Comments on Corzine/Rendell Op-Ed Column

Apparently, even some of our Democratic governors don’t fully understand the DNC delegate selection rules and are not very good at math.  In an Op-Ed column in today’s Washington Post, Governors Jon Corzine and Edward Rendell write that neither Obama nor Clinton is likely to win 2,025 pledged delegates by the end of the primaries and warn about the downside of having the nomination decided by superdelegates.  “But allowing superdelegates to determine the outcome of our nominating process while 366 pledged delegates, elected by more than 2 million democrats in Michigan and Florida, remain unseated is especially undemocratic.”  Their first mistake is that these two states have a total of 366 delegates (210 from Florida and 156 from Michigan) including both pledged delegates and superdelegates.  The actual number of pledged delegates from these states is 313 (185 from Florida and 128 from Michigan).

They then suggest that having revotes in Florida and Michigan could avoid reliance on the superdelegates: “Fortunately, we do have another, more democratic choice: We can choose to enfranchise Democrats in Florida and Michigan, thereby increasing the likelihood that voters, not politicians or party elders, will determine who faces Sen. John McCain in the fall.” The governors also voice their support for the principles that all voters should be able to participate in the nomination process and that all nominating contests must be fair.

As I indicated in a prior post, the total number of delegates needed to win the Democratic Party’s nomination for President will increase from 2,025 to 2,208 if delegates from Florida and Michigan are reinstated.  There are good reasons for having new primaries in Florida and Michigan (which I have advocated here and here), but making it more likely that one of the candidates can clinch the nomination without superdelegates is not one of them.  The bottom line is that neither candidate is likely to clinch the nomination with pledged delegates alone since the DNC rules allocate delegates from all states proportionally and Clinton and Obama will share the remaining pledged delegates.  For the math on this, see this post.

Corzine and Rendell are right in advocating new primaries in Florida and Michigan, but they should have checked their facts more carefully.  Instead of advocating new primaries as a way of avoiding the nomination being decided by the superdelegates, they should have argued the issue solely on the principles that voters in all states should have a voice in nominating the party’s candidate and that only fair elections should count.


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