The Flaws in Hillary Clinton’s Popular Vote Math

Jun 01 2008 Published by under Featured News

In her victory speech after the Puerto Rico primary, Hillary Clinton gave no indication that she is willing to concede the nomination to Barack Obama. In fact, Clinton returned to the familiar and deeply flawed theme of the popular vote.

It was clear that a large part of her victory speech was dedicated to the superdelegates, “When the voting concludes on Tuesday, neither Senator Obama nor I will have the number of delegates to be the nominee,” Clinton said. “I will lead the popular vote, he will maintain a slight lead in the delegate count. The decision will fall on the shoulders of those leaders in our party empowered by the rules to vote at the Democratic convention.”

Later she said, “In the final assessment I ask you to consider these questions. Which candidate best represents the will of the people who voted in this historic election? Which candidate is best able to lead us to victory in November and which candidate is best able to lead our nation as our president in the face of unprecedented challenges at home and abroad?”

On the surface the Clinton campaign’s popular vote math seems objective, but it hinges on several flawed assumptions. First the Clinton camp claims that since Michigan’s delegates will be seated, then the popular vote from that state counts. However, the Rules Committee did not address the popular vote yesterday. The problem is that the Clinton math adds her votes, but gives Obama none of the uncommitted votes. Even though, exit polls show the bulk of that vote was made up of Obama supporters.

Secondly, her claim depends on estimating vote totals from caucus states such as Iowa, Nevada, Maine and Washington. The problem is that there is no popular vote total available from these states. The Clinton lead comes from adding up all of her votes in every state, regardless of whether that popular vote counts or even occurred, and comparing it to Obama’s total in every state whether he was on the ballot or not.

However if you give Obama the 238,168 Michigan votes for uncommitted Obama leads the popular vote, by 166,000, not including the final results from Puerto Rico. If one doesn’t count Michigan at all, Obama leads the popular vote. If one only counts the states that have official popular vote totals with both candidates on the ballot, Obama leads. Clinton’s claim of a popular vote lead is a myth of subjective accounting.

This is what Hillary Clinton has been reduced to. She has to hope that the superdelegates aren’t smart enough to realize that the popular vote is a subjective calculation that doesn’t mean anything, and if they do give credibility to the popular vote, she has to convince them that her biased calculations represent the will of a majority of Democrats. To me, her popular vote argument represents a last gasp gimmick from a campaign with only a few more days to live.

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