Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Monday, March 17, 2008


[I'm writing this as a new post because the end of the thread on previous relevant postings has gotten a little frayed. Time for a fresh start!]

I believe it is in Obama's best interest to embrace the idea of full and fair do-over primaries in MI and FL. Although it might appear to be to his disadvantage to do so, I see four reasons to believe otherwise.

1. Most Americans want do-overs. According to a recent CNN poll, 63% would like to see do-over primaries in MI and FL. Only 19% want the original results to stand. But even less--a mere 15%--think MI and FL should be excluded entirely. By opposing a popular measure, Obama risks losing popularity and risks giving Hillary an issue with which to bludgeon him.

2. Voters in MI and FL want do-overs. If there are do-overs, and Obama was seen as trying to stop them, he could be punished by MI and FL voters in the do-over primaries. Furthermore, if Obama is the nominee, his opposition to do-overs in MI and FL could harm the party in the general election.

3. Legitimacy. If the 313 delegates from MI and FL are not seated, Hillary will claim that large discrepancy makes a 100-delegate difference meaningless. She will use the number 313 to try to de-legitimize Obama's lead in the pledged delegate count. She will argue that there is no clear winner and so the superdelegates must decide. I do not wish to debate the merits of that claim here! That's not the point. The point is that if MI and FL are excluded she will almost surely make those claims, and they will have some resonance. Yet the reverse is also true. Full and fair do-overs in MI and FL would cement the legitimacy of the pledged delegate count as the "real" count for a lot of people, even Hillary supporters like me. So if you believe Obama will enter the convention with the majority of pledged delegates no matter what, then he has nothing to lose and everything to gain.

4. Bold and statesmanlike. To call for popular do-overs, against his apparent self-interest, will appear to many voters as a bold and statesmanlike move. It will illustrate that Obama really does stand for something more than just politics as usual. He can even invoke Bush v. Gore and say that this time we are going to count all the votes, no matter what. I can hear it now.

One last thing. A plea for patience. I am not trying to attack Obama in any way in this post, and I ask you all to please interpret my remarks with that foremost in mind. I promise to do the same for you. We have all banged elbows and stubbed our rhetorical toes over the past several weeks--perhaps I am most at fault--and I really want to renew the sense of community on this blog. This blog has been a valuable resource for me, trying to make sense of politics, and I think we all feel a loss when it becomes a squabble. With that in mind, I am interested in hearing whether the rest of you believe these four points are logical, or if there are any other arguments or counter-arguments I have missed.


Pombat said...

All four of those sound like perfectly legitimate & logical points to me.

Especially that of keeping MI & FL, not to mention the general public in all the other states, 'onside' with Obama - I'm sure there are some Hillary supporters in both states who, if there was no do-over, Obama had opposed the do-overs, AND Obama became the nominee, would not vote for him. That's not to say they'd vote for McCain, but still, they'd be lost votes (I'm basing this belief purely on empirical measurements I have gathered throughout my life on human nature).

Point 3, legitimacy: even if Hillary didn't state it, someone in her campaign would, and loudly enough to bring it to the attention of the general public. Whereas if Obama insists on the do-overs, he can make further Bush vs. Gore comments about the necessity of absolute legitimacy in elections (and indeed politics generally).

As far as apologising for being most at fault? Dr.S, I don't believe any of you on here should want or need to do so (nor should anyone want to see such an apology offered) - like you say, bring that community back.

Dr. Strangelove said...

Yes, bringing back a sense of bloggish community is the key. I just wanted to avoid the impression that I was blaming people.

What you say about MI/FL voters in the general election is important. The Democrats' chances at taking the White House would be seriously at worsened if they find themselves unable to turn out the loyal Democratic voters in MI/FL. I just hope arguments over who pays for what do not derail the solution that most people think is right and reasonable. And if Obama and Hillary both asked for the do-overs, I think the pressure would be so strong that the DNC and the MI/FL State Parties and State Legislatures would find some way to make it happen.

The Law Talking Guy said...

