Friday, January 25, 2008

Seating Michigan and Florida Delegates

The We Hate Hillary crowd of greater blogistan have their collective jock-straps in a wad because Big Mean Mommy-Monster Hillary is asking for the delegates at the Democratic National Convention to reconsider the decision to not seat delegates from Florida and Michigan because of the kerfuffle over primary schedules.

Background: The Democratic Party was being besieged by states that wanted to get their primaries moved up earlier in the year - before the February 5th "Super Tuesday" - as a way to have the opinions of their voters weigh more strongly in the nomination process. (Note - Republicans were trying to do the same thing.) Frankly, rank-and-file Democrats are fed up with the Iowa/New Hampshire stranglehold on what candidates get nominated because they are unrepresentative of either the Democratic Party or the general electorate. Nevada and South Carolina had been given permission to move up, but not to move ahead of IA and NH. Michigan said "To Hell with that," and scheduled a primary on January 15th. In Florida, the Republican legislature moved the primary up to January 29th over (weak) Democratic protests. The Democratic National Committee declared that, as punishment, neither Michigan nor Florida delegates would be seated at the national convention, and told candidates they could not campaign in those states, though they could fund-raise.

Political Strategy: The candidates agreed not to campaign, but left their names on the ballots. Edwards and Obama were quickly being out-polled by Hillary in those states. In addition, Iowa was screaming bloody murder about anyone threatening their precious position as the first primary/caucus in the nation. In a totally strategic move, Obama and Edwards (I sense the hand of Joe Trippi in this...) removed their names from the Michigan ballot. Why would they do this? To try to invalidate or reduce the impact of the expected Clinton win, especially among Black voters. They were also trying to curry favor with Iowans in theis great sham show of support for Iowa's (please, God, let it be the last time) "unique" role in the nomination process. After Iowa itself, it looked like a good strategy as they both beat HRC and it looked like she was going to bomb in New Hampshire and Nevada, too.

Then Hillary rebounded big in New Hampshire. It was only after that win that Obama and Edwards frantically tried to do a non-campaign, encouraging voters to go "Uncommitted" to stop the HRC wave. Michigan was the first place where Obama first played race-bait politics, but didn't quite have time to get the momentum going. The hope was not just to "defeat" her with a protest vote, but to see if a large enough block of uncommitted delegates could be picked up and then courted at the national convention itself.

However, they are both on the Florida ballot, can't take themselves off, and can't take advantage of day-of-vote registration practices. Obama has been running his "Democrat for a Day" strategy in Florida for months now, explicitly telling Republicans to re-register as Democrats just for the primary in order to vote against Clinton, then change back to Republicans. He tried this in Nevada and is trying to do it in California, too. The trouble with this tactic is that it only works if the Republican primary is uncontested, and it is pretty tight if not exactly inspiring. Finally, Obama is violating the DNC's rules and is running campaign ads on CNN in Florida.

Analysis: Oh, will you little boys puh-leeze grow up? Josh Marshall is a total whore for Obama now with his outrage over that dreadful Hillary monster's dastardly dirty politics! Ezra Klein is explictly playing the race-card as an Obama surrogate when he says "Imagine if African-American voters feel the rules were changed to prevent Obama’s victory, if young voters feel the delegate counts were shifted to block their candidate." Oh really, Ezra? How about all the thousands of Floridians of all races who are right here and now getting their votes ignored? Wouldn't they be thrilled to have their voices heard? Wouldn't they really, really want to have THEIR preferred candidate garner the delegates she (or he - remember, Obama and Edwards are on the ballot in Florida!) has earned? Cuts both ways, cupcake. If Obama can't win unless the contest eliminates everyone who prefers Hillary, what does that say about his stregnth as a candidate?

Clinton is conducting smart and strong political strategy here. She dominates these states, and she is very intelligently solidifying her postion. She has put forth an idea that will ferment in people's minds, particularly those people in Florida already inclined to vote for her. She basically calls the DNC on its bluff that it won't seat the delegates, particularly Florida. She has nothing to lose and heck of a lot to win, especially when she is the nominee and she goes to those states in the general. Her message - I fought an unfair bureaucratic decision for your sakes. I'll keep doing this for you.

Michigan and Florida will be seated. The Michigan uncommitted delegates will be courted as assiduously as second-choice caucusers in Iowa (much the same dynamic, frankly, but with more alcohol). Hillary will take the lioness' share of the delegates, as she should, for knowing how to get people on her side.

This is important. HRC is painted as unelectable, divisive and polarizing. In contrast to these claims, she is consistently winning over people who did not previously support her, she is consolidating her support, and she is strengthening her position by showing herself to be the best informed, most prepared, toughest fighting pol in town.

America likes a winner.



Anonymous said...

I think they're upset because their candidate got outflanked. How do Edwards and Obama now go to Michigan and Florida and say I'll fight for you?

All she said was she would hope the DNC would reconsider and people are flipping out saying she is trying to change the rules.

Are they serious? Do they really want to piss off two important swing states going into a general election?

The left side of the blogosphere is starting to look like the MSM. But just like the media they are missing the point. Outside of the Beltway and blog zone, rank and file dems like Hillary and are able to decipher what's going on without getting involved in the daily political minutiae.

When did trying to get people on the same page turn into trying to destroy the Dem Party?

Anglachel said...

Obama is trying to win, so his reasons are 100% explicable. If their positions were reversed, HRC would be making the same arguments as Obama. It's "just politics" of a totally pedestrian kind.

Edwards, I'm sorry to day, is a really screwed up narcissist. He has no reason to stay in the campaign except to try to hurt the Clintons. This is the guy who was widely touted as ""the next Bill Clinton" when he started his political career, and I don't think he's ever forgiven the Clintons for his own failure as a politician. When he gets kicked off the political stage after the convention, he will go become a high-priced lobbyist. I am even more cynical about John Edwards than I am about Golden Boy Barry.

As for the rest, they are totally in the grips of the right-wing narrative about the Clintons. They logically know better, but they just can't get past the Pavlovian reaction. Reality has never intruded in their though processes. It's easy and "cool" in their incestuous and self-referential circles to bash Bill Clinton (who they all envy like you would not believe) and they really have no clue as to what the rest of the world thinks.