Hillary Clinton: It’s the Map Not the Math

Hillary Clinton Telephone Photo Jeralyn Merritt recounts a blogger call with Senator Hillary Clinton:

She is staying in the race. She is ahead in the popular vote by 50,000 votes, counting Florida and Michigan which must be counted. She intends to continue to lead in the popular vote when June 3 comes around and everyone has voted.

The number one message: It’s the map not the math. In addition to the popular vote, the electoral map shows her with a cushion and Obama with a deficit. She has won 311 electoral votes to Obama’s 217. While a few of her’s like Texas and Oklahoma will be a challenge in November, many of his states will be: Alaska, Idaho, Utah, to name a few.

This is simultaneously ridiculous and sublime.

On the one hand, it’s absurd beyond words to count Michigan, in which only she was on the ballot, in any “popular vote” count. Especially when, running unopposed in an election that did not count, she only got 55.5 percent of the vote. “Uncommitted” got 39.9 percent. Should Obama get none of those votes? Further, as I’ve noted numerous times, the “popular vote” argument makes no sense, anyway, given the differential conditions involved in the various races. Caucuses get smaller turnouts than primaries, states holding contests on Saturdays have different dynamics than those held on Tuesdays, and so forth.

The “Electoral College” argument, though, is interesting. On its face, it’s silly. The Democratic Party has a set of rules in place for how it selects its nominee. Those rules don’t at all resemble a winner-take-all model mirrored on the Electoral College. Consequently, her opponents didn’t run their campaigns as if that were the case. To now claim that this is how the race should be decided is brazen.

At the same time, though, my colleague Dave Schuler (a Democrat, albeit of the virtually extinct Scoop Jackson/Sam Nunn variety) has observed several times that such a system is what the party should be using. It’s pretty much what the Republicans do and it gives them a relative advantage because it vets its would-be nominees through the same gauntlet that they’ll face in November.

Again, should be and is are different things. But since Clinton’s argument is intended to sway unpledged superdelegates, whose job it is to decide which candidate will represent the party best in the general election, it’s a defensible point. And, frankly, about all she’s got left.

This, though, is just pathetic:

She also talked about the blogosphere, saying she deeply regrets the vitriol and mean spiritedness and insults that have been thrown around at bloggers for supporting her and at women in general, but this too shall pass. She said she’s impervious to the insults and almost sees it as a perverse (reverse?)form of flattery.

The woman started with every conceivable advantage. She began as a household name, having been in the center of the national spotlight since 1992. The Democratic Big Money folks were afraid not to back her because she was the presumptive nominee. She had Bill’s Rolodex and her pick of his old team.

Meanwhile, her opponent’s first name rhymes with a country we’ve invaded, his middle name is the same as the dictator in charge of said country at the time of said invasion, and his last name rhymes with the first name of our most hated enemy. He’s been on the national stage about five minutes. He’s a half-black Muslim who has spent the last twenty years attending a Christian church led by a Louis Farrakhan fan who hates America and, especially, white people. And he won’t even wear a flag pin or give the poor, bitter working man a break on his gas taxes.

And she’s got it tough?

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Pug says:

    Correction. Hillary is the one who won’t wear a flag pin. Barack’s been sporting one for days now.

  2. crat3 says:

    Obama blocked revote for MI and FL; the votes must count as cast and Obama gets none of the MI votes.

    The Democratic nomination process is still in progress and MI and FL votes yet to count. When concluded, the superdelegates are mandated to select the best qualified candidate to win the general election using their independent judgment without regard to “delegate math.” These superdelegates are not bound by “internal party rules.” The general election electoral map shows Sen. Clinton is a winner. Sen. Clinton is the best qualified candidate to win the general election, and she will be the Democratic presidential nominee. She will defeat McCain hands down. If Obama swipes the nomination, there won’t be a completely “unified” Democratic Party; McCain will be getting a boost from Hillary Clinton supporters who will vote McCain, and I’m one of those votes. It will be a certain win for McCain.

  3. it vets its would-be nominees through the same gauntlet that they’ll face in November.

    Except that it doesn’t. The notion that per state contests in the primary mirror in some way the electoral college is wrong for the simple reason that the prize and the contestants are different.

    I see no value in the argument that because Democrat X beats Democrat Y in state Z that meanst that Democrat X automatically has a greater advantage against Republican Q in the Fall. Indeed, it is possible that the even though X beats Y in March that Y is a better fall candidate against Q.

    Just because Democratic voters preferred Hillary in Ohio in the primaries doesn’t mean that she is automatically a better general election candidate in Ohio against McCain. Why would this be the case?

    And you are quite right in your final assessment, btw.

    (Of course, because of the massive and fanstatic powers of the Q, we know who will win regardless).

  4. Ugh says:

    What color is the sky in your world crat3?

