January 20th, 2008
09:45 AM ET
2 years ago

Who won more delegates in Nevada? It's complicated.

 There is some confusion on who won more delegates in Nevada.
There is some confusion on who won more delegates in Nevada.

(CNN) - There are several possible answers: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and no one, and each answer is correct to some degree.

The purpose of Saturday’s caucuses was to elect delegates to next month’s county conventions, where delegates to the state convention in April will be chosen. It isn’t until this April meeting where the state’s 25 delegates to the national convention in Denver will actually be selected.

Hillary Clinton indisputably won the battle for county convention delegates, nabbing at least 5,300 compared to about 4,800 for Obama.

However, one could argue that Barack Obama won the battle for national convention delegates – even though no national delegates were actually awarded tonight – if you assume that the national convention delegates would be allocated in proportion to Saturday’s caucus results. CNN, the Associated Press, and other news organizations adopted this approach and estimated that Obama would go on to win 13 national convention delegates to 12 for Clinton if both candidates remained in the race by the time of the state convention in April.

But how is it possible that Clinton could win a majority of county convention delegates and not go on to win a majority of national convention delegates?

Under state party rules, Nevada’s 25 national convention delegates were divided up across Nevada’s three congressional districts. Then, the party took the additional step of dividing the Second Congressional District into three parts: Washoe county in northwestern Nevada which includes Reno; parts of Clark county in the southeast near Las Vegas; and then the rural and sparsely populated but geographically vast counties that make up the rest of the state.

Of those three subdivisions, Clinton's best showing was concentrated in the Las Vegas area in Clark county, while Obama beat her in Washoe and in the rural counties. Obama’s win in these two key areas, which were worth more national delegates than the area Clinton won, enabled him to overcome Clinton’s estimated lead in national delegates in the rest of the state.

“In a nutshell what happened is in the rural areas, Obama had a majority in the district that had an odd number of delegates, so he won an extra seat,” the Obama campaign’s director of delegate selection, Jeff Berman, told reports in a conference call. “Where Clinton won, the delegates were split evenly.”

The Clinton campaign, not surprisingly, chose to emphasize their candidate’s win in county convention delegates, rather than their narrow loss in the estimated allocation of national convention delegates.

“Hillary Clinton won the Nevada caucuses today by winning a majority of the delegates at stake,” the campaign said in a statement Saturday. “The Obama campaign is wrong. Delegates for the national convention will not be determined until April 19.”

Which campaign was right? According to the state party: both of them and neither of them.

Nevada Democratic Party Chair Jill Derby said in a statement, “What was awarded today were delegates to the County Convention, of which Sen. Clinton won the majority.”

“No national convention delegates were awarded. That said, if the delegate preferences remain unchanged between now and April 2008, the calculations of national convention delegates being circulated by the Associated Press are correct.”

That estimate would give Obama a 13-to-12 edge in Nevada’s national convention delegates.

Obama still trails Clinton in the overall hunt for national convention delegates. According to a CNN survey, Clinton now leads Obama 210 to 123 in delegates overall when the preferences of party insiders known as “superdelegates” are factored in. A total of 2,025 national convention delegate votes are needed to clinch the Democratic nomination.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Hillary Clinton • Nevada
soundoff (204 Responses)
  1. John, NC

    Karen, you said it right:

    "If it ends as a brokered convention, the people will be left out of the equation yet again and the politicians will maintain control of the decision of who is the president."

    Democrats complained in 2000 when Bush beat Gore with less overall national popular votes. While I didn't agree with that, it was, in a way, pardonable due to our Federal system. But to begin to bring this CRAZY system WITHIN A STATE is Democracy gone awry!

    What next: DIFFERENT RACES VOTERS' VOTES AWARDED PER CAPITA ACCORDING TO % ANCESTRY IN EACH CANDIDATE?

    What nonsense is this?!

    Come on guys, we have to start speaking out against this.

    January 20, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  2. Jason

    I think everyone should just boycott Nevada all together. It has caused more problems than solved.

    All week long everyone has heard about the voter suppression issues involving the caucuses. If Nevada had brains, it would have avoided this entire situation by holding a normal primary election, like New Hampshire.

    And now the winner of the caucuses really isn't the "winner?" What a great state!

