Now, the Credentials Committee will have some say in this, but...
Obama's decision to call for a full seating of the delegates from Florida and Michigan has opened up a Pandora's box. Yes, it was clever of his campaign to come out with this now, after Hillary Clinton had been out of the spotlight for nearly two months. For delegates to go against two months of effort on behalf of Obama as the presumptive nominee and opt for Clinton, would be tantamount to ceding the election to McCain. Timing-wise then, it was a good move to make the call now (if he was going to do it at all). At this point, the intra-party tension has been sufficiently minimized, so that it is only likely to elicit a response from the most vocal Clinton supporters/Obama detractors.
To me though, that isn't real issue here. And, as is often the case with the Democratic Party, rule changes lead to some discernible differences, but also leave them vulnerable to any number of unforeseen, unintended consequences. If the Credentials Committee gives the green light to Obama's wishes for full voting rights for Florida and Michigan at the convention later this month, then states wanting to challenge Iowa and New Hampshire's first in the nation caucus and primary status in 2012 are going to be given a real morale boost.
Said one fictitious state legisltor:
"Delegates, schmelagates. If the sanctions don't mean anything anyway, let's move our primary way up so that we at least have some influence over who the presidential nominee is. The convention is only a PR extravaganza anyway. The delegates there only rubber stamp the decision made in the primaries; the early primaries."
And that's the catch here. This opens the door to any number of challenges to Iowa and New Hampshire. The Credentials Committee, then, can seat those delegates with full (not half) votes, but they had better hope that the Rules and Bylaws Committee does something at the convention to address 2012 and beyond (and they will. We just don't have any idea of to what extent they'll do something.). Either that, or rely on the GOP to debate the Ohio Plan at their convention or hope the federal government intervenes. Otherwise, states are going to move into the down-time between cycles -- when the frontloading decisions are made -- with an ability to move with impunity.
If Obama wins in November, this is a moot point.
...unless things go badly and he is challenged in the primaries in 2012 (Could Clinton/Obama II be like Carter and Kennedy in 1980?).
If McCain wins, 2012 could be ugly for the Democratic Party in terms of how it will deal with states which will be tempted more than ever to hold a primary of caucus ahead of the earliest point that the party will allow (currently the first Tuesday in February).
So sure, Florida and Michigan matter to the Democrats' fortunes in 2008, but are they thinking ahead to 2012 and beyond? And while we're on the subject, is unity between those two states and the Democratic nominee a real problem now? Michigan is tight in the poll, but still favors Obama. And Florida is trending in the direction of the Illinois senator. What is gained from giving these delegates their full voice and is that really going to turn the tide in either state? Yes, I realize there is a sense of fairness and democracy here, but I'm talking about this in terms of how this affects the party's nominee in the election. Does that gain outweigh the potential headache 2012 frontloaders are going to provide? That is the question. Apparently it does.
The Electoral College Map (8/3/08)
So, Who's Going to Win This Race? The Forecasts are Starting to Come In
VP Announcement Timing