A specter haunts the Democratic Party, and it is the exclusion of Michigan and Florida delegates from the Democratic Convention.
Both the Republican and the Democratic National Committees have been penalizing states that move their primaries up to January, as Michigan and Florida did.
The DNC says it will only recognize the Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina primaries in January. Michigan and Florida won’t be accepted.
The dispute could affect the election in several ways. First, the Democrats have taken a pledge not to campaign in Michigan and Florida. The Republicans are also penalizing those states, but their candidates can campaign there. This difference may give the Republicans a leg up in Florida in particular.
Second, there is this bombshell:
‘ Democratic candidates John Edwards, Barack Obama, Bill Richardson and Joe Biden have withdrawn their names from the ballot to satisfy Iowa and New Hampshire, which were unhappy Michigan was challenging their leadoff status on the primary calendar. That leaves Hillary Rodham Clinton, Dennis Kucinich, Chris Dodd, Mike Gravel and “uncommitted,” as the choices on the Democratic ballot in Michigan. ‘
Well, the way I read it, that means Hillary takes Michigan. And, if Carl Levin is right, Michigan delegates may ultimately be seated at the convention despite what the DNC now says.
What if the candidates went to the convention without any of them having enough delegates to win the nomination outright? And what if Michigan delegates finally got seated, and they were overwhelmingly Hillary supporters because Obama and Edwards did not run? What if they helped put Hillary over? Wouldn’t that be widely viewed by the party faithful as inherently unfair?
I am worried about this situation. At the level of the presidency, it may be a close race. Michigan and Florida are key states. Michigan has been trending Democrat but that is not set in stone. Florida adds several hundred thousand residents a year, so it won’t be the same state as in 2004 and may be up for grabs. The way this dispute over timing is working out, it may well disadvantage Democrats, and it certainly will disadvantage Obama and Edwards.
And here’s a scenario for you: Obama wins in Iowa. Hillary wins in New Hampshire. Obama wins in Nevada. Hillary wins in South Carolina. But then Hillary wins in Michigan and Florida but they don’t count. Or do they count for public opinion even if not for the Convention? Do they help create an impression that she is winning the tennis match 6-4 going into the February primaries?
Could the issue raise questions about the legitimacy of the party nominees?
I think the Democrats are crazy not to resolve this thing quick through negotiation, rather than just letting the train wreck unfold.