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Primary Math

A better offering from the Standard is this interesting and quite sensible breakdown (by a college football expert, no less--the guy helped design the bowl rankings) of which primary-state wins should be most relevant to the Democrats. Here's a good bit:

Obama should emphasize this point: Clinton's wins have either been in big states that won't be competitive or in small ones that won't be worth much, while he has won in decent-sized states that will be competitive in the fall. Clinton and Obama have each won exactly eight states worth double-digit electoral votes. The key difference is, in Clinton's states the average margin of victory in the last two presidential elections has been 14 percentage points, compared to just 8 percentage points in Obama's.

In 2000 and 2004, only 17 states--one-third of the electoral map--were decided by less than 10 percentage point margins each time, and those states will likely decide the 2008 election as well. Eleven states were decided by 5 percentage points or less each time. It is striking that, of those 11, the biggest, second-biggest, and fourth-biggest (Florida, Pennsylvania, and Michigan) haven't held competitive Democratic primaries. If you add Oregon (tied for seventh-biggest), then the majority of the 133 electoral votes in the 11 most hotly contested states from the past two presidential elections are from states that the Democrats have yet to decide.

Obama has won nine states to Clinton's five--worth 75 electoral votes to her 40--among the 17 states that will likely determine the Democrats' fate. His edge is clear. Still, it is remarkable that, with fully 80 percent of their primaries on the books, the Democrats have contested only one of the four most important states in the upcoming election. Consider this fact: Florida, Pennsylvania, and Michigan are worth 65 electoral votes, while Kerry and Gore lost by a combined 39 Those 65 electoral votes--not New York and Massachusetts--will likely swing the election.

--Michael Crowley