Let's start a pool

I'm not a big sports fan, so I never join in on the pools some folks have at their workplaces.

So, I thought I'd start a poll here on the delegate race. Unfortunately, the only prize that can be given out is the recognition of having done the best job.

Before telling you what the pool is, I want to say that Democrats should be proud of its candidates. They worked hard and represented the ideals and policies of the Democratic party.  I say this as a former Clinton supporter who switched to Obama and who had the utmost respect for other candidates as well.

OK, onto the business -- and keep in mind that this will only work if people REC THIS DIARY so we can keep track of the predictions.  And then I'll go through the predictions and see how folks do.

PREDICT BY 4:30 PM Eastern Tiime, the magic numbers for Clinton and Obama AT THE TIME THAT SENATOR CLINTON BEGINS TO SPEAK IN NY.
The official source to be used is http://demconwatch.blogspot.com/

Right now, they are
Obama   34
Clinton 200.5

This should not be an occasion for either gloating or insults, but a time to recognize these great candidates and to have a little fun.

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Tell Russert; No nominee before the vote!

We should explain to Russert and Matthews and George and Wolf and Keith and Gloria and David and Alex and Suzanne and Paul and Rachel and Sean and Bill and George and Candy and Tom and Brian and Shepherd and Contessa and Lawrence and Nora and John and Chuck and Ben and Roland and Donna and all of the rest of the people on TV who will be teaching America over the next three days what's happening and what it means! They need to be hearing how we feel about their dismissal of our votes and their misrepresentations about our process (some from Donna Brazile, Howard Dean and Paul Begalia.)  We need to change their ridiculous, stale and uninformed talking heads' talking points.  They reach  some of the voters we need to win. Don't let them turn those voters off with this misinformation campaign. (Their chatter was so out of date last week that nobody even seem to notice the startling data in the exit polls; they just dismissed West Virginians as insignificant, old, undereducated, poor  as though they were dismissable to Democrats and as though that was who the data said were voting! Embarrassing for them and important for the party not to associate with or condone that behavior.

The RULZ of nominations are that as long as there are two or more candidates, the nominee is declared after the official convention vote of the people elligible.

To win, the candidate needs one half, plus one,votes of the delegates credentialled and seated at the convention, cast by secret ballot, reported in live outcry by the state delegation, counted, recorded and confirmed by the Secretary of the Party in the presence of the entire convention delegation. THEN the magic number of majority is applied and the convention knows its' nominee.  If no one reaches the majority, the vote is called on the Second Ballot, and on till somebody reaches the majority vote, counted and confirmed. THEN we have a nominee.
 

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No Super Delgate has voted yet. They can't vote until the Convention.

Alternate Delegates (Super Delegates) can't vote until the Convention. All 750 of them could cast their ballot for either Hillary or Obama.  There's no way to know who will be the nominee until the Convention seats Michigan and Florida and the Alternate Delegates cast their vote at that time.

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Undeclared Superdelegates Don't Like "With Us Or Against Us"

Yesterday, Hillary Clinton threw down the gauntlet on the issue of a holiday for the gas tax, asking members of Congress, "Are they with us or against us"?

Apparently members of Congress -- and perhaps more importantly for the race for the Democratic nomination, Democratic members in their roles as superdelegates -- are not taking this ultimatum well, joining with the consensus of energy experts and economists opposing the Clinton-McCain plan. According to The Hill's Jared Allen and Jackie Kucinich, the House leadership, most members of which have not endorsed in the presidential race, are calling the plan "DOA", or dead on arrival. Specifically, both Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer have spoken on the record as to their opposition to such a move.

But it is not only the Democrats' congressional leadership that is staying away from endorsing the Clinton-McCain plan. Take, for instance, unpledged superdelegate Mark Udall, the congressman from Colorado who is the Democrats' presumptive Senate nominee in the state and who also has a background in energy and environmental policy. A release from Udall's campaign reads as follows:

Yesterday in Indiana, Hillary Clinton challenged every member of Congress to go on the record with a position regarding her proposal to temporarily suspend the federal gasoline tax, and state whether they were with her or against her. Senator McCain has offered the same proposal, despite experts from all sides declaring that this plan will not actually lower costs for drivers.

Today, Congressman and Senate candidate Mark Udall responded to the challenge:

"There is no issue I have spent more time on in my public service career than working for real, responsible change in our energy policy - the kind that breaks our addiction to foreign oil and puts us on a path to greater national security, a stronger economy, and lower energy costs for our families.   There is certainly no question that families are hurting with the soaring cost of energy and need relief.

"The so-called 'temporary gas tax holiday' that Senators Clinton and McCain propose won't deliver this needed relief.  This will not create the economic relief they say it will, because prices will continue to rise until we address the real source of this problem.  We do need to provide immediate relief for families hard-hit by spiraling gas prices, and we can do that by demanding the President stop adding to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. This will ease the production crunch that is causing these skyrocketing gas prices.

"Senator Clinton claimed yesterday that I either stand with her on this proposal or stand with the oil companies.  To that I say: I stand with the families of Colorado, who aren't looking for bumper sticker fixes that don't fix anything, but for meaningful change that brings real relief and a new direction for our energy policy.  We can't afford more Washington-style pandering while families keep getting squeezed.

"It is exactly the kind of short-sighted Washington game that keeps us from getting real results to our energy problem.  Experts across the ideological spectrum agree that it will increase the deficit, drain money away from Colorado roads and bridges, and hurt the environment, all without actually making prices lower for drivers."

Looking at a study from the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (.pdf), a three month suspension of the federal gasoline tax would cost roughly $12 billion in revenue for infrastructure but would also cause the loss of over 300,000 jobs. This would include $96 million and 3,351 jobs for Colorado. For reference, it would also cost Indiana $183,722,596 in transportation money, as well as 6,390 highway-related jobs, and cost North Carolina $203,319,748 in federal highway funds and 7,071 jobs. All of this for a plan that would likely do more to pad the profits of big oil companies than it would to lower the actual price at the pump, while at the same time potentially increasing gasoline usage, thus detrimentally affecting the environment.

With numbers like these, perhaps it shouldn't be such a surprise that Democrats on Capitol Hill -- both in their roles as members of Congress and as superdelegates -- aren't biting at Clinton's challenge, and that, what's more, Clinton herself is reportedly toning down the language of this ultimatum.

Update [2008-5-2 17:42:30 by Jonathan Singer]: Some say that I should mention that there is a difference between Clinton and McCain on this issue. I think it's a fairly meaningless one. McCain says that he would pay for the gas holiday through deficit spending. Clinton says that she would pay for the gas holiday through increased taxes on oil companies -- something that would not have any chance of passing through the Congress, and even if it did would not pass with a veto-proof margin to override President Bush's opposition to such a move. Given this set of circumstances, Clinton either has to pay for this policy through deficit spending (like McCain), through cutting off funding to the highway trust (which has terrible ramifications, as mentioned above), or simply not having the holiday. So while there may be some daylight between Clinton and McCain on this issue, it's really small, and not so much that it would be wrong to call this the Clinton-McCain plan (particularly when both of them are using similar talking points to hit Obama on the issue).

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Obama's Magic Number: 283

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.

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