What can be done about Michigan and Florida?

Confusion continues to surround the do-over primaries. Today, Michigan followed Florida's lead in nixing the possibility of a revote after the state Senate adjourned without taking up a bill setting up this primary. The House now enters spring recess and reconvenes only in two weeks. That will be too late for the legislature to agree to a revote plan, because the state would then not have enough time to organize a whole new election by June 3rd.

There were many issues in Michigan's plan, first and foremost whether Democrats who had participated in the GOP primary on January 15th (thinking that the Democratic contest did not matter) would be allowed to vote on June 3rd. The Obama campaign zoned in on this problem, especially since the financial question was getting resolved by Governor Corzine and Governor Rendell's pledge to fund a new primary.

The Clinton campaign has already started to try and pit the blame of this failure on Obama, hoping to get the moral high ground on this issue to boost its chances of getting a somewhat favorable resolution. Obama knows that he can only go so far in opposing efforts to seat Michigan and Florida's delegates without endangering his own position in those states in the general election.

Now, the question is what will be done about Michigan and Florida: Will any solution (besides a revote) be found to include these states in the nomination process? A possible deal was circulating last week that would cut Florida's delegation in half and seat them according to January 29th, and would just split the Michigan delegation 50-50 (which isn't really including that state in the process). Today, two Florida state Senators are proposing the following deal for their state's delegation:

  • Half of the delegation will be allocated according to the January 29th results, which would result in a net gain of 19 delegates for Clinton.
  • The other half of the delegation would be determined by whatever method the two campaigns can agree on, including (via Ambinder), "an even split, a split reflecting the national popular vote, a split reflecting the national earned delegate count."
But here it is very important to remember that a solution cannot just be agreed upon by the Clinton and Obama campaigns and then applied at the convention. The DNC has excluded Florida and Michigan's delegates, and only the DNC can reverse itself and seat the delegates. More precisely, any such decision is in the hands of the credentials committee which won't meet until July... so any decision to seat at least a part of the FL and MI delegates based on January voting or based on national splits would have to wait July.

And don't expect DNC members to just accept whatever compromise is presented to them, even if both campaigns agree on it. The Boston Globe asked James Roosevelt, the powerful co-chairman of the Rules and Bylaws Committee whether FL and MI delegates could be seated without a new vote being held, to which Roosevelt responded: "As long as it could affect the outcome, [there's] no chance of that." Roosevelt, who is neutral in the nomination fight, presented this as a matter of elementary fairness and respect for rules. "If there is simply a caving on this, we'll end up with primaries on Halloween." And clearly no one wants that.

Another decision the DNC will have to take (and it might resolve this issue much earlier than July) is whether superdelegates from Florida and Michigan can vote at the convention. Right now, all the delegates of both states (including supers) have been thrown out of the Denver plans, but it is unclear whether the DNC's Rules committee has the authority to take away a superdelegates' right to vote on the nominee or whether the Democratic Party's status guarantees that right. Clinton has an advantage among Florida superdelegates, so reestablishing their participation could at least provide her with some boost.

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  • The FL and MI primaries raise so many interesting views :

    a) they knew the rules and the consequences so they got their just desserts
    b) they are important states so should be included
    c) not including them now will cause problems for the Democrats in November.

    I can understand all the different viewpoints but I cannot see why Democratic voters in MI or FL would vote GOP or not vote solely because of not counting in the primary. In most election cycles most states do not count because the primaries are over - even know PA GOP voters have no choice since McCain has the nomination. So does this mean Huckabee, Romney and Thompson supporters in PA will not vote GOP - of course not.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 20 March, 2008 16:15  

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