GUEST STAR No. 2:
In January TheNation.com launched a rotating guest blog,
, featuring monthly stints by some of America’s most celebrated political bloggers. Next up is
, the senior staff writer at
, an online journal of green politics and culture. He blogs there daily, even obsessively, mainly on politics and energy. He also has a monthly column on green business in Fast Company magazine. Look for David’s posts on our website through February.
The race for the Democratic nomination, as we’ve been reminded over and over, is a battle for delegates. Going into Super Tuesday,
by sixty-three to forty-eight pledged delegates. As we go to press following a twenty-two-state bonanza, the margin between the candidates was practically the same–or possibly tighter. On Wednesday morning, the Obama campaign claimed a twenty-eight-delegate lead, 910 to 882. The Clinton camp said it was up by five. CNN put Obama up thirteen. It takes 2,025 delegates to clinch the nomination. Prepare for a long ride.
Between February 9 and February 12, five states–along with DC and the Virgin Islands–will hold primaries and caucuses, awarding 475 delegates. Polling has been scant in the upcoming contest, but Obama retains an advantage in a number of states, including Louisiana and the so-called Potomac Primaries of Maryland, Virginia and DC. The Virgin Islands, with a whopping nine delegates, is too close to call. If the Democratic nominee isn’t clear after that, the delegate-rich states of Wisconsin (February 19), Ohio and Texas (both March 4) will loom even larger. If the race stretches into April, Pennsylvania’s 188 delegates could prove decisive.
Or not. Factor in the party’s elusive “superdelegates”–the 842 unpledged party operatives and elected officials not chosen by primary voters but by the Democratic establishment–and Clinton retains an estimated ninety-delegate advantage. The superdelegates can switch allegiances at any time, making an unpredictable race even more, well, unpredictable.
And then there’s the tricky predicament of Florida and Michigan, stripped of their delegates by the Democratic National Committee but eager for a say at the convention. Clinton “won” the two meaningless primaries and wants her share of what would be more than 300 delegates. After skipping both contests, Obama has been forced to defend the party’s rules. With every delegate more critical than the next, the national party will face pressure to broker a preconvention agreement. Paging