As of today, Florida has effectively abandoned an effort for a do-over. Senator Ben Nelson, a Clinton supporter, is suggesting instead that Florida be accorded the (minimum) penalty originally envisioned by the DNC rules: all its delegates are seated but get only half a vote. Obama wants all seated, but divided 50/50 between the campaigns. Some resolution between these two positions will take place that effectively nullifies any delegate gain for Clinton out of Florida beyond 20 or so net delegates.

Michigan is another matter. They are likely to have a do-over primary on June 3. Today was an interesting dance. The Dems in the legislature said they wouldn't draft the bill until the Obama campaign okayed the idea; the Obama campaign said he would not approve the idea until they saw the bill. The bill was drafted today and sent to both camps. I assume that the do-over will take place as - for various reasons - the Obama campaign has everything to gain from a re-do in Michigan. He has zero delegates now. He can win in Michigan in a fair fight.

The Law Talking Guy said...

The legitimacy question is interesting. The Obama retort, "he wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan" and "don't change the rules in the middle of the game" are pretty good rejoinder to "313." I'm not sure which side would do better with the PR legitimacy issue. I would not presume to guess how that would turn out, except that it would hurt the Democratic party no matter which way it went.

I also suggest that Florida and Michigan are not the same, and that much may ride on whether the public sees them as the same or different.

Tonight on the Newshour, Obama said (repeated?) that he wants to see Florida delegation seated in "some way that is fair to both campaigns." In other words, he's on record opposing an end result that disenfranchises Florida.

For Michigan, Obama has kept his own counsel. His campaign must decide whether I am right (that he has everything to gain) or whether he pursues the more strategically conservative pat h(nobody gets any delegates). As I said above, I suspect he will embrace a re-do in Michigan.

The Law Talking Guy said...

I add this from the NYTimes, however, "Mrs. Clinton, of New York, has agreed to the plan; aides to Mr. Obama, of Illinois, have refused to commit to it. It is more uncertain than ever that he will: The party’s rules may disqualify anyone who voted in Michigan’s Republican primary from voting in the Democratic primary — including those who may be Obama supporters who voted Republican because his name was not on the Democratic ballot."

Dr. Strangelove said...

If Michigan can organize a do-over by June 3rd logistically speaking, I see no obvious reason why Florida could not also do so. But given the political difficulties, I think it would require affirmative effort from both campaigns to push the laggards into getting it done.

As for the potential Obama retorts to the "313" argument, saying "he wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan" is a very good reason to reject the old result--I agree with it, in fact--but I think that argument fades away with the possibility of a do-over. In fact, if Obama complains he was not on the original ballot but fights against a re-vote, I don't think that argument works.

I must agree that "Don't change the rules in the middle of the game" will remain a valid objection no matter what. It's a good point. And as you did, I will not presume either to know how that argument would stack up against "Count all the votes." But I cannot help noting that if Obama would simply embrace a do-over, we will never have to find out which argument would have prevailed. Do-overs would save the Democratic party from that particular struggle.

Just to be clear, LTG... You have also said you support the idea of do-overs in FL and MI. Is that right? And do you think Obama ought to support them also? Do you think the reasons I have given make sense? Or are there other reasons that convince you?

Raised By Republicans said...

I agree with LTG. The best chance for a "do over" is in Michigan. Only there would a represent a possible improvement for both campaigns. Because the status quo is that both campaigns have zero delegates, a do over could benefit both and if Obama were actually on the ballot, he might come out with a net gain in delegate advantage.

Florida is more complicated because Obama actually was on the ballot but the campaign was abbreviated and half-hearted, giving a huge advantage to the candidate with the most name recognition - Clinton.

The Law Talking Guy said...

I support the idea of a do-over in Michigan and hope Obama supports it. I do see the issues his campaign raises about those who didn't vote in the Dem primary because they were told it wouldn't matter, then voted in the Repug primary instead. Reports are that 32% of those voting in the R primary were Dems or independents, most thought to be Obama supporters.