  5. Pat says:

    If you think that the last paragraph of this article is going to get McCain elected, you have another story coming..
    I am not sure if this is suppose to be satire.. but .. either way, it’s destructive.
    Keep it coming, keep it coming.. this is the type of
    vitriol that has hurt the republican party.

    I ran across this article by mistake.
    Will never visit this ‘site’ again.

  6. TT says:

    By saying “it’s the map, not the math”, Hilary is explicitly undermining the voice of the people. Maybe it should be about the math. Obama has won more delegates, more super delegates, more states and most of the popular vote. That means that more people in this country think he is the best choice for the democratic party. Why should that not matter? As a simpleton and not a politician, I feel a bit offended. Well, not really… but I would if that sort of stuff got under my skin.

  7. James Joyner says:

    The notion that per state contests in the primary mirror in some way the electoral college is wrong for the simple reason that the prize and the contestants are different.

    We agree that Hillary beating Obama in, say, Pennsylvania says little about her relative virtues over Obama vs. McCain in that state.

    Still, the Republican nominee demonstrates through the current process that they’re ready to run a state-by-state, winner-take-all race. Running a proportional representation contest is just so much different.

    It would be rather like following the NFL regular season with a playoff using Arena League rules, or vice versa.

  8. alee21 says:

    You can poo-poo all you want but meantime loyal and passionate Hillary supporters will be working furiously away.

    Meanwhile for those decrying Hillary is going against people’s will, FYI, she is ahead in popular votes and one way or the way, Michigan and Florida will be counted in the way people voted, rules or not, Obamaites or not.

  9. zhuo says:

    James, I regret reading your writing. Your wrote poorly, no style and unrespectful. No more on your writing. What a waste of time and energy for a garbege writer.

  10. mq says:

    Damnit James, you insulted Pat with your assessment of Obama. Apologize to the nice lady 😉

    I think the biggest problem the Democratic primary process presents (at least for Dems) is that it encourages being a “good enough” candidate. Coming in second in a proportional delegate state ain’t all that bad. Third place doesn’t entirely suck either. At the end of the Dem primary season you’re left with a candidate who has been able to go with a “good enough” campaign and cobble together enough delegates via proportional delegate distribution, as opposed to the Republican candidate who has had to fight to win outright in every state as there isn’t a 2nd or 3rd place prize in most Republican primaries. In that way the Republican candidate comes out better prepared for the general election. Another benefit of the winner-take-all system is that it tends to end the primary season pretty quickly. Now if we could just start the primary season a bit later in the year….

    I will be interested to see if any changes come about in the Dem primary rules after this year.

  11. Anon says:

    Pat and zhuo seem to have reading comprehension problems.

  12. Stop teh garbege!

  13. rodney dill says:

    I ran across this article by mistake.
    Will never visit this ‘site’ again.

    Meanwhile in Tibet a small child is growing up.

  14. Josey says:

    Yes! let’s nominate a candidate that “won” by gaming undemocratic caucuses and targeting red states with HIGH delegate numbers.

    Obama can’t win FL, PA, OH, TX, WV, KY, etc. -because he’s called them racists, clinging to their guns and religion – and voting against their own best economic interests.
    “Those people” have been voting for Hillary because of her excellent proposals for our Economic crisis.

    But hey – Obama is now wearing a flag pin! Whoopee!

  15. Josey says:

    >>>Should Obama get none of those votes?

    So much distortion!
    Obama can have the MI 40% “uncommitted” vote – but he wanted to split the total 50-50 – giving him an increase of 10% and Hillary a decrease of 5%.
    Obama’s “new politics” is the Chicago politics.

    Will the Rules committee resolve the FL and MI debacle on May 31 differently than they would have 2 months ago? 1 week ago?
    NO! they’re running out the clock for Barack.

    The MI & FL popular vote totalS will be included, but only AFTER Obama has crowned himself the “nominee.”

  16. Nessuno Importante says:

    “The “Electoral College” argument, though, is interesting. On its face, it’s silly. The Democratic Party has a set of rules in place for how it selects its nominee. Those rules don’t at all resemble a winner-take-all model mirrored on the Electoral College. Consequently, her opponents didn’t run their campaigns as if that were the case. To now claim that this is how the race should be decided is brazen.”

    I have to think the writer of this article is being intentionally obtuse.

    The democratic primary system has two elements, the pledged delegates obtained proportionally by primaries and caucuses and the permanent delegates, who are free to vote for whomever they choose.

    Clearly, Senator Clinton is making a case for herself on electability using the electoral college. The permanent delegates have yet to vote, so she is trying to sway the undecided ones and win over some that so far have supported Senator Obama.

    It has become apparent during this primary that the majority of the press do not understand the primary process and this is shocking. The press needs someone who understands the primary process to explain it to them.

  17. aka says:

    Thanks for being honest.

