Florida Says No to Revote, Michigan ConfusedWith the news yesterday that Florida is putting the kibosh on a Democratic-primary revote, the state has solidified its reputation as the place where votes go to die. A statement from Florida’s Democratic chairwoman, Karen Thurman, read, “We researched every potential alternative process — from caucuses to county conventions to mail-in elections — but no plan could come anywhere close to being viable in Florida.” Meanwhile, Michigan Democrats are also trying to make some kind of revote possible, but the logistics are complicated and the candidates themselves are dubious. Hillary Clinton would like to seat the delegates from the original vote even though Barack Obama wasn’t even on the ballot. And Obama doesn’t need the risk of losing Michigan while actually on the ballot or the few extra delegates he could gain from winning. Pundits — dissect!
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But Will the Endless Race Tear the Party Apart?
Woooo! Hillary won! Things are going to be exciting now. She’s back in it to win it. Or is she? As the confetti settles from last night, pundits have begun repeating their long-practiced warnings: In order to really capture the nomination, Hillary still has to pull some political moves that will tear the Democratic party asunder. Whether it’s a continued onslaught of attack ads, a bid to seat Michigan and Florida delegates, or a last-minute coup of the election by superdelegates, many are still afraid of what Clinton’s actions might mean for the party base.
• Jonathan Alter does the math using Slate’s Delegate Calculator (predicting generous Clinton victories), and still thinks she can’t win without superdelegates, even if she gets a rerun in Michigan and Florida. [Newsweek]
• Charles Hurt, who called Hill the “strife of the party,” warns that if superdelegates actually do give her the nomination despite overwhelming demand for Obama, “many of his supporters — including the party’s crucial bloc of black voters — will desert the party.” [NYP]
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Hillary Eyes Obama’s Pledged DelegatesForget the battle over superdelegates; the Clinton campaign has decided to turn regular delegates into wild cards. Though the handful of citizens that you vote for on primary day are “pledged” to a candidate, they are not bound to vote for that candidate at the convention. “Pledged delegates are not really pledged at all, not even on the first ballot,” writes Roger Simon on Politico.com. “This has been an open secret in the party for years, but it has never really mattered because there has almost always been a clear victor by the time the convention convened.” A senior Clinton campaign official confirmed to him that “as we get closer to the convention, if it is a stalemate, everybody will be going after everybody’s delegates All the rules will be going out the window.” This is going to sound baaaaad to voters who went through the trouble of pulling the lever for each delegate under their chosen candidate’s name, thinking that they were selecting people who would automatically help his or her cause. Also, after Hillary’s well-publicized efforts to seat delegates from Michigan and Florida (where she won handily) at the convention even though they were punished by the DNC, this is going to come off as particularly underhanded. The Clinton official who says that “everybody will be going after everybody’s delegates” may be correct. But the fact that we’re hearing about Clinton considering it first is going to reflect poorly on her. It just sounds like she’s playing dirty. This is where Barack Obama’s high-school-basketball years are coming in to his advantage. As anyone who has ever played ball knows, if you’re going to steal the ball by fouling an opposing player, you don’t announce it to the refs before you do it.
Clinton Targets Pledged Delegates [Politico]
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One Superdelegate Wavers, America Holds Its BreathThere are nearly 800 superdelegates voting in the Democratic primary, and literally hundreds of them are still undecided. There’s a lot of time before they’ll have to decide, too. So the fact that one of them has possibly switched his position shouldn’t really be a big deal, right? Ha! Don’t be ridiculous. We know by now that everything in this campaign is a big deal. So when word broke last night that Representative John Lewis (D-Georgia) either defected or is considering defecting, from the Clinton camp to the Obama camp, we knew there was a pundit tizzy in the making. Lewis is a well-known civil-rights leader and possibly Clinton’s most prominent African-American supporter. Just the fact that this is happening may be a sign that some of those early Clinton backers, especially African-Americans, are having a change of heart. Or it may just mean that one dude changed his mind. Luckily for you, there are plenty of people to decide what it means, so you don’t have to.
