What's the number?

We're getting close to the end of the primary season (mercifully), and since Sen. Obama passed the majority line in terms of total pledged delegates last night, I wanted to talk about the overall numbers a bit.

But there's a problem. We don't really have numbers, at least not hard-and-fast ones, not yet. There are two numbers being bandied around by the two campaigns, and by the people covering those campaigns. The first is 2,025, which is the official number (for now) needed to win the nomination, according to the DNC. The second is 2,209, which is the number the Clinton campaign has been throwing around--it includes Michigan and Florida.

I'm not going to get into whether FL and MI should be counted as-is, or any of the many variants that lots of other people have speculated on. The only thing anyone knows for certain is that the two delegations will be seated, in one form or another, and the odds are that they won't be seated in a way that will affect the overall outcome of the race. That's the price those two states pay for having broken the rules.

There's going to be a lot of interest in the numbers as Obama gets closer and closer to 2,205. The Daily Kos has had a widget on top of its site for a while now, updating regularly as primaries pass and super delegates make their preferences known publicly, and it's based on the 2,025 figure. I don't blame them for that, as it's the only official figure we're got to work with right now. But it's not likely to be the final figure.

I don't think it's likely that 2,209 will be the final figure either, though. It won't be official until the people who make these decisions have their say, but I'd be really surprised if MI and FL don't take some kind of hit. My guess, pulled straight from my nether regions, is that their delegations will get cut in half, but you never can tell. (Side note: if my math is correct, and there's no reason to believe it is, that would make the halfway point between those two figures 2112, which would make Rush fans squee with delight.)

In the end, what we're left with is this--uncertainty, insofar as we don't really have a finish line. But there is an end in sight, and it should come some time in early June. Clinton supporters probably won't give up hoping until the actual vote takes place at the convention, but there would have to be some massive blunder for the super delegates switch at this point.

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