Plan B for Florida and Michigan

I’ve written several posts in this blog advocating that Florida and Michigan should have new primaries or caucuses in the Democratic Presidential race.  Democratic leaders in both states are trying to figure out ways to do this, but an article on MSNBC.com today suggests that legal and logistical problems might prevent this in Florida.  So, this leads me to ask what should be done if one or both states cannot hold new primaries or caucuses.

My Plan B is as follows:

  1. The DNC should refuse to reinstate any superdelegates from either state for the reasons I previously gave here.
  2. The DNC should reinstate 100% of the pledged delegates from each state that manages to hold a new primary or caucus before the June 10 deadline.  The allocation of delegates would be based on the new contests.
  3. The DNC should reinstate 50% of the pledged delegates from each state that does not hold a new contest.  The allocation of delegates would be based on the January primaries that these states held with the following modification:  in Michigan, the 40% of the vote that was “Uncommitted” would be given to Obama on the assumption that he would have gotten most or all of those votes if his name had been on the Michigan ballot.

My plan would satisfy the two principles I laid out in the post I mentioned above, namely that the DNC delegate selection rules should be respected to avoid chaos in future elections and that new contests should be held in Florida and Michigan (if possible) so that voters in those states can have influence on the nomination of the Democratic nominee.  While the DNC stripped these states of all their delegates when it punished them for scheduling early primaries that violated Rule 11.A of the DNC’s Delegate Selection Rules, Rules 20.C.1.a and 20.C.4 only mandated that the DNC strip the states of 50% of their pledged delegates and some specified superdelegates.  The DNC used the discretion it had under Rule 20.C.5 to impose a more severe penalty but presumably still has the discretion to reduce that penalty back to the mandatory penalty or some penalty in between these two extremes.

So, my plan still fully respects the DNC rules.  It also lets the voices of the voters in these states be heard.  While their votes will only count half as much as they could have, this will only happen if their states do not have new contests.  While it would be better if their votes could be counted fully, doing so based on the January primaries would simply not be fair to Senator Obama.  Even allocating 50% of the delegates based on the January primaries is unfair to him, but it is hard to conceive of any solution other than new elections that is fair.

What would the impact of my plan be on the delegate counts if neither state managed to hold new contests? I don’t know exactly how the delegates would be allocated since this would require detailed knowledge about the vote in each congressional district and the delegate allocation rules for these states.  But it is possible to calculate estimates of the pledged delegates that would be allocated based on the vote percentages reported in the original primaries.

Clinton won 49.7% of the vote in the Florida primary while Obama won 33.0%.  Allocating half of Florida’s 185 pledged delegates accordingly would give Clinton 46 delegates and Obama 31, giving her a gain of 15.

Clinton won 55.3% of the vote in the Michigan primary while “Uncommitted” won 40.0%.  Allocating half of Michigan’s 128 pledged delegates accordingly would give Clinton 35 delegates and Obama 26, giving her a gain of 10.

Clinton’s net gain in pledged delegates would therefore be approximately 25 under my plan.  Given that Obama currently has a pledged delegate lead between 150 and 160 , he can probably afford to tolerate a 25 delegate cut in his lead and might agree to do so out of the desire to let the voters in Florida and Michigan have some influence in the nomination process and to make sure they do not harbor resentment towards him in the general election (if he wins the nomination).  He might even do better under my plan than he would if new primaries are held and superdelegates from these states were counted.

Clinton would probably object to this plan since she expects to get more of the superdelegates from these states and would cut Obama’s lead in pledged delegates by 50 if the original primaries were fully counted.  But the chances of that happening are very small, so she might agree to my plan to get some delegates out of these states, especially if one or both of them are unable to schedule new primaries.  Also, even just counting the original January primaries 50% would strengthen her “Big State” argument since she could then claim to have won the legitimized primaries in both states. 

The only potential roadblock to my Plan B is giving Obama the “Uncommitted” vote from Michigan.  But if Clinton agreed to the plan, that should not be problematic.  Of course, if Michigan does hold a new primary, then this issue would disappear.

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3 Responses to “Plan B for Florida and Michigan”

  1. rberlind Says:

    Florida’s Democratic Party announced today that they will not be holding any new primary or caucus this year. It is still possible that Michigan will move forward with a new primary. But the DNC should consider my Plan B for dealing with Florida.

  2. rberlind Says:

    And now the other shoe has dropped. Michigan’s Democratic Party announced today that a revote is now unlikely.

  3. rberlind Says:

    One possible modification to my plan would be to reinstate the superdelegates from Florida and Michigan but give each of them only half a vote. Some superdelegates (e.g., from Democrats Abroad) already get only half a vote, so doing this would be possible.

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