Tuesday, April 29, 2008

More Math: May 31st D.N.C. Rules Committee Meeting to Figure Out Florida and Michigan

At this point, the Democratic National Party leadership must be in a bit of a twist. In the opinion of many rank and file Democrats, the Party has shown inappropriate partisanship toward Senator Obama. More troubling, the Party has, to date, failed in its main mission: keeping Democrats focused, developing the infrastructure and mentality needed to secure a win in November, whichever candidate becomes the Democratic contender.

The next formal opportunity for the D.N.C. to restore its prestige and credibility will be at a meeting scheduled for May 31. The Rules Committee will take up the matter of seating Michigan and Florida's elected delegates and, it now has been made clear, the seating of Florida's superdelegates. The seating of the superdelegates raises different issues under party rules because superdelegates' right to vote for a candidate does not depend on primary results. The party has a separate process for selecting superdelegates.

The two seemingly simple matters before the Rules Committee:
  • Under what terms, if any, will Michigan and Florida's elected delegations be seated?
  • Will the Michigan and Florida superdelegates be seated?
What makes these questions complicated is the way they have been framed. As the Washington Post reports, "Under the challenges, all superdelegates from both states would get to vote. The pledged delegates would only count for half votes."

On the superdelegate question, this proposal is fair enough. But on the pledged delegates question it is not. It is Senator Obama's campaign that has pushed for the dilution by one half of the votes of rank and file Democrats in Michigan and Florida, voters who had nothing to do with the timing of their states' contests, voters who turned out to be heard.

Senator Obama's reluctance to have the pledged delegates seated as they voted is about as straightforward as it gets. Right now, Senator Obama leads Senator Clinton by 154 pledged delegates. If Michigan and Florida are seated as the voters voted, Senator Clinton would pick up 178 delegates, and Senator Obama would pick up 67 delegates. 55 delegates would remain uncommitted.

Calculation:
178 (delegates who would be pledged to Clinton) - 67 (delegates who would be pledged to Obama) = 111 pledged delegates for Senator Clinton.

Calculation:
154 (Obama's current lead in pledged delegates) - 111 (figure from previous calculation) = 43 (the number that would then separate Obama and Clinton in pledged delegates.)

Crucial point:

Were all 55 Michigan uncommitteds to vote for Senator Clinton, and if the nomination vote were held immediately, Senator Clinton would lead in the pledged delegate count, by 12 pledged delegates.

We do not know whether all the uncommitted pledged delegates in Michigan would vote for Senator Clinton, but the bottom line remains the same: if the Rules committee seats Michigan and Florida as they voted, and that happened today, Senator Clinton could be heading into May 6 with a lead in in pledged delegates.


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