  18. aka says:

    Apparently to the wrath of the usual posters, I notice….

    She ran a hard campaign, but now she has lost. I’m not sure so many postmortems are necessary. But it’s nice to have an honest assessment rather than lip service for more fantasy metrics.

  19. aka says:

    whoa I jsut reread that last para. OMG AND I SAID YOU WERE HONEST???? I LOST MY MIND.

    VERY SNEAKY. Put in all that nearly normal blather and then put all the lies and distortions in the last para. Jeez. I’ve been reading too many blogs and I can’t see straight anymore.

  20. OneMonkeysUncle says:

    So the Democrats are sticking true to the public “character” they have demonstrated since they managed to lose in 2000, despite running an intelligent and deserving VP on the heels of one of the most popular presidents in history… And so what? I hate Bush and his entire wing of the Republican party, and I’m happy to see their whole mess coming apart at the seams (they can’t even win in MISSISSIPPI, fer crise sakes!). On the other hand, it would serve the Democrats right if they LOST in 2008 – they DESERVE to lose for the utterly shameful way they’ve behaved since August or September of 2000, when they essentially handed the White House to the Republicans. The Clinton/Obama debacle is absolutely emblematic of their inability to lead.

  21. markg8 says:

    To further elaborate on Steven Taylor’s point polls have shown Obama doing better in CA against McCain than Hillary does for some time now.

  22. Len says:

    He’s a half-black Muslim

    James, please. He’s not a Muslim, but even if he were… so what? Bush is a Methodist, who knows what McCain is, I think the Clintons are Baptists (not sure). Who cares?

  23. jacksmith says:




    It’s time for everyone to face the truth. Barack Obama has no real chance of winning the national election in November at this time. His crushing defeat in Pennsylvania, and loss in Indiana and West Virginia makes that fact crystal clear. His best, and only real chance of winning in November is on a ticket with Hillary Clinton as her VP.

    Sen. Obama has zero chance of winning against the republican attack machine, and their unlimited money, and resources without Hillary Clinton. Zero chance.

    It is absolutely essential that the democrats take back the Whitehouse in November. America, and the American people are in a very desperate condition now. And the whole World has been doing all that they can to help keep us propped up.

    Hillary Clinton say’s that the heat, and decisions in the Whitehouse are much tougher than the ones on the campaign trail. But I think Sen. Obama faces a test of whether he has what it takes to be a commander and chief by facing the difficult facts, and the truth before him. And by doing what is best for the American people by dropping out of the race, and offering his whole hearted assistance to Hillary Clinton to help her take back the Whitehouse for the American people, and the World.

    Sen. Obama is a great speaker. And I am confident he can explain to the American people the need, and wisdom of such a personal sacrifice for them. It should be clear to everyone by now that Hillary Clinton is fighting her heart out for the American people. She has known for a long time that Sen. Obama can not win this November. You have to remember that the Clinton’s have won the Whitehouse twice before. They know what it takes.

    If Sen. Obama fails his test of commander and chief we can only hope that Hillary Clinton can continue her heroic fight for the American people. And that she prevails. She will need all the continual support and help we can give her. She may fight like a superhuman. But she is only human.

    Don’t be fooled by the pledged delegate, and math arguments. Neither candidate has the necessary pledged delegates. The entire delegates counts, and votes from Florida, and Michigan are not even being counted. Plus the democratic caucuses, and primarys have been heavily corrupted by fraud, and vote cheating. The only relevant question now is who can best WIN IN NOVEMBER and take back the Whitehouse for the American people. And the answer is HILLARY CLINTON. Everyone knows that now.


    Jacksmith… Working Class 🙂

    p.s. Cynthia Ruccia – I’m with ya baby. All the way. “Clinton Supporters Count Too.”

  24. anjin-san says:




    No one is interested in what Rush’s trolls have to say. Better worry about how you are going to sell the Lobbyist Express to an electorate that is not into Bush II.

  25. Jennifer says:

    If you think that Hillary Clinton has had it easy then you obviously have not been watching how the media has tried to destroy Hillary while loving can’t do nothing wrong Obama! Also with the flag pin, Kiss a** Obama only is wearing now because he is trying to get white working class voters. Too late!!! They have spoken and the have spoken overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton and Hillary’s math is correct despite what you or any other hater thinks. I watched Gore then Kerry lose the election based on the electoral college and with Hillary all but annihilating his lead in the electoral college math he will lose by a huge margin. Another one bites the dust for the democrats.

  26. BERICKBETH says:

    I certainly hope that Hillary will be the nominate, I believe in her and her political career. Obama will have plenty time to comeback and then as a well known politician, if he get nominate he will not have my vote, I want Hillary in power, there is not other way for Democrats to comeback I hope they see that because like me there are many people that will not vote in the general election. BUT HILLARY WILL BE THE NEXT PRESIDENT. WE NEED HER EXPERIENCE, I WILL NOT JEOPARDIZE THAT the way this country is now.

