Posted: January 19, 2008 9:33 PM
Clinton Wins Nevada Vote, but Delegate Confusion Rules the Day
Remember how Al Gore won the popular vote back in 2000, but the electoral college and a Supreme Court decision put George W. Bush in the White House?
A similar instance appears to have played out on a smaller scale Saturday in Nevada’s Democratic caucuses.
“I guess this is how the West was won!” Sen. Hillary Clinton told an adoring crowd at a victory party at the Planet Hollywood hotel in Las Vegas Saturday.
It turns out that while Clinton won Nevada’s popular vote, Sen. Barack Obama looks to have won more delegates.
At about 7:15 p.m. EST, the Associated Press and NBC flipped their earlier delegate counts to 13 for Obama and 12 for Clinton.
Washington Post blogger Chris Cillizza explains:”While the process of delegate apportionment is extremely complicated, it boils down to this: in the places that Clinton won, there were an even number of delegates that were split between she and Obama. In the places Obama won, there were an odd number of delegates, meaning that he often took two delegates to one for Clinton.
Clinton’s campaign released a statement refuting those findings.
“The Obama campaign is wrong,” it reads “Delegates for the national convention will not be determined until April 19.”
Other media reports reflected the delegate brouhaha. Some Nevada election officials told the New York Times they were confused about Obama’s claim that he has more delegates than Clinton.
“I don’t know why they’re saying that,” said Jill Derby, president of the Nevada State Democratic Party, told the Times, referring to the Obama campaign. “We don’t select our national delegates the way they’re saying. We won’t select national delegates for a few more months.”
No national delegates were actually awarded Saturday, Politico explained. Nevada caucus-goers were technically choosing delegates to the county convention.
Even if both the Clinton and Obama campaigns emerge from Nevada proclaiming a victory, the race for the Democratic nomination catapults to South Carolina next weekend and toward Super Tuesday on Feb. 5 when more than 20 states will vote.
Obama may have garnered the most delegates from voting in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, but Clinton still leads the overall race for delegates by 55, thanks to her support from super-delegates.
A total of 2,025 delegates are needed to secure the Democratic nomination.
In Nevada, Clinton won roughly half the vote in a three-way battle in Nevada, with Obama coming in at about 45 percent and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards finishing a distant third in single digits.
After a polite, complimentary Democratic debate in LasVegas, the Obama and Clinton campaigns traded accusations of dirty politics in Nevada and both downplayed expectations ahead of the vote.
Obama’s hopes in Nevada were pinned to an outpouring of support from the powerful Culinary Workers Union, which endorsed him last week. But it appeared that turnout was lighter than expected at nine caucus sites established along the Las Vegas Strip for casino shift workers, the AP reported.
The Nevada Democratic contest proved intense, despite the absence of a barrage of negative television commercials.
The Clinton campaign claimed their supporters in the union had been the targets of threats designed to keep them from attending caucuses.
Obama’s camp said their backers received telephone calls that made repeated reference to “Barack Hussein Obama.” And the Illinois senator told reporters that former President Clinton “seems to be making a habit of mischaracterizing what I say.”
Interviews with Democratic caucus-goers indicated Clinton won about half the votes cast by whites and two-thirds of the support from Hispanics, many of whom belong to the union that endorsed Obama. Obama won about 80 percent of Nevada’s African-American vote.
Obama will be looking to next week’s primary in South Carolina to counter Clinton’s western victory. The state is home to thousands of African-American voters, who are expected to comprise as much as half the Democratic electorate.
“Obama said he was ‘proud’ of the campaign he ran in Nevada, calling it ‘honest’ and ‘uplifiting’ and saying that, ‘That’s the campaign we’ll take to South Carolina and across America in the weeks to come, and that’s how we will truly bring about the change this country is hungry for,’” the Washington Post reported.
“But his campaign manger, David Plouffe, said the campaign has reports of more than 200 incidents of ‘trouble’ at caucus sites that may have kept Obama’s supporters from offering their support at the caucus. He blamed the incidents on premeditated ‘Clinton campaign tactics’ that he said ‘were part of an entire week’s worth of false, divisive, attacks designed to mislead caucus-goers and discredit the caucus itself,” the article continued.
The Edwards campaign released a statement congratulating Clinton for her win in Nevada, but promised to continue fighting for delegates in the remaining 47 states.
“Our campaign is very grateful to all those who demonstrated the loyalty and dedication to stand up for John Edwards in the face of very difficult circumstances and long odds, including our brothers and sisters in Nevada from the Carpenters, Steelworkers, Transport Workers, and Communications Workers of America,” the statement read.
“John Edwards is the underdog in this campaign, facing two $100 million candidates. But that is nothing compared to the real underdogs in our country — working men and women, middle class families, and all those who have no voice in Washington,” it continued.