Obama Inches Closer on Michigan and Florida Rulings

On Saturday, May 31, 2008, the Democratic Rules and Bylaws convened to decide if to or how to distribute Michigan and Florida Democratic primary delegate counts.

If you recall, the Michigan and Florida Democratic primaries were held sooner than were planned and the DNC penalized both states deciding at the time to not count any of the totals. Therefore, at the time, neither Clinton nor Obama walked away with additional delegates as a result of those primaries.

However, at the time, both states held their own primaries and Clinton won both, 55% of the vote in Michigan equaling 69 delegates and 50% of the vote in Florida amassing 105 delegates. At the time, John Edwards was still in the running (he quit the day after the Florida primary, on Wednesday, January 30, 2008). In Michigan, 40% of the vote went to “uncommitted”.

The issues that the DNC Rules and Bylaws committee had before them were the following:

  • Obama did not campaign in either state because the DNC issued its “delegates will not count” ruling before those primaries,
  • No one knew how voters would vote had they been told that their primaries would count, and
  • No one can predict where the 40% of “uncommitted” Michigan votes would have gone. Would they have gone for Obama or Edwards or would they have split? Would some have gone for Clinton?

Of course, Hillary Clinton is opposed to any ruling that does not grant her the delegate totals she amassed in those two primaries in January. After all, she is hundreds of delegates behind Obama and desperately needs all of the support she can muster. Obama isn’t sweating the details because he is in the drivers seat and was part of the negotiations in splitting delegates in half.

The Ruling

The Democratic Rules and Bylaws Committee yesterday on Saturday, May 31, 2008, to raucous jeers, announced that the Michigan and Florida delegates could attend the Democratic National Convention in Denver but that each delegate vote would count as a half vote, not a full one. Clinton is just not peeved at the Committee for halving votes but also for distributing more Michigan votes to Obama than she thought he deserved. Cleqarly, the assumption was made (see chart below) that Obama would have amassed most of the “uncommitted” votes.

You’d think that John McCain is smiling and laughing as the Democrats engage in sordid infighting but the feeling here is that all publicity is good publicity. Obama is not desperate and it surely appears as though he will gain the nomination. The Michigan and Florida delegate decision over shadowed Clinton’s win in Puerto Rico and it keeps McCain off the front pages. Incidentally, Obama asked supporters to stay away from Washington yesterday during the vote so as not to antagonize Clinton and her supporters. He will most assuredly need them in the Fall. However, many Clinton supporters interviewed yesterday threatened to switch party allegiances if the Committee maintained the “half-vote” decision.


Democratic Primary Results Votes Updated May 31, 2008 Votes
Clinton – 38.5 delegates 55% Clinton – 38 delegates 54%
Uncommitted – 28 delegates 40% Obama – 32 delegates 46%


Democratic Primary Results Votes Updated May 31, 2008 Votes
Clinton – 105 delegates 50% Clinton – 56.5 delegates 61%
Obama – 67 delegates 33% Obama – 36 delegates 39%


It appears unfair to Hillary Clinton and advantageous to Barack Obama that the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee on May 31st decided to not only hand over all “uncommitted” Michigan votes to Obama but that he received 4 additiional delegates, as well. Since John Edwards was still in the race, it is quite reasonable to assume that Obama would not have amassed the full 40%. However, it is possible that either one would have eaten into Clinton’s 55% had they campaigned in Michigan as Clinton did. (Obama didn’t campaign in Florida either).

So, what’s fair? Honestly, what’s wrong with Michigan and Florida voting again? – this time on the same day, with a caveat: neither Obama nor Clinton is allowed to campaign in either state. Set up a final debate between the two of them and then let the voters decide. Clearly, the no-campaigning rule seems to benefit Clinton since she is out of money but every voter in America has seen and heard from these two enough to have an opinion. A debate would bring us current.

It is not fair to deprive citizens of the United States their right to vote. Each vote should be counted – even though the delegates can vote their own conscience at the convention but that’s another story. It doesn’t matter if 2 additional primaries are inconvenient or costs too much money. It’s the right thing to do. I know, I know, you’re saying that it’s a foregone conclusion that Obama will win. It appears as though he will win. It still, however, does not give us the right to deprive Americans of a voting voice. Do the right thing!

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