Is Barack Obama trailing Hillary Rodham Clinton in Pennsylvania by double digit percentages? Or has he closed the gap to single digits, as recent polls suggest? Could he even win the April 22 primary — a shocking upset that probably would force Clinton to the sidelines? These are among the questions that have the hearts of the punditocracy atwitter in the run-up to the first Democratic presidential balloting in six weeks.
We at CQ Politics are pondering those too. But we look ahead to next week’s vote in Pennsylvania a bit differently: How many delegates might each candidate win in Pennsylvania, which is the most populous of the states and territories that have yet to vote?
That answer will be mainly determined not by the sum of the votes Clinton and Obama win in Pennsylvania, but rather by the state’s parts. Pennsylvania will send 187 Democratic delegates to the party’s national convention in Denver this August, and most of them — 103 to be exact — will be allocated according to the votes the candidates receive in each of the state’s 19 congressional districts.
And a CQ Politics analysis of the political circumstances in Pennsylvania’s congressional districts, detailed below, projects an edge to Clinton — but by just 53 district-level delegates to 50 for Obama under the Democratic Party’s proportional distribution rules.
These numbers suggest that Clinton, even with a victory in Pennsylvania, would make only a small incremental gain against Obama’s overall lead in the delegate race.