What will the Democrats do with Florida and Michigan and their delegates? That is the question. If neither Clinton nor Obama wins one on their rival's turf, then the DNC's decision on Florida and Michigan's delegates becomes crucial to deciding the margins in both the delegate and popular vote counts. And that decision comes down to something of a battle between the Rules and Bylaws Committee and the Credentials Committee.
Who are the members of these committees and who/what do they support? As of now, the Rules and Bylaws Committee has jurisdiction over this issue. The folks on that committee appear to favor Clinton over Obama (in terms of superdelegates supporting each). And while that potentially bodes well for Clinton, the members of the committee have several other things to consider outside of their own personal preferences.
- First of all, as Thomas Edsall mentions in his Huffington Post piece, the Rules and Bylaws Committee members would have to deal with the perception that they have overturned the will of the people if they were to rule that Florida and Michigan should be counted.
- Secondly, they have to deal with the inevitable challenge of the decision by the Obama campaign to the Credentials Committee.
- Finally, and perhaps this should be first, the members of the R&B would have to confront the idea of going back on a penalty that they initiated.
[Of course, nothing regarding Florida or Michigan will be decided without intense consultation between the two candidates and the party. Obama won't budge if the plan means he loses the delegate or popular vote lead. And Clinton won't move from her position that they should be counted in some way. If there is a way to avoid this being a zero-sum game, neither the party nor the candidates have come up with it yet.]
What happens if we run the gauntlet on this decision, though? ...if the Rules and Bylaws Committee opts to count Florida and Michigan and as a result hands the nomination over to Clinton, for the time being? Well, if the R&B fails to act prior to the end of June, the jurisdiction on the matter goes over to the Credentials Committee anyway. But let's assume that R&B does, in fact, act to fully include Florida and Michigan. The decision on the nomination then goes from one committee to the next. And the Credentials Committee seems to lean in Obama's direction (based on the results of the 2008 primaries and caucuses so far and the Dean 25--those members appointed by the current DNC chair, Howard Dean.).
Does the appeal then reverse the reversal? Possibly. But that probably wouldn't be the final word. That's right, the floor fight we all envisioned last year as the least likely contingency plan for the nomination decision, could come to pass. And in that event, all the divisiveness, doomsday scenarios laid out by Howard Dean, Joe Andrew and some of the other party elites would come into play. All the while John McCain gets to practice saying his name with President in front of it.
It should be an interesting and well-covered meeting of the R&B on May 31.
...if Indiana and North Carolina go the way of the current polls.
Obama's Caucus Strategy
7! 7 Votes in Guam!
"We'll know it when we see it."