Convention Arithmetic

By Jim Ellis

June 10, 2016 — Except for the District of Columbia Democratic primary next Tuesday, the presidential nomination process is now complete yet activists in both parties are still attempting to upend the two presumptive nominees.

Sen. Bernie Sanders has still not conceded the nomination to Hillary Clinton and he actually has only slightly more of an argument to stay alive than the band of conservatives and Republicans who persist in their quest to de-rail a Trump nomination.

Because of the large number of Democratic Super Delegates, the unofficial counts only agree on one point: that Clinton does not have enough pledged delegates to clinch a first ballot victory. All agree, however, that when adding the unbound Super Delegates who say they will support her on the presidential nomination roll call scheduled for July 25 at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia that she achieves victory.


hree media and political sources report different Democratic delegate counts largely because of the differences in the bound Super Delegate category. The 538 statistical website claims Clinton has 2,178 pledged delegates; The Green Papers website projects her at 2,197; and the New York Times calculates that the former secretary of state and First Lady has 2,203 pledged delegates. All of the totals fall short of the 2,383 votes she, or any Democratic candidate, needs to clinch the presidential nomination.

None of the sources added the Clinton unbound Super Delegates to their minimum hard counts, but all suggest that those expressing a public statement in Clinton’s favor put her well over the majority number. The New York Times estimates that 578 Super Delegates have committed to vote for Clinton on the first ballot roll call, where The Green Papers finds that number to be 537. Either way, she well exceeds the 2,383 minimum number to become the Democratic presidential nominee.

Therefore, Sanders’ only chance of denying Clinton the nomination is to change the unbound Super Delegate votes. The three organizations reveal much closer counts for Sen. Sanders’ situation. The 538 website personnel find 1,810 pledged Sanders delegates; The Green Papers projects his hard count to be 1,816; and, the NY Times publishes Sanders as holding 1,828 such votes. Using the smallest projection total, he would need 573 Super Delegates to switch their votes to him, which appears at this writing to be practically impossible.

Soon, the mathematical realization of what will happen is going to come through to Sen. Sanders and his closest supporters. This means his Quixote approach to the post-California Democratic primary results will quickly come to an end. Expect him to fall in line behind Clinton after the DC primary on June 14.

The Republican situation is more clear-cut, and anyone hoping to mount any type of convention challenge to Trump is without any legal leg to stand upon. Without Super Delegates for which to account, both 538 and the NY Times find Trump with 1,447 pledged delegates, while The Green Papers sees only six less.

The pledged delegates must vote for the particular candidate on at least the first ballot, meaning Trump has exceeded the minimum 1,237 delegate threshold and there is no legal way to stop the vote. Either state law or party rule dictates that the pledged delegates must fulfill their commitment on at least the first ballot, thus giving any Trump opponent no ability or opportunity to deny him the nomination.

Regardless of the die-hard perspective emanating from both parties, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the official presumptive nominees, and there is virtually nothing their intra-party opponents can do to stop what is now inevitable.

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