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The Numbers: West Virginia, Kentucky, Oregon and Beyond

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While there has been no doubt for more than a month that Barack Obama would win the pledged delegate count in the race for the Democratic nomination, a higher than projected turnout in West Virginia's primary padded Hillary Clinton's victory and thus made a larger dent in her popular vote deficit.

  • A total of 352,000+ West Virginians voted in the Democratic primary Tuesday night. That is 46.6 percent of that state's total vote in the 2004 presidential election (755,887 votes)—higher than the 40 percent average Democratic primary turnout of states in the region.
  • Clinton's 41-point victory margin thus elevated her net popular vote gain on Obama by nearly 150,000 votes.
  • As a result, Obama now leads Clinton by approximately 411,000 votes overall—excluding Michigan, but including all other primaries, caucuses, and the votes in U.S. territories. If Michigan is included in the vote total, Obama's lead decreases to about 83,000 votes.
  • Clinton now leads in the "Electoral College math" by a 283 to 217 margin over Obama, once again excluding Michigan.
  • In an interesting note about the importance of primary rules and procedures, if the Democrats had instituted the "winner-take-all" system that was implemented in several of the Republican primaries, Hillary Clinton would actually lead Barack Obama in the delegate count tied to election results 1,688 to 1,376 (excluding Florida and Michigan).

Looking ahead to next Tuesday's contests, Oregon and Kentucky had a virtually identical number of voters in the 2004 presidential election: 1.84 million in Oregon and 1.80 million in Kentucky.

  • According to recent polls, Obama is currently leading Clinton by approximately a dozen points in Oregon. If that holds, and voters turn out at the rate of 45 percent of that general election, Obama will gain 99,000 votes on Clinton in that state.
  • But Clinton is beating Obama by approximately 30 points according to polls coming out of Kentucky. If that margin holds, and voters turn out at a 45 percent rate of the 2004 election, Clinton will gain 243,000 votes back.
  • That means Clinton is projected to make a net gain of 144,000 votes on Obama on May 20th—about the same net gain she made in West Virginia yesterday. This would reduce Obama's popular vote lead to 267,000 excluding Michigan (and put Clinton up by 61,000 if Michigan is included).

Would Clinton be able to make up this quarter of a million-vote deficit by June 3rd? Quite likely, once Puerto Rico votes, where some pundits are estimating Clinton could take 60 to 70 percent of the vote.

In view of what happened in the 2000 election and the numerous references Democrats made to Al Gore's popular vote victory that election year, what an interesting twist it would be heading into the convention when Democratic Party leaders and Obama supporters lobby against using the popular vote in deciding its nominee, as they lobby for the less democratic metric of delegates and superdelegates that its rules require.

Previous post: Live Blog: West Virginia Primary
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1 Comment


  • what an interesting twist it would be heading into the convention when Democratic Party leaders and Obama supporters lobby against using the popular vote

    Is this more compelling than Clinton's argument that pledged delegates are free to switch their allegiances any time they please?

  • Leave a comment


    Remains of the Data

    Who Has Won the Most Votes in US Senate Electoral History?

    Only three of the Top 10 and nine of the Top 50 vote-getters of all time are currently serving in the chamber.

    Political Crumbs

    Six for Thirteen

    Collin Peterson remarked last month that he is leaning to run for reelection to Minnesota's 7th Congressional District in 2016. If he does and is victorious, he will creep even closer to the top of the list of the longest-serving U.S. Representatives in Minnesota history. The DFL congressman is only the sixth Minnesotan to win at least 13 terms to the U.S. House of the 135 elected to the chamber in state history. Peterson trails 18-term DFLer Jim Oberstar (1975-2011), 16-term Republicans Harold Knutson (1917-1949) and August Andresen (1925-1933; 1935-1958), and 14-term DFLers Martin Sabo (1979-2007) and John Blatnik (1947-1974). Andresen died in office, Sabo and Blatnik retired, and Knutson and Oberstar were defeated at the ballot box in 1948 and 2010 respectively. At 70 years, 7 months, 11 days through Monday, Peterson is currently the ninth oldest Gopher State U.S. Representative in history. DFLer Rick Nolan of the 8th CD is the seventh oldest at 71 years, 1 month, 23 days.


    Seeing Red

    Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


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