 690 votes.

What's even more frightening, I suppose, is that there are only 1,191 delegates left to count which, if split 50/50, would leave just under 600 delegates/candidate (not including Washington, who hasn't gotten their stuff together yet, apparently).

So, I ask you, what is more disturbing: (a) the fact that Puerto Rico may determine the Democratic nominee or (b) the fact that the denizens of the Great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are about to suffer through nearly a month of an a half of Obamania, Hillar-ity, and the outside chance of Gravel-opment?

OK, maybe not the last one.

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