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."

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Clinton Wins at Rules Committee

Well, Clinton managed to change the rules because she didn't like the way it turned out. Clinton got 1/2 the votes restored for Florida, much more than she was possibly entitled to. Also, the delegates from Michigan will be split 69/59 (with half votes each) even though Obama wasn't even on the ballot! I was very pleased to see Clinton's superdelegates on the committee supported the Florida compromise, and that 5 of the 13 Clinton supporters on the committee supported the Michigan compromise - all despite the jeers from some in the hall.

I hope that Clinton herself agrees to abide by this decision, even though it certainly means she will not be the nominee. However, Mr. Ickes already stated that he "reserved the right" to take this to a convention floor fight. Others, like Don Fowler and Alice Huffman, were much more statesmanlike. I hope very much that Clinton ultimately follows their lead and bows out gracefully after Obama clinches the nomination sometime next week or the week after.

But I've stopped expecting grace out of the Clinton campaign, even in victory. Yes, healing will take this party a while to do. Perhaps over the next few weeks Clinton will finally drop out and unity can take place.

New number needed to nominate: 2,118
New totals: Obama - 2052, Clinton - 1877, Edwards - 13.5, Uncommitted - 15.5 (from various contests, Florida and Michigan especially).
Obama needs 66 more delegates for the nomination under today's new rules.
[Thus, Clinton moved the goalpost ahead 25 delegates for Obama].

The final three contests have 86 delegates. Obama is likely to pick up around 40 of them. So this means that he needs about 26 more superdelegates - or all of Edwars and the uncommitted.


Dr. Strangelove said...

In a unanimous decision, the Rules and Bylaws Committee of the Democratic Party effectively accepted the validity of the Florida primary election result. However, by a very large margin (which included a number of Clinton supporters) the Committee effectively ruled that the Michigan primary election result was only partly valid. The Committee accepted the Michigan State Party's 69-59 compromise proposal to split the difference between the actual, somewhat flawed election result (assuming the "Uncommitted" were meant to support Obama) and a null result (50/50 division).

The Committee also strongly reversed the earlier decision to strip all the delegates from these states: they restored full delegations to Michigan and Florida--including superdelegates--but as a compromise, the Committee voted to admit these delegates with only half-votes each.

So in the end, Hillary picks up a net gain of 24 pledged votes plus (according the last counts I saw) 5 superdelegate votes. That is a net gain of 29 votes, or 22.5 if you assume the 6.5 votes awarded to Edwards will ultimately be cast for Obama.

This changes little in the race, of course: Obama is still 150+ votes ahead, all told. But it is a victory for the 2.5 million voters in Michigan and Florida, and it sends a clear message to the Democratic Party that this business of stripping all the delegates was a huge political mistake that should not be repeated. Tinkering with the delegate formula is acceptable, but disenfranchising millions of voters--especially from Florida!--is political idiocy.

It should be understood that everyone on the Committee was willing to accept the 50% penalty across the board--the only bone of contention at the end was over whether to divide the delegates 73/55 or 69/59. Ickes complained that (after the 50%) penalty, a net 4 votes had been stolen from Hillary. But I cannot imagine them calling for a floor fight over four votes--that kind of shenanigan would cost them many more superdelegate votes than that!

This is a reasonable decision, and I hope Obama will accept it.

Raised By Republicans said...

According to, Obama isn't the problem. Here is what Obama is quoted as saying on

"Our main goal is to get this resolved so we can focus on winning Michigan and Florida," Obama said while campaigning in South Dakota. "There were compromises. ... I'm glad the DNC worked it through and I hope we can start focusing on substance as opposed to process."

Meanwhile, Senior Clinton advisor, Harold Ickes, is already threatening a floor fight over the Michigan distribution. So apparently, while LTG says this is a Clinton victory, Ickes isn't acting like he thinks so.

Also, this is not a "victory for the voters of Michigan and Florida." To claim that we would have to assume that the primaries themselves were not horribly disfunctional to begin with. Hundreds of thousands of voters likely stayed home from both primaries because numerous authorities - including by the way Hillary Clinton - were saying the Michigan and Florida votes would never count. Also, the lack of a normal campaign in both states prevents candidates from making their cases to the voters. In most states (including Ohio and Pennsylvania) the longer and more intense the campaigns were the more support Obama gained and Hillary lost even if Obama didn't actually surpass Clinton in ever state. The assumption therefore that these results reflect anything like a normal primary is on very shakey ground.

