An Alternate Solution for Florida and Michigan.
by TCQuad, Mon May 26, 2008 at 07:46:17 PM EDT
The Democratic Party has a problem.
Two states decided to play chicken with the DNC and nobody swerved. Now there's a gigantic accident with too many innocent bystanders injured. But what to do? With the Rules Committee meeting soon, it is a subject that is sure to be tossed around with even more regularity this upcoming week. I'd like to propose what I would like to see, though obviously my opinion (in the grand scheme) carries about as much weight as the photons carrying this message to your eyes.
1) No superdelegates. At all. For either state. None. They're all out.
To put it bluntly, state party insiders got us into this mess. Why, precisely, should we exempt them from the punishment? Honestly, I have no idea which way the supers would break and I don't care.
Michigan tried this before in 2004, but pulled back when McAullife threatened them. They should have realized that the DNC wasn't going to back down.
Florida didn't even bother trying to keep a straight face when they presented an amendment to reverse the decision to move the primary date before Feb 5. Don't take my word, take YouTube's. At least pretend like you care, guys. There was even a point, when it was apparent that Florida was going to be moved up, that the DNC was looking for additional states to add to the NH/IA early state mix. They asked states to apply. Florida didn't bother to.
Both states gambled that it was better to vote early and risk having delegates removed than vote late and have the nominee already decided. In the realm of all-time ultimate backfires, this was a doozy, since had they held their primary in March, they would've been saturated in ad revenue and rally cash.
The party insiders gambled. They lost. They get the walk of shame off the convention floor.
2) Florida, the Republican solution.
While it was merely a beauty contest, it was a verified primary with all parties on the ballot. There were important referendums that brought out the vote. I can concede giving it some weight. I think the Republican strategy of splitting the delegation in half (to penalize but still represent) would work with Florida.
According to Algere's diary, which assumed full representation, that would put it at 53 for Clinton, 35 for Obama.
3) Michigan, the really, really muddled solution.
As I've said before, I think Obama's removal of his name from the ballot was deft politics. That's not a typo; I didn't mean daft. It sacrificed votes that were established as being irrelevant (by everyone, including Clinton) for material votes in other contests. Of course, everyone assumed that the margin of delegates in the end would be enough to allow for representation later, but everyone knows what happens when you assume.
Interpreting the results is much more difficult. There weren't any pressing referendums like Florida. Candidates were missing. In fact, the election was basically Hillary versus Not Hillary (featuring some little guys on the bottom of the ballot). Hillary won by 15.
Again, referring to the figures quoted in Algere's diary from... somewhere that quoted thegreenpapers.com, the breakdown would be 73 Clinton, 50 unpledged, 7 Dodd/Kucinich.
Since Edwards (the only other candidate to receive delegates outside of Michigan) has backed Obama, I would suggest that the block of unpledged delegates, the "Obama/Edwards" block, go to Obama in full. Algere's diary suggests splitting the unpledged; I believe that to be disingenuous. When your primary is "Hillary" versus "Not Hillary", you don't split the "Not Hillary" vote and give half to Hillary.
Again, since rules were broken, the delegate count should be split in half. That would go about 37 Hillary, 25 Obama, 4 to Dodd/Kucinich.
Is this solution perfect? No. But it does diminish the use of disenfranchisement as a RNC talking point, since the solution matches their own. It commutes the voter punishment from the maximum to the minimum, punishes severely the idiots who got us into this mess and sends a message to future states not to buck the party (especially if you don't at least honestly try to get approval).
The overall delegate change isn't what Hillary supporters are going to want. Based on Algere's diary, you'd see a 105-69 advantage in FL, a 101-27 in MI. I doubt the DNC is going to give Hillary 110 extra delegates at this point, even though it won't close the delegate gap. This system still gives her the advantage (+18 in FL, +12 in MI). While I could never prove this, I believe that Obama would've closed the gap caused by Hillary's natural recognition advantage had campaigning been allowed, probably to about those margins. I don't believe the contests, as performed, represent the outcome that would have occurred had they taken place on Super Tuesday or afterwards. But complete disenfranchisement is the death penalty of politics and should not be used lightly.
We're in this situation because of hubris on the part of the states, carelessness on the part of the DNC and apathy on the part of the electorate at large. Let's resolve this and move on to the general election with the nominee.