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

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

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/POLITICS/01/02/nh.poll/art.democrats.gi.jpg caption=" 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. Screw Obama

    To "Tom"

    I was just a teenager when B. Clinton was in office, but even I can remember that it was a wonderful time in our nation's history until the conservatives managed to marshal their forces and prosecute their witch-hunt over something as stupid as the president's sex life. Bill did a heck of a good job running this country, and his sex life had no bearing on his ability to continue doing his job. If that's truly all you can remember about his presidency, please go back to watching Paris Hilton on E! and let the intelligent people decide who runs our country.

    January 22, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  2. Pat Rush

    How about mentioning how well Ron Paul did in Nevada. Your network has written him off. Not fair. Rudy has not done as well as Ron Paul in the primaries, yet he is everywhere. Not fair reporting.

    January 29, 2008 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  3. wow

    yeah... to the Hillary basher below saying that her husband is going to bang someone in her bed. What does that have to do with Politics? Much less running an entire nation! Glad to see you value the "issues"

    February 5, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  4. dawn pentenrieder

    I don't think that there were any surprises on Super Tuesday. I think that we can be very happy that we have Clinton and Obama to represent the Democratic party. The difference is, however....Clinton is good and Obama is great! Let's hope that he has enough time to allow people to get to know him. Once you have read his books and learned about his rich life experiences and then listened to his heart-felt speeches, you will come to realize that this could be the most inspiring presidental candidate that we have ever had. And, for those Democrats who like Clinton, please understand, I like Clinton too. But she can not beat the Republicans. She is strongly disliked by those who may swing over to the democratic side, if the candidate were Obama. Let's vote with common sense.

    February 6, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
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