Thursday, March 6, 2008

Can Clinton Erase Obama's Popular Vote Lead?

I'm going to take a break from the usual blogging about numeric domains in order to do a brief analysis of the Democratic primary popular vote count. Since Clinton is not going to be able to catch Obama in pledged delegates, it appears she is staking her hopes on winning the overall popular vote. Currently, the popular vote stands at 12,992,679 for Obama, and 12,406,988 for Clinton, giving Obama a lead of 585,691 popular votes going in to the remaining primaries (this is not counting Florida or Michigan).

In order to make a very rough prediction of how many voters there will be in the upcoming Democratic primaries, I looked at the number of voters for Kerry in 2004 and compared that to the results from the March 4 primaries. Excluding Texas, which had basically the same number of Democratic primary voters as voters for Kerry (probably because it was an open primary and there was a very strong Hispanic turnout), it appears that the number of Democratic primary voters in 2008 is about 80% of the number of voters for Kerry in 2004 in that state. Here are the results from 2004 and predictions of future turnout in the upcoming primary states (excluding Puerto Rico) based on the 80% number:

TX: 04 for Kerry=2,825,723 | 08 Primary=2,816,224 (99.66%)

OH: 04 for Kerry=2,741,165 | 08 Primary=2,186,831 (79.78%)

RI: 04 for Kerry=247,407 | 08 Primary=183,865 (79.78%)

VT: 04 for Kerry=183,621 | 08 Primary=151,380 (82.44%)

MS: 04 for Kerry=445,608 | 08 Primary=356,486 (*80.00%)

PA: 04 for Kerry=2,885,773 | 08 Primary=2,308,618 (*80.00%)

NC: 04 for Kerry=1,501,783 | 08 Primary=1,201,426 (*80.00%)

IN: 04 for Kerry=967,346 | 08 Primary=773,877 (*80.00%)

WV: 04 for Kerry=322,276 | 08 Primary=257,821 (*80.00%)

KY: 04 for Kerry=712,431 | 08 Primary=569,945 (*80.00%)

OR: 04 for Kerry=943,163 | 08 Primary=754,530 (*80.00%)

MT: 04 for Kerry=173,710 | 08 Primary=138,968 (*80.00%)

SD: 04 for Kerry=149,225 | 08 Primary=119,380 (*80.00%)

* Prediction

Therefore, without counting the Wyoming and Guam caucuses and the Puerto Rico primary, which I don't know how to estimate turnout for, it looks like there are about 6.5 million votes left to be had. So if Clinton is going to erase Obama's lead in the popular vote, she is going to need about 55% of the popular vote in the remaining primaries. Again, this is a very rough estimate and the numbers could vary wildly from these predictions, but it is a useful starting point for thinking about how well she would have to do to erase his lead. Given that Obama will likely win states like Mississippi, Oregon, and North Carolina, the math gets even worse for Clinton to erase the popular vote lead.

If there are re-votes in Florida and Michigan, then those numbers could be as follows:

FL: 04 for Kerry=3,574,509 | 08 Primary=2,859,607 (*80.00%)

MI: 04 for Kerry=2,475,046 | 08 Primary=1,980,037 (*80.00%)

That would mean that there would be about 11.3 million votes available in the upcoming primaries, and that Hillary would have to net on average about 53% of the vote in all the upcoming primaries in order to erase Obama's lead in the popular vote.