January 20th, 2008
09:45 AM ET
9 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. Sabrina

    Who cares about 1 Delegate, She won the most votes and no national conventional delagates were awarded. Just watch her delegates rise after Feb. 5, you have to look at the big picture, GO HILLARY !!!!!!!

    January 20, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  2. Marko Dezdri, Portland, OR

    People, go to the Delegates Full Scorecard for candidates here in the CNN politics center. You'll see who really have more delegates.
    CNN is just playing as an Obama supporter yet again. You all know that.

    Then there's the issue about popular vote vs delegate vote. Do you all remember what happened in year 2000? We need to demand a more democratic electoral system. How many times do we need to go thru this in order to get it?
    Another 4 years with a blunder like Bush and we are screwed.

    We need someone highly smart, prepared, resilient, experienced, tough, courageous. Someone who knows how to bring the change we need, rather than dreaming about the change we need. We need Hillary.

    Congratulations to Hillary for winning Nevada. I hope to see you in the White House next year!

    January 20, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  3. William Courtland, Waterford, Ontario

    If it must be a contest between to factions, then I will induce the third.
    IF the public hires the president and not the electoral College then let the people know.

    "This is Jeopardy"
    Alex Trebec


    Yep; 'a few' have heard of the Colbert Bump, well let a few more gain the Jeopardy bump. Of the 251 announced candidates let them gain fortune from the hit television game show. Pre-elimination will be expected and of the final eighteen who will win the "Jeopardy tournament of Presidential Candidates".

    Greater proposed:
    Mr. Colbert is expected to test for contension.

    January 20, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  4. axel buttgen

    I write from France and follow your election closely. Why is there so little
    media support for Ron Paul?. He came secong in Nevada and you dont even mention it. Your election results shown on your web is also wrong, putting McCain second instead of Paul. Its sickening to see your lovely country going down the drain with all the vote fraud going on. You guys will see that Ron Paul will win even if you do not report on him fairly. The American people have finally
    woken up. Hurray
    Axel Buttgen

    January 20, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  5. Ray

    Clinton will still win this all. Go Hillary!!!

    January 20, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  6. Marie in Arlington Tx

    There is a very strong "grassroots" groundswell building for Obama. You can just feel it at his rallies. The news on Nevada's delegates from more rural areas helps confirm it. America just needs to see and hear just a little bit more from Obama.

    We say we want "change" and if you believe headlines, it's starting to look like the "candidates of choice" are Clinton and McCain for goodness sakes. I don't think anything could be more like "the same old thing". The more we cry for change it seems the more intent we are repeating history with these 2 candidates. Looks like America is taking a fall-back position right down the middle.

    Are we afraid to take a chance? You have to take a chance to bring about change. Taking chances is what made America great...political fallback positions got us where we are today from both parties.

    January 20, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  7. William Courtland, Waterford, Ontario

    If it must be a contest between two factions, then I will induce the third.
    IF the public hires the president and not the wisdom of a pre-selected Electoral College then let the people know the amount of related trivia the candidates possess.

    "This is Jeopardy"
    Alex Trebec


    Yep; 'a few' have heard of the Colbert Bump, well let a few more gain the Jeopardy bump. Of the 251 announced candidates let them gain fortune from the hit television game show. Pre-elimination will be expected and of the final eighteen who will win the "Jeopardy tournament of Presidential Candidates".

    Greater proposed:
    Mr. Colbert is expected to test for contention.

    January 20, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  8. Karen

    I'm curious to know if the counties broke one way, the delegates the other, are the superdelegates included in the delegate count? I saw one report of the split of the popular vote going another way. I wonder how voters will react if one candidate has the popular vote but another gets the delegate vote. It's Bush all over again. I know I won't be pleased. 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.

    January 20, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  9. James D.

    I'm an Obama supporter, so good news to me, but it does seem to be a very strange (unfair?) system. Seems to me, since Hillary won the state..she should be guaranteed more delegates under ANY circumstances.

    Oh and Conmulligan.... Josh Lyman is my hero.

    January 20, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  10. Matt

    This is why Americans are so disillusioned when it comes to politics. Hillary won the popular vote in NV, yet she doesn't get the majority of delegates in the state. Gore wins the popular vote nationally, yet he doesn't win the presidency. Why bother to vote if it doesn't count because of some complicated, outdated set of rules?

    January 20, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  11. charlotte

    January 20, 2008 11:45 am ET
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    This is what a lot of people seem to not understand. Popular votes do not insure a win at the national party conventions. Delagates decide. Each state has X amount of delegates. The party has super delegates, who also vote. So with that said, split votes such as Obama 13, Clinton 12, Romney 15, McCain16. It is confusing, but that is the way the game is played.
    Ex: Nixon won popular, Kennedy won the election.
    Ex: Gore won popular, Bush won the election.
    Some have won both. We have had good/bad presidents. Until someone can come up with a better process. The process is the way it is whether we like it or not.

