Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Florida and Michigan Delegations: Where Obama and Clinton Could Find Common Ground?

The Florida re-vote is likely dead. The Michigan re-vote is clearly in jeopardy. The Obama campaign is trying to run out the clock on this since no action probably advantages him. But does it really? Two important points to consider:

1) The earlier DNC vote to sanction Michigan and Florida is not necessarily binding. Anything could shift at the convention, even, potentially, the seating of the full MI and FL delegations.

2) If Obama is viewed as being a roadblock to having the Michigan and Florida voters having a say in this election, it could hurt him in a general election.

At this point, the Clinton campaign is desperate. It recognizes that without re-votes, Michigan delegates almost certainly won't be allowed to vote on the nominee (how can you justify seating a delegation when Obama was not even on the ballot?) and Florida likely will not be given voting rights either (if you can't seat MI, how do you seat FL?). Because of this position, the Clinton campaign would likely agree to almost any compromise. So, what should the Obama campaign offer?

If you are Obama, why not offer the following?

1) Superdelegates from both states should be disqualified. Many of the superdelegates are directly to blame for this mess and most from Michigan and Florida are at least complicit in what happened. The sanction should remain in place for them, something the Obama campaign would favor since Clinton currently holds an edge in endorsements among the Michigan and Florida super-delegates.

2) Push for a party-run, internet/mail re-vote in Michigan. The Michigan Democratic Party was already planning for such an election before the state legislature moved the state's primary date up (see the plans for this primary here), so it should not be too difficult to dust off those plans and put them back into action. As I've noted in an earlier post, Obama and Clinton would likely split the delegates in Michigan if there was a re-vote. An internet primary may even help him perform better, since it would encourage more participation from younger voters who have been more supportive of his candidacy. Bottom line: pushing for an Internet/mail re-vote in Michigan allows Obama to make the claim that he is trying to make sure the voices of Michigan voters are heard and would not likely put his delegate lead in danger.

3) Push for half of Florida's pledged delegates to be seated. This would be the toughest decision for the Obama campaign. They would essentially be giving Clinton a net pickup of 19 delegates in Florida. However, a re-vote might have produced a Clinton edge that would have been much greater. For 19 delegates, Obama would be buying some goodwill from the voters of Florida as well as some insurance against other options that could cost him more delegates.

All in all, this plan would likely not cost Obama any more than 20 or so delegates, not nearly enough for Clinton to seriously threaten his advantage among pledged delegates. In addition, the move would win him some goodwill among voters in Michigan and Florida, something that he might be very glad to have if he does end up as the party's nominee. So, why not offer this compromise? Two reasons. First, it is hard to give up even 20 delegates in this tight race, particularly when it looks as if you won't have to give up any. Second, putting Michigan back in play at the end of the calendar likely means that Clinton would have all the more reason to stay in the race until the end. Obama may be hoping for a knock out punch before June, and putting Michigan back on the calendar may end any chance of that happening.

What do you think...would this compromise work? Should it work?


Anonymous said...

I dont think an internet election is workable given that they cannot keep the stand alone electronic boxes secure... Security Issues alone would be too much... just an opinion.

Frankly, Obama chose not to campaign in those states and not be on the ballot in MI not to piss of the Party, he has to live with that choice. You cannot disqualify two states for making a decision.

I think all super-delegates should vote in line with their constituents by state. (For Example if NY has 32 reps, speaker, governor, 2 senators, and NY went to Hillary than all of these 36 elected super delegates should follow the lead of their state.)This would weight democratic states more than republican states, making the person most electable by the base more likely to win.

Leno said...

There are far too many people and opinions that are making the issue of Florida and Michigan much more complicated than it should be. There is a simple, readily available solution that satisfies both the need for representation and penalizes early primary scheduling that requires no revote.

1. Florida - reduce the number of pledged delegates by 50% and allocate them to the candidates proportionately.

2. Michigan - reduce the number of pledged delegates by 50% and allocate them to the candidates proportionately, with the uncommitted delegates pledged to Obama.

3. Superdelegates - strip both Michigan and Florida of their superdelegates; the party leaders in those states are the ones who engineered this fiasco in the first place, so they should have no voice in the primary as their penalty.

Anonymous said...

To LENO, are you even a Michigan resident? if not, butt the fuck out. Maybe your state should be equally disenfranchised if ours should be. The voters are being punished for politicians sins; we don't deserve disenfranchisement in Michigan more that any other state in the Union does. Perhaps it's time Michigan secede from this imagined union and join CANADA!