Clinton Delegate Lead Down to 194, Even as Dramatic Miscounting of Delegates by Media Continues

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Clinton Delegate Lead Down to 194, Even as Dramatic Miscounting of Delegates by Media Continues

Bernie Sanders supporters cheer as the candidate speaks during a campaign rally held in Prospect Park, Brooklyn on Sunday. (Photo: ddp USA/Rex/Shutterstock)

1,299 to 1,105.

That’s the “insurmountable” delegate lead Hillary Clinton has over Bernie Sanders.

And there are still 1,674 pledged delegates yet to be awarded in twenty primaries and caucuses to be held over the next two months; scores of up-for-grabs delegates yet to be decided via state and county Democratic conventions; and hundreds and hundreds of super-delegates to be wooed by both candidates in Philadelphia this summer — with not a single one of them having officially committed themselves to anybody.

That’s the cold, hard truth — the indisputable numeric data of the current election cycle — but it’s not the story Americans are being told.

Why?

Well, put it this way: say what you will about Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight.com — for instance, that its projections for Bernie Sanders in primaries and caucuses have routinely been low, a fact which sits uncomfortably beside its penchant for publishing articles marginalizing Sanders and his supporters as quixotic — but they’ve consistently had the most accurate delegate counts for the Democratic Primary race.

And even they can’t keep up with Sanders.

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In just the past week, Sanders has cut Clinton’s delegate lead by 20 — by 12 in Colorado (Sanders +6, Clinton -6) and by four each in Nevada and Missouri (Sanders +2, Clinton -2) — without a single statewide primary or caucus being held, and even Nate Silver and his crew haven’t been able to amend their usually accurate delegate tallies fast enough. That’s understandable; it’s easy to fall behind in reporting on a candidate who’s beaten Hillary Clinton eight Election Days in a row — President Obama having never lost more than two in a row in 2008 — when you also have to publish esoterically misleading stories like “Clinton Is Winning the States That Look Like the Democratic Party” and “Bernie Sanders Is Even Less Competitive Than He Appears”.

Sanders supporters understand: burying a candidate is hard work.

But on the assumption Silver, who’s actually a pollster and not an editorialist, will get back to doing what he’s known for, he’ll notice that not only is Sanders way ahead of Clinton in favorability polling, head-to-head national polling against GOP candidates, head-to-head battleground-state polling against GOP candidates, and also, in many of the recent national polls, head-to-head polling against Clinton herself, but he’s also cutting into her pledged delegate lead near-daily without having to lift a finger.

So it bears repeating: after recent second- and third-stage successes in Missouri, Nevada, and Colorado — that is, after continuing to compete in the second and third stages of delegate selection in these three states, in a way both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have either declined or been unable to do — Sanders has gained 20 net delegates on his Democratic opponent in just the last week, only a fraction of which are reflected in the current delegate count at FiveThirtyEight.com.

This comes after gaining four net delegates in Arizona the week before that.

This means that Clinton’s delegate lead has dropped by 24 in just the last two weeks, and in events barely covered by the media in four of the nation’s fifty states. If similar events were to occur at even a handful of the other 46 state party conventions, Clinton’s lead, even outside any remaining primaries and caucuses, could be greatly imperiled.

Seems newsworthy, doesn’t it? Cutting 24 delegates off Clinton’s 200-plus delegate lead in just four states and 14 days, with two months left in the primary season, twenty primaries and caucuses left, and many states that have already held primaries and caucuses still planning to hold precisely the sort of county conventions that have already netted Sanders so many new delegates in so little time?

Apparently not.

So what’s that new delegate count again?

1,299 to 1,105.

That’s right: with 1,674 delegates left to be awarded, and possibly dozens of delegates left to be “re-awarded” following county- and state-level Democratic conventions across the nation, Clinton’s delegate lead — so insurmountable it’s really only spoken of these days in euphemistic superlatives — is no more than 1,299 to 1,105.

To put it in perspective, given the number of total pledged delegates on the Republican side (2,474) as compared to the Democratic side (4,051), Clinton’s lead on Sanders is the equivalent of Donald Trump having a 118-delegate lead on Ted Cruz.

Trump’s actual current lead over Cruz?

Not 118, but nearly twice that — 215.

So why are most American news-watchers under the distinct impression that Ted Cruz has a much better chance of catching Trump in pledged delegates than Sanders does of catching Clinton?

I don’t know — ask Nate Silver and FiveThirtyEight.com.

Or ask any of the other major mainstream-media institutions, who, instead of reporting that Clinton leads Sanders by only 194 delegates, have done the Secretary the enormous favor of making it look like she leads by 25 percent more than that — having already done her the favor of reporting misleading super-delegate tallies for months, thereby falsely inflating Clinton’s lead by hundreds of unpledged delegates.

Here’s how big a favor the media is presently doing Mrs. Clinton — who, again, leads Senator Sanders by just 194 delegates:

False Delegate Counts, By Media Institution

(from most inaccurate delegate count to least inaccurate count)

CBS: 695 *
Politico: 672 *
NBC: 664 *
ABC: 244
Fox News: 244
RealClearPolitics: 244
CNN: 229
New York Times: 220
FiveThirtyEight: 206

* Network falsely includes super-delegates in delegate count, against the express demand of the Democratic National Committee.

So, as New York residents prepare to head to the polls on Tuesday, with many of them — particularly Sanders supporters — wondering how much of a difference their vote can really make, the answer is: a very, very great deal.

For as we’ve already seen over the past two weeks, delegate leads can evaporate far faster than the even the media intelligentsia can track. The actual delegate count is 1,299 to 1,105 today, but who knows what it’ll be by mid-week, if Sanders supporters ignore the mainstream media’s computational disabilities and turn out to vote?

Seth Abramson

Seth Abramson is Assistant Professor of English at University of New Hampshire.

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