The solutions are not just three:(1) seat delegations as is; (2) seat nobody; (3) re-vote. A fourth possibility - adjusted delegations are possible. As I mentioned, in FL, some solution of that kind is likely to be the case (possibly seating the delegation with 1/2 vote each, as happens in Guam, VI, Samoa, and the Dems Abroad). That, I think, is the outcome the Obama campaign favors, as it includes MI and FL without opening to HRC the possibility of new wins and new momentum. (She'll never drop out before 6/3 under those circumstances!) Such a solution, if agreed to by Clinton, would moot (and mute) the desire for new primary elections.

If Clinton will simply embrace an adjusted-delegate solution, as her surrogate Sen Nelson is proposing in FL, we won't have to have this legitimacy contest.

Dr. Strangelove said...

RbR... Let me ask you the same questions I asked LTG. Do you support the idea of do-overs in MI and FL? Do you think Obama should support them?

It sounds as though you are saying Obama has less incentive to admit delegates from Florida than from Michigan because he is less likely to win in Florida. Is that right? If so, do any of the four points I raised in the original post outweigh this disincentive?

Dr. Strangelove said...

"If Clinton will simply embrace an adjusted-delegate solution, as her surrogate Sen Nelson is proposing in FL, we won't have to have this legitimacy contest."

If the proposal were to give delegates from FL and MI each 3/5 of a vote... A provocative figure, but still more generous than you proposed... Would that make it more obvious that an under-allocation of delegates still poses more-or-less the same legitimacy problem as no allocation at all? It would reduce the magic number from 156.5 instead of 313, I suppose.

I suppose what I am saying is that only a re-vote would be seen as legitimate by everyone and although the option of seating only half of the delegates was not offered, I think the overwhelming support for do-overs suggests that lesser options would not be popular. This is especially true of voters in MI and FL.

You indicated, LTG, that if Clinton would embrace this solution, we would not have to have this legitimacy contest. Technically speaking, I suppose, we not have to have this contest either if Clinton just dropped out now. (Or Obama, for that matter.) But there is a problem that we need to do more than just resolve the matter legally: we need to convince the voters in MI, FL, and across the nation that what was done was fair. This is where points 1 and 2 come in. I will personally have serious qualms about the legitimacy of the election if Obama prevents MI and FL voters from voting fully. I can only imagine how Hillary supporters in MI and FL would feel, regardless of whether Hillary tows the party line on it or not. Anything less than a full and fair do-over could hurt the Democrats in November.

The Law Talking Guy said...

"I will personally have serious qualms about the legitimacy of the election if Obama prevents MI and FL voters from voting fully."

Since the DNC, not Obama, caused them to lose their delegates, I take it, you had serious qualms about the legitimacy of the Democratic primary process since, at least, the Fall of '07?

Will you be equally unsatisfied if the delegations are seated as is, without their being able to "vote fully" (I mean, Michiganders didn't even have the right to vote for Obama)? Hmmm...

I think that Dem voters in MI and FL knew very well at the time that their votes wouldn't be counted, and will be satisfied if some deal is struck to seat their delegates short of a do-over. Both campaigns are committed publicly to a solution that seats some delegation for MI and FL at the convention.

I agree that a do-over would add legitimacy, but it is not the only way to achieve legitimacy. I (and Obama) would probably be content if all delegations were seated as-is, so long as the "uncommitted" votes went to Obama.

As for the "3/5" remark, I think the idea of some penalty for MI and FL will not strike the majority of people as unfair or illegitimate. My fave penalty is to bar their superdelegates from voting.

Dr. Strangelove said...

LTG, I feel your first two paragraphs on your last comment veer toward the aggressive, sarcastic style of debate I was hoping to avoid on this post. I would like to keep this a discussion of ideas rather than an argument between two people. But I will answer your questions.

1. Back in the Fall of '07, many people--including you and I--were indeed deeply concerned about disenfranchising MI/FL voters. But none of us seriously believed that 313 delegates could make the difference between winning and losing, so none of us really thought legitimacy would be an issue. Now that is is apparent that 313 delegates will probably overshadow the margin of victory the legitimacy of that victory becomes an issue for me. I do not feel that is in any way inconsistent.

