Why, Yes, Actually – Girls Can Do Math.

The Disclaimer

Okay, before I start this, let me preface it by saying that I’ve deliberated about this post quite a bit before ultimately deciding that I was going to write it simply because it would make me happier to get it out. I’m still uncommitted when it comes to who will get my vote for President next November. Yep – I’m one of those “I keep researching it, but I probably won’t be sure until faced with the actual ballot” people that drive others nuts.

In this election, I’m actually less disturbed than I’ve been for the past 5. It’s only the 2nd presidential election I’ve voted in where I didn’t feel like I had to vote against a candidate. That’s probably why I’m less inclined to post politically-natured blogs than many of my friends.

What I’m about to write will surely enrage some of those friends – at least, some of the more zealous Obama supporters.

The Situation

After this week’s primaries – I saw a slew of comments about how Hillary Clinton’s decision not to withdraw from the Democratic race was “proof that girls can’t do math.” Some people were saying it tongue-in-cheek, but out of a sense of outrage that the candidate opposing the one they supported wasn’t doing what they wanted her to do – drop out. I suspect that a few of the more misogynistic folks saying it meant it – but I give my friends the benefit of the doubt on that.

Still, the phrase has rankled since it started popping up on Tuesday night.

For 2 reasons, actually – one, it kind of implies that there are no men working on Hillary’s campaign. Seriously, do you think she’s the only one ‘doing the math’? More than one strategist working on that campaign has done the numbers I’m about to show you – and their gender had nothing to do with it.

Two – anyone who thinks that ‘there is no chance at this point that Hillary will win the needed delegates’ is the one not ‘doing the math.’

So let’s do the math, shall we?

By the Numbers

In the Democratic primary race, there are a total of 4,049 delegates up for grabs, including the super-delegates, which means a candidate needs 2,025 or more delegates to get the majority and win. (source)

Currently, Obama has 1,846 of those delegates – 1,588 pledged and 258 super-delegates who have declared for him. Clinton has 1,685 – 1,419 pledged and 266 super-delegates.

That’s a difference of 156 in Obama’s favor.

Only 217 pledged delegates are up for grabs in the remaining six contests: West Virginia, Kentucky, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Montana and South Dakota. (source).

Those saying Hillary can’t do math are saying that it’s obvious that she can’t win, because Obama only needs 179 of those to meet the 2,025 threshhold… whereas Clinton needs 340 to meet the threshhold – which is 123 more than she could get if she somehow won all those delegates.

But that’s where the ability to math actually comes in. You see let’s work through this:

Obama – 1846 current
Clinton – 1685 current
Primaries – 217 left
Total 3,748

Okay, so we started with a total of 4,049 delegates possible. If you subtract the 3,748 that will be committed after the primaries – that leaves 301 uncommitted super-delegates.

So between the 217 from the remaining primaries and the 301 uncommitted supers we have:

518 remaining, as yet uncommitted delegates.

Obama -> 2,025 – 1,846 = 179 needed to win nomination
Clinton -> 2,025 – 1,685 = 340 needed to win nomination

out of 518 remaining…

Can Hillary still win the nomination? Sure. Can Obama? Sure.

In fact, it comes down to 1 vote. If Obama gets 179, Hillary’s short by 1 – if Hillary gets 340, Obama’s short by 1.

That’s the math folks.

Now, if Obama manages to win 179 of the remaining 217 delegates from West Virginia, Kentucky, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Montana and South Dakota? (which means getting better than 82% of the vote in those areas – a margin he hasn’t had yet…) Then Hillary is done for. But until then? Don’t expect her to bow out.

As for me – I’ll be undecided until long after those delegates are committed – but I’ll keep doing the math. Because I can.

Edit to Add:
Because someone already misunderstood this…

Obama needs > 80% of the remaining state delegates to put Hillary out w/o super-delegates.
Clinton needs < 20% of the remaining state delegates if she gets ALL of the remaining undeclared super-delegates to win. (301 supers + 39 states = 340)


~ by Lucretia on May 8, 2008.

