Saturday, May 31, 2008

[Updated 6/1 AM] Watching the Rules and Bylaws Committee!

Today, the Democratic Party's Rules and Bylaws Committee (RBC) met in Washington, DC to discuss delegate allocation for the Florida and Michigan primaries. At the end, the RBC unanimously decided to penalize Florida only 50% of their vote, compared to the 100% penalty imposed in 2007. This applies to all delegates, pledged and unpledged. The delegates will be allocated based on the January primary.
As for Michigan, the RBC passed a motion (by 19-8, or over 2/3 the RBC size) proposed by Mame Reiley (VA), a Clinton supporter, to also halve the Michigan delegates' votes, keeping the delegation the same size (128 pledged delegates). But the delegates will be divided 69-59 in favor of Senator Clinton - as suggested by Senator Carl Levin on behalf of the Michigan Democratic Party, and opposed to the 64-64 split proposed by the Obama campaign and the 73 Clinton, 55 uncommitted ("up-for-grabs") take of the Clinton campaign.
I am glad the 50% penalty was imposed; there must be some sanction for violating the rules. However, I didn't like the RBC saying the Michigan delegates should be divided 69-59; the RBC probably should keep out of delegate division, and leave that to the State Democratic Party. But seeing this was the position of the Michigan Democratic Party, I suppose I am just splitting hairs.

Bottom line - Senator Clinton gains a total of 87 delegate-votes (52.5 FL + 34.5 MI), while Senator Obama gets 63 delegate-votes (33.5 FL + 29.5 MI). Senator Edwards gets 6.5 delegate-votes out of FL (DCW post). Leaving out the Edwards delegates (which likely will go to Senator Obama), this means Senator Clinton gains 24 delegate-votes. Definitely ain't closing the 150+ pledged delegate gap by much.

Since the solutions proposed were very close to what the FL and MI Democratic Parties proposed (with perhaps the exception of superdelegates getting only 0.5 vote each and the MI delegation's vote halved), hopefully this means there is no challenge or appeal to the full Democratic Convention, and the Democratic Presidential nominee will be known within the next week. And presumably, that will be Senator Barack Obama.


UPDATE 6/1 AM: Dana Milbank, echoing Harold Ickes and Clinton supporters, says: "The panel went on, by a vote of 19 to 8, to give Michigan half of its votes -- and to give Obama the gift of delegates that the voters of the state had not given him."
I suppose Ickes and the Clinton camp are enraged that Clinton did not get 73 delegates and the chance to go after 55 "uncommitted" delegates, which would have helped them close the delegate gap. Never mind that the 55 were AGAINST Clinton. Or, apparently, that 30,000 write-in ballots were discarded (Michigan does not recognize write-ins; via DCW). And the uncommitted and write-ins were probably almost all for Obama (mostly) and Edwards, and John Edwards says the "uncommitted" should go to Obama.
Yeah, well - the RBC ruling also gave Senator Clinton 69 delegates she had not won, because the primary did not count. As Chuck Todd suggests, the Obama camp had the votes for a 50-50 MI split, but agreed to a 69-59 compromise to gain a wider majority of the RBC.
Here's some interesting analysis by fivethirtyeight's Poblano, aka Nate Silver, on Michigan - his analysis of the exit polls suggest a 69-59 MI split is fair, while his demographics-based model (which has had some success) says Obama might have even won Michigan.

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