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The Texas Blue
Advancing Progressive Ideas

Obama, Clinton, and Superdelegates

The current media trend in reporting on national politics is to report that Senator Barack Obama has either caught up to Senator Hillary Clinton on superdelegates or that he is now in the lead. The superdelegate count has always been an ever-shifting sandpile with no foundation, with every media outlet having a unique method of counting and, indeed, their own totals for each candidate.

But a busy Friday and Saturday in superdelegate endorsements led ABC to call the lead for Obama on Friday, with several other outlets following suit since. Today the Associated Press reports that Obama has the lead "by at least 4", CNN says Clinton still has the lead by one, and Real Clear Politics currently has it that Obama is ahead by 3.

No matter which count you like, the trend is clear — Clinton's definitive lead in superdelegate endorsements has been whittled away to a much smaller figure than it once was, and that will no doubt lead to some interesting developments in the week ahead.

Trend is clear

The "ever-shifting sandpile" has been moving in one direction only. Between the Texas and PA primaries, Obama added 39 existing superdelegates while Clinton added 14. ("Existing" as opposed to "add-ons", who are typically named at state conventions.) Between PA and NC, it was 19 for Obama and 8.5 for Clinton. Since NC it's even more dramatic: 17 for Obama and none for Clinton (she's gained a few but lost just as many). She has done a bit better with new "add-on" superdelegates, picking up 7 (including 4 from NY) since Pennsylvania while Obama picked up 7 (including 3 from IL).

Looking forward, she'll get close to half of the 43 remaining add-ons, but can expect few of the 206.5 undeclared supers to tilt her way. In the end, Obama's margin among supers will be even larger than his margin among pledged delegates.

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