I'm glad that the result does not in of itself over turn the over all result of the primary process. However, like LTG and Bell Curve, I have zero faith that Clinton will let this rest now. I heard a talking head on CNN today say that the best outcome for Hillary right now is chaos. Only through chaos on the floor can she emerge as the nominee.

And what will the justification be? A complaint about the nature of a compromise that amounts to four delegates out of over 4,000 and an appeal to the latest win in Puerto Rico, a contintuency that can't even vote in the general election?! Please! Should the party over turn the results of 33 seperate victories for Obama on that basis?!

I think it is absolutely vital for her supporters to pressure her to accept this ruling and NOT PROVOKE A FLOOR FIGHT, for the sake the country which cannot afford four more years of Republican control of the Presidency.

The Law Talking Guy said...

David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager, put out the following press release, which I quote in full:

"We're extremely gratified that the commission agreed on a fair solution that will allow Michigan and Florida to participate in the Convention. We appreciate their efforts, and those of the party leadership of both states, to bring this resolution about."

So there's no question that Obama has accepted the decision. Period. Done deal.

On Clinton's website, however, you see this very different press release, which I quote in full:
"Today's results are a victory for the people of Florida who will have a voice in selecting our Party’s nominee and will see its delegates seated at our party’s convention. The decision by the Rules and Bylaws Committee honors the votes that were cast by the people of Florida and allocates the delegates accordingly.

We strongly object to the Committee's decision to undercut its own rules in seating Michigan’s delegates without reflecting the votes of the people of Michigan.

The Committee awarded to Senator Obama not only the delegates won by Uncommitted, but four of the delegates won by Senator Clinton. This decision violates the bedrock principles of our democracy and our Party.

We reserve the right to challenge this decision before the Credentials Committee and appeal for a fair allocation of Michigan’s delegates that actually reflect the votes as they were cast."

Who is acting in the best interests of the party? Who is trying to unify the party to beat McCain in the Fall? Who followed the rules of the DNC?

I think the telling moment was that five of the thirteen Clinton-endorsing superdelegates on the Rules and Bylaws Committee voted in favor of the compromise, against the wishes of the Clinton campaign. We are going to see many more superdelegates and public figures break with Clinton over the next week or two as a result of this behavior.

Dr. Strangelove said...

Hillary should accept the Michigan ruling as she has accepted the Florida ruling.

To be accurate, I do not think Mr. Ickes threatened a "floor fight" on this issue. As I read the statement, they have indicated they may take this up with the Credentials Committee, which I believe takes over on July 1st.

But to repeat, Hillary has had her day in court and the matter has been resolved in a reasonable fashion. It is time to wrap things up.

Dr. Strangelove said...

This remains a clear victory for the 2.5 million voters in Florida and Michigan who wanted their votes to count for something. They counted for half in Florida, and about a quarter in Michigan. As I have said here and elsewhere, to me that feels like a reasonable compromise, considering that there were flaws and irregularities surrounding the conduct of the election.

The important thing is that the Rules and Bylaws Committee has repudiated the original decision to ignore the primaries. Let us hope that the voters in Michigan and Florida see this as I do--as a victory for them--and feel that the Democratic Party has done them justice.

Raised By Republicans said...

A hopefullly unrepresentative Hillary supporter...

I hope this is just a crank mouthing off. However, I fear that this woman is symptomatic of the feelings that Hillary's endless refusal to admit defeat has whipped up within the party.

Hillary Clinton needs to do more than she has done. She needs to do more than simply accept the Rules Committee ruling. She needs to make a series of very public and unambiguous statements of support and unity for the party. However, I don't think she has sufficient strength of character to do that.

Raised By Republicans said...

Dr. S.

MSNBC is also reporting this:

That the Obama campaign had the votes to win exactly what they wanted, a 50-50 split of delegates from both states, but backed off in favor of a compromise that would win over more of the Clinton supporters.

Ask yourself this: At any time in this campaign has the Clinton campaign shown any willingness to put the unity of the party ahead of their immediate interests?

Obama is acting like a leader of the party - the entire party - already.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Dr.S - I'm listening to Ickes right now, and you're wrong.
Ickes and Clinton have exactly threatened a floor fight. Ickes just said on "Meet the Press" a few minutes ago that Clinton has "not decided" if they will got to a floor fight but that "it is her right."

So Clinton is behaving irresponsibly. At some point, Dr.S., I hope you reconsider your support of her. Amazing how she keeps changing her position to suit her current needs.