2. Now that a do-over is a viable option, no other solution suffices. I might not be "equally" unsatisfied with seating the MI delegation as-is, but I will still be unsatisfied. Now that a full and fair do-over is a viable option, seating the MI delegates as-is would definitely bring into question the legitimacy of the nomination. The key number in that case would be 128.

3. Of course it is hard to say what Dem voters in MI and FL thought at the time. However, the record turn-out in Florida, even despite the lack of campaigning, suggests that they thought their votes would matter. Another piece of evidence is the strong support for do-overs nationwide. This suggests (but does not prove) that MI/FL voters also would be dissatsified if they were not given another chance to have their votes count in full.

4. A "penalty" against MI and FL that reduces or replaces an elected delegation is really only a penalty against the voters in those states. That is something the DNC failed to really think through, I believe. But I very much like your idea of barring superdelegates from MI and FL from voting. It hits the parties where it hurts, but does not disenfranchise the voters in those states (well, at worst it does so only indirectly). And we are all agreed that superdelegate votes really should not be allowed to change the outcome anyway.

5. You say that Obama would "probably" be content if all delegations were seated as-is, so long as "uncommitted" votes went to Obama. But actually I think Hillary already floated that option and and Obama shot it down. Have you heard otherwise? At this point however, since a do-over is a viable option, I do not believe seating the delegates as-is (at least from MI) remains a legitimate choice, as I explained above. Even if Obama accepts it--as you believe he will--many of his supporters may not. Some Hillary supporters may be unhappy with that as well.

The Law Talking Guy said...

"But actually I think Hillary already floated that option and and Obama shot it down." (seating but giving Obama 55 uncommitted delegates).
- I have not heard this anywhere. Where have you heard it?

It looks like Michigan will not have a new primary as of today, according to the most recent reports. It looks like some other compromise will have to be reached on delegates.

Dr. Strangelove said...

From Hillary's website, ("Delegate Hub") where she tries to explain why MI delegates should be seated, there is this:

"In Michigan, Sen. Obama voluntarily withdrew his name from the primary ballot to curry favor with Iowa. He was under no obligation to do so. However, his supporters organized a substantial vote for 'uncommitted' on the ballot, thus he is represented in the delegation."

(Obviously, that's a rather flimsy argument, but let's not debate it...) I could not find any evidence other than that statement that Hillary has accepted that position. So I may be wrong. But at least it would appear she is sufficiently open to the idea to allow that note to appear on her website.

By the way, there is another poll worth looking at. 77% of Floridians said it was "Very Important" that their delegates count, and another 12% said it was "Somewhat Important." Fortunately, 66% said they would still vote for the Democratic nominee even if they did not count. But another 24% said they were either "Somewhat" or "Much Less" likely to vote for the Democrat if their votes were not counted.

Interestingly, slightly more Floridians blamed the Republicans in their Florida state legislature (28%) than blamed DNC Chairman Howard Dean (25%). A little less (20%) blamed the Florida Democratic Party. Only 5% blamed the major candidates. That is good news for Obama and Clinton. If either of them appears to be an obstructor, however, that could be very bad come the general election.

Dr. Strangelove said...

Rasmussen polls confirm 62% vs. 24% of Michiganers and 63% vs. 28% of Florida Democrats would like to see do-overs. Oh, and I believe the last poll I mentioned (previous comment) was also a poll of Florida Democrats only.

Raised By Republicans said...

Does it matter that a majority of voters in these states want a do over?

The rules were established years in advance. The states in question said they wanted to violate them. They were threatened with exactly the kind of response they have since met - refusal to seat delegates. They bucked the rules anyway.

Now, they want to rengotiate the rules with the game all but over.

Does it matter that majorities in these states support such a move? Of course they support a do-over. A more interesting question would be "Do you support a do over if the state has to pay for it?"

Dr. Strangelove said...

RbR... I'm curious... Do you support a do-over, in either MI or FL or both? Do believe Obama should?

Dr. Strangelove said...

You ask, "Does it matter that a majority of voters in these states want a do over?"

