Obama fears a re-vote in Florida and Michigan

Since Barack Obama’s supporters claim he is running a people-powered campaign, I’m surprised they are not more upset that he is working behind the scenes to derail any plan for Michigan and Florida to redo their primaries.

As you know, the DNC stripped both states of their delegates for moving their primaries up to January. No one campaigned in either state, and Hillary Clinton won both primaries, although in Michigan hers was the only name on the ballot, with supporters of Obama and other candidates voting “uncommitted.”

Given how close this primary campaign is, and how important Michigan and Florida are in the general election, it seems only logical to find some compromise that would allow delegates from those states to be seated at the Democratic National Convention this summer. I understand why Obama doesn’t want to accept the delegate allocations from the January primaries, because he didn’t campaign in either state.

However, I don’t see the rationale for his campaign ruling out re-votes in both states. Why does Obama fear taking a few weeks after Pennsylvania to campaign in Michigan and Florida so that Democrats can express their preferences? Money is not a problem for him–he has more cash on hand than Clinton.

One compromise that seems sensible to me is a mail-in election in both states, which would be much less costly than restaging an ordinary primary. But Obama’s co-chair in Michigan has ruled that out, claiming that

“It disenfranchises people who need to participate and there are many questions with regard to security.”

Hunter said the Obama campaign will accept nothing but a 50-50 split of Michigan delegates between Clinton and Obama, who removed his name from the January ballot here in protest of the early date.

I don’t understand how a mail-in ballot disenfranchises anyone. If anything, the experience of Oregon shows that it would lead to much greater participation.

And what justification is there for a 50-50 delegate split out of Michigan? That is essentially the same thing as not counting Michigan voters at all.

But wait, it gets better: Obama is a co-sponsor of a bill in the U.S. Senate called

“The Universal Right To Vote By Mail Act”, which declares that NOT ALLOWING mail in voting in every state (28 do through absentee balloting) disenfranchises voters […]

That’s right, Barack Obama, who thinks all states should allow mail-in voting, has suddenly decided in the middle of a tough primary that it would not be fair to let Michigan and Florida Democrats mail in ballots.

He appears to be afraid of losing high-turnout elections in those states. And no wonder: he seems to do a lot better in lower-turnout caucuses (in some states getting two, three or four times as many delegates as Clinton) than in large-state primaries.

In addition, the demographics of Florida (lots of seniors, Latinos and Jews) and Michigan (lots of working-class whites and Catholics) seem to favor Clinton.

Talk Left commenter Steve M (a Clinton supporter) linked to these comments at the Michigan Liberal blog, in which Obama supporters in Michigan criticize the stance his campaign is taking against a re-vote.

Does Obama want to go into a general-election campaign having demanded that Florida and Michigan residents not have their votes counted in the primary?

  • mail-in voting is not as simple as it sounds

    I lived in Oregon when it was implemented and they did a lot of voter education before using it.  It still took a few elections to get people accustomed to it.  A few weeks before the primary is not the time to start inventing it, especially in FLORIDA.  Clinton wants it because she isn’t organized enough for caucuses and does better in primaries.  It is a great opportunity for a campaign to muscle vulnerable voters, sort of like absentee ballots on steroids.  If I were Obama, I would be slow to embrace it.

    • then Obama should agree to a different compromise

      that would allow delegates from FL and MI to be seated.

      If he’s so confident that he has an unassailable lead in pledged delegates, he should agree to seat the FL and MI delegates.

      It’s going to look really bad for the Democratic nominee to have called for FL and MI votes not to count.

      Also, any voter education needed to get used to mail-in voting would be nothing compared to the problems with planning a caucus in a huge state like FL on short notice. FL has no history of caucuses, and it would be a logistical nightmare to try to train enough precinct chairs.

  • It is clear

    that Florida and Michigan have to account.  But, a 50-50 seating would be the most fair since the idiots in those states broke the rules.  Rules are rules, and if there’s no rule of law, then what else is there?  I just don’t like the situation.  I think there’s a little too much “funny business” about it all.  Obama and Edwards went with the rules and Hillary went with those who broke the rules.  What does that say about her?  

    I’m not for disenfranchisement, but if Florida and Michigan really cared about their voice being heard in the Democratic party, they wouldn’t have broken the rules.  There is no completely fair way to settle this, but I think it would be unfair to say that now that their states could be important they should get a revote.  They casted their vote knowing their delegates would not be seated.  If they get seated as is there will be hell to pay.  If there’s a revote and it costs Obama the nomination, there will be hell to pay.  Florida and Michigan cannot be the decisive states in this election, otherwise it will be seen broadly as an illegitimate nomination.  

    I want there to be no revote.  The delegates should be split 50-50 or not seated at all.  If there is a revote, both states should only be able to seat 50% or less of their original delegate count.  If this nomination is going to be seen as picked in a smoke-filled room, it better be the one at the Convention, not the ones in the offices of the Democratic Party leaders.  I just don’t like it.

