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Using Delegate Math, Obama Pushes Back Against Clinton Win

Barack Obama may not have won the popular vote, but he won one more delegate in Nevada than Clinton. (Reuters).

Updated 11:14 p.m.
By Shailagh Murray
LAS VEGAS -- At the end of the day, the Nevada Democratic caucus looked as though it would turn out like a kids' soccer game, with everybody a winner.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is the declared winner of the Nevada caucuses. But Sen. Barack Obama's campaign says he walked away with one more delegate than Clinton.

Not so fast, says the Nevada Democratic Party. " Just like in Iowa, what were awarded today were delegates to the County Convention, of which Senator Clinton won the majority," said Jill Derby, chairwoman of the Nevada Democrats. "No national convention delegates were awarded."

On a conference call, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe called the campaign's claimed national delegate win significant because it pointed to Obama's support across the state, from Elko to Reno to sprawling Las Vegas, along with the rural counties in between. He called it "a demonstration of what a strong general election candidate [Obama] will be."

Obama was able to edge out Clinton, Obama aides told reporters, because two rural regions, sub-areas of one of Nevada's three congressional districts, apportioned an odd number of delegates, and Obama won the balance of them, taking away a total of three delegates to Clinton's one. In more populated areas, especially Las Vegas, the districts apportioned an even number of delegates. But Obama was able to come in a close enough second to Clinton to evenly split those delegates.

Plouffe refused to say whether the delegate outcome cast doubt on Clinton's claim of victory. "This is a very close contest and we obviously both did a good job at turning out voters," he said. But, he added, "I do think that increasingly this is going to turn into a contest of delegates, and I think that's an important measure."

David Axelrod, another senior adviser, was less equivocal. "We're not treating this as a loss," he said. "We'll keep letting them spin the victories, and we'll keep taking the delegates."

By Web Politics Editor  |  January 19, 2008; 8:08 PM ET
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