3.12.2008

Indecision over re-do votes continues

We're finally there. We have reached the six-week lull!

When I first took a look at the primary calendar on the morning of February 6th, the first thing I noticed was the shocking gap between March 11th and April 22nd. In a primary season with an Election Night pretty much every week -- sometimes even two or three -- how are we going to survive 42 days with no contest?

But survive we must, and as a consolation think that we might soon have two new contests added to the calendar, as the debate over Florida and Michigan re-votes continues. The situation is as confusing as ever. A consensus seemed to be building in favor of a mail-in primary, in which ballots would be mailed to voters across the state who would then have to mail them back. This could also alleviate the money problem, as organizing a mail-in primary would cost less than a regular contest with polling places.

But the Florida Democratic House delegation just undermined whatever thin consensus there was yesterday with a joint statement:

We are committed to working with the DNC, the Florida State Democratic party, our Democratic leaders in Florida, and our two candidates to reach an expedited solution that ensures our 210 delegates are seated. Our House delegation is opposed to a mail-in campaign or any redo of any kind.

The possibility that Florida and Michigan's delegates get seated based on the January votes is getting more unlikely by the day -- so the position of the Florida delegation is too stubborn this late in the game. The DNC is showing no sign that it will entertain more complaints from the "rogue states," and even prominent supporters of the early date (Senators Nelson of FL and Levin of MI) are coming around to supporting a do-over.

What complicates the do-over calculations is the differing interests of the two campaigns: The Obama campaign will not take the risk of opposing a do-over entirely, since its position would seem to self-interested on an issue in which most people agree that if Florida and Michigan agree to change their rules they should be allowed another chance. And if the Obama campaign is seen as actively preventing MI and FL from counting it could be terrible for his chances in the fall in both states, both key swing states.

However, Obama will certainly not do too much to help the re-dos get organized... and he can't be too unhappy about this latest roadblock. On the other hand, the Clinton campaign needs to have a chance at getting some of the Florida and Michigan delegates if it wants to catch up Obama's pledged delegates. There simply aren't enough delegates on the table left for her to have a realistic chance of doing so without the rogue states revoting.

Naturally, Clinton is taking a risk in pushing for revotes. She won both states decisively, and while Obama's name was not on the ballot in Michigan, Clinton did get a majority (55%). If Obama wins either of these states in late May-early June, it could give him a huge boost of momentum and seal his nomination -- and it would make it very difficult for Clinton to argue that she wins all the big states.

On the other hand, two big Clinton wins late in the game (the votes would probably not be counted before June, so perhaps after all other contests) could bolster her case to superdelegates even if she doesn't quite catch up with Obama pledged delegate-wise. Overall, Clinton has much more to gain from the revotes than Obama does for the simple reason that she needs them (she really does) and he does not. And that asymmetry could be enough to prevent revotes.

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4 Comments:

  • The pledged delegate race is over. There is no real way Hillary can win it even with Florida & Michagan. The popular vote gap is almost too large as well.
    The only way Hillary can convince the shrinking pool of superdelegtes to go with her is to win a large popular vote victory in Florida and eek out a popular vote win using the big states.
    The one sure thing a mail-in vote in Florida & Michagan will produce is a flurry of law suits from both parties that will tie up the results for months.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 12 March, 2008 10:48  

  • There is a risk for Hillary in doing revotes - if she wins but by less than in January, such as winning 52-48 in MI then that would look bad. Also close victories would not help her close the popular vote lead. Which stands at 100000 for Obama if you include MI and FL for Clinton and this includes zero votes for Obama. He will obviously get more than zero in a redo in MI so the 100000 will expand.
    I would also expect a mail in primary to have less than the 1.7 million votes cast in FL. The turnout was high in part due to a state referendum. This again would help increase the gap in the popular vote.

    By Anonymous Guy, At 12 March, 2008 12:39  

  • Florida wanted to move their primary up to January to get more influence and it backfired when the DNC followed through on the rules.
    Florida should be penalised for knowingly breaking the rules. Also this argument that Florida is big and influential and therefore merits special treatment forgets the fact that Florida is targetted every GE whereas most states includign Ioaw and New Hampshire are not and are usually forgotten. Why should Florida have two bites of the apple - with special influence in the primaries and a deciding role in the GE??

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 12 March, 2008 15:45  

  • Florida didn't play by the rules, so let them die by the rules. A do over is almost impossible at this point, and meaningless as well.

    By Anonymous stone621, At 13 March, 2008 01:00  

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