I have a new story on Hillary Clinton’s landslide win in West Virginia. Among other things, I look back at the 1992 race, in which Jerry Brown stayed in through early June even though he was more than 1,500 delegates behind Bill Clinton:
Brown could stay in as long as he liked because his presence didn’t really matter. But Hillary Clinton’s campaign, which is not only not 1,500 delegates behind Barack Obama but might, by some reckoning, catch up with him in the popular vote total — and in any event remains excruciatingly close to Obama in all measures — is different. Obama’s supporters, in the campaign, in the Democratic party, and in the press are desperate for her to leave the race precisely because her support is so substantial; her continued presence is a daily reminder of how profoundly divided the party is at this moment….
[In her victory speech] Clinton repeated her insistence that delegates from Florida and Michigan — “all of their delegates” — be seated. “I believe we should honor the votes cast by 2.3 million people in those states,” she said. Her demand was pooh-poohed in some circles of the commentariat, but the question for Democrats is, Why is that such a radioactive proposition? This is the party that got rather excited over 537 votes in Florida in 2000, the party that would like to pass something called the Count Every Vote Act, the party that has consistently favored greater enfranchisement over stricter enforcement of the rules (and sometimes the law). Sure, Clinton wants to change the agreement that existed going in to Florida and Michigan, but circumstances have changed, too. Since when have Democrats been such sticklers for unbending rules? Why do so many in the party insist that millions of votes in two key states be counted only if they don’t matter — that is, if the result is a fait accompli — and not be counted if they do?