Does Clinton have a chance to win the popular vote? Let’s find out. But first, let’s deal with some preliminaries. Real Clear Politics (RCP) has six ways of counting the popular vote, none of which are entirely fair. But, then, the popular vote isn’t a fair measure in any case. If it were, Obama would have spent all his time in cities (where the votes are) rather than campaigning in Alaska and Idaho. RCP has the announced popular vote from every state that has provided those numbers. Obama leads by this measure by 500,000 votes. RCP also estimates that Obama won the combined contests in Iowa, Nevada, Maine, and Washington by about 110,000 votes. So, excluding Michigan and Florida, Obama has a popular vote lead of 610,000 votes.

It’s not really fair to assume that Obama would have only received 35% of the vote in Florida if he had been permitted to campaign there, but for simplicity we’ll give Clinton her full measure of votes from the Sunshine State. That leaves her with a deficit of 316,000 popular votes. What can we do about Michigan?

Clinton received 55% of the vote in Michigan and ‘uncommitted’ received 40%. But according to the exit polls, the people, if given the option, would have voted:

    Clinton 46%
    Obama 35%
    Edwards 12%

There’s no perfect solution for counting the popular vote in Michigan, but the exit polls give us something to work with. With 594,000 votes cast, the exit polls project:

    Clinton 273,146
    Obama 207,900
    Edwards 71,280

This gives Clinton another 65,000 votes. So, based on the best available evidence and a fair determination of the rules, Obama currently has a 251,000 lead in the popular vote.

Looking forward to the upcoming contests, I have used the following methodology. To determine turnout, I have looked at other states with similar populations. For example, North Carolina and Georgia each have 15 electoral college votes, and Kentucky and South Carolina each have eight. I then used either the most recent polling averages (where available) or extrapolated from similar contests in nearby states.

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