Thursday, February 12, 2004

Today's political note: Now that Wesley Clark has dropped out of the primary, what happens to the delegates already pledged to support him at the nominating convention?

Slate has a nice Explainer here. Basically, his 102 delegates will be able to back whomever they want at the convention, most likely the eventual nominee.

Some of his delegates were superdelegates who were never officially pledged in the first place but had just made their preference known. What's a superdelegate? This Slate Explainer details how the DNC created superdelegates to keep the wacky public from voting in wacky candidates who wouldn't have a shot of winning the very nonwacky general election. The superdelegates -- elected officials and party leaders, basically the Democratic elite -- are there to promote electability. (So much for the Party of the People.)

So how many superdelegates are there? Some say 801, some 802. There were supposed to be 802, but when Texas representative Ralph Hill switched from the Democrats to the GOP, the Dems lost a superdelegate. AP has reported that they are waiting for paperwork to be filed to cross him off the list.

And how many total delegates are there? Some say 4,321, some 4,322. Let's do the math:

3520 -- pledged delegates plus
0801 -- unpledged (super) delegates equals
4321 -- total delegates

Take that number, divide by two and round up for the total number needed to win, and you get: 2,161. A lot of news outlets are saying 2,162, but that's using the old 802 number. Just make sure your paper is consistent with the numbers it uses. (Like this, not like this.)


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