updated 3/17/2008 2:23:10 PM ET 2008-03-17T18:23:10

The road to the Democratic nomination for president got easier Monday -- by one delegate.

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The number of delegates needed to secure the Democratic nomination fell to 2,024 because of several changes among superdelegates. The highest profile change was the resignation of New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who left office Monday over his involvement in a prostitution ring.

Spitzer was a superdelegate who had endorsed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. His successor, David Paterson, already is a Clinton superdelegate through his position as an at-large member of the Democratic National Committee.

Superdelegates are the party and elected officials who can support for whomever they choose at the party's national convention this summer, regardless of what happens in the primaries. All Democratic governors and members of Congress are superdelegates, as well as members of the DNC. There will be nearly 800 superdelegates at the convention.

In the overall race for the nomination, according to the latest Associated Press count, Sen. Barack Obama had 1,617 delegates Monday, including 213 superdelegates. Clinton had 1,498 delegates, including 249 superdelegates.

In the latest NBC News tally, Obama has 1,408 delegates to Clinton's 1,251. NBC estimates Clinton has 253 superdelegates to Obama's 217.

[There are differences in how news organization count delegates, how they award superdelegates, how they account for states that have held caucuses but have not yet chosen their delegates, how they project the apportionment of delegates within Congressional districts where the vote was close. The Associated Press and NBC news conduct separate delegate counts.]

The delegate roster now stands at 4,047 delegates, including 794 superdelegates, the DNC announced Monday. The numbers, however, could increase again if the seat left vacant by the death of Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., is filled by a Democrat.

Here are the other changes announced by the DNC:

  • Democrat Bill Foster of Illinois won the seat in Congress left vacant by the resignation of former Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert, increasing the number of superdelegates by one.
  • Democrat Andre Carson of Indiana won the seat in Congress formerly held by his late grandmother, Julia Carson, increasing the number of superdelegates by one.
  • Former DNC Chairman Ken Curtis moved from Maine to Florida. Florida has been stripped of all its delegates for holding its presidential primary before Feb. 5, in violation of party rules. That means Curtis is no longer a superdelegate, unless the Florida delegates are reinstated.
  • Mayor Brenda Lawrence of Southfield, Mich., joined the executive committee of the National Conference of Democratic Mayors, making her a superdelegate. However, Michigan was also stripped of all its delegates for holding an early primary. Lawrence's superdelegate slot had been listed as vacant. Now, it is eliminated, unless the Michigan delegates are reinstated.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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