by David Epstein
There's an article making the rounds in Politico claiming that, in fact, the race is already over, and only Hillary's pull with the national press (oh really?) is stopping them from stating the obvious. Add this to similar pieces in Slate and the NYT, and we have a small boomlet of journalists trying to make it seem like the race is essentially over.
But as these articles point out, these calculations depend on completely ignoring the results in Michigan and Florida, which seems absurd. In Florida, both candidates had their names on the ballot. In Michigan, Clinton, Kucinich, Dodd and Gravel were on the ballot, Obama, Edwards, Richardson and Biden were off the ballot. So putting all the "uncommitted" votes in Obama's column is certainly giving him more than he deserves, but so be it.
With these two states added in, Obama's total vote lead shrinks from 700,000 to about 70,000. So it's likely that Clinton will take the total vote lead after the Pennsylvania primary. Then it would be up to Obama to explain why the fact that the delegate apportionment formulas give him more delegates than Clinton should override the majority vote so far in the primary season. After all, we usually associate democracy with a system where the candidate with more votes wins, so how would having the convention select Clinton be "overturning" the primaries?
No, the votes in Florida and Michigan were not perfect, and redoing them would be the best solution possible. But if that doesn't happen, we are left only with a series of imperfect measures of the candidates' popularity. None is ideal, but is it really better to throw the states out entirely? It seems that after Pennsylvania Obama's claim to front-runner status will be entirely tied up in this point of view, which is tenuous, to say the least.