Candidates do the math on delegate numbersby Tom Weber, Minnesota Public Radio
There's one question that's still not answered after Tuesday night's Minnesota caucuses: How many delegates will each presidential candidate get?
Democrats award their delegates proportionally, and the party has a good idea which candidates most will support. But they're waiting for every last vote before they know for sure.
On the Republican side, Tuesday night's caucus had no bearing on delegates.
St. Paul, Minn. — Remember those geeks in school who always finished math tests first and then sat around doing more math when they didn't have to?
Well, those are just the kind of people who spent today trying to figure out what Tuesday night's results mean in terms of delegates.
Then again, you could feel the way DFL state party chair Brian Melendez does.
"It's actually not as complicated as it seems at first blush," said Melendez.
The Democrats will crown their nominee at their convention in Denver in August.
Minnesota will have 88 voting delegates there.
The first 25 of them will honor yesterday's statewide results.
Barack Obama won two-thirds of the vote, so that means 17 delegates will cast their vote for Obama. The other eight will be for Clinton.
The next batch of 47 delegates are sworn to honor the results of Tuesday's vote in each of the state's congressional districts.
Each district gets a different number of delegates based on past party voter turnout and a formula determines each district's count.
The party doesn't have its final numbers yet, because not all the results are in.
The party's Brian Melendez said someone with two-thirds of the vote won't always get two-thirds of the delegates.
But in this case, it appears Obama will.
"It is more likely that the allocation of the delegates will be proportional to the vote, but there are certain circumstances where it comes out a different way. Just like the winner of the popular vote usually wins the Electoral College, but it could come out differently - as it did in 2000," said Melendez.
But that does not account for all of the state's DFL delegates.
There are still 16 delegates that have not been assigned.
They're called super-delegates, and they are not bound by Tuesday night's results.
All of the state's top DFL officeholders are superdelegates, for example.
U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum and James Oberstar endorsed Obama, even before the caucuses.
But a number of superdelegates haven't endorsed anyone yet, including Nancy Larson, a member of the Democratic National Committee.
"I have told people I just want a little while to sit and think. I won't come into play for a while. It might be resolved even before I have to decide," said Larson.
DFL political analyst Todd Rapp said unpledged superdelegates like Larson could be key, especially given how close Obama and Clinton are in the delegate count.
"There's a very good chance right now that this is going to come down to the superdelegates, and those 796 people are going to hold a lot of power to determine who's the next nominee," explained Rapp.
U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, from southern Minnesota, had not endorsed anyone before the caucuses, because he wanted to see how DFLers voted in his district.
They went for Obama, so now he is, as well.
"I'm uncomfortable with that idea that I would somehow have a better insight into it, or that I would use my office to try to influence," said Walz. "They're getting the same information I'm getting - people were learning about the candidates and I think it's just a much healthier situation when they come to that conclusion that I represent them and I'll speak with the voice they were speaking with last night."
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar still isn't backing anyone.
But that's not because she's wants to be a kingmaker.
"Again, I'm not going to be someone who's sitting in a back room at the end of August, deciding who the next President should be," said Klobuchar. "I will tell you I'm not going to go through the summer without endorsing anyone. What I'm trying to do is to make sure I'm coming in with an endorsement that will best bring our state together behind a candidate."
At this point, Obama seems to have at least 52 Minnesota delegates, but that's not a final number.
And now, let's turn to the Republicans.
Tuesday night had no effect on the state's 41 GOP delegates.
Three delegates are known. Party chair Ron Carey is for Mike Huckabee, and the party's national committeeman and committeewoman are both for Mitt Romney.
Twenty-four delegates will be picked in March and April at congressional-level conventions.
And 14 will be picked at the state convention in May.
Republicans have no superdelegates, but prominent Republicans like Gov. Tim Pawlenty and U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman will probably be named delegates at the state convention.
- All Things Considered, 02/06/2008, 5:48 p.m.