That may sound like a rather far reaching proposition, but consider the following. By either an act of â€œre-votingâ€ the Democratic Primary or an act of omission, Florida and Michigan will be decisive.
Whether it is Senator Barack Obama or Senator Hillary Clinton, the prospective Democratic Party candidate cannot win the necessary number of â€œpledgedâ€ or elected delegates to gain the nomination. The race will have to be settled by the so-termed â€œsuper delegates,â€ or the selected Party insiders that constitute 20% of the total nominating delegates. However, the super delegates are going to be reluctant to be the decisive factor until all the pledged delegates have been allocated and accredited to the Democratic Party Convention, and this includes those from Florida and Michigan.
Right now the Florida and Michigan delegates are not accredited, because their state party leadership broke the rules by trying to jump to the front of the nominating primary schedule. There was a primary election, but it was not contested by agreement of the Democratic National Party and all the candidates. No one campaigned in those states, except for purportedly fund raising, and Obama was not even on the ballot in Michigan. The Democratic voters did not turn out in numbers to be expected in this Presidential cycle.
Clintonâ€™s camp has tried to advance the notion that the election results from the â€œoriginalâ€ Michigan and Florida primary election should be certified and delegates accordingly apportioned. That will not fly, at least because it would be readily challenged as to its legality: the rules cannot be changed in the middle of the process.
Obamaâ€™s camp certainly cannot agree to the Clinton campâ€™s proposal. They are not necessarily inclined to even a new primary election. Obama is already ahead in pledged delegates and not obviously anxious to add new delegates to compete for in the primary process. Presumably also, the Florida and Michigan demographics favor Hillary Clinton.
In the end though, Clinton will not be able to accredit the already held elections. However, Obama will have to agree to some form of new election process for Florida and Michigan. As importantly, the national Democratic Party will also have to make certain that two large and critical states will be represented at the Democratic Party Convention this summer, because of this Presidential round and numerous other state and local elections.
The super delegates will have to be relied upon by both Hillary and Barack to take either over the top. Simply because of the closeness of the contests and the proportional apportionment of pledged delegates, it will have to be the votes of the super delegates that will take either candidate to nomination. Neither candidate though will want to project their nomination being the result of super delegates overriding the wishes of the pledged delegates.
Barack claims that his caucus and primary victories and lead in delegates give him legitimacy and the backing of voters that should not be overturned by the super delegates. Hillary claims that she has the mandate because she has been winning most of the â€œbattle groundâ€ or decisive states historically determining who wins Presidential elections between Republicans and Democrats. The arguments of both of the candidates hold water, but are incomplete without the inclusion of Florida and Michigan in the Democratic Party contest. Florida and Michigan are two, representative populous states that constitute almost 10% of the pledged delegates, and both are battlegrounds. Who can forget the â€œchadâ€ recount battle of 2000 between Al Gore and George W. Bush.
The only issue that remains to be settled is how to hold the â€œrevote.â€ It could be a whole new primary election, which is most logistically difficult and expensive, to some form of caucus or even internet vote. So far there has been no resolution. However, I suspect that itâ€™s not so much the money, $20million for the more elaborate options per state, but the maneuvering between the two campaign teams. Each is trying to calculate the optimum option, and maybe neither team is particularly committed to the revote and including Florida and Michigan, unless it serves their strategy of gaining the Democratic nomination.
In all the maneuvering, Barack or Hillary or the Democratic Party may come to the conclusion that they do not need a revote and to accredit the Florida and Michigan pledged delegates. That would be a mistake for all. Perhaps it was possible to avoid the revote if either Democratic candidate could have captured an insurmountable early lead in the other state primaries and caucuses, and thus could gain the nomination. Even then, most likely, Florida and Michigan would have been seated once no longer relevant to the nomination. However, under the current evolution of the nominating contests, Florida and Michigan are relevant. If these two larger and more decisive battleground states are not included in nominating the Democratic candidate, their voters will feel cheated, or at least disrespected.
Senator John McCain would need only a small number of Democratic voters to stay home in November or even lesser numbers of independents to vote for him, and the Democratic nominee, Hillary or Barack, would lose either one or both of these states, particularly Florida. In turn, this probably would be enough for the Democrats to lose the Presidency against a formidable candidate such as McCain.
The Democratic battle for (re)votes in Florida and Michigan would be bloody and could be divisive. Nonetheless, it is what both may need to win. Hillary needs to prove her contention that she is decisively better in the â€œbattlegroundâ€ states. Barack needs to win at least one of these states to maintain his claim as the definitive leader on the basis of popular vote, and to counter Hillaryâ€™s contention. Most importantly, the Democratic Party and its Presidential nominee needs Florida and Michigan not to lose even a small number of voters who otherwise might feel betrayed or disrespected without their delegates being accredited at the Democratic Convention.
And yes, while on first blush, the battle might be bloody and divisive, it would also give the Democratic candidates immense coverage and energize the Democratic base, independent and new voters. The Republican nominee would benefit from the potential bloodbath in the electoral arena, but he will also seem to be relegated to secondary status as this Democratic primary â€œre-contestâ€ would capture overwhelming attention. What might be lost in divisiveness, the eventual Democratic Party nominee would gain in energizing the electorate.
Barack Obama seems to be getting his grove back after the electoral disappointments of Ohio, Texas and Rhode Island and the Samantha Power resignation. He has now won a caucus in Wyoming and a primary election in Mississippi. Maybe more importantly, he has put to an effective end the Clinton floated proposals of a â€œdream ticketâ€ presumably with Obama as Hillaryâ€™s VP. This exhibited decisiveness and sent back the Clintonâ€™s not so subtle efforts to make him seem the junior. (Please see our article of February 25, 2007 in the EuropeanCourier.org distancing the likelihood or inclination of either Hillary or Barack to be No. 2 to the other).
However, Obama cannot afford not to support a revote in Florida and Michigan while claiming the title of â€œThe Peopleâ€™s Champ.â€ He cannot appear to be evasive or avoiding another round in these two states. Hillary probably needs victories in Florida and Michigan, as well as Pennsylvania to be somewhere close to equal with Obama in pledged delegates.
The popular theory goes like this: if the match is close on points, the Champion retains the crown. Hillary was certainly seen as the champion while Obama was the clear challenger, at the outset of the primary elections. Regardless, like Mohammed Ali, Obama would have to claim the title in the rink, and decisively to secure his standing as The Peopleâ€™s Champ and victory in November. That means going into the rink in Florida and Michigan.