COMMENTS: Delegate Explainer

ABC commissioned Robert Krulwich to offer one of his patented animated explainers on how viewers are supposed to interpret the night's results as Super Tuesday's 24 states report their count. He visualized a pair of red-vs-blue boxing matches with radically different scoring systems--"different parties, different flavors." No state has a winner-take-all system for Democratic contests, Krulwich explained; several large states on the Republican side do. The GOP system "is designed to produce a big winner pretty quickly." The Democrats are "nicer" since everybody wins a little something--but only nicer in the short run since "it is a system that encourages primary campaigns to go on and onů"

So, NBC's Tim Russert (no link) insisted that "we have got to keep reminding our viewers that even if their candidate wins a state 51%-49% they get the same number of delegates practically and that is what it is all about." And CBS' Jeff Greenfield reminded us that "all night we will be telling you this: the Democrat who wins a state may have almost no advantage in who actually gets delegates because the Democrats proportion delegates almost evenly."

ABC's George Stephanopoulos put some numbers on the line. He reckoned that Hillary Rodham Clinton, before the Super Tuesday votes get counted, has a 60 delegate lead over Barack Obama. Stephanopoulos set these benchmarks for the night: Rodham Clinton can call herself the night's winner if she emerges with a 125 delegate lead or greater; Obama wins if he narrows her lead to under 60; any result between 60 and 125 is a wash.


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