Transcending the Streak

It’s difficult to remember, but it was Super Tuesday only one week ago. Since then we’ve seen 31 states and territories go to the polls and caucuses. In just seven days, Hillary Clinton went from in-control front-runner to holding-on-for-dear-life candidate.  

If politics was sport, then the Democratic division standings would look something like this:

W L PCT Streak
Obama 23 12 .657 Won 8
Clinton 12 23 .343 Lost 8

(These tallies exclude Michigan and Florida, which we’ll treat as exhibition games.)

It’s easiest to key in on that shiny “streak” stat, which shows that after tonight’s wins, Obama will have now won eight states and territories in a row. Factoring in likely wins in Hawaii and Wisconsin , he’ll probably be 10 for 10 going into March. But his streak amounts to little more than empty momentum . It’s his overall win/loss record that’s starting to become overwhelming.  

This cycle, Obama has already won a majority of states, and it’s soon to be a majority of states in the entire union. He has won 22 states and one territory, far outstripping Clinton’s number.

On top of that, Obama is building a tower of pledged delegates that could spear him the nomination. He’s already up by at least 80 delegates, and that number will only increase once we know the full results of tonight’s contests. It’s a lead that will be tough to knock down if Clinton doesn’t take a significant hack at it in Ohio, Texas, and Pennsylvania. (Obviously, that’s a big if .)  

All of these metrics are important because Obama and others are peer-pressuring the superdelegates into supporting whoever has the most metrics on their side. As of now, there are three big-picture metrics the superdelegates can use as a rationale to place their support: winner of the most states, winner of the most pledged delegates, and/or winner of the most votes overall. Obama is nearly guaranteed a win in the first, is leading in the second, and is neck and neck with Clinton in the third. Assuming the superdelegates stick to those metrics (which is no guarantee), Obama is in good shape.

Does that mean Clinton has already lost? Absolutely not . But during the last seven days—and the last month and a half—it has become clear that Obama is the winner and Clinton is the loser.