    January 20, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  3. Debbie, Wisconsin

    Breakdown by Counties in Nevada:

    County Clinton Obama Reporting
    Carson City 44.38% 50.56% 100%
    Churchill 45.1% 49.02% 100%
    Clark 53.41% 42.87% 97.96%
    Douglas 42.24% 49.69% 100%
    Elko 28.7% 58.33% 100%
    Esmeralda 25.71% 62.86% 100%
    Eureka 25.64% 48.72% 100%
    Humboldt 34.44% 51.11% 100%
    Lander 42.65% 38.24% 100%
    Lincoln 57.14% 25.71% 100%
    Lyon 46.54% 42.14% 100%
    Mineral 47.37% 43.42% 100%
    Nye 55.21% 38.04% 93.94%
    Pershing 41.77% 48.1% 100%
    Storey 31.03% 51.72% 77.78%
    Washoe 39.47% 48.8% 98.05%
    White Pine 40.58% 44.93% 100%

    January 20, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  4. ingo

    Well, how does CNN know who won the popular vote ?
    I would like to know ;-))
    It is NOT counted, 51 percent to 45 percent to 4 percent is the (relative) number of caucus-delegates, not the votes for the respective candidates.
    You couls also claim that 2000 Bush won the popular vote, as he won the electoral vote, but that is not true.
    Maybe Obama won the popular vote, and Clinton just took the areas with more caucus-delagates then she actually deserves based on her share of votes.
    To call it a Clinton win is simply based on the wrong assumption that they DID counted the popular vote.
    So instead they should admit that they were deeply mistaken and accept the HARD fact that the candidate with more deleagtes to the DNC won, cause that's what counts. Bush WON in 2000, remember?
    He did NOT win the popular vote, but that was not even counted on election day, as it doens't matter.
    What matters to get the nomination?

    Got it, boys?

    The delegates to the DNC!

    January 20, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  5. Gobama

    Matt January 20, 2008 1:43 pm ET

    I'm not sure where you get 'Hilary win the popular vote'?

    In any case, the diving up of power and representation in the US CANNOT just be on the basis of mere popularity contest.

    Otherwise, how would the nation account for and accept the fact that some relatively SMALL states having as many US Senators as large states?

    The important thing is that the contestants ACCEPT A WORKABLE FORMULA for representation going into the electoral contest, and DO NOT seek to change things at the last moment before caucus if, say, a union endorsement is not gotten!

    In other words, Matt, one man one vote is just a cliché that is deceptively used to score small political points with those citizens who do not think much about the PRACTICAL realities of representation in America's history. lol

    January 20, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  6. Aaron

    I too am an Obama supporter, i can't say i'm disappointed with him winning more delegates, however, it took this Nevada caucus for me to grasp the concept of the electoral college. i'm learning a lot from this election, and as i can say i would absolutely be upset if Obama won popular vote and Hill the delegate count, i can also say that it is interesting to look at the way the delegates are split geographically and why they would be weighted differently. imagine if they weren't weighted heavier in the rural areas... no one would campaign there! the major cities throughout America would decide who wins elections simply because of population density, and no matter who you support or how that would effect your candidate, it would undoubtedly create a biased system.

    the fact that Obama cleaned up in rural Nevada is amazing. is it more difficult and time consuming to campaign across such a wide area, the message has to be much more tailor made to the audience, the message has to stick, especially when running against the almighty element of Name Recognition. to win the rural vote by such a majority and then to compete so well in the metro areas to only lose by a few hundred votes out of ten thousand speaks well of the organization that the Obama has in place.

    January 20, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  7. Amy, Kazoo

    Man this system is antiquated.

    January 20, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  8. maynard

    I don,t care who won the delegates.you people should wake up and look at what has happened to this country with the past presidents.. do we need 4 more years of a clinton in office. i am 62 years old and the last 20 years of politics is
    the most undesirable years that i have seen.

    wake up america befor its to late. we still can change this around and not have the woman of many faces running this country

    January 20, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  9. pops

    N Did you feel the same way about John Edwards when he did not congratulate Obama on his Iowa win. Always think before you talk and don't be bias.
    No wonder I need a big CHANGE A.S.A.P. Obama 08.

    January 20, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  10. W B in Las Vegas

    Amy, Kazoo is correct. my wife and I went to the Nevada caucus for Edwards and it was the most disorganized mess I have seen since I was in the Navy during Viet Nam.

    Will Rogers was obviously correct when back it the 1930's he stated that "I don't belong to any organized political party, I'm a Democrate"

    January 20, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  11. Sean

    The reason this works is that Vegas tries to control the entire state and to weaken their power the state is broken down so they may have more people but equal importance in terms of delegates as the smaller districts.

    January 20, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  12. Debbie, Wisconsin

    Here are the facts, no matter which side of this you are on.

    The FIRST person to reach 2025 delegates will win the Democratic nomination.