That may have been meant as a rhetorical question, but as a matter of fact, I provided a two arguments right at the start of this post (#1 and #2) to explain why it matters that voters--in these states and throughout the US--want do-overs. Can you answer these directly?

The Law Talking Guy said...

Let's assume the Floridian voters want a do-over. They also want the Dodgers to stay in Vero Beach, no taxes, and Christmas twice a year. The better question is how they will react if there is no do-over, but delegations from MI and FL are still seated in some fashion. I suspect the polltakers are implicitly setting up a "do-over or no delegates at all" choice in minds of the respondents. My instinct is that there will be no statistically significant number of people sufficiently disaffected to stay home or vote GOP in the Fall so long as there are some delegations Michiganders and Floridians sitting with the approval of both Obama and Clinton camps.

Dr. Strangelove said...

I guess we're down to suspicions and instinct at this point. You believe MI and FL voters will accept something less than equal value for their votes; I think there is a serious risk of disaffection the Republicans could exploit. I hope you are right. I hope, however, that the do-overs happen.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Do-overs appear totally dead as of now. So long as MI and FL votes turn out not to be outcome-determinative (i.e., Obama is ahead, even by a little, whether or not they are seated), this becomes a non-issue in the Fall. It would behoove both campaigns not to try to stir up such resentment now.

Dr. Strangelove said...

As it has only been a couple of weeks that the media and politicians have been talking seriously about do-overs, I am not giving up on the idea yet. LTG may be right, of course. I just think (or I just hope) it is too early to tell.

LTG writes that if the overall margin of victory is big enough that do-overs in MI/FL would not have been outcome-determinative anyhow, the whole question will become a non-issue. I agree completely. Indeed, that is what we all assumed would be the case last year. And I hope that will be the case when all is said and done--I really do.

But just how large must that overall margin of victory be, for it to be safe? What happens if the number of disputed delegates (313) proves to be two or three times larger than the margin of victory? That is the issue I was trying to raise with point #3 in the original post.

As I wrote earlier, I don't want to debate what we think ought to happen--I see no point in arguing about the merits of the issue at this point--but I think it is important to raise the possibility that the uncertainty that might be perceived as resulting from 313 "missing" delegates could come back to haunt us all. In the most extreme case, the uncertainty might even give enough "cover" to superdelegates that they feel they can vote as they please, rather than to follow a pledged delegate count which they would claim was incomplete and inconclusive. Strategically speaking then, I was suggesting that even the likelihood of a moderate loss for Obama in MI/FL might prove a better gamble than the risk of facing the long shadow of uncertainty that 313 "missing" delegates could potentially cast.

Again, I understand all the counter-arguments and reasons why 313 is not important--I really do. But I think none of us really know how it would play in the press. So much depends on how the issue is framed! I think the "313" argument is a risk worth considering, that's all.

Raised By Republicans said...

I think a complete do-over with at least a couple of weeks for campaigning would be fine. And I think it would be a good idea for Obama to support one. For no other reason than it would make people in Michigan feel loved.

It would probably result in an outcome something like we saw in Ohio for Michigan (with Obama doing slightly better than he did in Ohio) and probably something closer to a tie in Florida.

But the real question is who is going to pay for it. All this talk about do-overs misses the real dispute between the states and the DNC. The DNC does not want to pay for letting these states off the hook after they knowingly violated the rules even after being told exactly what the DNC's response would be. I don't think the DNC should have to pay for it.

I think the people who most want the do over should pay for it. That would be the states themselves (or if I'm feeling snarky, Clinton).

The Clinton campaign is framing this as if it is the Obama people holding up a deal. But that's disengenuous. This entire mess was brought on by the states in question. If the states in question chose to pay for the do overs themselves, this could resolved quickly.

It is pattently unfair to say that Obama is undemocratic because he rejects plans that would seat delegates from states in which he did not campaign. Especially when the reason he did not campaign was because he was following rules that all the candidates (and states) agreed to in advance.

Dr. Strangelove said...