What do you say to the fact that Clinton said publicly to New Hampshire before the Michigan primary that the Michigan election "would not count for anything?" What do you say to the fact that, at the time she said that, she knew that Obama and Edwards were not on the ballot? Under these circumstances, to later claim that she has always championed the voters in Michigan. BS. We all know it's BS. Also, the "600,000" votes in Michigan is a really small turnout compared to other states in this election.

Frankly, this woman is morally bankrupt. Look at this just in the last five minutes!
Ickes just said a second ago - as to the popular vote claim - that "we believe very strongly that the uncommitted vote in Michigan was not for Obama." That's how he justifies claiming that Obama got no votes in Michigan in order to make a queasy popular vote claim for his candidate. So there's yet another change in position from Clinton's website - which Dr.S. has quoted here - that says that votes for uncommitted ARE votes for Obama. Here it is from the ironically -named "fact" section: "He was under no obligation to do [remove his name from the ballot]. However, his supporters organized a substantial vote for 'uncommitted' on the ballot, thus he is represented in the delegation."

It's just spin, spin, spin, change, change, change positions in order to promote this baby boomer's incredible sense of entitlement. I just can't believe listening to Ickes right now.

USwest said...

Just an aside, I finally heard someone on the radio explain the background on all this MI and Florida thing. I have never really understood the root of the problem. It's worth noting because no matter what, the Dems have to change how they do this primary thing in the future. And it needs to start with New Hampshire and Iowa voters giving up their "First in the nation" status, which is basically pretty childish considering the importance of this election.

FLORIDA: Apparently, the reason why Florida had an early election is because the Republican governor and the Republican controlled assembly wrote it into their voting reform act knowing full well what the Democratic Party rules were about early elections. The Democrats in the state couldn't muster the votes to have that portion of the bill overturned. Must be payback for the Texas Democrats running to Oklahoma over Texas' redistricting. So there, as usual, Florida voters were victims of Republican antics.

MICHIGAN: Candidates weren't required to remove their names from the ballot. That was their choice. However, the Obama campaign flooded the state with flyers, phone calls, and e-mails telling voters that an "uncommitted" vote was a vote for him. The committee had samples of these "non-campaign" (ah hemm, I thought campaigning in the state was off limits) flyers and did consider this in their final decision along with exit poll data.

I don't care what compromise they made. Everyone needs to agree to it and move on. And no, we don't need a floor fight, here.

But, again, all of this mess is because the Democratic party wanted to protect New Hampshire and Iowa's early primary/caucus status. Sorry, but I think we need to get over it and let states schedule their damn primaries when they want.

Raised By Republicans said...

US West, did the radio point out that the schedule we had this year was a compromise along the lines you would like. Iowa and New Hampshire were to be the first but several other states were going to be nearly as early. The other early states were put on the schedule by a committee made up mostly of Clinton appointees while Terry McAuliffe (another high profile Clinton backer) was Chairman of the DNC.

The sanctions against Florida and Michigan were imposed by this same rules committee that was made up then - as it is now - with a sizable majority of Clinton backers (and of course at the time there were 0 Obama backers on the committee because Obama was not a major power in the party at the time).

But you're right. In the long run, Iowa and New Hampshire should give up their monopoly on early dates. That said, the fact that Iowa and New Hampshire have small populations is a huge equalizer for candidates that don't have early funding or name recognition advantages. If we went to having only states like Ohio, Michigan or Florida (or California?) first, money and a priori fame would dominate the process.

USWest said...

I caught the program between lunch time errors. So this may have come up, but I didn't hear it. Fair point.

Internal politics, all of it. I can just imagine the maneuvering that took place.

Dr. Strangelove said...

USWest writes, "I think we need to get over it and let states schedule their damn primaries when they want."

I think I agree with this. We are a democracy, and trying to run a political party with an iron fist gets you nowhere. The MI/FL fiasco shows the folly of trying to "punish" states for disobedience. Who knows? Maybe this primary season will help restore some of the balance. I read more than one editorial regretting California's decision to go so early, when they could have had "more weight" later on. Maybe we will the states compete for primary dates the way big studios compete for movie release dates: everyone wants their own weekend, and when the blockbuster picks their slot (e.g. New York) everyone else shifts away. This campaign showed two things: if you are the underdog, an upset victory in a very early state is HUGE. Otherwise, there was not much in the way of momentum anywhere--the pundits were all wrong. Including me.