If you believe Hillary Clinton, she's winning the popular vote in her marathon race against Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination.
But if you believe Obama, he's winning.
So it depends on how you read the numbers.
Clinton wins the popular vote in three of the six ways it's counted by RealClearPolitics.com. She leads:
- In a tally that includes the unsanctioned Michigan primary exactly as the voters voted and excludes the caucus states where there is no precise vote count.
- In a count that includes Michigan exactly as the voters voted and includes estimates from those caucus states of Iowa, Nevada, Maine and Washington state.
- If you include Michigan, assign the "uncommitted" vote there to Obama and exclude the caucus states.
But Obama leads the popular vote:
- If you exclude Michigan and the caucus estimates.
- If you exclude Michigan and include the caucus estimates.
- If you assign the Michigan uncommitted vote to Obama and include the caucuses.
That's a series of "ifs" that even leaves the objective experts on opposite sides of the debate.
Curtis Gans, who heads the Center for the Study of the American Electorate, said he would exclude the caucuses from any overall vote count because there's no reliable figures on how many people actually caucused in those states.
But he also contends that Michigan and Florida should be excluded because they were unsanctioned rogue primaries where there was no campaigning and where, in the case of Michigan, Obama's name was not even on the ballot.
"I don't see how she can claim a popular vote lead without Michigan and Florida and I just don't believe you do that," Gans said. "She has every right to claim this is almost a tie."
But Thomas Patterson, a Harvard University political scientist whose most recent book is called "The Vanishing Voter," argues for excluding the caucuses while including Florida and Michigan. After all, the party's Rules and Bylaws Committee last week agreed to seat the states' delegates with a half-vote each
on the basis of those primaries.
"I think you have to count them because their vote was used in distributing the delegates," Patterson said. "It looks like she has the bragging rights on this."
Does she … or does he? What do you think?
- Jerry Zremski