I disagree with what you characterize as the "real" question. My reasoning is this: if both campaigns asked for do-overs, I believe then the political pressure would be very high, and the states and DNC would just figure out a way to get it done. There would be grumbling, but ff the political pressure were there, I think we would quickly see that "who pays" is not an issue anymore. I could be wrong, of course--the state and local parties could be so intransigent that they never come to any agreement, regardless of the pressure brought to bear--but I doubt it. I feel that focusing on "who pays" is a distraction from the real issue of whether there should be do-overs, period.

I agree it is patently unfair to say Obama is undemocratic if he rejects certain plans. For example, given that there is a possibility of a do-over, I think most people would say it is fair to reject the idea of seating the MI delegation as-is. (I am sure you and I would disagree on whether this rejection is still fair if do-overs are not possible, but never mind.) But I think if Obama continues to reject do-overs in MI and FL, then there is a serious chance that the charge of "undemocratic" will acquire legs. (Whether we agree with the charge or not. Whether there are counter-arguments or not.) Do you agree, RbR? Do you see the risk? I think it is a risk Obama does not need to take, as I have argued throughout this thread.

Alas, it looks like this is the impasse to which we are heading--if we are not already there.

The Law Talking Guy said...

I think I understand Obama's strategy now. He'll give Clinton more delegates for MI and FL if she likes (but not enough to win). What he won't do is give her the chance to get more delegates AND momentum from a win at the very end of the race. This makes some sense.

It's also not clear to me why, having broken the rules by trying to go first, MI and FL get to have such a determinative say in the process by trying now to go last.

I don't think the "undemocratic" thing will stick unless NO delegates are seated. Seriously, I don't. There's no groundswell or clamor for revotes except on this blog, so far as I can see. People can see that Obama leads in the national popular vote even with MI and FL (at least slightly) and seriously if the 40% uncommmited votes are attributed to him. The detailed results of this calculation are available here. Note that the only reason it's even close is that states Obama won (Iowa, NV, ME, and WA haven't released vote counts yet that would give him a much bigger edge. Estimate have been made, however.)

I also think Clinton is on the horns of a dilemma too. By calling for a re-vote, she is implicitly undermining any validity the prior elections (that she "won") might have had. The possibility of the delegates being seated "as is" goes down as she undermines those elections. It's a bit strange to say "I won, and the delegates should be seated, but it's a violation of voting rights if we can't vote again." Maybe the conclusion is that the elections are bad, as both Obama and Clinton would seem to agree, and find some other mechanism for representing MI and FL short of a re-vote that would reward the rulebreaker states with undeserved influence.

Dr. Strangelove said...

You are right that Hillary's decision to seek do-overs undermines her claim to the MI and FL delegates. I think it was, strategically at least, the correct move for her though.

We'll see about the undemocratic thing. There is overwhelming support for re-votes in the polls. This is not the same thing as loud clamoring for re-votes, I understand that. But the lopsided polling suggests a potential for a firestorm.

Dr. Strangelove said...

Thanks for the link to the RCP calculation, LTG! That's the only national popular vote calculation that I've seen that looks even partly believable.

Dr. Strangelove said...

Said Hillary today, "I do not see how two of our largest and most significant states can be disenfranchised and left out of the process of picking our nominee without raising serious questions about the legitimacy of that nominee."

(So it begins.)

The Law Talking Guy said...

Dr. S - don't expect a firestorm. Delegations will be seated for MI and FL in some form. They will not be "disenfranchised."

Dr. Strangelove said...

OK, but my only concern is that the MI and FL delegations be seated with regard to the results of some election. It's not just about having warm bodies waving the MI and FL flags on the floor. If the voters wishes are not reflected in the makeup of their delegation, then the voters have had no franchise.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Ironically, Dr.S., the only people who were actually disenfranchised were Obama supporters in Michigan who couldn't vote for him. A 1/2 delegate punishment is not disenfranchisement, I don't think, nor is it politically dangerous particularly if the GOP does the same to Florida and Michigan (which it is doing).

I agree with you that Obama's current favorite proposal to split the delegations down the middle denies them democratic legitimacy. I suspect, however, that this is not going to be the final outcome - rather it is a bargaining position meant to provoke a solution that does not give Clinton any significant advantage from seating her delegates.

