The Numbers in Hillary's Favor

Figures show that Obama has potentially much more downside in a general election.

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Here's a statement you're hearing all over the place: One of the Democratic presidential candidates should drop out of the race. Here's a suggestion you'll hear nowhere else: Why shouldn't that person be Barack Obama?

Before the sky collapses on top of me under the weight of livid Obama supporters, let me explain. I'm not suggesting Obama drop out. I am instead making the point that spinning the math in Hillary Clinton's favor is just about as plausible as spinning it in Obama's favor. Most media outlets have done the former while giving nothing like equal time to the latter.

The most sophisticated analysis in Clinton's favor comes from my colleague Michael Barone. He points to the Clinton campaign's boast that the states it has won have more Electoral College votes than the ones in which Obama has prevailed, with the follow-on that this means her chances for winning the general election are better than his. Obama's supporters (Senators Leahy, Dodd, et al.) claim Clinton should drop out, because he has a larger tally of delegates and of popular votes.

But Barone posits an even better counterargument for the Clinton campaign—use population rather than electoral votes:

By my count, based on the 2007 Census estimates, Clinton's states have 132,214,460 people (160,537,525 if you include Florida and Michigan), and Obama's states have 101,689,480 people. States with 39,394,152 people have yet to vote. In percentage terms, this means Clinton's states have 44 percent of the nation's population (53 percent if you include Florida and Michigan) and Obama's states have 34 percent of the nation's population. The yet-to-vote states have 13 percent of the nation's population.

Here is yet another theory that spins the math in her favor.

It's based on figures from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey taken right after the November 2004 elections. That year, some 125 million Americans told census takers that they voted. Of those, more than 14 million were African-Americans (including 8.2 million African-American women) and more than 67 million were women of all races.

Let us assume for the moment that current schisms in the Democratic Party take their most extreme forms and all African-Americans refuse to vote if Clinton wins the nomination and/or all white, Asian-American, and Hispanic women refuse to vote in November if Obama becomes the Democratic nominee. Obama loses many more votes than Clinton under this scenario.