KANSAS CITY — Democratic Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will end up evenly splitting the delegates from Missouri’s presidential primary, even though Obama narrowly defeated Clinton in the statewide vote.
Obama and Clinton each are projected to receive 36 Missouri delegates from Tuesday’s primary, based on an analysis of statewide and congressional district election results.
In complete but unofficial results, Obama received 49 percent of the Democratic vote — 405,284 compared with 395,287 for Clinton. But the delegates are split because the Democratic Party awards them proportionately, based on both statewide and congressional district vote totals.
The Missouri Democratic Party is still reviewing the congressional district vote totals and does not expect to project the number of delegates Clinton and Obama would receive until later this week, spokesman Jack Cardetti said.
In the Republican primary, Arizona Sen. John McCain received just one-third of Missouri’s votes — 194,304 compared with 185,627 for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and 172,564 for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, according to complete but unofficial results. But McCain will receive all 58 of Missouri’s delegates because state Republicans use a winner-takes-all approach.
The math for Missouri’s Democratic delegates is much more complicated.
Twenty-five of the 72 delegates at stake in the primary are allocated based on the percentage of the statewide vote received by the candidates. Because Obama narrowly won, he will receive 13 of those delegates to Clinton’s 12.
The other 47 Missouri delegates are allocated based on the candidates’ showing in each of the state’s nine congressional districts. But some parts of the state are weighted more heavily than others. For example, seven delegates are awarded for the Democratic-leaning 1st Congressional District in St. Louis whereas just four delegates are awarded in southern Missouri’s more Republican-leaning districts.
Obama fared better in St. Louis while Clinton did better in rural Missouri. The result is that Clinton is projected to receive 24 congressional district delegates compared with 23 for Obama.
Although the delegate count wasn’t decisive, Obama’s statewide vote advantage nonetheless provided a symbolic victory for Obama, especially considering he had trailed Clinton in earlier public opinion polls, said political scientist Dale Neuman, a professor emeritus at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
“Unlike sports coaches that don’t like moral victories because a loss is a loss, when you’re in this kind of game, coming close when you weren’t supposed to — or in this case, tying — has to be seen as a kind of a victory,” Neuman said.
While the state’s primary delegates may be evenly split, there is still a fight over Missouri’s 16 superdelegates — those elected officials and other prominent Democratic party members who are free to back whomever they want.
So far, four superdelegates have pledged support for Obama and four are backing Clinton.
Obama’s supporters include Sen. Claire McCaskill, Rep. William Lacy Clay, Rep. Russ Carnahan and Kansas City attorney Mark Bryant.
Those endorsing Clinton include Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, former Rep. Dick Gephardt and longtime party members Sandra Querry of Independence and Doug Brooks of Joplin.
Uncommitted superdelegates include Rep. Ike Skelton, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, state Democratic Party chairman John Temporiti, party vice chairwoman Yolanda Wheat, state Rep. Maria Chappelle-Nadal and party member Leila Medley.
Two additional superdelegates will be chosen at the party’s April 5 quarterly meeting.