Howard Dean: Voters, Not Superdelegates, Will Decide

Though some expected this race to be over by now, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., is saying she's "just getting started" after regaining momentum with clear wins in Ohio and Rhode Island, Tuesday, and a win of the popular vote in Texas.

But neither Clinton nor Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., reached the magic number of 2,024 delegates to secure their party's presidential nomination. As it stands now, ABC News' delegate count has Obama with 1,566 and Clinton with 1,457.

Twelve contests remain, with 611 pledged delegates up for grabs starting Saturday in Wyoming, followed by Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Guam, Indiana, North Carolina, West Virginia, Kentucky, Oregon, Montana, South Dakota and Puerto Rico.


Can a Clear Winner Emerge? Likely, No

Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean told "Good Morning America's" Robin Roberts today that he's "not worried." He said party leaders would not force a deal, but "let the voters vote."

"I think we may well have a clear-cut winner. The discussions I'm having with the party is not about fixing the contest, the discussion is how to keep information flowing so that people don't think the process is unfair, how we unify the party," Dean said.

Despite Dean's optimism, the math does not seem to add up.


Using the ABC Political Unit's delegate calculator, in the unlikely event that Clinton sweeps the 12 remaining contests with 55 percent of the vote, she will have 1,793 delegates and will still trail Obama, who will have 1,841 delegates.

If Obama sweeps the dozen contests with 55 percent of the vote, he will end up with 1,902 delegates and Clinton will take home 1,732.

He, too, will fall short of the magic number 2,024.

To secure the nomination before the convention, Obama would need to win 75 percent of the remaining pledged delegates and Clinton would need to win 93 percent of them. Neither outcome seems possible.


"It's going to come down to superdelegates," said Democratic strategist Steve McMahon.

Superdelegates are the roughly 800 party insiders and activists who can vote any way they want at the August convention.

But many Democratic officials worry that if party insiders choose the candidate with fewer elected delegates, that could cause an uproar, bringing back memories of the turbulent 1968 Chicago convention, which Dean wants to avoid at all costs.

"I suspect Howard Dean falls on his knees every night and prays 'dear God, please don't let us go to the Democratic convention without a nominee,'" said professor Jerry Polinard of the University of Texas-Pan American.


But Dean says the competition has benefited the party. "We have a great opportunity. Almost 25 million people have voted in the primaries -- it's about 50 percent of that vote in the Republican primaries. ... That's really important to us," he said on "GMA" today.

Florida and Michigan

One option to bring more clarity to the process is to replay the contests in Florida and Michigan, allowing Obama and Clinton to compete for the 366 delegates the Democratic Party currently does not recognize. The two moved their primaries too early in the process and were punished by the Democratic Party.

Candidates did not campaign there and Obama was not even on the Michigan ballot, but the party could allow a revote in the next few weeks.


On Wednesday, the governors of those two states demanded their voters be recognized and their delegates be counted.

"It's unconscionable to me that some party boss in Washington is not going to let the people be heard. And it's wrong," Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said.

"While we would love to have them seated, but it has to be done to the rules everybody agreed to … what you should not do is change the rules in the middle of the test," Dean said today.

"We're clear what they can do. One, they can resubmit a set of rules to pick delegates that are within the rules that they agreed to. And, two, if they don't want to do that they can appeal to the credentials committee and hope for the best in July."


Dean argued that Florida and Michigan "chose to ignore the rules. … All they have to do is come before us, with rules that fit in to what they agreed to a year and a half ago and they'll be seated."

But even adding those delegates would likely not mean a winner before the convention — the race is that tight.

Olivia Sterns contributed reporting to this article.