Monday, April 28, 2008

The State of the Race: Counting Delegates in the Indiana Primary

Well, Pennsylvania is out of the way. Guam is done. Oh wait. Guam is this weekend! But if the loyal Guamanian readers of FHQ don't mind, I'm going to skip ahead for a look at the May 6 contests in Indiana and North Carolina. I'll look at the rules in each state and the state of the game on the congressional district level. Indiana is up today and North Carolina will get a more thorough examination tomorrow.
The Hoosier state will hold an open primary with 85 delegates at stake in the May 6 contest. 47 of those delegates will be allocated based on the outcome of the race in each of the state's nine congressional districts with 25 others coming from the statewide results (source: The Green Papers). Of those nine districts, five are held by Democrats. Those five districts have six delegates apiece while three of the four Republican held districts have four delegates each. The sixth district has five delegates on the line.

The delegate distributions:

  • Those districts with four delegates will split two to two (delegates to each candidate) unless one candidate clears 62.5% of the vote in that district for a three to one advantage.
  • The district with five delegates will split three to two in favor of the winner unless the winner of the district surpasses 70% of the vote for a four to one edge.
  • The districts with six delegates will split the delegates evenly unless the winning candidate in such a district garners more than 58.33% of the vote for a four to two lead. 75% would be necessary to win a five to one delegate advantage coming out of a six delegate district.
Of the Indiana delegation to Congress (and thus superdelegates) only Sen. Evan Bayh and Rep. Andre Carson (7th-Indianapolis) have endorsed candidates in the race for the Democratic nomination. Bayh is backing Clinton and Carson has come out in favor of Obama. The rest of the Democratic elected officials in the state are neutral in the lead up to next week's contest.
So how does this race break down on the district level? In other words, in what districts are we likely to see anything other than an even (or near even) split of the delegates?

1st District (Northwest, along the border with Illinois/6 delegates): This is the district that we often hear referred to as a place where Obama is almost a native son. It is certainly in the footprint of the Chicago media. The district is 18% black, 13% over 65 and 31% blue collar. The 1st has been held since 1984 by Democrat, Peter Visclosky. The Chicago connection and the higher percentage of blacks in the district could prove a good combination for Obama to offset a fairly high population of blue collar workers.
The Score: Clinton-2, Obama-4

2nd District (North Central, borders Michigan/6 delegates): The district is 8% black, 13% over 65 and 35% blue collar. This Democratic district is less black than the 1st and has a higher percentage of blue collars; a good recipe for the Clinton campaign. However, Notre Dame is in the district and could prove a neutralizer for Obama.
The Score: Clinton-3, Obama-3

3rd District (Northeast, borders Michigan and Ohio/4 delegates): The district is 6% black, 11% over 65 and 36% blue collar. Slightly less black than the 1st and the 2nd and among the most heavily blue collar districts in the state, the 3rd could be a possible two delegate margin district for Clinton. It also borders on two states she has won already (though Obama wasn't on the ballot in Michigan). Despite that, it will be tough for any candidate to clear 62.5% in a Republican-controlled, four delegate district.
The Score: Clinton-2, Obama-2

4th District (Central, West of Indianapolis/4 delegates): The district is 1% black, 11% over 65 and 30% blue collar. This Republican district has a balance of strengths between Clinton and Obama. Clinton will have a pretty solid blue collar presence here, but Obama will have the Purdue University community to lean on and keep Clinton under 62.5% there.
The Score: Clinton-2, Obama-2

5th District (Central, East Northeast of Indianapolis/4 delegates): The district is 3% black, 11% over 65 and 25% blue collar. It is also a Republican district, but has a smaller blue collar presence. 30% blue collar seems to be a dividing line of sorts between these districts and this one falls below that point for Clinton to take anything more than an even split in delegates away from this district.
The Score: Clinton-2, Obama-2

6th District (East Central, borders Ohio/5 delegates): This Republican-held district borders an area of Ohio that Clinton swept in the March 4 primary there. The district is 4% black, 14% over 65 and 36% blue collar and with an odd number of delegates, the junior senator from New York will come away from the 6th with a one delegate edge.
The Score: Clinton-3, Obama-2

7th District (Indianapolis/6 delegates): The lone district where a Democratic member of Congress from Indiana has endorsed one of the two Democratic contenders. Andre Carson has given the nod to Obama and represents a district that is 29% black, 11% over 65 and 26% blue collar. Other than the 1st, this is the only district where Obama can hope to gain a couple of delegates on Clinton.
The Score: Clinton-2, Obama-4

8th District (Southwest corner, bordering Illinois/6 delegates): Democrat Brad Ellsworth represents the 8th district. He came in with the Democratic wave in 2006. The district is 4% black, 14% over 65 and 33% blue collar. This is a district bordering Illinois, but one that favors Clinton demographically. That's enough of a balance to keep a likely win there for Clinton under 58%.
The Score: Clinton-3, Obama-3

9th District (Southeast corner, bordering Kentucky/6 delegates): Like the 8th, this district saw Baron Hill swept into office in the Democratic surge of 2006. It is 2% black, 12% over 65 and 35% blue collar. Home to Indiana University, the 9th also has nearly a quarter of its population with some form of higher education degree.
The Score: Clinton-3, Obama-3

Total Score: Clinton-22, Obama-25

Obama, then, has a slight edge in this Indiana delegate projection, based on enough African American support in a couple of districts, friendly territory along the Illinois border and some well placed university communities that help offset the blue collar percentages in some districts. Clinton, however, could win the statewide vote and eke out a slim delegate victory. And with the popular vote argument she's been making since Pennsylvania, she would stand to gain on Obama in that count in Indiana. She would need to offset Obama's strength in the 1st and the 7th with a number of steady, if unremarkable in terms of delegates, victories in the other districts to win statewide. And that isn't out of the question. Regardless, it looks tight in the Hoosier state.

CQ gives a slight edge to Clinton in Indiana (24 delegates-23). If anything this confirms what the polls in the state are saying: it will be close.

I'll be back tomorrow with a look at North Carolina.

Recent Posts:
The Electoral College Maps (4/23/08)

Back to the Original "Too Early" Sanction

Jeremiah Wright to Sit Down with Bill Moyers (Friday, April 25)


Robert said...

Do you think the Supreme Court ruling yesterday will affect next week's primary in Indiana? The voter ID laws are supposed to affect the poor and elderly. Sounds like that fits Clinton's demographic more than Obama's.

Josh Putnam said...

A good question Rob. My gut reaction is that it will only affect the groups you cite at the margins. In such a tight race, though, even something on the margins matters. And Indiana is shaping up to be a close one.

Let's see what kind of last minute ad the Clinton campaign puts together as a final argument to the late deciders. Those efforts have been effective (if only by coincidence) during the last two big primary days. Could that neutralize the negative effects the ID law may have on a couple of groups within her coalition? We will see.

Robert said...

This primary should provide a good window into whether this law seriously affects Democratic turnout as the party has claimed.