Clinton tries to revive Florida and Michigan debate

To counter the superdelegate flight and convince those who are uncommitted that she is fighting a worthy cause, the Clinton campaign is doing its best to revive the question of Florida and Michigan's delegates. Indeed, despite the fact that the DNC has shown some unexpected signs that it is willing to be more lenient than it has been up to now, there is still no resolution to the "rogue state" problem.

It became evident a few weeks ago that neither state would hold a re-vote, in what was a huge blow to Clinton's hopes of building momentum meaningful enough to change the dynamics of the race. Since then, Florida and Michigan have mostly disappeared from the national conversation, to the great chagrin of the Clintonites who believe this is one of their most powerful argument to question the legitimacy of Obama's lead when appealing to superdelegates.

Today, Maggie Williams, Clinton's campaign manager, sent an email to Hillary's online list; she emphasized Clinton's determination to allow every voter to cast a ballot, a principle that can apply to the 10 upcoming primaries (to fight pressures to drop out) as well as to Florida and Michigan's delegates:

Please take the time to listen, as I have, to the voices of our fellow citizens in Michigan and Florida... Tens of thousands of people in Michigan, Florida, and all over the country are standing up and speaking out, urging that we live up to our democratic ideals. In our hearts we know that voters everywhere deserve the chance to make their voices heard.

I know you will join with Americans everywhere who are proudly standing with their fellow citizens in making sure the great states of Michigan and Florida have a voice in this race -- along with all the states who will cast their ballots in the upcoming months. Today is the day to step forward for democracy.

Nowhere in the email does Williams propose a solution to the FL and MI mess, however. She does not state the campaign's demands for how delegates should be counted and which should be seated. This reflects this issue's latest reality: Revotes are simply not going to happen due to time constraints, the Obama campaign will never agree to sit the delegations based on the January 15th and January 29th results if the race remains at all competitive and it is tremendously unlikely that Clinton would have control of the credentials committee.

There are a few possible solutions that the state parties are working on that could result in a few delegates gain for Clinton but her campaign knows there is very little it can practically gain from this -- and certainly no momentum or electoral argument. But pursuing the argument over Florida and Michigan is crucial to present Clinton's case as legitimate and to give Hillary a chance to appeal to superdelegates using the popular vote measure.

New Jersey's Governor Corzine, a fierce Clinton supporter, stunned the political world last week by announcing he might vote for Obama at the convention if the Illinois Senator wins the popular vote. But this statement, which was widely described as the first step towards betraying Hillary, seemed to be a very shrewd move on behalf of the Clinton campaign. If Clinton manages to stay in until June 3rd, there will be surely be at least one way of calculating the popular vote (include both FL and MI, exclude caucuses because exact votes) that will result in showing Hillary ahead; if Clinton does not flame out in the upcoming contest you can be sure that it she will find a way to spin the popular vote argument. And that's exactly what Corzine implied when he was asked this week-end whether his earlier comment should be interpreted as a slap to Clinton. Corzine's answer brought up... Florida and Michigan and the need to include them in the tally.

What the campaign wants now, therefore, is to move the goalposts and convince superdelegates that the popular vote measure is more important than the pledge delegate leader. Now, superdelegates will see that Corzine is being reported as taking the logic far enough to consider voting for Obama, and the Clinton campaign hopes that small moves like this will make its attempt at moving the goalposts more convincing than they have been for now.

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  • Please....

    I know there's tremendous pressure to say something new during the dead period prior to PA, but your Corzine scenario is not even coherent, like something out of a bad pot-boiler. Bayh and other acolytes are trying to spin stories like a top, but the bottom line is this: Super Ds aren't going to Clinton unless (a) Clinton skunks Obama in PA; unexpectedly wins (or comes exceptionally close) in NC, Indiana and OR; runs the table in WV, KY, etc.; and the polls turn upside down in a McCain match-up; or (b) Obama is caught in flagrante delicto with an armadillo.

    In the meanwhile, Maggie Williams is simply trying to tread water to see what else turns up. It's a logical thing for her to do, but that doesn't mean there is any logic to her assertions. What with Penn, Bosnia, the hospital story and everything else in play, any distraction is a bonus.

    By Anonymous zoot, At 08 April, 2008 04:42  

  • I see a number of ways to look at this so-called "rogue state" problem.

    1.) Those states (meaning, their party hierarchies) knew exactly what they were doing when these chose to go against both DNC and RNC rules. Both of those states knew what the penalty (per party, respectively) would be.

    2.) All three of the major DEM candidates signed the four state pledge, this was reported on September 1, 2007, FOUR FULL MONTHS BEFORE THE PRIMARIES BEGAN. First, Edwards and Obama signed the 4 state pledge, Clinton followed suit hours later. At that time, FL had already been stripped of it's delegates (Aug. 25, 2007) and Granholm from MI, in spite of having witnessed FL get penalized, announced MI's intent to bump it's primary up.

    3.) Voters in those 2 states had four complete months to protest this whole thing: Folks, that's 120 days! Did anyone see the people in MI of FL storming the barricades in order to demand that their votes be counted in the primaries? Did anyone see riot? No. All was quiet on the atlantic and the great lakes front until it became evidently clear that the DEMS would be in a close race for the nomination. Then, all of a sudden, these two states suddenly became very important again.

