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Delegate Math: Who Won Nevada?

UPDATE, 8:15 p.m: Both the chairwoman of the Nevada Democratic Party and a senior adviser for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign are insisting that the contention that Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) won more delegates in today's caucus is incorrect.

"The calculations of national convention delegates being circulated are based upon an assumption that delegate preferences will remain the same between now and April 2008," said Jill Derby, the chairwoman of the state party. "We look forward to our county and state conventions where we will choose the delegates for the nominee that Nevadans support."

Howard Wolfson, communications director for Clinton, echoed that sentiment. "Hillary Clinton won the Nevada Caucuses today by winning a majority of the delegates at stake," he said. "The Obama campaign is wrong. Delegates for the national convention will not be determined until April 19."

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UPDATE 7:12 p.m.: AP and NBC have now changed their delegate counts to 13 for Obama and 12 for Clinton.

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Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) won today's raw vote in Nevada but senior aides to Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) believe they have narrowly won the fight for delegates in the Silver State.

In a just completed conference call with Obama campaign manager David Plouffe and director of delegate selection Jeff Berman argued that the Illinois Senator will leave Nevada today with 13 pledged delegates to 12 for Clinton thanks the weighting of northern and rural areas in the state.

An Associated Press official on the call suggested that Obama's campaign may well be right and the organization was looking seriously at its own math.

While the process of delegate apportionment is extremely complicated, it boils down to this: in the places that Clinton won, there were an even number of delegates that were split between she and Obama. In the places Obama won, there were an odd number of delegates, meaning that he often took two delegates to one for Clinton.

"On one very important measure, we had a slight lead," said Plouffe. "Just as important as the number is why that is: we showed real strength statewide."

Plouffe demurred when asked whether if Obama turned out to have won the delegate count, he should be declared the victor in Nevada.

For her part, Clinton sought to downplay the dispute over delegates.

"This is about delegates but it's also about what people are voting for and who they think the best president would be," Clinton said in Las Vegas. "Find it somewhat strange that there is such a reaction when this was a very effective campaign to reach as many people as possible and we did and I am very proud of that."

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By Chris Cillizza  |  January 19, 2008; 8:22 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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Next: Nevada/South Carolina: Winners and Losers

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