[Raucous Caucuses] Excited about a Mitt Romney surge? Worried about a John Edwards slump?
Relax. There's no such thing.
Even though the primaries have hardly started, the media tend to focus on every front-loaded podunk caucus like the candidates' lives are at stake. No dog in this race has a lead with any statistical significance yet, even if the current party "frontrunners" (Hillary and Mitt) like to play up the "momentum" they've supposedly gained from having a slightly higher number of delegates than their opponents.
Here's a little chart I made based on scorecard data from CNN.com. Having a hard time seeing how many delegates your favorite candidate has? That's because no candidate has any to speak of yet.
A candidate would need 2,025 Democratic delegates or 1,991 Republican delegates to win his or her party's nomination. Even Hillary Clinton's "decisive" lead amounts to a mere 4 percent advantage over Barak Obama and a 7 percent advantage over John Edwards.
And Mitt Romney's big lead over Mike Huckabee and John McCain? About 3 percent.
Don't get me wrong--none of this should be misconstrued in a way that might encourage Ron Paul fans. But the whole reason small states like Iowa and New Hampshire have their caucuses early is because there would be no reason to pay attention to them otherwise.