3.17.2008

In blow to Clinton, there will be no Florida revote

For once, Florida chaos did not drag on endlessly as the state's Democratic Party put a surprising end to the re-vote saga by deciding to hold no do-over primary. The party chair Karen Thurman released a statement announcing this unexpected move, and here are some excerpts:

We spent the weekend reviewing your messages, and while your reasons vary widely, the consensus is clear: Florida doesn't want to vote again.

So we won't...

This doesn't mean that Democrats are giving up on Florida voters. It means that a solution will have to come from the DNC Rules & Bylaws Committee, which is scheduled to meet again in April.


Thurman is transferring the pressure to find a resolution to the crisis to the DNC. This means that the state party is still determined to push to gets its delegates seated even without a new vote. We already know that this Committee will decide nothing in April and that the matter will be postponed to the summer. But we can already say that the Florida delegates cannot be seated if the Obama campaign does not want them to be, and if Clinton unexpectedly has the votes to impose her will, it probably means she has the votes to win the nomination.

This is thus first and foremost a crushing blow to Hillary's chances. (1) To catch up with Obama and his impressive delegate lead, she needs as large a reservoir of uncommitted delegates as possible, and there simply is not enough in the upcoming states to allow her to significantly cut into his lead -- which is why she was hoping that Florida and Michigan would be added to the mix. (2) This also takes away Clinton's hope of building momentum into the summer. Without Florida (and perhaps without Michigan), whatever momentum she rides will come out of April 22nd and May 6th, with a series of smaller states in the subsequent weeks. Not the most ideal calendar to get your groove back. (3) Perhaps most importantly, this makes it very difficult for Clinton to win the popular vote -- which she was hoping to be able to do if she won Pennsylvania on April 22nd and re-votes in Michigan and Florida. This would have allowed her to make a much stronger appeal to superdelegates.

Given the demographics of Florida and Michigan, Clinton would have been favored in both no matter when they had voted. Thus, this nomination fight in 48 states is automatically more favorable to Obama than a nomination fight in all 50 states -- though this ended being a factor that neither candidate had any control over (contrary to what many people seem to believe at this point, Clinton was not trying to sabotage herself and push Florida forward).

Imagine how much more favorable the situation would have looked for Clinton on the morning of February 6th if Florida had voted for Clinton on Super Tuesday rather than on January 29th. She would perhaps not have won by as much, but as long as the two candidates electoral coalitions had behaved with the remarkable stability they have displayed in almost every state, she would have emerged victorious -- coupled with victories in the day's other biggest states.

Democrats -- and Obama who is as likely as ever to be the party's nominee -- must realize that they are shooting themselves in the foot with the MI + FL mess. If Florida's delegates are not seated, the GOP will make it a major issue in the fall. Governor Crist will say that he offered to assist in finding a compromise, and John McCain will point out that Democrats have left the Sunshine State out of their process, thereby putting the Democratic Party in the defensive. Obama cannot afford that in a state that has been trending away from Democrats since the 2000 recount.

One solution that will be advocated now is a 50-50 split in the state's delegates. Clinton will naturally oppose this given that this will get her absolutely nowhere in her fight to catch up with her rival. And frankly will such a resolution make it look like the will of Florida voters was taken into account? If Obama is confident that he has the delegates to win the nomination by the time the last states are voting (a still-plausible scenario), he should consider accepting Florida's requests to seat the state's delegates based on the January 29th vote -- or at least seat them with a half-vote each. Given his current lead, even this solution would not change that much to the fundamentals of the race.

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4 Comments:

  • Hopefully Obama will have enough delegates so it won't matter.

    By Anonymous C.S.Strowbridge, At 17 March, 2008 20:32  

  • So when McCain takes this thing, should we call him just President or, perhaps, Emperor?

    By Anonymous animal crackers, At 17 March, 2008 20:47  

  • How can you say "One solution that will be advocated now is a 50-50 split in the state's delegates. Clinton will naturally oppose this given that this will get her absolutely nowhere in her fight to catch up with her rival. And frankly will such a resolution make it look like the will of Florida voters was taken into account?"
    The GOP penalised Florida by reducing the number of delegates by half so if the Democrats do it there should be no complaining.

    By Anonymous Guy, At 18 March, 2008 09:13  

  • I have done a statistical workup of what is necessary for Clinton to bridge the PD gap between now and June 3rd, you can read it here.

    Come take a look at the math for yourself.

    She must win all ten remaining contests with 65% of the popular vote in order to overtake Obama's PD lead. A 60% win, which is already a massive landslide, in every single remaining contest, will not do the trick. That's not propaganda, but simple math. The more likely scenario, which you can read on my blog, is that she wins 4 states big, he wins 5 states with moderate wins (I am handicapping him deliberately in my scenario, but her not) and one near tie (IN), in which case she closes the current 168 PD gap by 36 delegates, leaving a gap of 132 delegates in Obama's favor. Assuming that MI is redone, and I think it will be redone, then the race will be closer, but Clinton wins, probably gains another 12 delegates, so we are down to a gap of 120 delegates. Even if you count FL as is, then she wins 93 delegates to Obama's 61, or a plurality of 32 delegates, reducing the overall delegate lead to +88 for Obama.

    Look, no matter how you crunch the numbers, the numbers do not add up for Clinton under any real circumstances. Even if you give her Edwards 24 calculated delegates from FL and his 26 pledged delegates (some of which have already moved to Obama, btw), that gives her a gift of 50 delegates more and she is STILL behind Obama in the delegate count by 33.

    Facit: GAME OVER.

    By Blogger Mark, At 18 March, 2008 09:16  

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