Barack Obama won the delegates, but who won the vote?
We’ll never know for sure. But results from the South Dakota and Montana primaries – where Obama netted a total of 17,128 votes – do allow us to compute final estimates, using the parameters and suppositions I’ve outlined here and here.
Conclusion: Give Obama zero in Michigan and Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, as she’s grown fond of claiming. But give Obama 40 percent there (the “uncommitted” vote, and pretty much what the DNC Rules Committee did), or leave out Michigan, or leave out Michigan and Florida alike, and by our calculations, he did.
The margins, though, are ridiculously thin: With the Michigan uncommitteds we estimate an 82,881-vote margin for Obama out of more than 37 million cast, or two-tenths of one percent. With nothing for Obama from Michigan, it’s a Clinton margin of 155,287, or four-tenths of one percent. Exclude Michigan entirely and it’s Obama by half a percent. Exclude Florida as well and it’s Obama by a smidge over 1 percent.
Those are squint-thin margins, in calculations that necessarily don’t hold up to much hard squinting. In popular vote, here’s a proposed compromise: Let's just call it a tie.
With FL vote and With FL vote and MI uncommitted to Obama MI zero to ObamaObama 18,697,142 18,458,974Clinton 18,614,261 18,614,261 Ob +82,881 Cl +155,287 Without With FL, MI and FL Without MIObama 17,882,760 18,458,974Clinton 17,414,966 18,285,952 Ob +467,794 Ob +173,022