Forget Clinton, Obama and superdelegates, John Edwards could well determine who wins the Democratic nomination. Despite Obama and Clinton returning reasonably equal results in Iowa and New Hampshire, Clinton has a commanding lead in the number of delegates who will vote for her at the convention. This is because of the superdelegates, party officials who can vote for whomever they like. Superdelegates account for 792 out of the 4040 delegates who will vote at the convention. Amongst those who have pledged support, Clinton has a commanding lead. Here are how the results currently stand:
|Pledged||Pledged (%)||Super||Super (%)||Total||Total (%)|
If these trends are extrapolated, no candidate will have enough votes at the convention to form a majority. Clinton, by virtue of her superior superdelegate numbers, will be ahead of Obama by about 300 votes. She will require a far smaller proportion of Edwards’s delegates in order to form a majority:
|Super||Pledged||Total||To Win||% of Ed. to win|
Indeed, Obama will need to pick up at least two thirds of Edwards’s delegates in order to seal the nomination. In reality, things will probably pan out slightly differently. Edwards is likely to gain smaller percentages of the vote in the coming states, closer to 10% than 20%. My understanding of the convention rules is that Edwards can either instruct his delegates to vote for another candidate or allow them to vote with their consciences. If he lets the delegates vote by their conscience, it is likely, in my opinion, that Hillary will win.
Should Edwards Drop Out?
With Edwards short on money and with no realistic chance of winning the nomination, there has been much speculation amongst Democrats as to whether Edwards should remain in the race. Supporters of both Clinton and Edwards seem to think their candidate would pick up the Edwards vote. Edwards himself as said he will remain in the race. It would definitely be in his interests to do so. So long as the tussle between Obama and Clinton remains close, Edwards will enter the DNC as kingmaker: his delegates will determine the nominee. Edwards will then be able to offer his delegates to either Clinton or Obama, perhaps in exchange for his name on the ticket as Vice President or a future cabinet position.
Obama needs to stay in touch with Clinton, forget about superdelegates, and concentrate on wooing Edwards. Edwards supporters should stick with him but make sure he knows who their second choice is.