Obama's Magic Number: 283
by Jonathan Singer, Thu May 01, 2008 at 08:39:28 AM EDT
This may be the first time that I've seen the race phrased this way, but Marc Ambinder puts the race in these terms following Barack Obama's endorsement by a Texas superdelegate and news that Obama will pick up three more add-on superdelegates from Illinois on Monday:
Texas DNC Member John Patrick, vice president of the Texas AFL-CIO. That's 12 for Obama since Pennsylvania. He needs 283 to clinch the nomination.
While technically there isn't a whole lot of difference between adding from the bottom up rather than subtracting from the top down, rhetorically there is a difference. Talking about the magic number -- the remaining number of delegates a particular candidate needs to receive in order to secure the Democratic nomination -- suggests an end game in sight. Indeed, with 187 pledged delegates to be decided just on Tuesday in North Carolina and Indiana, Obama's magic number will almost certainly be under 200 by the middle of next week (and perhaps quite a bit under 200 at that point). For reference, Clinton's magic number currently stands at over 400 (423, to be exact) and, even under the best of circumstances, will not likely be under 300 even after Tuesday.
It's not entirely clear that the establishment media will in fact pick up this metric in talking about the race for the Democratic nomination. Although Ambinder is very influential, both from having been an editor previously at The Hotline and from being widely read inside the Beltway in his current position at The Atlantic Online, there's no saying if such a meme would take hold on the cable nets and the big national newspapers, and if it did when it would. That said, Amnbinder's way of looking at the race does, at the least, provide a concrete reminder that, in the end, this is about delegate math, and Obama is a whole lot closer to securing the Democratic presidential nomination than Clinton is.
Update [2008-5-1 14:5:26 by Jonathan Singer]: Clinton unveils four New York add-ons of her won, lowering her magic number to 419.