3.02.2008

Are Democrats heading for a Florida do-over?

For much of the summer and fall, the primary season's calendar was a huge campaign story, as we were faced with the constant threat that New Hampshire would jump to 2007 or that Michigan would continue wreaking havoc. The calendar settled down only November 21st (when NH settled on January). But it is hard to believe that it is now March and we are once again discussing possible calendars and their implications for the race.

The Democratic contest could be over on Tuesday night, depending on the results in Ohio and in Texas. But if Hillary Clinton gets good enough results to stay in the race, we might be looking at a second Florida primary.

GOP Governor Crist opened the door to the possibility that he would agree to organize and fund a new Democratic primary (he did not "offer" such a primary for now, contrary to media reports, and he emphasized in his interview that he would like to see delegates seated according to the Jan. 29th vote). Unlike a caucus, a primary is paid by the state (and by taxpayers), and Howard Dean, the chairman of the DNC, acknowledged that this could be "very helpful" because money is an issue. If Crist were to refuse to organize a primary, the Democrats' only option at a do-over would be to hold a caucus, which would enrage the Clinton campaign -- and justifiably so, as it would have won the much higher turnout contest by 20%.

Crist's intervention means that we can expect very quick negotiations between the DNC, the candidates and the "rogue states" if the race is still going after March 4th. And the first question, of course, will be whether the Michigan and Florida state parties agree to any sort of do-over. For now party officials and senators from both states have rejected the idea of any repeat election, and are insisting that the results of the January contests have to stand. Crist could of course organize an election on the back of Democratic leaders, but that could lead to utter chaos and the Michigan Governor, a Democrat, would surely not do the same.

How does all of this affect the Clinton-Obama delegate showdown? For one, it opens up a reservoir of untapped delegates. Clinton is facing a nearly impossible task in her efforts to catch up Obama's delegate totals, mostly because they aren't that many more states in play. If Florida and Michigan are still out there, Clinton could hope to get a significant delegate lead out of those. In fact, this new hope that some Florida and Michigan delegates might be seated after all could be important enough to fit in Clinton's calculations of whether to stay in the race Tuesday night after the results of Ohio and Texas are known!

Sure, the best scenario for the Clinton campaign -- and that for which they have been clamoring for the past few weeks -- is that the Florida and Michigan delegates be seated according to the votes on January 15th and January 29th. That would obviously give a big boost to Clinton (in Florida, the delegate allocation out of the Jan. 29th primary is 67 for Clinton and 41 for Obama). But the Clinton campaign realizes that this is a very unlikely scenario: If Clinton does not have the votes on the convention floor to secure the nomination in the first place, it would be nearly impossible for her to get the FL and MI delegates seated.

There are four other possible scenarios: (1) Make-up primaries, (2) Make-up caucuses, (3) leaving Florida and Michigan out for good, and (4) some strange arrangement in which one part of the delegates would be selected on the basis of caucuses, and the rest would be selected on the basis of the January contests. Given Obama's significant advantage in caucuses (he won Washington's caucuses by 36% and the primary by 3%), the make-up primary scenario is the one that holds the most promise for Hillary.

One last (unrelated) note on Crist: Robert Novak is reporting that Romney allies is spreading rumors that John McCain promised Crist the VP spot in exchange for Crist's so crucial endorsement in the run-up to the Florida primary. Novak notes that there is no evidence of this whatsoever, but adds that it testifies to how angry Romney's camp still is about that endorsement that pretty much gave McCain the nomination.

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7 Comments:

  • Actually, there are two other possible scenarios for dealing with Michigan and Florida: 1) Allow the primary results to stand but cut the delegation size in half, which is what the GOP did, or 2) allow full delegations but distribute them on some basis other than the primary result, such as overall pledged delegate strength or the national total primary vote.

    Either of these solutions won't get support from both Clinton and Obama, at least not at first. But they may be more palatable (assuming a do-over doesn't happen) than either seating full delegations on the basis of the primary results or not seating any delegations at all.

    By OpenID sjberke, At 03 March, 2008 08:05  

  • This looks like a little mischief making by the Crist and the Rebublicans. It adds confusion after a uncertain March 4th result. A primary in July doesn't much help the Democratic party move on to the general election.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 03 March, 2008 09:07  

  • It's too late; done is done. The DNC, along with the candidates, decided that Florida and Michigan were going to be exhibition games. Now that Clinton is losing the season, she wants the exhibition games to count?

    I was very angry (and still am) with the Florida legislature and the DNC for botching things up for us. (The bill to move the primary was sponsored by both a Republican and a Democrat.) But it's too late to say, "Whoops, this is not what we meant." I firmly beleive that if the candidates had been allowed to organize and campaign, the results would have been different. But in the end, it's all irrelevant. The best thing that can happen in Texas and Ohio is that they vote to end Clinton's run, and we can get on the real task at hand, which is to ensure that McCain is denied the Presidency.

    Crist is still very popular here, and though I didn't vote for him to be Governor and I am currenty a Democrat, I would likely vote to reelect him.

    By Anonymous david, tallahassee fl, At 03 March, 2008 09:37  

  • Crist's motives are a mystery. Why help the oppoisition party? Unless he (and other GOP pols) believe that Hillary Clinton would be easier to beat in November or, barring that, the fuel to keep GOP embers burning.

    But I doubt Crist will get the VP slot. He would be our first confirmed bachelor vice-president in recent memory. There would then be many more questions which, no doubt, Crist and the GOP would rather not discuss.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 03 March, 2008 13:15  

  • Nightmare scenario for Obama! If Hillary wins Ohio and Texas, it would be unthinkable to select the democratic nominee without FL and M. He can campaign in FL until the cow come home, but if there is a primary there he will be crushed like a pumpkin in a vise! No amount of campaigning will erase the antagonism that the folks in Fl exhibit toward his campaign. And the Cubans cannot wait to get in line and vote against him. He loses Dale County by 500,000 votes. I can see Hillary toping the 58% she got in the beauty contest. Way to go Obamabots. You and smug remarks about Florida will help Hillary in the end. Who would have thought! Hell of a situation that will be!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 03 March, 2008 14:54  

  • GAME ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Senator Clinton isn't going anywhere except to the White House!!!!!!!

    She wins where it's necessary for the Dems and is more competitive with McCain than Obama in swing states.

    Winning undemocratic caucases in RED STATES are admirable but not enough to win the White House. I want the Dems to take back the White House and the only way to do that is with Sen Clinton.

    In addition, Obama has baggage of his own that is being blogged about non-stop on news sites....Rezco, NAFTA, Larry Sinclair, Unpatriotic, Muslim ect. Whether these allegations are true or not (which I believe some of them are not), he is still being hurt by them.

    These are the FACTS, and Obama supporters can spin it anyway they want.

    Florida & Michigan are coming in!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 05 March, 2008 02:20  

  • Clinton didn`t win Virginia or Wisconsin - both swing states and also more EV's than the hallowed Ohio!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 05 March, 2008 18:23  

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