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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Who Benefits From a Michigan/Florida Deal?

In one of his mysterious unsourced reports, TIME’s Mark Halperin suggests there’s a deal in the works that would avoid a do-over in MI and FL.
The FL portion of the supposed “deal” would let the earlier primary stand, but would reduce the total Florida delegation (and thus HRC’s net pledged delegate gains) by half. MI’s delegates would be split down the middle between the two candidates. Over at The Plank, Isaac Chotiner wonders why (according to Halperin) HRC might well agree to that, and why Obama might not, since Clinton would be denied both a significant delegate haul and the momenutm from a do-over.
Well, Isaac, here’s why: HRC’s not going to catch Obama in pledged delegates, but she might catch him in total popular votes if the MI and FL primaries are in any way retroactively legitimized (she won FL by 278,000 votes, and MI by 99,000). That’s her best possible rationale for convincing Democrats that superdelegates should be able to decide the whole deal.
As for the deal itself, the FL portion makes some sense, given the vast obstacles (financial, logistical, and even legal, given the strong possibility, as Marc Ambinder has pointed out, of a Voting Rights Act challenge to a FL mail-in vote) to a do-over. The MI deal, as reported by Halperin, does not make much sense, however–particularly the idea that the whole delegation would be seated. MI Democrats are far more culpable than their FL brethren in this mess, and their primary was far less legitimate. Moreover, a firehouse caucus do-over in MI is much more feasible than any sort of do-over for FL.
More and more, I think a do-over in MI and a reduced-delegate scheme in FL is the only solution that might actually get done. And as Halperin suggests, it is the Obama campaign that will likely have the most issues with this type of deal, since any departure from the status quo could give HRC an outside chance–as opposed to a prayer–of winning the nomination. It may all come down to how much Obama fears the potential loss of these two states in November.

One comment on “Who Benefits From a Michigan/Florida Deal?

  1. jcsnotes.blogspot.com on

    Does anyone have any doubt that regardless of any deal which is struck that Senator Clinton will immediately begin to refer to the “standings” as if there was no deal and the original results in both states stood?
    Trust me, the halving of pledged delegates will be ignored. For PR purposes, they’ll quote the non-deal numbers of Florida and Michigan pledged delegates to superdelegates they are wooing. And, as you point out Ed, she’ll include both states’ popular vote totals in her argument even though Obama didn’t campaign in either and wasn’t on the ballot in MI. And, by the way, I heard Obama provide the most succinct argument today that campaigning matters. If it didn’t, they should have just taken a pre-Iowa poll in December 2007 and declared HRC the nominee with a 20 point win and avoided the campaigning altogether. In pretty much every state, win or loss, Obama’s numbers have improved with his presence in a state.
    So, this strikes me as a perfectly reasonable deal. But to expect Sen. Clinton to abide by it when she once said that Michigan would not count? Please. That would be a bit naive.


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