The Florida and Michigan do-over

(The hive mind searches for some organizing principles. - promoted by Bob)

Seems like it is inevitable. Florida would have 185 delegates at stake and

Michigan would have 128 delgates at stake.

Apparently, the Governor of Florida has offered to pay for the do-over there and Howard Dean supports it. I am wondering if this is an issue that all BMG posters and readers can agree on so here is a poll:  

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  1. An interesting role reversal

    Clinton's position has been that there shouldn't be a do-over and the results of the uncontested primaries should stand.  Now she appears to want do-overs, because her only possible path to the nomination is to somehow demonstrate that Obama is a spent electoral force so that the superdelegates will decide that she is the stronger potential nominee against McCain.  If she could score big wins three large states under the current circumstances, with Obama vigorously contesting them, her case would be much stronger than if she just won PA.

    It almost makes you wonder whether Obama would be better off agreeing to seat the FL and MI delegates from the uncontested primaries rather than risk a "clean" defeat.  (The ideal situation for him would be no FL and MI delegations at all, but it would be hard morally and practically to argue against the validity of a do-over.)  I don't think conceding would help him -- it would (rightly) be viewed as his backing down from a fight and add to whatever case HRC was able to make against him to the superdelegates.

    Clinton's attacks really do deserve and answer -- Obama needs to counter the inexperience charge with more than "your experience is no good because you voted for the war".  The first line is "McCain is very experienced and very wrong with respect to foreign policy" but Obama needs to make a better case that what he knows and how he thinks about foreign policy is what the country needs.  I hope he can do this.

  2. Get them on the ballot, and have the people vote...

    I have no issues with that.  Every person should have their say, and they screwed it up the first time.  Let's not disenfranchise voters.  Hey, both MI and FL will get their wish, everyone will be looking at them during their primary.  Obama could win MI, I wouldn't give both to Hillary.  

  3. I agree

    Though I wonder how the details will work out.

    When would the primaries be...by getting to decide when, FL and MI would gain what they were looking for when they moved up the primaries in the first place -- an outsized influence. In any case, the primaries should be sooner rather than later in order to prevent the dragging out of this campaign...how long does it take for states to prepare for a primary?

    Will people simply be confused about the second primary and not vote a second time around? There's enough time to educate the voters about what is going on, but that will take money and time.

    Speaking of money, primary elections ARE pretty expensive (printing ballots, paying workers, etc.) so the funding source has to be there. Gov. Crist's offer is helpful, but are there any indication about what MI will do (I think if one state holds a do-over primary, the other should as well).

    Aside from these solvable concerns, however, I think this needs to happen, and will be a net benefit for the Democrats in general because it gives them another exclusive bite at two key states and prevents shutting them out of the process. It also might help Democrats finally get this race over with (though, of course, it might also just confuse it further...).

    • A late primary is *not* on oversized influence

      In fact, it's the smallest influence.

      Look -- the number of delegates is otherwise fixed.  Just because you say so last doesn't mean that your say-so is bigger.  Think of it this way: the ballots are open from 7am to 8pm.  Is the person who votes at 7:30 pm more influential because the vote came later in the day?  Of course not.

      Going early helps set the tone for later -- big wins early present the image that the winning candidate is invincible.  If the candidate's opponents drop out because of that, than the early states had bigger influence than their number of delegates.

      But the last state to go... no more influence than it's delegates.  Sure, everybody will be paying attention, and both candidates will give it all they've got.  But, it's not like BHO or HRC was relaxing by the pool in early March since TX-OH-RI-VT wasn't the last or the first contest.

      Florida and Michigan may get more attention from the rest of the world, but they won't have any more influence.

      • Influence

        You make some good points, but I disagree -- I do think MI and FL, if they have do-overs, WILL have an influence beyond simply the delegates. This will be especially true if they position their primaries before PA (if this is even possible now), but true either way.