    • a 50-50 seating

      is the same as not counting them at all.

      Also, it violates the DNC rules.

      And Florida Republicans moved the primary–the Democrats were not the ones driving that train.

      I love how Obama supporters think that appealing to superdelegates is “cheating,” “stealing the nomination,” etc., but they go through amazing mental gymnastics to come up with  excuses for not counting any votes from FL and MI. Typical.

      • I don't get it

        I hardly think I am engaging in mental gymnastics.  I am at least being logical, whereas your arguments hardly make sense.

        With a 50-50 seating the delegates are seated, hence why I said “it is clear that Florida and Michigan have to count.”  They are in fact counted if they are seated.  You are twisting my words.

        It’s an arbitrary argument that a 50-50 seating would violate the DNC rules.  Why does it matter if a 50-50 seating violates the rules if we don’t care in the first place that Florida and Michigan violated the rules?  If we we don’t care that they broke the rules in the first place, it is not logical that we should be confined by the DNC rules of seating delegates in the end.  Either way, the rules have been broken and any altercation of the present outcome is further breaking of the rules.  

           

        • great idea--let's seat every state's delegates

          and have the split bear no resemblance to how people actually voted or caucused.

          Hillary kicked Obama’s ass in Florida, and he would have finished well behind her in Michigan if his name had been on the ballot (a lot of the people voting uncommitted were Edwards supporters). Seating the delegates with a 50-50 split makes it look like Clinton and Obama tied.

          There is no point to doing that. You’re not going to fool Michigan or Florida Democrats into thinking the DNC cares about their votes with a 50-50 delegate split.

          Obama is making it up as he goes along because he doesn’t want the optics of losing Pennsylvania and FL and MI re-votes. If all he cared about were pledged delegates, he should just let them re-vote, because even a Clinton victory is unlikely to allow her to make up much ground in the pledged delegates.

          He doesn’t want to expose his weakness in many of the large states, in case that would influence the superdelegates.

          • Right

            I don’t think it is fair to have a revote because that would negate the purpose of setting rules.  You set rules to make order.  When people break rules, they create disorder and the potential for disaster (chaos).  Perhaps the rules were unfair in the first place, which is more a matter of who is making the rules and to be settled for future instances, but when you are supposed to follow rules and you break them you pay the price.  I am for following the rules.  

            Obviously, I don’t think Florida and Michigan should be disenfranchised.  I just think that since they broke the rules, they should have to pay some price for it.  Otherwise, what is the point of even having rules?  

            Sure, Obama probably doesn’t want to expose a weakness if one exists, but why does that make it wrong to say that states need to abide by the rules set forth and if they don’t, they should be punished.  As I said, the delegates need to COUNT (i.e., have presence at the DNC) and they will, but the resolution on the issue needs to be fair and the punishment equitable to the malfeasance.

            The vote in Michigan and Florida did not matter because it was not legitimate.  The point is not to fool Michigan and Florida voters that the DNC cares about their votes, the point is that there is a price to pay…for…breaking…the…rules!  

            Perhaps, if not 50-50, a resolution could include a revote for half the amount of delegates that the states are normally allotted.  The states then get representation and they also get punished for being huge embarrassing failures.

             

            • I agree with both of you

              I think there is an extremely strong argument against seating the FL and MI delegations as is.  In the future, our party could never ever enforce any rules regarding the nomination process if the rulebreakers are allowed to get their way.  I think Roland Martin made this argument well http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITI…  

              Martin makes a pretty strong case for not letting those states have a revote either.  I especially agree with the argument that the FL and MI voters should be pissed at their own politicians for not following the rules and letting this happen. But, I still disagree with Martin on the revote.  And the 50/50 argument as being fair to those states is bs.  I think a revote of some sort is the only logical and fair way to settle this.  I do think those states have the right to have their say.  

              To be honest, I don’t know all the details of what Obama and his campaign are saying about the revote.  From the news coverage I’ve seen one can gather that he is ok with a revote.  I don’t think there is a politically viable argument for him to be openly against a fair revote.  Realizing that he will surely benefit if FL and MI don’t count at all, I can see how he could be ok with an inconclusive stalemate.  But, I don’t think that would be right, and I have a problem with it if his campaign is very actively trying to prevent a revote.  But, being the Obama guy that I am, I have a much bigger problem with Hillary’s inconsistency and blatant opportunism when it comes to these two states.  When she thought she was the frontrunner, she was ok with all the rules.  When she got her ass kicked, she started to look for any way to win.  

              • any compromise that allows delegates to be seated

                proportional to how people actually voted is acceptable for me.

                All of this could have been avoided if the DNC had done what the RNC did: strip the states of half their delegates and let everyone campaign their as usual.

  • florida mail-in thing

    This article sheds a bit of light on the problems with a mail-in revote:

    http://www.miamiherald.com/new…

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