The DNC reached a compromise today (May 31st) on Florida and Michigan. It is fair and prudent. The Clinton camp appears satisfied with 50/50 split in Florida, but unhappy about the resolution in Michigan. From the Clinton camp:

“We strongly object to the Committee’s decision to undercut its own rules in seating Michigan’s delegates without reflecting the votes of the people of Michigan.

The Committee awarded to Senator Obama not only the delegates won by Uncommitted, but four of the delegates won by Senator Clinton. This decision violates the bedrock principles of our democracy and our Party.

We reserve the right to challenge this decision before the Credentials Committee and appeal for a fair allocation of Michigan’s delegates that actually reflect the votes as they were cast.” [emphasis added]

Are we really supposed to believe that Hillary Clinton, after stating publicly that the election in Michigan would not count–an election in which her opponent was not on the ballot–is now in a position to claim that the decision of the DNC has undermined democracy? Does she really believe this? Is she actually outraged?

I believe that there is outrage in Hillary’s Camp, as irrational as it may seem at first. Just listen to some of the reports about what went on at the DNC meeting. And I also believe that Bill and Hillary may actually be outraged. The DNC’s decision results in four more delegates for Obama than Hillary would have awarded him. In terms of the delegate count, four delegates can’t be the source of the outrage. The practical consequences are nil and genuine outrage over principle is suspect. So if there is outrage, what is its source? Here is my hypothesis.

Hillary’s Camp has been playing the metrics game for several months now, inventing new metrics at every turn. But the one that she has grown most attached to is the so-called “popular vote.” The fact that this is mythical is irrelevant to the Clintons. (Any statistician or pollster worth his or her salt will tell you that you can’t combine votes from caucus and primary states, for the former simply have many fewer “voters” involved. It is a classic case of apples and oranges. If you did combine them, the citizens of the caucus states could claim that they were being disenfranchised. Further, the primaries had different rules, some allowed independents to participate, some even allowed Republicans to cross over, while others were solely for Democrats.)

The problem with the DNC’s Michigan decision is that it undermines the plausibility of counting Michigan’s votes in a popular vote total. According to the DNC, giving Obama the “uncommitted” votes is an inadequate solution to the Michigan problem. No one knows for sure how the vote would have gone. So it simply took the request of the Clinton Camp, and the request of the Obama Camp, and split the difference, awarding Obama four “additional” delegates. This is meant to make a statement. It shows that the state’s popular vote is not to be construed as decisive or legitimate, for the delegate count does not match the “popular vote” (which in fact is non-existent since Obama wasn’t on the ballot). The compromise was one over delegates, and the way that the delegates were handled signaled that Michigan’s popular vote should not be counted.

The outrage from the Clinton Camp is real, but to be more exact, it is really fury at the DNC for undermining its case about the popular vote. It is not clear how she wants to use the latter at this point, but whether it is for posterity, for the VP slot, or for her next run for the presidency, the popular vote total remains very important to the Clintons. The problem, however, is obvious. By insisting on this false metric, they are undermining Obama. They are making it appear that she somehow won the election, as did Gore, and then had it taken away from her by an unfair system. But the analogy to Florida in 2000 is specious. Hillary and her Camp will have to take responsibility for any damage done to Obama’s chances by continuing to “strongly object” to the DNC’s reasonable compromise.

3 thoughts

  1. “Are we really supposed to believe that Hillary Clinton, after stating publicly that the election in Michigan would not count–an election in which her opponent was not on the ballot–is now in a position to claim that the decision of the DNC has undermined democracy?”

    Please remember, Obama WAS on the ballot in Michigan and withdrew his name. Tough beans. And yes, a person can have a change of heart once realizing the enormous value of her decision to remain in a democratic process brought to her camp valuable numbers in the popular vote.

    The question I would ask is…WHY did Obama withdraw his name? Certainly not because he wanted to appear to be following the rules? He would have hurt no one to have his name remain.

    In the long run, this whole mess with the Democrats is somehow strangely indicative of what may be a very polarizing presidential election season for the whole country.

    One more thing….stock up on the ibuprofin!

  2. Yesterday DNC said to Floridians: you are only a half people. And today we respond to DNC: go to hell, we then chose McCain!

  3. Here are a couple reasons why we should be outraged:

    Obama was awarded delegates that Hillary earned with VOTES.

    Also, on a “Delegate Calculus” level, that made her pledged delegate deficit 103, instead of 99. She could have said I’m less than 100 pledged delegates from Obama, and leading by 300,000 popular votes. Al Gore, anyone?

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