This Is How Many Delegates Clinton Needs

by Amée LaTour

We're in the home stretch of the 2016 primary season. The nomination is all but decided on the Republican end, but Democratic contenders Sec. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders are set to battle it out until the end. "The end" of the Democratic primary technically comes with the Washington, D.C. primary on June 14, but the effective end could come sooner if one nominee secures half the available delegates, thus getting the nomination. How many delegates does Clinton need for the nomination?

A Democratic candidate must receive at least 2,383 to obtain the nomination; that's one more than half of the total, 4,765. As of May 18, Clinton has 1,767 delegates, so she needs 616 to win the primaries. Sanders trails her with 1,488 delegates, and would need 895 to win. But Ballotpedia's list of primaries shows that there are only 781 delegates left in the primaries; it's impossible for Sanders to win the number he would need, and unlikely that Clinton can.

So far we've just been talking about pledged delegates, of which there are a total of 4,051 allocated throughout the primary season (more about the rest of the delegates below). Let's see how many each candidate needs to get half of the pledged — not that this would guarantee anyone the nomination, but just for fun, because delegate math is everyone's favorite pastime (right?). The magic number here is 2,026. Clinton would only need 259 of the remaining pledged delegates to achieve half their total. Sanders would need 538.

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A lot of power will rest in the hands of the superdelegates at the 2016 Democratic convention. These 714 party VIPs are not bound, or "pledged," to vote based on the results of the primaries. Since neither candidate will likely receive enough delegates through the primaries, and if Sanders makes good on his word to stay in the race until the end, then it will be up to superdelegates to give one candidate or the other a bump over the 2,383 hump. Just how many superdelegates are needed will depend on how well the candidates perform throughout the remaining primaries, and particularly on June 7, when a whopping 694 of the remaining pledged delegates are up for grabs.

Superdelegates have been a hot topic this primary season. Long before the first primary elections were even held, a large chunk of supers expressed allegiance to Clinton. According to RT, as of May, 524 superdelegates have said they'll back Clinton, and only 40 have expressed support for Sanders. We should note that superdelegates can change their minds at any point throughout the primaries; expressions of allegiance before the first round of voting at the convention in July are not binding.

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Still, if Clinton maintains a steady lead in pledged delegates through June, the supers are likely to tip the nomination her way, especially considering that the majority have said they'll support her from early on. She can't expect to get the number of delegates needed from the pledged delegate pool, but she'll likely get more than half of those, and a good numbers of the supers as well.