Hillary Clinton speaks at her presidential primary campaign rally in Hooksett, N.H., on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. (Photo: Matt Rourke/AP)
She won Iowa by a fraction of a point, and he won New Hampshire in a landslide, so he’s ahead, right? Not so fast.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is likely to capture about the same number of New Hampshire delegates as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders despite losing that state by more than 21 points.
As it stands, it looks like Clinton and Sanders will get at least 15 delegates each in New Hampshire. Added to the results from Iowa, Clinton will have a total of 394 delegates to Sanders’ 44 as of midday Wednesday, according to a count by the Associated Press.
Clinton is ahead, both in New Hampshire and nationally, because of her lead among superdelegates: party insiders who are free to support whomever they’d like, regardless of how a state votes.
The Granite State’s 24 pledged delegates are awarded to candidates based on the popular vote. Clinton has nine and Sanders has 15.
Bernie Sanders beat Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire but she still has a firm lead in delegates. (Graphic: Yahoo News - Source: AP)
It appears Clinton may have learned about the true value of superdelegates during her heated campaign against then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries.
In New Hampshire, she beat Obama with 39.1 percent of the vote, but they came away with the same number of delegates: nine.
Nationally, Clinton got more popular votes than Obama (17,857,501 to 17,584,692). But Obama walked away with more delegates (2,158½ to her 1,920) – securing the party’s nod and ultimately the White House.
This time around, a candidate will need 2,382 delegates to win the Democratic nomination.
The commitment of superdelegates, though rarely discussed, can give candidates a critical advantage. But it’s also important to note that superdelegates are allowed to change their mind, something that could happen if there appears to be a mandate from the voters for Sanders.