The Campaign Spot

Why Not Seating FL and MI Delegates Could Cost Democrats Those States

A few readers have wondered about the comment from earlier today, that “Democrats absolutely must have Michigan and Florida represented at their convention… To do otherwise is to essentially write off those two important states in the general election.”
It’s by no means a done deal, obviously. But I think that not recognizing any delegates from the two states would make Democrats’ task in those states exponentially harder.
For starters, Barack Obama has not led John McCain in any head-to-head poll in Florida. Any. There’s obviously a wide range in those polls; Quinnipiac puts McCain ahead by 1 percent; Rasmussen puts him up by 15 percent. Perhaps it’s because Obama hasn’t campaigned there, perhaps it’s Latino/African-American tensions, perhaps the Sunshine State is trending red. Whatever the reason, Florida appears to be unfertile territory for Obama in what is overall a good year for Democrats.
Most of the McCain vs. Obama head-to-head polls in Michigan have been within the margin of error – McCain by 1, Obama by 2, McCain by 1. The state, which John Kerry won by 3 percent, is in play.
A lot of Michigan and Florida Democrats feel like they’re getting punished for a decision they had no role in making. A lot of Florida Democrats already feel like sinister party powerbrokers manipulated voting machines to take away their vote; for almost eight years, Democratic national leaders have told them over and over again, “you’re a victim. Your vote wasn’t counted.” Now some of those same leaders are telling them, “yes, you went to the polls, and yes, the state counted the totals, but we’re not going to count your vote.” If they choose not to recognize the delegates, you’ll see newspaper headlines like, ‘DNC TO FLORIDA: DROP DEAD.”
Because these two states may make the difference in whether the nominee is Hillary or Obama, the decision on their delegates will get huge attention, both nationally and within the state. I’ll bet every Democrat in both states has an opinion, and an exceptionally small percentage of those opinions are, ‘because my state party broke the rules, I think my vote shouldn’t count.’
If Dean and the party leaders try to hold a hard line, expect Michigan and Florida lawmakers to raise hell at the convention and beyond. Picture Congressman John Conyers talking “disenfranchisement.” Florida Democrats will be even more livid, pointing out that at least in their state, everyone was on the ballot. In both states, there will be the overriding question, “how did the Republicans have the exact same problem, and yet come to a fair enough solution so quickly?”
Will these people turn around and vote for McCain? No, or not many, obviously. But some might stay home. Some might vote, but not phone bank, or not knock on doors and stuff envelopes like they have in previous cycles. Hillary’s supporters in both states are likely to be… well, particularly bitter. It looks like the effect will be on the margins – but one or two percent might make the difference in Michigan, and it might persuade Team Obama to spend its resources in states beyond Florida.

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