        This is because the nomination race goes beyond simply the delegates and gets directly into politics. If Clinton can win FL and MI, the argument to the remaining superdelegates that her winning the big states means she is best suited to be the nominee, even if she's still behind in delegates. It's true that this might still be the case if both states had voted on Super Tuesday, but the key here is the race is now a tie, or close to it. FL and MI can have a primary in the context of a tie, which makes them more important and influential.

        It's like a baseball game. The plays that happen in innings 1-8 often decide the game, but if the game is tied going into the 9th, every play is more important and influential than what came before because "it's a whole new ballgame" at that point. Certainly PA has more influence now than it would if they had been on Super Tuesday, because now we know it's a tie going into the voting there. How Clinton or Obama perform in PA and FL/MI (esp. if they vote in April) may very well decide the primary election by breaking the tie, not just in delegate count but in getting the superdelegates to move in a certain direction. That indicates a particularly important influence for those states, and something both campaigns would certainly recognize.

        • I feel you,

          and I dig the supah-delegate argument, in terms of momentum.  I don't buy the "big states" argument, since that argument would be just as solid vis-a-vis FL if the election happened in January or July.

          As for the baseball analogy, the first 8 innings matter more.  Don't believe me?  Check out the salaries of the highest paid 50 starting pitchers, and compare it to the highest paid 50 relief pitchers.

          The early states matter because they set the trend.  The super-fat states matter because that day has a huge chance of deciding the election.  The states at the end matter because if it's still close, they're perceived as king makers, and all the states in between matter because for about a week, they're the most important state in the union politically.

          Which ones don't matter?

        • The point of the rule

          was to neutralize the influence of voting early. Not to otherwise "punish" anyone.

          A do-over certainly does that!--by wiping out the (illegal) first vote. And it's expensive, so in four years nobody is going to say, let's do what Florida did and break the rules so that if we need to we can have a do-over that might be influential!

        • Do-over before Pennsylvania is NOT possible

          Certainly not in Florida. Regarding Gov. Crist, I don't think the governor has the unilateral power to decide to hold a statewide election do-over for an election that has already been held in accordance with state law. Florida is facing a huge budget shortfall and still has a solid Republican majority in the legislature, revenue is expected to go down even more as the property tax amendment takes effect, so the likelihood of state funds being allocated to help out the Democratic party is slim to none so far as I can see. Don't believe Charlie--he is a "promise them anything" kind of guy.

          I think there is a rather large distinction to be drawn between the primaries in Michigan and Florida, i.e. that Michigan cannot in any way be considered valid because only two candidates (out of seven or eight) were on the ballot and there was a very large vote for "other." In Florida, on the other hand, all candidates were on the ballot, and there were grassroots campaigns (albeit separate from the actual campaign organization) on behalf of those candidates who had support in Florida (Clinton, Obama, Edwards all had active support, and of course there was the Kucinich contingent). All that was lacking were rallies and TV commercials and an in-state debate (oh, and no pandering about a federal windstorm insurance fund). Another problem--we have already held the caucuses to elect delegates to the convention, based on each candidate's proportion of the vote by Congressional district. Those running for delegate put in a lot of time and effort (and money) and there was a huge turnout (much bigger than in past years) to vote...overturning those results would be a big kick in the teeth for the delegates and their supporters, and the local party organizations.

  4. I agree, but...

    They should be primaries, not caucuses, and if they are caucuses, it should be done like they're done in Wisconsin - where they're open caucuses and people can either vote during the entire day, or show up to caucus at night, but each vote counts the same. I just think caucuses are terribly unfair - and always have. The turnout in states like Iowa I think prove my opinion - even in the media attention of a state like Iowa,  on most good years, only 1 in 10 people are able to show up to caucus. It just takes too long and requires too much of most normal voters to be able to commit, making it an undemocratic process in my view.  

    • Caucuses

      You are absolutely correct -- and I would urge state parties to change their rules in 2012 to address this concern.

