There's been a lot of worrying that an extended Clinton-Obama battle will harm the party, but a much more realistic concern is that voters will look at the process and decide the Democrats couldn't run an Appleby's, let alone a nation. Turns out the whole thing works great, but only so long as there's a clear frontrunner pretty early out. If it stays close after that, then the whole thing gets more stupid and poorly thought out as the race goes on. Florida's butterfly ballots in 2000 are starting to look like a comparatively better problem to have.
Fair or not, the unseated delegates from Florida and Michigan have become an untapped resource. Hillary Clinton needs them to have any chance in hell and her camp wants them seated as is. In Michigan, at least, this would be tremendously unfair, since Clinton was the only top-tier candidate on the ballot. Team Clinton can't like the idea of a "do-over," since Michigan's demographics favor Obama. Voters in the Democratic primary there were given a choice between Clinton, Dodd, Kucinich, and "uncommitted" -- uncommitted won 40% of the vote. Despite having no real competition in that state, Hillary took a slim majority of 55%. The idea that all Obama voters in Michigan went to the polls and voted for no one -- in an election that wasn't going to count anyway -- is insane. No one can seriously say that a significant percentage didn't just say, "Screw it," and stay home.
And now, certain news is probably causing certain uncertainty within a certain Michigan primary winner's campaign team:
The New Republic:
A member of the DNC's Rules And Bylaws Committee -- the committee that stripped Florida and Michigan of its delegates for moving their primaries before February 5th -- told me that Michigan plans to get out of its uncounted delegate problem by announcing a new caucus in the next few days.
"They want to play. They know how to do caucuses," the DNC source said. "That was their plan all along, before they got cute with the primary."
Michigan Democrats had originally planned on caucuses after the legally permissible Feb. 5 date, but then went along with top elected Democrats, including Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who pushed for an early primary.
What does this mean? For one thing, it means that the Michigan Democratic party is a bunch of game-playing jerks. For another, it means Clinton is about to lose a state. And, it's a state she's been counting among her wins. "We've won Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Michigan, New Hampshire, Arkansas, California, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Oklahoma and Tennessee," Clinton said tuesday night. "And today we won Rhode Island. And thanks to all my friends and supporters there."
Where Team Clinton needs to move ahead in the delegate count, there's no way she can do anything but lose some of the delegates she'd been counting. Hillary Clinton's score will move backward. This is real bad news for a campaign that not only needs to win every, single contest until the Democratic convention, but needs to win every single contest in a landslide. In fact, with every non-landslide win, Clinton needs ever-larger victories down the road. Re-doing Michigan and losing would be a disaster.
Add to this that the current noise is about a caucus and Clinton is toast. As I said earlier, Michigan's demographics favor Obama and he's always done better in caucuses. If she needs landslide wins, there's no way she can afford a landslide loss. At this point, it's getting harder and harder to envision a Clinton nomination. Both sides need superdelegates -- an idea that should be buried with a stake through its heart after this is all over -- but only one candidate will go to the convention as the people's choice. If that candidate doesn't get the nom, expect a crap storm of epic proportions.
The screwiest primary season of your life goes on, but it's already on life support. The process has been kept going by artificial means and the end is coming fast. The first stage of grief is denial.
Let's hope the rest go a lot faster, because the whole thing can't hold together much longer.
Technorati tags: politics; elections; 2008; Barack Obama; Democrat; primary; Will Michigan be Hillary Clinton's end?