Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Delegate counts all over the place

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at http://www.DemocraticConventionWatch.com

Everyone's got 2008 Democratic Convention delegate counts, and just about everybody's count is different. Why? Well, it's not the pledged delegates. Most media organizations (CNN, CBS, AP and NBC) are consistent, showing Obama with 38, Clinton with 36 and Edwards with 18 pledged delegates. Then there's the NY Times, which is not including Iowa or Nevada as they haven't selected actual national delegates yet. And then there are outlets reporting numbers with Michigan and Florida included, which greatly increases Clinton's lead. The GreenPapers and MyDD are tracking this way, and we've got both sets of numbers in the sidebar.

But even assuming no delegates for Florida and Michigan, the superdelegate numbers are different everywhere. As seen on our Superdelegate Tracker (as of 1/22), CNN has it 174/85/34, CBS has it 195/88/41, and the AP, via the Chicago Tribune, has it 200/98/34.

And then there's NBC, which doesn't seem to acknowledge the existence of superdelegates:

"I don't understand why people haven't allocated the superdelegates," [director of surveys for CBS News, Kathy] Frankovic said. "Certainly, they'll be counted as much" as those selected state by state, she said.
But lets focus on those organizations that do acknowledge superdelegates. Here we count only publicly announced endorsements, and so have it at 173/80/28. Why do CBS and the AP have higher numbers?
"It's very good to stay scientific as much as you can, but you've got to apply reporters' intelligence," a former political director at ABC News, Hal Bruno, said. "My hunch is everybody is so oriented to computers now that all they can do is crunch numbers. You've got to do the reporting. The reporting is as important as the number crunching."
Mr. Bruno, who headed ABC's political shop for 19 years, said he used to hire a well-connected Democrat and a well-connected Republican for the presidential election year to work contacts in each state. "A lot of superdelegates say they're uncommitted and it's untrue," he said, adding that reporting could usually establish at least that a delegate was leaning toward one candidate or another. The former journalist said he also checked in regularly with people the campaigns hired or assigned to tally delegates.
Mr. Bruno said that at different times during the campaign season he produced separate tallies of "hatched," "unhatched," "leaning," and "firm" delegates, though he acknowledged that the numbers were usually blended together before being broadcast.
I'm sure that the many of the unannounced endorsements assumed by the media organizations are accurate, but there's no way to know, as they don't publish any information. So we'll continue to publish only sourced endorsements, we'll note the media counts as a comparison, and we'll keep tracking the numbers until only one candidate is left standing, whether that's sometime this spring, or in Denver in late August.