Obama’s Fuzzy Delegate Math [UPDATED]

In the board game Risk, if you control Australia, you control the entire game. ( As our boy Hurley reminded us recently .) You get an extra few armies every turn, you can amass a three-country-wide firewall across Southeast Asia, and it provides a point-of-deployment for all of your troops. In this Democratic race, the delegate math is Australia. If you control the delegate narrative, you also control the conventional-wisdom-spouting media, who can energize or enervate your campaign. It gives you a few extra points in the polls, builds an arithmetic firewall that can’t be busted through, and is a rallying cry for all of your surrogates.

So, it comes as no surprise that Barack Obama is doing everything he can to make sure people know his delegate lead is nearly insurmountable. But he’s taken it one step too far with his Web site’s latest delegate tracker . On it, the campaign represents the two candidates’ delegate hauls with horizontal histogram bars bars that are ostensibly 2,025 delegates long. When we started working on this post, Obama had 1,750 delegates to Clinton’s 1,611. (It’s now 1,752 to 1,611.) As a result, Obama should have had 86.6 percent of his bar filled, and Clinton should have had 79.6 percent of hers shaded in. In actuality, Obama severely underplays Clinton’s total. Only 61.8 percent of her bar is shaded, nearly 18 percent less than should be to make the image graphically correct. The image is below.

We asked our Slate V and image swami, Andy Bouve, to mock up an image showing what the bar would look like if it were pictured accurately. The thing is, it’s clear Obama is ahead in the legitimate version, so one wonders why they’re misrepresenting Clinton’s total.

UPDATE May 6, 8:14 a.m.: Thanks to the readers who pointed out that the Obama campaign updated the site to correct Clinton’s bar graph.