17 Responses to “Why, Yes, Actually – Girls Can Do Math.”

  1. Yeah, it’s a little annoying the way some people go on about it, but the fact does remain that she would need to win all states with well over 80% of the vote.

    Which I don’t think she has ever done in any state.

    So the mathematical possibility is really all she has. When it comes to probability though… she’s at around 2% if I remember rightly. In other words – if Obama suddenly whipped his man junk out on TV and kissed Bush… that might do it.

    Though I’ve not heard the “girls can’t do math” think in relation to this… and I’ve read a lot around it. Interesting that you picked that part to motivate you…

  2. Actually, Obama would need to win 80% in all the remaining states to put her out of the race before the convention…
    If Hillary gets only 39 of the 217 remaining primary delegates, she can still win if she gets all of the remaining (301) supers. That’s needing less than 18% of the remaining state delegates.

    You were close tho.

  3. I’m so glad you wrote the post — I’d only seen the argument *against* her, not for her, it’s nice to see.

  4. @sarah – it’s not so much for her – it’s just the math… It drives me nuts when people say “there’s no way she can win now” when the truth is there are a number of ways she could win mathematically.
    She (and her campaign folks) aren’t stupid – if it were mathematically undoable, she’d drop out. It’s not only doable, it’s more than possible.

    But thanks.

  5. […] Read the rest of this great post here […]

  6. While I will go on record as saying I am not an HRC supporter, when it comes down to it, my two cents is she could care less about math. She’s not gonna give up until it’s over.

    She wants it too badly to do otherwise.

  7. I personally hope Clinton doesn’t drop out because I’m so sick of candidates dropping out so early that more than half the population doesn’t even get a say in who’s running.

    Good job with the math @GeekMommy!

  8. I guess I missed the ‘girls can’t do math’ part of the argument – so I’m glad you wrote this post. As a dad to two teenage daughters, I’m the ‘girls can do math/science/whatever’ cheerleader at my house.

    As for the political part of your post, I agree – I haven’t decided yet and don’t think I will for the foreseeable future. But, you know what, neither you nor I *have* to decide yet. Polls be damned! I’ll know when I know and not a second before.

    I’ve read a great number of posts and Tweets today that said HRC should get out of the race ‘for the good of the party’. But isn’t going through the motions of voting and counting the delegates/supers the mechanism of our republic? I think it’s a great thing both she and Senator Obama continue to run until the people have definitively said who they have chosen.

    Just my $0.02.

    Great post – as alway.

  9. that was a great (and very satisfying) read. i think it’s important that we let democracy happen and give everyone a chance to vote in the primaries. as a woman i completely resent the comments being made by pundits that (i don’t think) would be said if she was a he.

    hillary shouldn’t drop out because people tell her to – she entered the election to win and if it truly does become impossible for her to win, only then should she drop out. no one ever won by listening to people telling them to give up.

  10. I am a Republican and do not have much of an opinion about which Dem gets the nomination.

    With that being said, I am with you that it is aggrevating to say that “women can’t do math.” Sen. Clinton has the possibility to win. Clearly the Dem Party is split almost right down the middle with who they want their nominee to be. She owes it to herself and to her supporters (financial, volunteers, and voters) to do what she can by the Dem Party rules to continue on.

    BTW, in addition to the delegate count, it is interesting to see that with Florida and Michigan’s popular vote taken into consideration Sen. Obama is ahead by less less than 100,000 votes. That is not a large spread.

    Finally, as far as telling people to drop out or not goes, it does happen all the time. On the GOP side, people were calling for Fred Thompson to drop out before the first vote was cast. Additionally, after the first couple of primaries, people were for Guiliani then Romney, and finally Huckabee to drop out. So, I do not think it is so much a woman thing as a party influncer thing.

