Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Marc Ambinder discusses potential plans for a Democratic re-vote in Florida and Michigan, which currently are not having their delegates counted because they voted too early for the Democratic primary rules:

The thinking, here, is that the ONLY way that Clinton makes up her delegate gap is to get Michigan and Florida's earned delegates to count. The ONLY way they count is to re-run the vote under the umbrella of the DNC's rules.

The chutzpah here is that she already won Florida -- and is challenging Obama, essentially, to a fair fight... daring him... saying, "I can win this fair and square... same with Michigan... let's give the voters in those states a real voice."

Obama's response would no doubt me: "Well, wait a minute. You and I agreed to the rules. And now you want to change them at the last minute?"

He may not have a choice: if Florida and Michigan resubmit delegate plans to the DNC, if the DNC approves the plans, and if the states can find a way to pay for primaries, the contests would be on.

And it seems as though Obama may have a hard time complaining about a re-vote. Certainly, he wouldn't want to alienate the population of FL and MI, and too much complaining could do that.

But an opposition to having the voters of Florida and Michigan have a say also cuts against what is the main argument of proponents of Obama "inevitability": his lead in pledged delegates as these delegates represent the will of the Democratic voters (even if these delegates are often elected on the backs of independents and Republican voters). Alter says that it would be "suicide" for the superdelegates to overturn the "will of the people," but this democratic appeal has a harder time working when a significant portion of "the people" do not have their votes count. Obama and his backers can appeal to the "rules" and how they shouldn't change them partway through the election, but the "rules" also allow for superdelegates to vote as they will and not be bound by the numbers of pledged delegates.

A re-vote might not even significantly hurt Obama. Even if Clinton wins both states--and she might not do so well in Michigan--she may still not catch Obama's pledged delegate lead. Though she would be closer--and some superdelegates might not feel the "will of the people" is that clear if there's only a 20- or 40- delegate difference (both under 1% of the total delegate numbers). I'm sure the Clinton campaign would be glad to seat the current delegate results (Obama was not even on the ballot in Michigan), but I doubt the DNC would be very willing to let that happen.