      The big issue for me, apart from the fairness issue you identify, is getting a process that best serves the interest of the Democratic Party/Democratic nominee in November, rather than any particular candidate. It seems pretty plain that contrary to the theory that caucuses better assist in party-building, they do quite the opposite by (1) shutting people out of the process and (2) getting a less representative turnout that lessens the ability of the party to determine who will be the best nominee for November (when it is all primaries).

      I say this as someone who voted for Obama yesterday (though I'm hardly a "hard-core" supporter...I just want the strongest nominee, and quickly).

  5. A view from Michigan

    I now live in Michigan (could change my name to formerly-of-fields-corner-guy, but that seems unnecessary), and I'd love to see a do-over.  It's hard to stress the extent to which the primary which happened in January was not an accurate depiction of people's preferences.

    Clinton was on the ballot, but Obama and Edwards were not.  Some folks who would have voted for one of them voted for Kucinich, others didn't vote at all--particularly given that the media was calling it a useless election.

    And a huge number who might well have voted for Obama or Edwards probably voted for Clinton.  While it may be hard for politically active folks like those on BMG to believe, many people don't decide for whom they're voting until they enter the polling booth, and many more don't have clear preferences.  Heck, there's plenty of research showing that the order in which candidates appear on the ballot has some influence on how people vote!  If I recall correctly, Senator Clinton won in Wayne County, which contains Detroit--given the demographics there and the tendency of African-American voters to support Obama, it's hard to believe that things wouldn't have turned out differently had he been on the ballot.

    So yes, a do-over would be great.  Without it, the state's vote is nearly worthless.  But this state is truly broke.  Who will pay for it?

  6. Who should pay?

    Should the taxpayers of these states pay for the do-over?

    The party took the risk and made the poor decision. The party should pay for the repeat (ask the town clerks in MA-05 how expensive that election was last year.. this is state wide).

    • Agreed--the party should pay

      I fully agree that the party should pay--I should have said that in my previous post, but it was getting long.  The DNC made the absurd decision to disenfranchise two states for daring to defy the New Hampshire/Iowa primary primacy (which, among other things, privileges two of the whitest states in the country).  By doing so, they've created a mess.  They should pay to clean it up.

      And let me just emphasize that Michigan's economy is in BAD shape right now.  As just one measure, our seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in December (the most recent month for which I could easily find statistics in a cursory search) was a whopping 7.4%--the highest in the nation.  Add that to relatively low tax rates (in a seemingly-futile effort to lure business investment), and we simply don't have the tax money to meet the needs of state residents, let alone to fund a statewide primary.

      So what'll it be, DNC?

      • DNC has said they'll pay for a caucus.

        They've said that all along.

        Personally, I don't want my contributions to the DNC paying for a primary; it's much more expensive than a caucus, and I want my money being used to win elections and build the party.  Michigan has a Dem Gov, a GOP Sec of State, a Dem House, a GOP Sen... there was no conspiracy to "do-in" the Democrats.  Instead, the state Democratic party decided to move the date forward.  The MI Dems blew it; I don't want to spend money covering their mistake there instead of winning elections across the country [with my paltry contribution!]

        • And if Michigan pays, what is the cost?

          there was no conspiracy to "do-in" the Democrats

          Who said there was?  The goal was to enforce party rules about the order of elections (and those rules favor New Hampshire and Iowa).  They did so by disenfranchising the state.  The state Dem leadership and the national Dem leadership played chicken, and neither has blinked.  Therefore, we find ourselves in an untenable situation.

          You say that you don't want your contribution to the DNC spent to address this issue.  So who should?  Is it more just for the people of Michigan to pay for it?  If you want to make that case, remember that it will come out of a state budget that has suffered numerous cuts over the past several years.  So state-level spending on a second primary will come out of state services here.  Do you feel that because of this conflict between the state and national Democratic parties, Michigan residents deserve to have less money spent on after-school programs, state police, and state colleges and universities?  Those are not rhetorical points--all three have been cut already, and face future cutbacks if there are future budget shortfalls.