    Obama beat Clinton in Iowa by 1 delegate – (Obama 16) (Clinton 15)

    Obama tied Clinton in New Hampshire – (Obama 9) (Clinton 9)

    Obama beat Clinton in Nevada by 1 delegate – (Obama 13) (Clinton 12)

    Total State Delegates awarded to date:
    Obama 38
    Clinton 36

    January 20, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  13. Frances

    Why are you all reporting that Clinton won the Nevada caucuses? Obama won more potential convention delegates, which is the true result of this primary process. You are skewing the results in favor of the numerical vote count rather than the more critical *delegate* vote count. Clinton apparently had a higher vote count in those caucuses that favored her, while Obama apparently won more of the caucuses with high delegate counts. Please get your headlines and news reporting correct! You are showing a bias for Clinton – are you intimidated by Bill Clinton’s bullying?

    January 20, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  14. Kay

    CNN is BIASED in their reporting. Why are they not saying that Obama WON more delegates than Hillary? All that you hear is "Hillary won and she now has the momentum'. Two months ago, Hillary had Nevada ALL to herself. Tell, me, WHO has the momentum-Obama or Hillary? CNN, try to be FAIR, a little. YOu are too biased in favor of the Clintons.

    January 20, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  15. lt

    Why is there all the hub-bub about two people that running for office that have NO proven leadership experience or ability. This has become nothing but a popularity contest. I dont know about anyone else but this scares the heck out of me, we are in a position that requires STONG leadership regardless of all the games and false promisess that seem to steadly floe out of the mouths of these candidates.
    Please let me finish with saying that I am not part of any party or anything else,
    just worried.

    January 20, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  16. Ryan

    Win for Obama. Obama '08!

    January 20, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  17. Tyler

    Um you can tell she won the popular vote because as you can see, she won much more than him in Clark county. The state delegates are awarded based upon who wins each precincts. So whoever wins the most state delegates wins the higher vote totals. She won by 6%, so its obvious she won the popular vote, now in Iowa, its obvious Obama won the popular vote. Anyway, 1 delegate isnt going to change the race dramatically. Once you get to Feb 5th, the delegates become much more important.

    January 20, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  18. vi

    Church/ Synogouge/ Mosque etc. Should not influnence state choices. Back up your words!! Cite your sources!! Just don't give me religous junk. about hillary this Obama that because Obama is Black and HIllary is white. Race should not come between to very talented people. What are you guys part of the I don't want to move forward soceity? Where we cant think futuristic on where we are stuck in the past? How about we can have a White Women for President. Or a Black Man. As long as there Smart? OR do you want a stupid president? " Old Men send Young people to die?" you guys want that? Back yourselves up next time.

    January 20, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  19. Tyler

    And national delegates arent awarded untiil the state convention in Nevada, and if you read the Nevada Democratic Party report, then you would understand the delegates arent guarenteed. We saw delegate estimates change a couple days after Iowa so they are not guarenteed numbers until April.

    January 20, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  20. vi

    Or do you want a Conservative down south White Man who is a Bush Cronie?

    January 20, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  21. Paul NY NY

    Clinton getting the popular vote is more significant then the fact Obama got one more delegate , as a majority of states award delegates to whoever wins the popular vote in the general elections So that is why her win was a big deal.

    January 20, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  22. carmen

    Yes, wake up America! The Clintons will bring a big mess into the White House, all the pay back time from their 8 corrupted years, scandals, legal manouvres, buying political power, divisionism (no Republican will willlingly want to work with any one of them) and personal ambition. We need a fresh start with a young, sincere, energetic, smart candidate, get informed and vote for your country. America needs it!

    January 20, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  23. Tyler

    It would be so much easier if it was just winner take all lol

    January 20, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  24. Tyler

    In a way, they both won the state of Nevada.

    January 20, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  25. Ben, Dallas

    Let me preface this by saying the democratic party can legally choose whoever they want by whatever means (nearly 20% of voting power resides in the hands of party officials, NOT caucus voters). If voters don't like the rules, complain about the party setup because the US government has nothing to do with a party nomination. With that said, the US has many safeguards to prevent the popular vote always determining issues (electoral college, senate, etc.). This is to stop mob rule. US politics have always attempted to protect the individual or minority from the wishes of the majority.

    In the Nevada caucus, HRC won Clark County which had by far the most voters, but Obama actually won more counties. Thus, he is cleaning up in rural areas (traditional republican strongholds) but got slammed in the cities (traditional democratic strongholds). I'm beginning to think that HRC is getting more solid support from staunch, older democrats while Obama is getting more independents and newer democrats. I believe that Obama has a greater chance to win the general election since he is appealing to more people beyond the democrats. However, I'm not sure if he will win the democratic nomination.

    January 20, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9