By Scott Cavanagh
One of the main topics of conversation on Sunday's political gabfests was the decision of both Florida and Michigan to forgo any kind of re-voting procedures to determine true winners for their states' controversial early primaries. While representatives of the Hillary Clinton campaign complained that the move discounts the will of hundreds of thousands of key Democratic primary voters, spokespeople for the Barack Obama campaign expressed satisfaction with the developments.
As many of you are probably aware, the Democratic Party bosses in the two states in question decided last year to move-up the dates of their contests to earlier in the nominating process than had been previously planned. This infuriated the national party honchos, who punished the renegade states by declaring their early primaries illegitimate and advising the presidential contenders to avoid campaigning there. Despite the sanctions, both states forged ahead, with Michigan holding it's primary January 17 and Florida following suit on January 30. Early front-runner Clinton's "victories" in those two controversial contests appeared to be of little concern at the time, but the rise of Obama and the later insinuation by some of the Clinton people that those results should count, created a firestorm of controversy that has not been assuaged by the decision not to re-vote.
It's only sensible that the Obama people would not want the results of the original contests to count (the senator was not even on the ballot in Michigan, although both were on in Florida), however their glee over the fact that two of the most important states in the union--ones with large electoral vote counts--will now have no say in determining the party's nominee, seems to fly in the face of their continued claims that the "will of the people" should supersede party politics.
It seems to me quite ironic and a bit hypocritical that the same Obama supporters who criticize Clinton for continuing her campaign and even considering using her super delegate advantage to gain the nomination at a brokered convention (which is her established right to do)--because it would replace the popular vote with the backroom decision of a few party big-wigs, have no problem with a few other officials disenfranchising the entire voting population of two key states, if it benefits their candidate.
We're not talking about just any states here. This is Michigan and... FLORIDA!! Remember Florida? Think those voters might have an effect on the outcome in November? If the Obama supporters are so concerned with the will of the people, and are so certain that that will lies with them, then why applaud the Florida and Michigan decisions? Could it be that they know their candidate lost both states the first time and don't want it to happen again? Could it be that he no longer has the wind at his back and doesn't want to face a possible Pennsylvania/Florida/Michigan train wreck?
Obama and his supporters' continual calls for Hillary to withdraw from the race are also puzzling. Last time I checked with President Gore, we still chose our president through the Electoral College, and we decided contested nominations through super delegates. These are the entrenched and traditional rules of the party and the nation, as much as the Obama supporters would like it to be otherwise.
The arrogance of a campaign that cannot mathematically lock-up the nomination before the convention and trails in super delegates, to continually call for it's opponent to concede because it's candidate might get to the convention with a slim lead in the popular vote--without Michigan and Florida no less--is just ridiculous and should cease.
Electoral votes, total votes and swing states--those are what win presidential elections--not number of small states won. So far, the only major electoral prizes Obama has captured outside of his home state of Illinois are four deeply conservative southern states that no Democrat has won in years (I'll leave it to you to decide whether the large percentage of African-American primary voters in those states played a major role in those victories or not). Meanwhile, Hillary has won the electoral and population behemoths of California, New York, New Jersey and Texas; won the huge and vital key state of Ohio and leads every poll in the last major swing state of Pennsylvania. There is no reason to believe she would not win re-votes in Florida and Michigan (Florida has the oldest voting population in the country and voted for her overwhelmingly with Obama on the ballot; while Michigan's population and demographics are mirror images of Ohio and Pennsylvania).
Florida and Michigan need to hold late national-party-funded primaries--the results are too important. Obama wins in those states would make it impossible for Hillary to garner enough super delegate support to block his nomination and broker the convention. Clinton victories, particularly if buffeted by a win in Pennsylvania, would potentially swing everything in her favor. Without real results from these states, Obama will have no claim to the true overall delegate lead, while still trailing in the super delegate count--pretty much forcing Clinton's hand and sending the nomination to those very super delegates.
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Tuesday, March 25, 2008
By Scott Cavanagh