  11. I’m astounded that you could still be on the fence about these candidates, considering all the Rovian things Clinton has done during this campaign. She’s also mired in neo-con authoritarianism. She voted for the Iraq war, she voted for the Flag Desecration Amendment, and she’s driven by a sociopathic obsession with power. Forget for a moment about how much more effective Obama was as a legislator because of his respect for the First Amendment, and his knack for bringing co-signers on board to build bipartisan support. Forget that she’s a war-monger who threatened to “obliterate” Iran. Just look at her behavior during this campaign. She’s fake-cried, she’s lied about the Tuzla affair (even claiming she arrived the day before the border re-opened, when news accounts from that time specifically stated that she arrived the day after), she’s claimed that Obama took down his famous anti-Iraq-war speech on his web site (even though the Internet Archive shows it was consistently up). She’s even spoken with a fake southern black drawl in one appearance. There’s nothing she won’t stoop to. I don’t want that desperate maniac anywhere near the Red Button. She doesn’t have the temperament for that a position of that much power.

    As to your math argument here, it’s rather pathetic and grasping at straws. She’s won a little more than half the super-delegates thus far, and Obama is gaining on her. Her best result in any state was in Arkansas, where she got something like 72%. It is mathematically impossible for her to win. Got it? You can bring up absurd scenarios like “all remaining supers could vote for her and she could win”, but that’s no different than saying “Obama could be struck by lightning and she could win.”

    Yes, it is in some totally theoretically sense “possible”. But get back to reality here. Okay? Reality. She’s over. Toast. Done. Finished.

  12. @Clay – way to prove that YOU at least, can not only NOT do math, but can’t read either.

    I never said I was “on the fence” between 2 candidates. Who said I wasn’t voting for McCain?

    You are just one of those sad people for whom reality is only shaped by your own desires. I’m not “grasping at straws” – personally, I have no vested interest in Hillary winning a nomination – I’m just capable of actually DOING math. Something, I’m afraid, all of your hyperbolic rhetoric doesn’t negate.

    The sad part is, that people like you make me leery of Obama, because anyone with such fanatical, uninformed, illogical supporters makes me nervous.

    The math doesn’t change because you don’t like it. Possibility and Probability are two different things. But you keep saying stupid things like “It is mathematically impossible for her to win.” Because I’ve just outlined exactly how it *is* mathematically possible for her to win.


  13. Sorry, this made me laugh.
    it brings to mind the 15 year old struggling with Algebra, and mom helping him. ( and yes i remember sitting in muddys working on trig homework)When he got it and went to school the next day and decided that because Mom was an “artist” and artists can’t do math, and did something completely different..
    and of course FAILED.
    But MOM! artists can’t do math!
    neither can women or men or people who play the lottery…

  14. @Sorrow – seriously? lol… you’d think he would know his mom well enough to know that artist or not, she’s no slouch in the brains department!

    Art is math, practically applied! Seriously, how else are you supposed to get perspective and ratio right?

    Then again, if you saw the comment 2 above yours, at least your son isn’t likely to turn into someone that clueless! :)

  15. Ahh yes political Zealots…
    I’m a bit phobic of those impaired individuals…
    Don’t won’t go there
    15 year old now has respect because i am teaching him chemistry…
    You know a potter has to be able to understand not only Math , but Chemistry, and a bit of geology, and a dash of physics too??
    I tell you Artist Moms, get so little respect!

  16. Excellent story, and excellent response to Clay. Obama supporters like him are what even further steer me away from Obama and toward the other party. Of course, the typical supporter on those blogs would call me a Republican troll for saying that…

  17. @DataJunkie – yeah, people like Clay make me leery for certain. Not that I’m not certain there aren’t folks who are just as misinformed and zealous on both of the other candidates’ sides – they just seem to be less likely to open their mouths this time around and spout fanatical gibberish.

    The funny part is that it’s more the rabid frothing at the mouth of some of his supporters that turns me off than Obama himself. He doesn’t come across that way himself – just far too many of his supporters.

    It’s kind of a case of “with friends like you, who needs enemies?”

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