Clinton Superdelegate Lead Nearly Erased

Right now, Democratic Convention Watch prominently displays the superdelegate endorsement totals compiled by four major sources. The AP shows Clinton ahead 250-220, CBS shows Clinton ahead 249-217, CNN gives Clinton an advantage of 243-212, and DCW itself shows Clinton ahead 246-216. These margins are virtually identical, and all show Clinton ahead by between 30 and 32 superdelegate endorsements. However, a closer look at the numbers strongly suggests that Clinton's superdelegate advantage is actually much smaller, and will probably be erased entirely before Pennsylvania.

Consider the following:

  • Add-on superdelegates: Democratic Convention Watch currently shows Obama ahead 2-0 among add-on superdelegates. At this point, very few add-on superdelegates have been chosen, and the complete schedule for when the rest of the 76 add-ons will be selected can be found here. Looking over the number of add-on superdelegates from states that have already held primaries or caucuses, and keeping in mind that add-on superdelegates are reviewed by each campaign before state party committees or state pledged delegate committees vote on these delegates, it seems that Obama will lead Clinton 40-24 among these delegates. (For this calculation, I am projecting a Clinton add-on victory in New Hampshire, a split in Missouri, and an Obama victory in Nevada and Texas). This means that Obama will actually close the superdelegate gap on Clinton by another 14 delegates once all of the add-ons are chosen, reducing Clinton's advantage from 30-32 down to 16-18 in favor of Clinton.

  • "Pelosi Club" superdelegates: Democratic Convention Watch also posts a list of seven superdelegates who have publicly stated they will endorse the candidate who wins the most pledged delegates. They call this group the "Pelosi Club," since Nancy Pelosi first made this pledge. At this point, since Obama only needs 37.4% of the remaining pledged delegates to win pledged delegates, he is a lock to be that candidate. As such, the four uncommitted superdelegates and one Clinton endorsing superdelegate in this "club" are all effectively Obama superdelegates. This adds five superdelegates to Obama's total, and removes one from Clinton, allowing Obama to close the 16-18 delegate gap down to 10-12.

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