OTOH, do the voters really care in such detail? Most will probably be satisfied - or not royally pissed - with a bunch of warm bodies waving flags on the flooor of the Pepsi Center in Denver, particularly if polls currently show the two candidtates tied in the polls of those states (as is apparently true in Michigan), and if it new votes wouldn't be outcome-determinative anyway. I know it's important to Clinton to do something to upset the current inevitability of Obama's nomination, but I don't think "the people" of Michigan and Florida are all that riled up about it.

Dr. Strangelove said...

Maybe the word "disenfranchise" has a more technical meaning of which I am unaware. If so, let me try to be more precise. In many jurisdictions, the policy is to continue to count absentee ballots until the remainder can no longer be outcome-determinative. While there are other reasons why we would like to count the remaining votes, we do not usually consider those voters "disenfranchised" if their votes are not counted. (At least, I don't think we do. Do we?)

At this juncture, however, it is evident that the 313 delegates whom the voters in MI and FL would have been entitled to select under the original formula represents a large enough share of the convention that they could in principle be outcome-determinative. To change the number, makeup, or strength of the delegation so that the voters in MI and FL no longer have the power to be outcome-determinative is to "disenfranchise" them in the sense I was using the word. The way I see it, the only real franchise any voter ever has is the power to alter the result of the contest. (Usually we all demand equal power to do so.) Anyhow, that's what I mean.

Will the voters care? I don't know. The usual answer is: no, the voters don't care about anything. And as you have said, LTG, I have not yet felt any groundswell of outrage. But passions have run high in these states (remember the record turnout in Florida). I don't think we have heard the last of this issue.

btw, I smiled when I read your choice phrase, "current inevitability." I like it because it pokes fun at the notion of what it means for something to be "inevitable" in politics these days.

Dr. Strangelove said...

The polls that show MI and FL voters strongly favor do-overs suggest they may be riled up if they don't get them. I don't think you should ignore those polls, LTG. But in the end, that is only an inference from current polling. At the end of the day in Denver (or in November) it may not matter. If the party does not give the voters in MI and FL the same chance to be outcome-determinative as others have had, I hope you are correct that the voters end up not caring.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Nobody gets a chance to be "outcome-determinative." They get a chance to vote. MI and FL have voted. The only people who were cheated out of a vote were the Obama people who couldn't vote in Michigan. They'll be satisfied if he's the nominee.

If MI and FL voted again, there is no doubt that Obama would do better in the sense that he would do better than 33% in FL and 0% in Michigan. So the reason HRC wants to vote again is so that she can get "momentum" from winning to influence the superdelegates, even though it would that result actually be better in terms of delegates for Obama than seating the delegations as-is.

So what you're seeing in the polls is (1) HRC people who unfairly want their election to have momentum for her (2) Some Obama people who want to vote for him (in MI) and (3) people who are afraid MI and FL won't get any delegates. Take away #2 and #3, and #1 is not relevant.

Dr. Strangelove said...

I believe there is a promise made to all voters that there is a chance their vote will matter. That's what I meant when I said everyone deserves a chance to be outcome-determinative. With the example of absentee ballots, I explained how that interacts with a rolling election process. Everyone has been disenfranchised in MI and FL. No one there has been able to cast a meaningful vote. I really do not understand how you can deny that. I just honestly do not understand.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Why have voters been disenfranchised in MI and FL? Is it because they were told in advance that the primary elections wouldn't count? Is it because Obama's name wasn't on the ballot in Michigan? Is it because neither candidate campaigned there? If so, then why were you so quick to proclaim on 1/15 and 1/29 that HRC was the big winner in those states?

Dr. Strangelove said...

1. I never made much of Hillary's victory in MI, but I did proclaim her victory in FL.

2. I believe the FL result merits some attention because it fell in line with the polling data, and because most commentators trust that Hillary would have won FL in a full and fair primary election anyway, albeit by a different margin. Although the abnormalities surrounding the FL election certainly weaken the legitimacy of the result there, at least both names were still on the ballot!

