The Hillary Deathwatch
Clinton steps up calls for Florida and Michigan to be seated.
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Clinton steps up calls for Florida and Michigan to be seated. But those delegations won't make up the difference. Her chances remain stagnant at 0.7 percent.
On May 31, the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee will convene in Washington, D.C., to decide whether and how to seat the delegations from Florida and Michigan. There is a number of possible outcomes, but the most likely one is that both states get seated but have their delegations chopped in half. (Figuratively, of course—the DNC is harsh, but not that harsh.) Depending on how they treat superdelegates, this scenario would change the "magic number" from 2,026 to either 2,131 or 2,118.
But that alone isn't going to save Clinton. Even if both delegations were seated in full according to their January votes, with Obama receiving zero delegates in Michigan, Clinton would gain 111 delegates—not enough to close Obama's current 178-delegate lead. A much more likely scenario, in which Florida's delegation would be halved and Michigan gets split in a proposed 69-59 compromise, would net Clinton only about 30 delegates.
That's why Clinton's candidacy rests on her other arguments: that she's ahead in the popular vote (a stretch, at best), that she won key swing states like Pennsylvania and Ohio and Florida, and that she runs better against John McCain than Obama does in rural areas.
The problem is, superdelegates aren't buying it. New York Gov. and Clinton supporter David Paterson said her argument that she's winning the popular vote has a whiff of "desperation." And the superdelegate split since Tuesday's contests has been two for Clinton, two for Obama. (See details here and here.) As First Read pointed out yesterday, even if Florida and Michigan get seated, Obama will need about 50 more superdelegate endorsements to make a Clinton win impossible, whereas Clinton will still need a lot more than that.
Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.
Illustration by Rob Donnelly.