Can Clinton Overtake Obama in Pledged Delegates?

A look at the results from the March 4 election results on and suggests that Hillary Clinton probably only netted a gain of 7 delegates from Rhode Island, Vermont, Ohio, and Texas.  While the results from the Texas caucus are not all in yet, CNN’s Election Center  reported that Obama had a 56% to 44% lead with 40% of precincts reporting.  So, if we allocate 56% of the Texas caucus delegates to Obama, we get the following results:




Clinton Gain





Rhode Island




Texas Primary




Texas Caucus








Total Clinton Gain:   6

So, Clinton probably only picked up 6 delegates on March 4, leaving Obama with a large lead in pledged delegates of 135 according to CNN’s  calculations and 142 according to MSNBC’s  calculations.  CNN’s number does not yet include the projected gain of 9 for Obama from the Texas Caucus.  So, both networks essentially show a lead of between 142 and 144 for Obama when the Texas Caucus is factored in.

There are only 611 pledged delegates up for grab from the remaining states (not counting Florida and Michigan).  So, Clinton would have to win the rest of the primaries and caucuses by a margin of 377 to 234 in order to end up with more pledged delegates than Obama.  These numbers represent a 61.7% to 39.3% margin in the remaining contests.  Note that she would have to win 61.7% of the remaining delegates; she would probably need to win a higher percentage of the popular vote due to the way the rules determine delegate allocation.   If Florida and Michigan held new primaries or caucuses, then there would be an additional 313 pledged delegates (185 from Florida and 128 from Michigan) giving a total of 924 pledged delegates remaining.  In this case, Clinton would need to win 533 of these 924 delegates or 57.7% of them.

I think her chances of overtaking Obama’s lead in pledged delegates without Florida and Michigan are poor.  Her chances will improve if Florida and Michigan do hold new contests.  However, there were 370 pledged delegates in the 4 March 4th states and Clinton only gained about 6 delegates which is less than 2% of the contested delegates.    Net gains of 2% of the remaining 611 (or 924) delegates would only cut Obama’s lead by 12 (or 18) delegates which is far less than the 142 delegates Clinton needs.  So, it seems unlikely that she will end up with more pledged delegates.


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4 Responses to “Can Clinton Overtake Obama in Pledged Delegates?”

  1. Math Says:

    29 – 38 = -9.

    If that’s how the Texas caucus turns out, Clinton gains 6 delegates.

  2. rberlind Says:

    Thanks. You’re right of course. I’ve updated the data accordingly. The funny thing about this mistake is that I entered the numbers in an Excel spreadsheet and let it calculate the Clinton gains. I then copied the data from the spreadsheet to my post. Unfortunately, I deleted the spreadsheet after posting this so can’t go back and see what went wrong.

  3. rberlind Says:

    CNN finally posted estimated delegate counts for the Texas caucus from last Tuesday. Their estimate matches the one I gave in this post: 38 for Obama and 29 for Clinton. The combined results of the Texas primary and caucus were: Obama: 99, Clinton: 94. So, Obama won Texas as far as delegates were concerned. Clinton did win the March 4 contests as a group, cutting Obama’s pledged delegates lead by 6.

    However, Obama increased his lead by 2 on Saturday in Wyoming and by 7 in tonight’s Mississippi primary.

    So, despite all the talk about Clinton’s resurgence, Obama has actually increased his pledged delegate lead by 3 since the Wisconsin primary. That might not sound like much, but it is significant because there are now 415 fewer pledged delegates left to be divided than there were on 2/19. In fact, there are now only 566 pledged delegates in future contests and Obama currently holds a lead of 162 pledged delegates (using CNN’s numbers on 3/11). Clinton now has to win 364 of the remaining pledged delegates in order to catch up to him. That represents 64.3% of the remaining pledged delegates.

    The primaries are like a marathon. Clinton is approximately the same distance behind Obama at the 22 mile mark as she was at the 20 mile mark. With only 4 miles left to run, her chances of winning are now smaller than before.

  4. Clinton’s Chances of Overtaking Obama Now Smaller « Logical and True Says:

    […] Chances of Overtaking Obama Now Smaller After the March 4th primaries, I wrote a blog post asking whether Clinton could possibly overtake Obama in the race for pledged delegates.  I […]

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