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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

DNC R&B Strikes Fair Compromise

The DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee did a good job of resolving the dispute over what to do about the Florida and Michigan delegates. The compromise, which seats their entire state delegations and allows each delegate to cast a half vote, looks like one which an overwhelming majority of Democrats can live with. I would expect that a tiny percentage of Democrats at most will vote for McCain or stay home in November because of it. That’s probably about as good a compromise as could be expected.
Some Clinton supporters feel she deserved better. According to the NYT wrap-up, she gets 19 more FL delegates than Obama, giving her a total of 52.5 percent of FL’s 211 delegates, close enough to her 49.8 percent of Florida’s Democratic primary voters. But she only got a 5-delegate pick up in MI, for a total of 53.9 percent of MI delegates, close enough to her 55 percent of MI voters in the Dem primary, especially considering that Obama was not on the ballot. The argument that ‘Hey, he took himself off the ballot’ didn’t count for much. Nor should it. He should not be penalized for following the spirit of Party rules. Clinton supporters can argue that she deserved a few more MI delegates, while Many Obama’s supporters feel the Committee was generous in giving her any edge in MI delegates. In all, the Committee awarded Clinton a net gain of 24 delegates.
The Clinton campaign can’t gripe much about the composition of the deciding committee. They had an edge in terms of their supporters being a at least a plurality of the Rules and Bylaws Committee, and probably a majority. And the two chairs of the committee, Alexis Herman and James Roosevelt were both former Clinton Administration officials. That should put a chill on making too much of the “we wuz robbed” argument.
Bottom line is that there was no compromise that would make everybody happy. This one seems fair enough.
The contest may continue at the convention, starting with the credentials committee. It’s a close race and both campaigns would be remiss if they didn’t press their respective cases throughout the process. Both Obama and Clinton seem poised to support their Dem opponent if she/he is the Party’s certified nominee.
As for the future, the DNC and all Democrats should press the case for primary reform, starting the day after the general election, so we don’t have to go through this divisive exercise again. Senator Levin has a fair point in arguing the injustice of letting New Hampshire and Iowa have disproportionate influence in every presidential election. Other states should have a fair opportunity to go first, and the Rules and Bylaws Committee should begin moving in that direction.
Given the experience of the ’08 primary season, however, we may soon see some jockeying on the part of the states to see who goes last. Imagine the clout CA, TX or NY could wield if their primaries were the last in the nation.

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