Dissonance Amongst the Delegates

CBS News and the New York Times just conducted a poll among Democratic Delegates asking the VP question. The results, Clinton received 28 (271.6 votes) percent of the vote, while Biden, the next closest responded, received 6 percent. There was however an enormous percentage of participates who were undecided, 36 percent and another 9 percent selected other. I was initially skeptical of this poll's result until I analyzed the statistics present in the sample. The sample included 970 randomly selected delegates, 23.8% of the 4081 total delegates.

Before I detail my analysis I want to first establish the basic variables used in my calculation. Lets first state that as of June 3rd (the night Obama sealed the nomination) Obama had 2172 delegates (53.2%) and Clinton had 1909 (46.8%) delegates; I draw these figures from our Democratic Delegate Estimates page that was maintained throughout the primaries. The delegate poll was conducted to include both pledged delegates and super delegates but of course CBS and the NY Times did not provide the raw numbers, so I'm left with the task of trying to figure it out. Luckily though, the poll provided additional information in the secondary question; Would Clinton as VP help Obama win the election? The matrix below uses these numbers to calculate the percentage of delegates questioned from each delegate group, Obama allocated, Clinton allocated and unpledged.

Within the text of the published poll result it states that 61% of Clinton allocated pledged (Thanks John) delegates supported her as their preferred VP choice, while just 3% of Obama's delegates supported Clinton as their first choice. If we assume that the sample is perfect, each side's percentage in the sample space is the same as their percentage of pledged delegates, then Obama would have 419.99 pledged representatives and Clinton would have 384.57. Using these figures and the percentages noted in the report an estimate to the theoretical support for Clinton as a VP can be determined; 61% * 384.57 = 234.59 for Clinton delegates, 3% * 419.99 = 12.60 for Obama delegates and 20% * 165.43 = 33.09 among the super delegates for a total of 280.278 or 28.90% if the sample were perfect. The 28.90% doesn't line up with the 28% as noted in the final poll result but its very close; Clinton and Obama delegates are over represented in the poll sample while the super delegates are under represented.

Now here comes the problem with this poll. If 410.31 Clinton delegates were interviewed and 61% of pledged delegates favored Clinton as their preferred VP choice, who did the other 39% prefer? The most likely response would be undecided, then other but this conclusion provides nothing of value. In fact its a guarantee that 14% of Clinton delegates choose undecided or other, but its also possible that all 39% voted undecided or other; absolutely inconclusive. The result of the poll essentially says this, "A majority of Clinton supporters think Obama should choose Clinton as the VP. The other half, well we have no idea what they think, it could be anybody because we didn't provide enough data." But this non-result is fascinating in itself. If 39% of Clinton delegates, who are by definition her hardcore supporters, have moved away from blindly supporting Clinton then the rest of the 18 million people who voted for her likely have as well. That's not to say that they are fully supportive, but at least they've taken off their tinfoil hats. The poll also squelches any possibility of a surprise Clinton nomination when the vote is called because much of her original support has boarded the Obama train.

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1 Response(s) to Dissonance Amongst the Delegates

8/19/2008 9:28:53 AM CT

I think the 61% applies to just Clinton's pledged delegates, and not her combined pledged plus superdelegates. The same applies to the 3% of Obama's pledged delegates.

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