3.07.2008

Calendar watch: Michigan and Puerto Rico

With most primary contests already over, it is incredible that we are still talking about the voting calendar and changing rules. In fact, with Florida and Michigan's fate still in suspense, much of the political chatter in the coming weeks will likely be devoted to process questions and to the quest of a fair solution to the "rogue state" problem.

Florida and Michigan's governors were pushing the DNC yesterday to seat the January delegates, but that is looking to be an unlikely scenario and all interested parties appear to slowly be readying themselves with do-over votes. But questions remain: (1) Who will fund? (2) Primary or caucus? The two questions are obviously related, and the DNC is refusing to spend money on re-votes to help state parties that it holds broke rules in full awareness of what they were doing. Howard Dean told Florida Senator Nelson today that he would not pay for any make-over caucus or primary (to be fair, the DNC doesn't have that much money in the bank, and is already trailing the RNC's fundraising).

The New Republican broke the news last night that the Michigan Democratic Party was strongly leaning towards calling new caucuses -- which was the party's original plan before some Democrats pushed for an early primary. This would create a fierce competition and the most important caucuses of the year. It would also raise the number of delegates each campaign has to amass to get the nomination, and offer Clinton a chance to catch up Obama's number.

The Clinton campaign is sure to complain, however, that it is unfair to hold a caucus: The original contest was a primary, and a do-over, they are sure to point out, should be the same type of election. They know that a win would be very difficult in a caucus system (witness the 36% differential in Washington between the caucus and the primary, and it appears that there is also a substantial gap in Texas between the two), and that a large victory -- of the size they would need to cut into Obama's delegate lead -- would be very unlikely.

If anything, a new Michigan caucus could allow Obama the opportunity of a large victory (considering the size of his wins in other caucus states) AND give him his first win in a 100+ delegate state other than Illinois, which right now is the big hole in his resume. So a re-vote would help Obama here?

The second calendar item concerns... Puerto Rico! The contest there could be pivotal since it will award 63 delegates total. Up until yesterday, Puerto Rico had scheduled a caucus on June 7th, and there was speculation that its delegates could be awarded winner-take-all (setting up yet another showdown with the DNC). It goes without saying that 63 delegates suddenly going to one candidate in early June could have dramatically altered the race.

Yesterday, Puerto Rico changed its rules: (1) It will hold a primary, not a caucus, because of the expected high turnout (we saw in Texas and -- to a lesser extent -- in Nevada how chaotic caucuses can be if authorities don't know how to organize them). (2) It will hold its contest on June 1st rather than June 7th -- so the new end-date of the primary season will be June 3rd (Montana and South Dakota).

More importantly, the Washington Post debunks speculation that Puerto Rico's delegates will be awarded winner-take-all and explains that officials are planning on a proportional allocation, much as we have seen everywhere else. So the scenarios many of us were contemplating of a last minute Puerto Rico victory allowing Clinton to catch up 63 delegates at once will not come to pass -- though Hillary could certainly still benefit from this contest, particularly with it being a primary.

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5 Comments:

  • If I am reading things right there have only been six primaries with 100 or more pledged delegates on offer - CA, NY, IL, NJ, OH, TX. Obama has won one, but 100 is an arbitary number since several Obama victories have bene in states with 80-100 delegates (GA and VA) and several more in the 70's like WI and WA. So any distinction between big and small is arbituary and essentially meaningless because the delegate count has some relationship to population. Just like the number of EV's in the GE.

    By Anonymous Guy, At 07 March, 2008 12:49  

  • If Michigan did have a primary and Clinton got less than her 55% then that would be a defeat. The dmeographics favor her and she had such a stunning vicotry against uncomitted and Kucnick (excuse spelling)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 07 March, 2008 12:52  

  • I wonder how these changes will affect the popular vote in Puerto Rico? In PR the primary will not make a large difference in the delegate count but will add a large amount to the popular vote total for the winner if there is a one sided victory. This comes into play if the popular vote stays close and it could affect how the superdelegates vote.
    I don't think it matters in Michigan, as the January primary had no Obama on the ballot, and I don't think Hillary has much choice; although she will not be a happy camper.
    In Florida why not do a Texas style primacaucus. The January primary would count for half the delegates and a new caucus the other half. You would not need to have voted in the primary to caucus. I'm sure there are lots of reasons why this wouldn't work but it is a thought.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 07 March, 2008 13:00  

  • Montana and South Dakota are holding their primaries on June 3rd. WOuldn't this make them the official end of the primaries rather than Puerto Rico on June 1st. Uless of course Michigan and Florida have do overs later on in June.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 07 March, 2008 17:06  

  • By Blogger GIL BERT, At 01 July, 2017 05:35  

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