• Jeff Zeleny and Patrick Healy report that Representative Lewis said he could “‘never, ever do anything to reverse the action’ of the voters of his district, who overwhelmingly supported Mr. Obama.” Even if he hasn’t officially endorses yet, they write he could do so within days. [NYT]
• Mark Halperin thinks that if Representative Lewis defects to Obama, Clinton’s odds of winning the nomination will be cut in half. [Page/Time]
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Surprise! The Democratic Primary Might Still Be About White MenHey everybody, guess what? Remember how you thought this Democratic primary race was historic because it was all about choosing between a woman and a black man? And the real contest was over winning the female, black, and Hispanic votes? What a refreshing change you thought it was! But of course, you, like all of us, are a huge chump, because it’s still white men who will probably be choosing the Democratic candidate. See, roughly half of the superdelegates are white men. According to Politico.com, that puts more than 350 delegate votes in the hands of Establishment honkies. “It’s still the old guard, the white men. They always want to control the outcome,” said an anonymous superdelegate, who is still hopeful that they’ll split the vote among themselves. In a race where the current delegate count has a split of less than 100, a bloc of 350 could decide the outcome. Right now at least 81 of the white men are for Clinton, and 63 are for Obama, which roughly represents the divide between all of the pledged delegates so far. Still, when so much attention is being put on the power of these 796 unaffiliated voters, any whiff of unfairness is sure to raise a stink. It also raises the first opportunity for us to ask our boss if it’s okay for us to use the word “honky.”
White men hold superdelegate power balance [Politico]
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Should Superdelegates Follow the ‘Will of the People’? Or, Uh, Not?
Whether you think superdelegates are as useless as a third nipple or a great way to get the party elite more involved in the nomination process, you have to at least admit they’ve made for very interesting political discussion. And despite a certain candidate’s momentum, said superdelegates are going to have to help decide this thing. Obama says the superdelegates should follow the “will of the people” (a phrase that will be used seven times in this post) by supporting whoever has more pledged delegates; Clinton maintains that the superdelegates should do whatever they think is best. Both positions, of course, reflect where each camp expects to stand after the last primary votes are tallied on June 7, in Puerto Rico. But like a lot of things in this race, the debate over superdelegates isn’t quite so simple. Plus, a bonus round: Should the regular Florida and Michigan delegates be seated?
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New York’s Superdelegates: Who Are They, and What Are They Going to Do?Man, the election is all about the superdelegates these days, huh? As Obama surges into the Potomac primary, the press remains unwilling to start making predictions about a serious downturn in Hillary’s chances. They’ve learned their lesson from New Hampshire, after all: There’s no telling what will happen in this race. Instead, the media is focusing on getting hysterical about superdelegates, and the possibility that the influence of those 796 unpledged party officials will swing the primary results away from the will of the voting public. But who are New York’s superdelegates? Who are these people who have the power to, well, take power away from us? They include Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Chuck Schumer, Eliot Spitzer, our 23 Democratic congressmen, and Democratic National Committee officials like Randi Weingarten. Many of the above have worked extensively with Hillary Clinton since she was elected senator and are likely to swing her way. Today, the Sun spoke with Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, who is one of our Clinton supporters. “I’ll be with Hillary to the end,” said Velazquez, when asked about critics of the superdelegate system who would like it to more accurately reflect the will of the people.
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Hillary Adapts to the Changes in the GameYesterday, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, Patti Solis Doyle, stepped down. Doyle, long Hillary’s right-hand woman, said she hadn’t expected the primary to run on so long and wanted to get out of the race for personal reasons. She was replaced by Maggie Williams, a former aide to Bill Clinton when he was president and another longtime ally of Hillary’s. Williams, according to the Daily News, is a tough fighter who has engaged in many legal battles on behalf of the Clintons. She’s also been used by the couple in the past to boost their likability with African-Americans. The turnover came swiftly on the heels of four Obama wins over the weekend, in primaries in Maine, Washington state, Nebraska, and Louisiana. Obama now holds a small delegate lead. The appointment of Williams seems to indicate that Hillary is in fighting mode again, and we remember how that went last month. But according to The Wall Street Journal, it might not be the only big shift in her team and strategy. Harold Ickes, who has been a longtime Clinton helper, might also get an “expanded role.”
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In 2008 Primary Race, Delegates Take the LeadAs we move out of last night’s Republican primary in New Hampshire, and the fatigued Democratic debate, one thing has become clear: We don’t know what’s going to happen. Pollsters and pundits alike don’t understand the dynamics of the race and can’t seem to predict how the leads in either race will shift as we continue from state to state. But something interesting (or dreadful, depending on how you view it) is emerging. This year’s contest, it seems, is soon going to become all about the delegates.
Sure, every national election is “all about the delegates,” technically. But as we enter the South Carolina primary, we’re hearing more and more about the importance of delegate-oriented campaign planning and how because of the complicated system that many voters don’t understand, strategies might dramatically shift in the coming weeks.
• “I’m not sure it’s about the bump [after Michigan],” Romney told reporters this morning. “It’s about putting together delegates.” Romney, despite having Michigan as his first win, is leading with 42 delegates amassed so far. [Detroit Free Press, AP]