Hillary’s Florida-Michigan Gambit

Hillary Domenico Montanaro notes that, while everyone is focusing on the Democratic National Committee’s likely “compromise” solution of awarding Florida and Michigan half their original allocation of delegates, it’s actually much more complicated than that.

[A] 50% cut and a halving of the delegates is not the same thing. For instance, if Florida delegates are seated in their entirety, but only have their vote counted as a .5, then Clinton will net approximately 19 delegates out of the state. But if the delegation is cut in half, that’s done in every congressional district as well as statewide, then suddenly Clinton’s advantage is only a net of six. That’s right, the complicated nature of the DNC delegate selection process will be a good reminder to math majors everywhere that a 50% cut is not the same as a halving of an individual number. Go figure…

Nate Silver breaks out the math in much more detail. Complicating matters further, Matthew Shugart quips that, “Of course, if the Democratic Party used D’Hondt like most proportional-representation systems, 70-30 would still give 3-1 in a 4-seat district, but 2-0 in a 2-seat district.”

Regardless of the outcome on this score, M.S. Bellows, Jr. argues that Hillary Clinton will use it as an excuse to keep the fight going.

The rules meeting is a trap. Clinton wants the RBC to give Florida and Michigan not the full votes she is fruitlessly advocating for and which would in any case not translate to a win for her but the half-vote compromise she is publicly advocating against. When the committee does award half-votes, she will have cause to extend her campaign through the summer, guaranteeing a divided Convention and possibly killing Democrats’ chances of capturing the Oval Office in November (and of preventing pro-life , pro-Imperial Presidency Republicans from replacing the two remaining Democrats on the nine-member Supreme Court).

It’s a trap, and the Obama campaign and the Democratic Party are about to walk blindly into it. No one seems to be noticing that — let alone implementing the equally counterintuitive, Aikido strategy that would stop Clinton’s game: letting her have her way tomorrow, 100 percent, so that she lacks grounds to appeal, and Obama, instead, becomes the one holding the “I could appeal!” trump card.

Jim Tankersley thinks Clinton may want to use this as an excuse to keep going but that a lack of money and a fear of long-term damage to her political future will stop her.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. As an Obama supporter I hate to say this, but Clinton DOES have the popular vote.

    It seems there will be a stain of illigetimacy on an Obama nomination (despite Super Delagates) when this is all done.

    Not to mention the hypocrisy, after all, for eight years we have been reminding everyone who really won in 2000. Now we basically will do the same to our own. Geez.

    I really really do not like Clinton.
    But if she has the popular vote, it seems natural that in a Democracy, that is what has to be respected.

  2. mq says:

    At this point, I don’t know if it really matters what the RBC does. This year has already been an unmitigated disaster for the Dems. No matter what happens with FL and MI, Obama will get the nomination. Obama, a rookie from Chicago who has already been labeled an arugula-munching elitist, has deep ties with a anti-white church and a political fixer, and can’t win a swing state to save his life. Oh yeah, did I mention he’s really, really for out in Left field? And that he has a wife that’s following in Heinz Kerry’s footsteps?

    It’s almost like the Dems don’t want to win in November.

    PS – The RBC needs to be less concerned with what will make Obama or Clinton happy and more concerned with what will make Florida and Michigan happy.

  3. Dave Schuler says:

    fear of long-term damage to her political future will stop her.

    Does Sen. Clinton have a political future? Or is her present her future?

    If Sen. Obama is the Democratic Party’s nominee and if he loses in November, she has a future. Otherwise her future will be as the junior senator from New York. If she outlives Chuck Schumer she’ll be the senior senator from New York.

    She can hold that job for the rest of her life and the rules will ensure that she gets the same committee chairmanships and other perks of seniority that she would have if she’d quit in April.

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    BTw, I think a great debate topic would be

    RESOLVED, that a candidate’s performance in caucuses is a good gauge of his or her performance in a general election.

  5. William d'Inger says:

    fear of long-term damage to her political future will stop her

    Methinks anybody who would say that must be tokin’ high grade colitas. These are the Clintons we’re talking about. For them, any political future other than the presidency is unacceptable. The only thing that will force her out is the delegate count.

    Oh sure, she’d accept an appointment to the Supreme Court with a Nobel Peace Prize. She’d even claim that superior to being president, but it’d be a lie. If she doesn’t get the big prize, both she and Bill will live the remainder of their lives in bitterness.

  6. As a Clinton supporter I hate to say this, but Obama has won the most delegates by the DNC agreed upon rules..

    It seems there will be a stain of illigitmacy on a Clinton nomination (despite Super Delegates) when this is all done.

    Not to mention the hypocrisy, after all, for eight years we have been reminded that we tried to win in 2000, rationalizing the national popular vote, by overturning Florida’s certified results, via SCOFLA. Now we basically are trying to do the same to our own. Geez.

    I really really do not like Obama.
    But if he has won fairly by the rules, it seems natural that in a Democracy, that is what has to be respected.

  7. DL says:

    I think she can win a lot of the lost black votes by now pounding the Obama camnpaign and the DNC as now treating woment and voters like the white man treated the blacks in the constitution – she need to start coamparing the 1/2 vote per person as treating women the same way the 3/5 vote called blacks less than a whole person.