Saturday, February 16, 2008

Why Are media calling Obama’s Super Tuesday victory a tie?

Question: If you win more states and more delegates than your competitor on Super Tuesday, is this a tie?

It is if media say so.

Consider, if you will, Barack Obama winning thirteen of the 22 states up for grabs Tuesday (New Mexico being still too close to call), and, according to multiple sources, taking home the most delegates. Isn't that a win?

Not according to CBS which offered readers the following headline:

Dems Fight To A Draw On Super Tuesday

Obama Wins Majority Of States, But Clinton Holds Slim Lead In Delegate Race

Yet, inside the body of the article - buried deeply in the tenth paragraph - was the following tidbit (emphasis added):

As the breakdown of states suggests, the race for delegates was close. CBS News estimates Clinton has won 641 of the night's available delegates compared to Obama's 643. Since the race kicked off with the Iowa caucuses Jan. 3, Clinton has won 900 delegates and Obama 824.

Actually, these statements appear false. But before we get there, ABC was just as evasive in calling a winner offering the following headline:

Clinton Wins Delegate-Rich States; Obama Takes Most StatesDemocratic White House Contenders Battle for Votes, Delegates in 22 States

Inside was the following:

Neither Democratic candidate was able to declare a Super Tuesday victory.

Well, that's actually not true, as Obama's campaign manager David Plouffe did indeed declare this a victory for the junior senator from Illinois:

By winning a majority of delegates and a majority of the states, Barack Obama won an important Super Tuesday victory over Senator Clinton in the closest thing we have to a national primary.

According to Politico's Mike Allen, one network seems to agree with the Obama camp (emphasis added):

NBC News, which is projecting delegates based on the Democratic Party's complex formula, figures Obama will wind up with 840 to 849 delegates, versus 829 to 838 for Clinton.

Clinton was portrayed in many news accounts as the night's big winner, but Obama's campaign says he wound up with a higher total where it really counts - the delegates who will choose the party's nominee at this summer's Democratic convention.

With the delegate count still under way, NBC News said Obama appears to have won around 840 delegates in yesterday's contests, while Clinton earned about 830 - "give or take a few," Tim Russert, the network's Washington bureau chief, said on the "Today" show.

In fairness, this race is indeed close. However, if Hillary ends up winning New Mexico, Obama would have beaten her in the state count Super Tuesday by a margin of 13-9, whilst apparently taking the most delegates, albeit by a scant few.

And, according to Allen, Obama might actually now lead in the delegate count (emphasis added):

The Obama campaign attached an Excel spreadsheet containing “state-by-state estimates of the pledged delegates we won last night, which total 845 for Obama and 836 for Clinton — bringing the to-date total of delegates to 908 for Obama, 884 for Clinton.”

As such, shouldn't Super Tuesday be reported as an Obama victory?

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