    So, we can maybe summize that the GOP played a major role in this, with a GOP legislature in FL having rammed this down everyone's throats, hoping and calculating that it would play out badly for the DEMS (and it has). But MI has absolutely no excuse whatsoever. I have never see something as dumb as this in electoral politics in my entire life. Here we have a major rust belt state having just witnessed another major state being penalized, knowing full well that if they follow suit, they will also be penalized, and they still went through with it. And this time, there was no republican majority in the MI statehouse to force the DEMS to go along with a bump-up decision.

    I suspect that the Clinton camp, calculating that Obama would have been swept out of the way after Super Tuesday, would have just let the issue die and made many many promises to those two states, should Clinton win the GE in November. But alas, things did not work out as the Clinton team thought.

    So, what to do?

    Well, Obama is currently ahead in the PD's, he is behind in the SDs, but ahead when you combine the PDs and the SDs. He is ahead in the PV. There are ten contests yet to go. Without FL and MI, Clinton must, and I repeat, she must win all 10 with at least 65% (that's a 30% margin at the least) in order to overtake Obama in the PDs, in which case she would also take a commanding lead in the PV.

    However, as we already see how things are shaping up in PA, IN and NC, this is not going to happen. Clinton's winning margin average in PA is +6.3, down from +15.2 in March, a -8.9 margin shift, very, very bad news for Clinton. She needs to win PA with a much, much larger margin than she won Ohio in order to catch up to Obama.

    Conversely, in NC, Obama's winning margin average is up from + 7.4 from January-March to + 13.6 for March-April, and when you calculate only the April polls, his margin average is + 20.6 and still growing.

    IN has been barely polled, there have been 4 polls and one is 7 weeks old. Of the three newer polls, Clinton has a winning margin average of + 7.0, which means she is relatively starting with a much leaner margin than she started with in PA. And Obama has an entire month still to whittle this lead down to practically nothing.

    She will win PA. Now we have two weeks to see how big or small the win will be. I see her coming in with a 6% to 7% winning margin, way under the 30% margin that she needs.

    Obama will win a huge landslide in NC, probably 60%-40%. His margin will increase in the next four weeks and on top of that, he has consistently outperformed polls.

    And IN will tighten up so much that no one really gets an advantage. If these trends continue, Clinton will win IN with between 1% and 2%.

    With her win in PA being effectively cancelled out by his win in NC and a squeaker in IN, on May 6th we will essentially be exactly where we are today: Obama will be ahead in the PDs (and probably by about the same margin, +/- 3 or 4 PDs), behind in the SDs (unless a huge block suddenly declares, which is entirely possible) but ahead in the combined PDs and SDs and still ahead in the PV.

    Even if you count FL in, he is still ahead in the same categories.

    And it is wildly unfair to want to count a state where one candidate played by the rules and took his name off the ballot but the other did not. In MI, Obama will get ZERO delegates, if MI is counted. Does anyone think he would have won 0% of the PV?

    But even if you allow MI as well, at the end of the day, if the contests go as I think they will, he will be ahead in the:

    PDs and SDs combined

    It's close, but mathematically and statistically, this nomination is for Obama to lose. And after PA, GM, NC and IN it will be not only statistically impossible for Clinton to catch him (as is now the case), but also mathematically impossible, for after these states have voted, there will only be 184 PDs left up for grabs and Obama will still have around a +170 PD lead. GAME OVER.

    Clinton can learn from Giuliani, Romney, Thompson, Paul, Huckabee, Edwards, Richardson, Dodd, Biden and Co. and learn when it is time to go. Namely, before she does damage to the party.

    Probably the best thing is to put forth a rules change vote at the convention to alter the penalty so that the delegations will be halved, as the GOP already has in it's rules. This was the first mistake the DNC made: when you are establishing penalty, you cannot be so draconian the first time around, otherwise you have nowhere to go should partes decide to test your will a second time around. That being said, though this is probably the best compromise, I am still personally against it, for I believe that rules are made to be stuck by.

    Big mistakes:

    1.) the DNC decides to strip the complete delegations of states that front load instead of just halving their delegations, thus giving the GOP an option to play good-cop, bad-cop.

    2.) Clinton keeps her name on the MI ballot.

    3.) The Obama camp drags it's feet in the MI re-vote proposal.

    But the biggest mistake of all:

    4.)he people of those states did not protest in the time where it could have made a difference. Not hardly a peep. With rights come also responsibilities.


    By Blogger Mark, At 08 April, 2008 04:58  

  • "or (b) Obama is caught in flagrante delicto with an armadillo."


    I laughed so hard, I spilled my coffee!!

    By Blogger Mark, At 08 April, 2008 04:59  

  • Obama taking his name off the MI. ballot was a bigger mistake. Now he lacks clear title to the 40% uncommitted.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 08 April, 2008 07:54  

  • MI vote was declared unconstitutional, so nothing will ever come from it.

    It was the right thing for Obama to remove his name, Clinton looked like an idiot getting only 55% of the vote to "uncommitted" She would not win if there was a second chance.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 08 April, 2008 08:51  

  • Michigan will count and Obama will get nothing unless Edwards concedes his share of those uncommitted. I highly doubt Obama would have a chance in a do-over. Edwards holds the key to Barack's success and he knows it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 08 April, 2008 11:30  

  • The assertion that this is Barack's to lose is an awfully powerful curse. Usually that ends up happening.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 08 April, 2008 12:21  

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