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.