We are now virtually guaranteed to have a floor fight at the convention, since no Michigan revote will take place:
Senate Democrats emerged from a closed-door caucus this morning and proclaimed that a fledging idea floated by top Michigan Democrats to create a special June 3 primary election is all but dead.
"The votes aren't there to do it," said Sen. Buzz Thomas (D-Detroit), the co-chair of the Barack Obama campaign in Michigan
Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, a supporter of Hillary Clinton, also conceded the chances of a June 3 redo of the Democratic presidential primary were slim. She stopped short of declaring it dead, saying instead that it was "on life support" and in need of CPR.
The Legislature would need to approve a bill by a two-third vote to put in place a June 3 special primary that would replace the results of the Jan. 15 presidential primary, which the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is not recognizing because the early date violated national party rules.
Barring a miraculous deal on Michigan that both the Clinton and Obama campaigns agree to, the failure to secure a revote in Michigan all but guarantees that the nomination campaign will head straight through to the convention. Consider the current delegate count:
Democratic Nomination Campaign Delegate Projection
Notes: State by state pledged delegate details in the extended entry. Superdelegate totals are from Democratic Convention Watch, although I separate add-ons from supers for the sake of clarity. The schedule for add-on delegates can be found here. For the add-ons, I am projecting a split in Missouri, a Clinton win in New Hampshire, and Obama wins in Nevada and Texas. The Michigan and Florida delegations include pledged, add-on, and superdelegates.
According to Total 3, Obama needs 471.5 of the 875 remaining delegates, or 53.9%, in order to reach the magic number. Clinton needs even more, 489.5 of 875, or 56.0%. Both scenarios are extremely unlikely. What is likely is that the Clinton campaign will push for Michigan and Florida to be seated as is, and use the Michigan and Florida delegations to argue that Obama has not yet clinched the nomination. After June 3rd, they will take that argument to the credentials committee, which gains authority over the matter on Jnne 11th. From that point, the credentials committee will probably deny the Clinton's campaign's argument to seat both delegations as is, since Obama will probably control the majority of seats on the committee. The next step will be for the Clinton faction on the committee to file a minority report on the delegations, which will then be referred to the full convention. The full floor vote on the Michigan and Florida delegations will then be a good proxy to determine who will win the nomination on the first ballot.
And that is what the convention fight of 2008 will probably look like. Obama will still probably win, since he leads by 18 delegates even with both Michigan and Florida included, by a much larger amount without either delegation included, and since a significant majority of the undecided Michigan delegates will probably vote for him. However, this will probably make the task of defeating John McCain much more difficult. The party simply won't have as long of a time to unify after the nomination fight, and quite a few people are going to be extremely upset no matter who ends up winning. After a campaign like this, we need more time to unify than usual, but instead we will have much less. Also, the media surrounding Clinton and Obama will focus on the nomination campaign, not on any general election messaging in which they will engage. One positive could be that after June 3rd, both the Clinton and Obama campaigns will probably start spending the vast majority of their money on the general election. This could actually cause McCain to face an avalanche of resources that no single candidate would be able to muster against him.
I would say that this means we should start focusing our attention in the blogosphere on attacking John McCain, but since I'm not in the mood to joust at windmills right now, I won't. Still, there is a huge danger if we, the activists, remain almost exclusively focused on the Clinton vs. Obama campaign all the way through late August. There are a lot of other campaigns, including the general election for President, that also need our attention well before August 25th.
Also, I would yell at the parties responsible for this one, but in truth virtually everyone is to blame. Michigan Democratic leaders were stupid to move up their primary so far, since clearly holding an early contest is not the only way to have influence on the campaign. The DNC probably should have just stripped half of the delegates, not all of them, especially since New Hampshire was not punished for changing their primary date. The Clinton campaign should not be pushing to seat such an insane delegation from Michigan which, if seated, which would the be worst abrogation of democracy in this entire nomination campaign. The Obama campaign should not have taken their name off the ballot in the state, since they suffered no hit from Clinton's "victory" in Florida. If there was ever a case in point where virtually the entire range of the Democratic leadership let the party down, this is it. After right years of Bush and a rising progressive tide in America, there was almost no way to blow this presidential election. However, with this galactic screw-up in Michigan, we are now operating with a pretty thin margin of error.
Update: Just got an email from the DNC:
New Hampshire wasn't punished for moving up because the Rules and Bylaws Committee voted to allow NH, IA, NV and SC to move their primary dates after Florida and Michigan moved their primaries forward. So that the was the reason there was no punishment. The RBC members felt that because they (the 4 states) had been granted early state status they should be allowed to move their primary based on FL and MI's decision.
I can live with that. To be honest, of the four groups I listed above, the DNC always seemed the least responsible for causing this mess.