    January 20, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  12. Don, Rochester, NY

    I agree with Matt. This system needs to change. We have the technology and (I hope) the intelligence as a people to switch to a popular vote system. As for delegates, Hillary has an estimated 87 up on Obama at this point, so even if she loses more states than she wins, as long as the races are relatively close, she would still get the nomination. I will be interested to see how the national popular vote measures up to the delegates when this is all said and done.

    January 20, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  13. Dan Star

    I pray Obama wins the nomination. This is the first person running that knows what the people want. We've had enough of the Bush-Clinton Dynasty and we need EVERYONE'S HELP to ge tObama on the ticket ! No matter who the GOP nominee turns out to be, Obama can lead us all forward !

    January 20, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  14. Miles C

    From an impartial standpoint, it would seem to me that this means Nevada was won by Barack Obama. A win by the slimmest of margins, but still a win. If in fact he got more national delegates, then how is he not the winner? The terrible thing about this is that I had to be told about it from a supporter, and then do some searching online to find out that Obama indeed got 13 delegates to Hillary's 12. That's not exactly the resounding Clinton win as shown on CNN, Headline News, Fox, etc. I saw no mention of this on television yesterday (and I watched a lot of it), and there was no mention of it on CNN.com until today. What gives, journalists? Do your jobs!

    January 20, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  15. John

    From talking to all my friends across the whole country there is an expectation being raised That for once an intelligent charismatic Thinking politician has a good chance at the Presidency. The voters I talk to all believe that If Obama wins the Nomination for the Democratic party He will garner support from all sides of the political spectrum ad would make a formidable candidate and President.

    January 20, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  16. Nina

    Dont worry MAtt, Obama is going to change evefrything, he will pick a republican for v.p..

    January 20, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  17. Mel



    January 20, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  18. Andy, New York, New York


    The answer is simple: Despite name recognition and her so-called 35 years of experience (more like exposure), Hillary Clinton is not liked by half of the Democratic leadership and base. This is not good news for her!

    As a Black Republican New Yorker, I admire Obama's firey passion that has brought alive the race to the White House, but while I don't think he will ever get to the White House, I don't want to see that communist devil named Hillary Clinton as President.

    That's why I say: McCain-Giuliani in 2008!

    January 20, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  19. Jim

    The system isn't outdated, and it isn't really that complicated. The fact that people do not take the time to learn about how our democracy is organized does not mean we should dumb the system down. We have a proportional system for a variety of reasons, and unless you live in a densely populated area, you should be very thankful for that fact, otherwise you would be seriously lacking in representation.

    January 20, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  20. Tom Masters

    Sounds to me, after the explanation of the NV rules, like no one won the delagates yet.

    Trying to spin it one way or the other is lame, the facts will be known when they come to bare, until then conjecture is empty and inflated at the same time.

    Good fodder for people like Obama, Romney and the media personalities, you know windbags, that talk to hear themselves speak,

    January 20, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  21. Ryk

    A system is not unfair simply because you can't understand it. The electoral college and similar systems used in primaries are designed to make elections fair. The United States was founded as a constitutional republic not a democracy. In a true democracy the majority could and would rule everything. The most highly populated cities in the most populated states would have all the power. Condo living millionaires in New York City would have absolute say over the taxes levied on mobile homes in Oregon. The electoral college system allows large but less populated areas to maintain a voice in national politics. The majority still has the largest influence but less populated states and counties are not completely disenfranchised.

    January 20, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  22. Kevin, Seattle

    Matt....you are my hero! Spot on.....

    January 20, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  23. N

    And I have to say, I resent Senator Obama's statement last night. Instead of congratulating Senator Clinton when it was due, he instead chose to point out that he may end up with one extra delegate, without so much as an acknowledgement of the fact that she won by SIX PERCENT. That is not one or two percentage points, that is a decisive victory. Even if he is technically correct (though the Nevada State Democratic Party has said it is irrelevant at this point), it was innapropriate to bring it up last night. I understand they need to spin it, and it is appropriate and true to point out that only a few months ago he was WAY behind in the polls, so they still did well. But it is totally innapropriate and embaressing for him to try and rain on her parade this way. I think you learn the most about a person when they are faced with adversity, and I have to say Senator Clinton is the picture of grace and poise when faced with adversity, and after Senator Obama's statement on his loss in Nevada (i.e. I didn't really loose), it is clear that he does not handle it quite as well. You win some, you lose some. Do better in the next state and move on. And ALWAYS give credit where credit is due....

    I just cannot imagine what happened to the politics of unity and hope...he is turning out to be no different than any other politician, and potentially worse if this gracelessness keeps up everytime he is faced with a challenge.

    January 20, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  24. Obama-lover in Texas

    I don't understand why the news media says that Clinton won Nevada when Clinton received 12 delegates and Senator Obama received 13.

    A caucus is for determining delegates not to see what the popular vote is. I've read somewhere where Obama did not congratulate Clinton, my question is did SHE congratulate HIM for winning the most delegate?

    13 beats 12 so Obama won!

    Obama '08

    January 20, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  25. Karen

    Then there are the superdelegates which were designed for some measure of control when they don't like what the voters are doing. It's politics as usual.

    January 20, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
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