3. I say voters are currently disenfranchised in MI and FL because they have not been allowed to cast ballots that matter. I think it is that simple.

4. The record turnout in FL shows strong interest among voters in FL. It suggests a widespread belief that their ballots would--and should--end up counting for something. It suggests that the charge of "disenfranchisement" is more than a hypothetical concern of pundits. Nobody likes having their ballot flushed down the toilet.

5. The strong support for a do-over among FL voters, as opposed to seating the delegation as was elected, suggests that most FL voters recognize that the abnormalities of the election tainted the election result. Because of this widespread recognition, any delegation based solely on the basis of the 1/29 election would have weakened legitimacy anyway. Therefore, even seating the FL delegation as-is would not fully enfranchise FL voters.

...but let me add that I hope someone wins by a margin of victory large enough that the exclusion of MI and FL participation will not be seen to significantly weaken the legitimacy of the overall nomination contest.

The Law Talking Guy said...

The poll suggesting "strong support" for do-overs mentioned by Dr.S gave three options: (1) do-over; (2) no delegates sit; (3) delegations sit exactly as resulted from those elections. The question was not asked if it would be okay to seat the delegates as-is with some penalty, or "would you support an Obama/Clinton compromise on delegates, or would you prefer a do-over?"

Currently there is no chance that the voting outcomes in MI and FL will actually matter. Nobody views all 313 votes as potentially "up for grabs" and available to either candidate, of course. That is a fallacy. In fact, it is pretty obvious that the existing delegates represent the potential HIGH water mark for HRC from those states, and none of her suppporters would reasonably think she would have received any larger share of the 313 than would be alloted if the delegations were seated as-is.

"Nobody likes having their ballot thrown in the toilet" - this is the argument the Obama camp makes to argue that many Dems and independents who would like to have voted in the FL and MI primaries in fact voted in the GOP primary instead, where their votes would "matter." This is why they opposed the Clinton plan for a re-vote in MI that would bar those voters from participating in the Dem primary.

Dr. Strangelove said...

You are correct that the polls did not offer additional options. I take it you are asserting that other options would have won significant support? I can find no polling to support that. I did find one other poll thought: before the talk of a do-over became prominent after OH/TX, a poll of Florida Democrats were offered four options and the results were: 28% called for a re-vote, 24% called to seat delegates as-is, 15% said to seat no-one, and only 13% said the delegation should be split evenly between Clinton/Obama supporters.

Without Obama on the ballot, it is very hard to judge the Michigan election of course. Exit polls, indicated that if all three names had been on the ballot the results would have been more like: Clinton 46 / Obama 35 / Edwards 12 / Uncommitted 4 / Others 3. But all three names were not there.

Actually, some of us do think Hillary might have done better in FL if the contest had been run as the DNC originally intended. She could have advertised and organized, and her ability turnout key demographics in the large primary states has repeatedly surprised the commentators, especially in Ohio and California. There is also the Edwards factor. In Florida at least, it is not unreasonable to believe that Edwards' candidacy sapped support from Clinton, because they were competing for the similar demographic in the South.

While it is possible that "many Dems and independents" jumped over to the GOP primary in Michigan, there is good evidence against that claim in Florida. First, Florida was a closed primary, so Democrats could not crossover and independents could not vote anyhow. Second, there was a record turnout among Florida Democrats (I provided percentages below where available) which shows no evidence of bleed-off of support or interest.

The Law Talking Guy said...

It's not realistic to think Clinton would walk away with 60%+ of the vote in Florida or some other dramatic number in a re-vote. As I have mentioned, it hasn't happened anywhere yet.

In every single state so far, the polls have shown Clinton starting with a big lead (name recognition) that is narrowed as the campaign gets underway. Florida's 50/33/17 split, with no campaigning (except a little by HRC...) was a snapshot of a premature stage in the campaign. A new vote in FL after a full campaign should be expected to narrow the gap between HRC and Obama, and give Obama more delegates than he would have had otherwise (say, 40-45%, not 33%). The situation would be fewer net delegates for HRC than if the delegation were seated as currently composed.