Obama Softening on Florida?

Now that Barack Obama has all but secured the Democratic nomination, his campaign appears to be softening a bit when it comes to Michigan and Florida.

Today, the Michigan Democratic Party settled on its final proposal for divvying up the state’s delegates: Clinton gets 69 delegates, Obama gets 59. (That’s about halfway between a 50-50 split and the state’s Jan. 15 votes, which would have given Clinton 73 and Obama—or, rather, “Uncommitted”—55.) The Obama camp’s reaction? “It is clear results in January won’t be used to allocate delegates, and we agree with that decision,” said spokesman Bill Burton. Not quite a full endorsement of the plan, but it’s a far cry from what they could say, given that Obama wasn’t on the ballot there.

Florida, meanwhile, has not finalized a plan to seat the delegates—the “plan” is still to seat them all. But they know that’s not realistic. More likely, the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee, which meets on May 31, will approve a compromise deal. (Or at least to settle on a plan to submit to the Credentials Committee in June.) Last week, one member of the committee, California Rep. Garry Shay, predicted that Florida will be seated based on the January results, with each delegate getting half a vote. That seems likely, if only because the DNC gets to punish Florida for violating the rules without alienating Florida Democrats for all time.

In this case, too, it looks like the Obama camp is coming around. “I think they’ve loosened up a lot,” said a Democratic insider familiar with the seating process. “They went from suggesting 50-50 to now saying we can work something out. It doesn’t matter to them anymore. They’re looking toward the general election, and that’s far more important.”

In other words, they know they’ve already won. Obama reportedly plans to declare victory on May 20, when he’s all but guaranteed to secure a majority of pledged delegates. He currently leads by 166 pledged delegates, so losing 10 of them to Clinton in Michigan and 40 in Florida (a proportional delegate split would be 111-74) wouldn’t make him vulnerable. By May 20, it won’t matter whether or not Florida and Michigan are seated—Hillary isn’t catching up.