          And if your answer is a caucus, how do you respond to the concerns raised by others about the accessibility of caucuses?

          • The DNC did NOT disenfranchise FL or MI.

            The state parties disenfranchised their citizens.

            The rules were simple: you can't hold your vote until a particular day.  The state parties thought they could ignore the DNC, and the state parties moved the date.  The DNC offered to pay for a caucus on an appropriate date; the FL and MI state Dem parties have ignored the DNC's offer.

            By choosing to hold their primaries too early, the state party disenfranchised the people, not the DNC.  Maybe that nuance doesn't matter to voters though.

            • Slight Correction....

              ... the Republican dominated state government disenfranchised the Florida Democrats which is why this is just a bigger mess best served by a do over election. Caucuses are as useless as Town meetings for determining wide spread popular will. (Something Super delegates should weigh heavily about BHO's lead in delegates)

              • Not really

                the Florida Dems unanimously went along with the plan...

                sabutai   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
                • Then why....

                  ...is the Florida Gov  saying  the reason he supports revoting (besides the GOP wanting Hillary to run against) is they (the FL GOP) created the mess and I believe in commentary about the Florida Dems their alternative was to have no Elections so what choice did they have originally?

                  • You answered your own question.

                    The GOP governor wants to meddle.  I don't blame him.

                    The Florida Dems have steadfastly refused to even entertain the idea of holding their contest at any date other than their January 29th contest.  They held that position before Jan 29, on Jan 29, and every day since.  They've held press conferences and made media statements, all proclaiming that they're sticking with January 29th, come Hell or high water.

                    You can spin the blame at the GOP all you want, and the FL Dems couldn't have done it alone.  But, the FL Dems have worked quite hard at keeping the date, when working with the DNC would have easily allowed for a date which would have allowed the FL Dems to keep their delegates.

                    • I realize I answered my Question about the Gov...

                      ... but I only brought it up as the MSM (admittedly not the best source) have  repeatedly brought that up (so not my spin). The point being what choice did the Dems have? (Meaning it is the state government that pays to hold the elections and no  politician wants to try and convince voters they are being fiscally responsible by doubling the expense of  an  election, ie. Marty MEhan's little 1.2 mil dump on 5th district towns) and if they didn't (have a choice for the above reasons) then of course they would steadfastly try to make it count.

                      I think you would agree this is just more Muddle.

                • The bill that contained the primary date

                  also called for opti-scan machines with paper ballots to replace the no-paper-trail, no-recount-possible DREs that made it impossible to figure out why there were thousands of undervotes in Congresional District 13 in 2006. There were several other provisions that were "poison" to Democrats as well, such as a requirement that all ballot amendments pass by at least 60% of the vote...the Florida Democrats accepted all the uglies because otherwise they decided having a paper trail  was more important. After 2000, I think all Democrats should agree.

        • DNC Pay?

          Stomv, could you give a source for the DNC's offer to pay for a caucus?  I saw that they were urging it, and I saw some conflicting back-and-forth about it on MyDD, but I didn't find anything firm.  If you could link to a source, that would be great.

    • It wasn't the party

      I'm not completely sure about MI, but at least in FL the primary date is set by state law.  The GOP controls the FL legislature.

      • Yes but

        the Dem state politicians all supported it and, more importantly, the Florida Democratic state party has refused to cooperate with the DNC.  Christ, even Crist has offered to help the FL Dems out, and they're resisting.

        The FL DNC made a power play; the DNC told them (rightly so) to suck eggs.  Play by the rules or don't play at all.

        • As stated, they had to accept the primary date

          or else there'd be no paper trail in the most of the biggest counties in the state, so if there were a close election there'd be no possibility of a recount. The bill that set the primary date included a whole lot of goodies that favored Republicans/screwed with Democrats. And by the way, don't believe Charlie...he's definitely yanking us here.  

