News from the Votemaster
The main election story today is today's meeting of the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee, normally a group of rules-geeks that dots the i's and cross the t's. But today they will determine if Florida and Michigan will be seated at the convention and if, so what the details are. Florida is the easier of the two to settle. There was a proper election and both candidates were on the ballot, although neither campaigned there. Most likely outcome is to seat all the delegates but give each one half a vote as punishment for violating party rules by holding a primary before Feb. 5. Michigan is trickier since Barack Obama was not on the ballot. Hillary Clinton won 55% of the vote here and "uncommitted" got 40%.
Both camps have positions on what should be done. The Clinton camp wants both elections to count in full and all the delegates to be seated with a full vote. A snowball in Hell has a better chance than that proposal. The DNC is determined to punish both states for violating the rules lest complete chaos break out in 2012. The official Obama position is to split both delegations 50-50, so the people of those two states are represented at the convention, but the rogue elections are voided. However, this position comes with a footnote saying that a compromise is also possible. English translation: I am so far ahead in delegates that granting Clinton a few dozen delegates to show her supporters how generous I am would help heal the division in the party.
Florida has 185 pledged delegates and 26 superdelegates. Michigan has 128 pledged delegates and 29 superdelegates. If the Florida delegation is seated as elected, Clinton would gain a net 38 delegates. If it is seated with half votes, she gains a net of 19. If Michigan is seated fully with all the uncommitted delegates going to Obama, Clinton nets 18 delegates. If they are seated with half votes, she nets 9.
Here are links to articles about the meeting.NY Times
Talking Points Memo
The meeting will be broadcast live on the Internet at www.justin.tv/democraticvideo.
No matter what happens, Obama will have more delegates Sunday morning. Clinton is likely to win the Puerto Rico primary tomorrow and pick up about seven delegates, but she will probably lose in Montana and South Dakota Tuesday and end up with fewer delegates than Obama Wednesday morning. For all the bluster coming from Clinton spokesmen (but not from the Candidate--that's how things are done in Washington), Clinton will face a difficult choice next Wednesday: scorch the earth or prepare to fold. If she continues her campaign to the convention she will alienate the party so badly that she will have no future. If she concedes, she has two variants. First, she could endorse Obama and really work her heart out for him during the general election. If she does this and he wins, she might get a supreme court appointment or a cabinet position. But even if she returns to the Senate, she'll be a heroine. If he loses, she will be everyone's favorite for 2012. Her second option is to endorse Obama and then go back to her Senate work, putting in an occasional appearance for him, but otherwise quietly hoping he loses so she can run again in 2012. The danger with this strategy is that many Democrats will notice her absence on the campaign trail.
A whole other issue is the Vice Presidency. Does Clinton want it? Would Obama give it to her? A lot of Republicans hate her and her presence on the ticket would energize them to go vote when they might otherwise stay at home on election day. Obama must surely be thinking what kind of Veep she would make. Would she want to be like Dick Cheney and run the country from the Naval Observatory, a kind of co-president? And what role would Bill play. Obama knows very well that the Clintons would not be content to go to foreign funerals for 4 or 8 years whereas Jim Webb or Ted Strickland would do that without the slightest peep. Tricky material.
No primary polls today but we do have several general election polls as follows.
Today for the first time, every news source puts Obama's delegate lead at 200 or more. In the absolutely best case scenario for Clinton, the RBC grants her wish and seats Florida and Michigan as elected and she gains 56 delegates, cutting his lead to about 145. With a win in Puerto Rico tomorrow his lead is then in the 135 to 140 range. But it will take an industrial-strength miracle for this to happen. The RBC takes its rules seriously. Michigan and Florida will be punished for knowingly violating them. A compromise solution giving each delegate half a vote would net Clinton 28 delegates which would put his lead around 170. (As an aside, the Republicans punished their gun-jumpers by stripping them of half their delegates.) Obama can thus easily gracefully concede 30-40 delegates to Clinton in the Florida-Michigan seating dispute and still be in no danger of losing the nomination.
Needed to win: 2026
Here is another source for delegate totals.
-- The Votemaster