A Number You Probably Haven't Seen

A campaign blog.
Feb. 28 2008 6:34 PM

A Number You Probably Haven't Seen

It’s well-known that Barack Obama’s success has depended largely on independent and Republican voters. The corollary to that, however, has been less thoroughly reported: Obama is losing among Democrats.

Over at the Perfect World , Cal Lanier crunches the numbers and finds that Obama, despite being ahead among pledged delegates , has fewer total votes among people who identify themselves as Democrats. (He has 7,392,809 votes; Clinton has 8,229,063.) That gives Clinton as lead with 52 percent of Democrats. Lanier also breaks the numbers down by race and points out that Obama has won white Democrats in only two states: New Mexico and Illinois.

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The numbers are hardly perfect. They rely on CNN and MSNBC exit polls, which are inherently rough. (Extrapolating those percentages to estimate exact numbers of voters is going to compound margins of error.) And because caucuses report delegates, not individual turnout, those stats are going to be a little murky, too. I'd also dispute their inclusion of Florida and Michigan in the count. But Clinton’s lead is still large enough to be significant.

It helps you understand why the party gives so much power to its 796 superdelegates. If they didn’t, independents and Republicans could essentially hijack their election. It also makes you wonder whether Clinton should start citing this number, if she maintains her lead through the convention in August. Even if Obama leads in the popular vote and among pledged delegates, it might disturb party gray beards to learn that the nominee has essentially been chosen by outsiders.

Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.

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