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Washington Matters

Delegate Haze Won't Lift Quickly

Sure, it's a delegate-by-delegate battle for the two Democratic candidates now. But how do you know who's winning? 

It's not easy and may not be for a while. The Clinton and Obama camps have different counts and even major news organizations disagree. MSNBC details its methods for keep score and has a good explanation of how the arcane rules for apportioning delegates work and why and how the numbers can keep shifting. American Prospect  takes a good look at how Democratic rules make the delegate race both confusing and close. For those who want to get deep into the weeds, The Green Papers tries to keep score on a state-by-state basis and gives a detailed description of each state's rules and method of selecting delegates.

One thing to keep in mind while watching the race for delegates: It might not be the primaries or caucuses that decide the outcome. A close race could be decided by Super Delegates and even at the August convention. If it drags on that long, almost anything could happen. There could be a huge credentials battle over whether to seat the now-barred Michigan and Florida delegations. There's even talk of new contests in those states. Candidates and party power brokers could start leaning on and offering deals to pledged delegates, who are allowed to switch allegiance.