Mar 14 2008
05:10 pm

I saw this on The Carpet Baggers Report. I don't know how many of you (if any) read it but this entry caught my eye and gave me plenty to think about.


What Michigan and Florida re-votes would mean to the Clinton campaign

Behind-the-scenes talks continue at a fairly aggressive pace about what Dems are going to do with Michigan and Florida. There’s a growing sense that Michigan may end up hosting a do-over primary in June, while influential Floridians continue
to float various compromise proposals.
There’s apparently a sense among Clinton supporters that the Clinton campaign should be more forceful in advocating re-votes in the two states. Mark Schmitt explains why this seems like a very bad strategy.
What would happen if an agreement were announced today that there would be re-votes in Florida and Michigan? Immediately, the previous primaries in those states would become dead letters. Instead of being 200,000 votes down in the popular vote (by her campaign’s count), or 500,000 down (by my count, which gives Clinton her Florida votes), Clinton would be down in the popular vote by almost 1 million. And 193 delegates that they are currently counting would suddenly disappear. (More after the break)

And at that point, the magnitude of Clinton’s deficit would be too obvious to spin away. Yes, there would be two additional large-state contests in which to win back the million popular votes and hundreds of delegates. But unless she did significantly better in both states than she did in the illegal primaries, she would lose, not gain, ground, by her own calculations. Since she was on the ballot alone in Michigan before, it’s highly unlikely that she will do better there. It’s very possible that she could do better than the 50 percent she won in Florida in January, but since it would now be a two-person race, it’s a dead certainty that Obama would do significantly better than the 32 percent he got in January, thus adding to his total popular vote margin and delegate count even if he lost again, and so it would be a net loss for Clinton. Re-votes cannot help Clinton be “perceived” as the winner of the popular vote.
Contrary to the gullible media’s belief that “time” is a “powerful ally” on Clinton’s side, in fact, Clinton’s only ally is uncertainty. The minute it becomes clear what will happen with Michigan and Florida — re-vote them, refuse to seat them, or split them 50-50 or with half-votes, as some have proposed — is the minute that Clinton’s last “path to the nomination” closes.
The only way to keep spin alive is to keep uncertainty alive — maybe there will be a revote, maybe they’ll seat the illegal Michigan/Florida delegations, maybe, maybe, maybe. In the fog of uncertainty, Penn can claim that there is a path to the nomination, but under any possible actual resolution of the uncertainty, there is not.
It’s hard to overstate how persuasive this is.

There are practically zero circumstances in which re-votes would help the Clinton campaign. She won’t beat Obama by 20 points in Florida again, and she won’t beat him by 55 in Michigan again. Clinton benefits from a) leaving things just as they are, and convincing the DNC to throw its rules out the window; or b) having the situation unresolved indefinitely.
The first is unlikely, because it constitutes changing the rules in the middle of the game. Clinton supported stripping Michigan and Florida of their delegates, and supported the agreement whereby no candidate would campaign in the states. Now that she wants/needs the states to appear competitive, those previous positions, apparently, are no longer operative. Most reasonable observers find this a little hard to swallow.
Nevertheless, while the possibility of competitive contests in Florida and Michigan remain on the table, the Clinton campaign can argue that the fight for the nomination is unresolved, and should stay that way. As Ezra explained, it seems like a strategy premised on delaying the inevitable, given Obama’s lead in delegates, votes, states, and increasingly, superdelegates.
[W]e know that her only path to the nomination is to crush Obama’s candidacy, to wound him so heavily that the superdelegates will abandon him and turn to Clinton as the savior of the party. It’s not because she’s a mean person, but because that’s the only strategy left to her. She’s in the weird position of being famous enough that the media is willing to grant her candidacy legitimacy long after other campaigns would have been written off. And that’s convinced her to stay in the race. But it’s left her in a race she can’t win, and in a position where she has to go so brutally negative that she makes Obama lose, and the superdelegates pick her by default.
But that outcome only looks viable from within the Clinton campaign. Sitting outside their tent, it’s vanishingly unlikely. And I say that as someone who’s long been sympathetic to her candidacy, and who’s not particularly enamored with Obama. If her strategy succeeds, and she somehow does uncover the piece of opposition research or force the gaffe that destroys Obama’s campaign, it seems likelier that Al Gore gets the nomination through a brokered convention than that Hillary Clinton gets it through the intervention of the superdelegates. There’s just too much fear as to what the repercussions among African-American voters would be.
So her path to the nomination involves either a brutal and divisive convention battle, or a campaign that does nothing save damage the eventual nominee.
Eventually, Pelosi and Reid and Dean are going to realize that, and convince a solid bloc of superdelegates to make an endorsement that ends this process.
Presumably, that would happen after Pennsylvania. But what Clinton is trying to do is draw out uncertainty over Michigan and Florida so that it can’t happen until after that question is resolved, and that question isn’t anywhere near resolution. Since those states sound big, it seems superficially plausible that their intervention could change the dynamics. But if you look at the delegates, and you look at the votes, that’s actually not true. And this is why clarity hurts the Clinton campaign.
If there’s a flaw in this thinking, I don’t see it.

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bill young's picture

193 delegates

"193 delegates..currently counting..would suddenly

I dont understand what delegates these are.

SteveMule's picture

Bill, I understood them to

I understood them to be the ones from FL and MI that she 'won' if the oringinal primary vote was validated.

Take Care, Be Good and don't play in the street!


Rachel's picture

Those delegates aren't

Those delegates aren't "currently counted" tho.

SteveMule's picture


For a more clearer understanding of the "193" in question go to the original Carpetbager post read it (my attempts to fix the formating after a crude cut and paste leave much to be desired) and read the early comments (they also ask this question).
It seems that IF the Florida and Michigan votes are counted HRC gets 193 delegates out of it. These go poof if there's a do-over. The point of the article (as I understand it) was that HRC will, in all likely hood not do as well as this. And thus a do-over is not really in her interests.

Take Care, Be Good and don't play in the street!


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