  7. Cross-over voter question

    The main thing that sticks out in my mind in a do-over is the voters who decided their Democratic vote wouldn't count, so they went to polls and voted for McCain or Romney etc.

    So who gets to vote in these do-overs? Just registered Dems who voted last time? Registered Dems + independents who cast a Dem ballot last time around? What about registered Michigan Dems who crossed over and voted on the Republican ballot - do they get to vote a second time in the new Dem primary, thus casting two votes?

    Who gets to vote? I can't get behind a do-over until this is solved and is fair to everyone who wanted to vote Democrat in the original elections.

    • Can't get behind it?

      Those are legit questions, but your statement that you can't support a do-over until those are solved seems extreme.  There's not likely to be any fully equitable solution to such a mess.  The question may simply be whether the current state of affairs is better or worse than an imperfect solution.

      • Not like me getting behind it matters, lol

        Let me revise: the more fair a solution, the more I'm likely to support a do-over. I'm open minded to the possibility.

        I know you said your in MI now, I'm just thinking in terms of myself if I were in MI. If my Dem vote didn't count, it's likely that I would have went to the polls and voted for a Ron Paul (just as a protest vote - i don't actually like him as a candidate.) If me, acting in good faith and casting a Republican ballot prevented me from voting for my Dem choice the second time around, I'd be pissed.

        But would it be fair for me to have two votes? Other people might not think so, but I would fight hard for the right to cast a second vote, this time for a Democrat.

        But if you open the do-over to everyone, I wonder if that opens the door to Republican "mischief" voters, people who will show up trying to affect the race advantageously for McCain. Perhaps it doesn't and I'm over thinking stuff? But if it does, maybe the fairest solution is to allow only registered Dems to participate.  If that's the case, I'm guessing that would be a solid advantage for Hillary.

        • I humbly submit

          that any person who voted for a Republican in this year's primary season most assuredly did not act "in good faith."

          :P

        • I hear ya

          Not like me getting behind it matters, lol

          What?  You're not Howard Dean?  I keep getting that mixed up...  :)

          I hear ya on these complications, particularly with various kinds of cross-party "mischief."  I do think that all of that is somewhat disingenuous--from the urging of Dems in Michigan to vote for Romney in order to promote a nasty Republican contest (and yes, that suggestion was circulating here) to Rush Limbaugh's recent urging of Republicans in Texas to vote for Clinton.  I don't think there's any way to cover all of this...

    • Who Gets to Vote?

      To answer your question, it seems that the most logical thing to do if there's a do-over is to simply adopt the rules that FL and MI used in the "unofficial" primary that they did have. I'm not sure what that was in each state, but if it was closed it should stay closed, or if it was semi-open it would stay semi-open.

      That opens other problems, such as independent/Republican meddling in the election (as well as the double-vote issue, but that doesn't seem as serious a problem), but it seems to make the most sense. Moving it from closed to open or vice-versa will have positive or negative ramifications for each candidate, so changing it would seem like favoritism. Keeping it the way it was is the fairest (and easiest) way to do it.

      • I'm still curious...

        ...if someone already voted on the Republican side, do they get to vote a second time in the new do-over? Michigan was open and Obama was not on the ballot, meaning a Dem inclined to vote for Obama could have went to the polls and voted for a Republican based on the assuption an (R) vote would count and a (D) vote doesn't count. Does that person have the right to come back and cast a second vote, meaning it is possible for some primary voters to have voted for Both John McCain (or any Repub) and Obama or Clinton?

        Is it more unfair to award some people two votes, or is it more unfair to tell people who voted (R) based on the information available at the time despite really wanting to vote for Obama or Edwards - two candidates not on the original ballot - that they cannot participate in the do-over?  

        • Texas did.....

          Is it more unfair to award some people two votes,

          ...with that bizarre Primary Caucus system.

