As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, March 10, 2008

WSJ on the National Media's CA Delegate Problem

The Wall Street Journal has a writeup on my findings of the discrepancy between the national media's California delegate counts and, you know, the actual count.

A California politics blogger has argued that Sen. Clinton won 36 more pledged delegates in the state than Sen. Obama, rather than the 44-delegate margin that has long been included in the news organizations’ tallies. A spokesman for the state party confirms the blogger’s numbers.

The shift, if validated once the state certifies its election results this week and the party chooses its delegates, is a reminder that the commonly reported delegate totals are mere estimates, subject to change as states finalize election results. It also highlights how a blogger with intense focus on the numbers may be faster than the established delegate counters.

David Dayden, who blogs at the site Calitics and serves on its editorial board, wrote last week that Sen. Clinton won 203 of the state’s 370 pledged delegates — and not the commonly reported total of 207. He relied on updated vote totals from the state, based on late counts of absentee and provisional ballots. Later, when he noticed that several major news organizations still were showing Sen. Clinton with 207 delegates, he wrote a follow-up post explaining his calculation and exhorting, “I know math is hard and everything, but get out your calculators, people.”

I've long since given up on trying to correct the misspelling of my name, the most misspelled five-letter word in the English language. But the author did a good job describing the situation. The "delegate counters" at the media outlets have pretty much ignored these states once Election Day ends. As Bob Mulholland rightly points out in the piece, this count has been this way for at least two weeks. There was ample time to catch up. But it took public pressure to get them to do it:

The New York Times’s page for California results shows the 207-163 result, but a page listing delegate totals for each state showed the 203-167 margin. NBC and CBS still showed the 207-163 margin. An inquiry to New York Times polling editor Janet Elder wasn’t returned. An NBC spokesman told me, “Apparently, there are discrepancies between the state count and the individual county tallies.” Kathy Frankovic, director of surveys for CBS News, told me, “delegate allocation is a work in progress.” (UPDATE: Ms. Frankovic told me later Monday that CBS would update its totals to reflect the 203-167 margin. “Thanks for alerting us to the problem,” she said.)

NBC is spinning madly. They just stopped paying attention.

The official canvass will be done on March 15, and we'll know at that point what the final number is. Until then, I wouldn't trust anything on those "delegate scoreboards".

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