Last week we surveyed the proposed scenarios for fixing the Michigan/Florida mess. Two of the four solutions involved costly Florida revotes. But now the chairman of the state Democratic Party tells us they’ve decided not to hold a revote. With that, the Florida Dems have simultaneously screwed Hillary Clinton and guaranteed their own irrelevance. Here’s how.
Clinton’s situation is dire. She’s now trailing Obama by about 159 pledged delegates, according to NBC. Even if she scores a big win in Pennsylvania—say it nets her an extremely generous 40 delegates —that’s still not going to be enough to catch up. (Obligatory Slate Delegate Calculator plug .) Her candidacy therefore rests on whether she can persuade superdelegates to overturn Obama’s pledged-delegate lead. But since Feb. 5, Obama has won 47 superdelegates, and Clinton has lost seven. The chances that superdelegates will have an epiphany and swing to Clinton seem awfully low. Her one trump card, however, was the prospect of winning the popular vote. If Florida had revoted and she won a huge victory that propelled her past Obama in the popular vote—itself a skewed number —she might have persuaded superdelegates to swing her way. (Obama leads by roughly 700,000 in the popular vote, but that would have dropped to about 400,000 with Florida’s Jan. 29 results factored in, according to Real Clear Politics.) But now a popular-vote victory is as far out of reach for her as Obama’s pledged-delegate lead.
Meanwhile, Florida has left itself only a handful of scenarios, all unsatisfying: 1) Split the pledged delegates 50-50, 2) Allocate the delegates proportionally based on the Jan. 29 th vote, or 3) Allocate them proportionally but halve the number, à la the GOP. In each these scenarios, Florida doesn’t really matter—at least not in any way but a symbolic one. In the first case, the 50-50 split won’t affect the pledged-delegate gap, which means those pledged delegates might as well not be there. In the last two cases, the delegates will be seated at the convention only if Obama, who now controls the convention’s credentials committee , allows them. And he’ll allow them only if he’s far enough ahead that their votes won’t make up the difference. So the chances are that Florida will attend the convention, but only because including its delegates is no longer a threat to Obama.
Maybe that’s why the Obama campaign was comfortable issuing this statement late today: “We hope that all parties can agree on a fair seating of the Florida delegates so that Florida can participate in the Democratic Convention.”
Clinton’s campaign, for its part, is understandably irked: “Today’s announcement brings us no closer to counting the votes of the nearly 1.7 million people who voted in January. We hope the Obama campaign shares our belief that Florida’s voters must be counted and cannot be disenfranchised.” Ah, the “D” word. Expect to hear a lot more of that in the coming weeks.