          Our electoral process is so broken as to almost be a farce (which is why discussions about the ethics of whom a Super delegate should vote for border on ludicrous) but disenfranchising voters in Florida and Michigan is not acceptable either.

          I say let them vote and get FL, MI, DNC, HRC and BHO to pay for it with a 5 way split.

          Hell in Florida I would ask the RNC to chip in as they are the ones who screwed that up. I mean in a hanging Chad world why would that be more bizarre?

          • Ask the RNC to chip in?

            They just might die laughing....

            Seriously, though, the Democrats could have done as the Republicans did and just docked half the delegates instead of all, which would have made a lot more sense.  

      • i think the do-overs should be closed to non-dems.

        if they are open, since there is no concurrent repub primary as previously, there is plenty of incentive for malicious voting but goopers.  whereas, in the original primaries, there was probably not significant repub medling with the dem vote because they still had a full suite of their own candidates to support.  even willard was still on the ticket back then.

        • Perhaps

          but the reason that this argument isn't completely satisfying is the fact that many of the OTHER Democratic primaries upcoming are also open, and with incentives for "malicious" voting by Republicans. Why should MI and FL be any different now, assuming that the original rules specified that the primaries should be open or semi-open (BTW, is this the case in MI and FL...that both were open primaries?).

          Additionally, it's clear that a closed primary will assist Clinton at this point, and while frankly I don't really care, changing the rules would suggest favoritism towards a particular candidate. Running the primary exactly as before side-steps that debate, at least for the most part.

          • Florida Primary is always closed

            No way would there be an open primary in Florida, state law says that all primaries are closed. A lot of people find out the hard way when they retire/move here and find out that if they register as "Independent" they just joined some oddball party--the correct designation is "no party" which means you get to vote in "no primary"--it's always best to register as Dem or Rep in Florida, unless you are a true Green or Libertarian and genuinely don't care who gets the nomination of either.

  8. I'd tend to agree, but with hesitation

    I made the suggestion to somebody earlier, and he raised the objection that because of where the situation stands now, a do-over would potentially reward the states that broke the rules by allowing them to choose the nominee--which was the goal of breaking the rules and moving their primaries up in the first place. I think that's a fair point, but I also think it's unfair to punish the voters of Michigan and Florida for the actions of their state parties. Maybe there's some other way to give the state parties a slap on the wrist, though at this point, anything would look weak after what's happened.

    • The primary calendar and the sweet spot

      This year, every spot is the sweet spot. So if Michigan does a "do over" it's not getting any special power or privilege.

      Rather, it would be wiping out its invalid vote and following the rules--and at considerable expense.

    • Yeah

      The only thing that pisses me off about a do-over is it doesn't punish the idiots who rushed the DNC calendar in the first place.  (Mind you, SC, NV, NH, and IA all rushed the calendar but not the order, and nobody cares about them.)  Perhaps the Michigan and Florida delegates are forced to clean the convention hall every night, and blow up all the balloons?

      sabutai   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
      • Every time a FL or MI delegate buys a coke or a snack

        he or she should have to buy another one and give it to a non-MI/FL delegate.  Unless that other delegate is from IA or NH or NV or SC, that is.

      • Great idea

        much better than spending a fortune on the do-over. As for Michigan, I think their delegates should be split 50-50...that way they can have a delegation without deciding the outcome (since their primary didn't have most of the candidates on the ballot, it can't really be considered valid in any sense).

        • Dean said 50/50 won't fly

          He's insisting on the integrity of the process.  He doesn't think FL and MI should get away with the violation of the rules, but if the credentials committee (elected by the delegates to the 2008 convention) were to vote to seat the delegates from the January primaries, he would have to accept that.  Also, he says the DNC is willing to accept an alternate delegate selection process that reflects the will of the voters and meets the rules, and he seems to mean that a do-over would meet that.  But he made clear (last night on NPR) that a deal between the campaigns to seat a 50/50 delegation would not meet his criteria for integrity.

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