  27. Patrick Vashon says:

    One of you smart people explain this “math” to me:
    Obama wins Idaho Caucus election by 13,000 votes and he picks up 12 delegates, Clinton wins Ohio Primary by 200,000 votes and gets 10 delegates.
    What kind of B*$*#$*$T is that?

  28. jeffrey payne says:

    obama will wim massachucets, new york, illinois, new jersey, and maybe minnisota. then he might pull off oregon, washington state, washington dc. he may even pull off one of the carolinas and misissippi. after that,,,,his pickings will be slim, while most people are NOT racist, they feel compelled to support there “own” interest. that means latinos would have to support obamao gain any more states. aint gonna happen, blacks are now a smaller minority than latinos. blacks are fighting for more federal programs, it is in the blacks best interest to deport every illeagal in this country. greed is good. hispanics must rise with the republicans who already have the president that will give them freedom. a black president wont get the same support the republicans can gveet. it’s going to be a race. but if given to the electoral college, americans will be reminded race still matters, and not just in safe states. mccain will win with over 400ecvs. jjp

  29. hunter says:

    Clinton is yesterdays news. Why can’t you Clintonistas deal with her loss. You sound like children. Grow up for goodness sake.

    “I won’t vote” you cry.

    OK … Stay home. Good riddance. Whiners!

  30. Joyce says:

    I’ve read a lot of blogs over the last few months and have noted the difference in how the Obama folks treat the Hillary folks. What amazes me is that Obama is supposed to be a uniter, yet he split the Democratic Party. He split the Environmental community, MoveOn.org, Air America, KTALK, NARAL, and many many other dedicated progressive organizations. Just the word Clintonistas is so demeaning! Boy that is leadership! Can he pull the party together if he is the nominee?

  31. sam says:

    Jesus, these folks can give the Ronbots a run for their money.

  32. Jatts says:

    please remember there there were three others in the Michigan ballot other than Clinton. And there was big move there going on there by both Obama and Edwards teams to push voters to vote Uncommitted. And the reason being “the genius” Mr. Obama knew that he was going to loose MI to Clinton and so did Edwards.

    So its a problem for both Obama and Edwards.

  33. floyd says:

    If you think that last paragraph was problematic… Just wait ’til they get to his electability problems![lol]

    BTW; The Democrats are directly responsible for virtually every election of a Republican of the last 25 years.

  34. beihai says:

    Hillary has lost the black vote forever. Luckily the Dems were smart enough not to nominate her, because if they did then McCain need only pick Colin Powell for his VP and it would be over in Sept. Of course Hillary will then say how the selection of Powell is a disservice to hardworking white Americans, but like everything she has done, it wouldn’t work. In 3 weeks we will be free of her. I am ecstatic.

    As to Berickbeth, good lord, did you go to school? It is Nominee not nominate. “there is not other way for Democrats to comeback” Please tell me you are a non native English speaker because the level of your English is atrocious.

    It is no wonder why Obama gets the college educated and Hillary the rubes. Only stupid people would vote for her. “if he get nominate he will not have my vote” this is just scarily stupid. It is a wonder you have managed to live this long.

  35. NomDePlume says:

    ‘This, though, is just pathetic:’

    Not so, unless you just don’t read what people say to others on the internet. Notably women for Clinton. And don’t appreciate the graciousness and big-heartedness of this Senator from New York with her long history. Would these comments, these forms of name-calling, be acceptable if directed at black campaigners for Obama?

    We’ve known and loved Hillary for a long. But, if she DOESN’T win the nomination, and in spite of her entreaties on behalf of the Democrats and the good ol’ boys (and their sell-out girls who testify to being equal today in America), this is one road, long last, we WON’T be walking down with her. (But Hillary will understand; it’s our right to choose.)

    IOW, IF Obama wins, we won’t be voting Democrat unless there are BIG concessions to women.

    (1) Forget Universal, forget even going with Hillary’s plan, which is better. The Democrats show how they are going to push through SINGLE PAYER HEALTH the first year of Obama’s administration. Namely, Conyer’s bill.
    (2) Democratic Congress cut off all funding for Iraq NOW as a show of good faith for the new administration the superdelegates plan to bring in;
    (3) Democrats support a return to ’50’s-’60’s tax levels for corporations as per Nader;
    (3) Obama, not Clinton, apologizes deeply for the sexist behavior of his campaign. Including the sexist behavior directed toward single parent families behind Clinton, instead.
    (4) Pull NAFTA.

    Then this family will consider (exercising our right to choose, by) sending the Clearys and their future dog to Pennsylvania Avenue.

    But, in the meantime, we’ll keep supporting one of the greatest leaders in American history.

    Hillary Clinton 08