An Open Letter to Newsweek


Re:  Hillary’s Math Problem  – Jonathan Alter – March 4, 2008

By Richard E Walrath and Patricia L Johnson

WE hope Jonathan won’t mind if we Alter some of his math assumptions regarding the remaining primaries.

The Slate Delegate Calculator is indicating a fixed percentage of votes for Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont.   They’re giving Obama 44% to Clinton’s, 54% for Ohio,  Obama 40% to Clinton’s 58% for Rhode Island, Obama 47% to Clinton’s 51% for Texas and Obama 60% to Clinton’s 38% for Vermont.

The following states will have upcoming elections, Wyoming, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Guam, Indiana, North Caroline, West Virginia, Kentucky and Oregon.

The article is basically stating  if Clinton won 60% in each of the above states she still would not be able to hit the magical number necessary for the nomination.

Well, let’s go one step further with that calculation – let us be very generous to our up-and-coming political rock star and provide him with 80% of the vote in all remaining primaries.

We can be well assured that no matter how popular, charming or charismatic Senator Obama is he will not win 80% of the remaining votes, but even if he did, he still would not have enough pledged delegates to win the Democratic nomination.

Unpledged delegates (superdelegates) are going to a play a predominate role in this election.  Unpledged delegates will hold the key to the nomination, as will the final determination on Florida and Michigan.  If you recall correctly Senator Clinton did win both states.

What is the role of the unpledged delegates’?  According to Democratic National Committee Chairman, Howard Dean,

"Their role is to exercise their best judgement in the interests of the nation and of the Democratic Party"

Based on the following statement in the article "Hillary would then have to convince the uncommitted superdelegates to reverse the will of the people" Mr. Alter doesn’t seem to understand the role of the unpledged delegate. 

The Obama camp has consistently stated the unpledged delegate vote should follow the popular vote.  Looks like that would mean superdelegate votes for Senator Ted Kennedy, Senator John Kerry, Congressman Patrick Kennedy, Governor Deval Patrick, and Governor Janet Napolitano would then go to Senator Clinton wouldn’t they?

Why are unpledged delegates even given a vote?   First you have to look at who the unpledged delegates are; they are Democratic Members of Congress, Democratic Governors, former party leaders, former presidents, etc.  In other words they are people that are well versed in politics and completely understand the issues that this country will face in the future.

What they are not is the young followers of  Senator Obama.  The fact that Barack Obama has been able to get our youngsters to the polls in droves is incredible and our hats are off to him.  According to federal election law, if a youngster is going to be 18 years old on the date of the general election, they are eligible to vote in their state’s primary. 

Do you really think that 17 and 18 year old students are more qualified to nominate the Democratic candidate or should that decision  be left to the unpledged experts in a race this close?

Something that must also be taken into consideration is the fact the unpledged delegate or superdelegates vote is not set in stone – the number of superdelegate votes may change at any time if delegates leave office, leave the party, or for whatever reason cannot cast a vote at the Democratic National Convention. 

At this point in time the race for the Democratic nominee is not any different than the Super Bowl game with the Giants as a two touchdown underdog.  The Patriots were sure to win except they didn’t. 

The game’s not over until it’s over. That’s why they play the game to the finish.

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