Superdelegates for Michigan and Florida?
May 9, 2008 10:17 AM   Subscribe

I know this is a tired topic but I've always wondered... Why don't the Democratic party leaders compromise and just let the super-delegates of Michigan and Florida sit at the party convention in August? Don't let the pledged delegates come. This way, the states are still penalized for breaking party rules but at least get some sort of representation. The superdelegates are supposed to vote independently of the primary results, anyway.
posted by rsol44 to Law & Government (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Well, because they set the rules, and don't have to compromise. There's no need for the party to meet these states halfway. Everybody else followed the rules. Sorry.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:32 AM on May 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Right now, according to this list, six of the superdelegates from those states support Obama and 15 support Clinton. What reason would Obama supporters have to accept your proposed compromise?
posted by Dec One at 10:32 AM on May 9, 2008

Because the pledged delegates represent the people who voted. It wasn't their fault their representatives fucked this whole thing up. Just seating the superdelegates would appear to be horribly antidemocratic.
posted by unSane at 10:38 AM on May 9, 2008

There's literally dozens of "compromise" options that I've seen informally discussed, including ones like you've proposed. Perhaps one of those will happen between now and August.

But as for the DNC's official position, it appears that superdelegates are formally part of their respective states' delegations. Even though, for example, Jimmy Carter is a superdelegate by virtue of being a past Democratic president, and not elected through the Georgia Democratic primary, he is still considered part of the Georgia delegation to the convention. When Michigan and Florida moved their primaries up, conflicting with provision 11A of the delegate selection rules, they were stripped of their entire delegations, not just that portion of their delegations elected in the primaries.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:46 AM on May 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: One of the strongest arguments I've heard is hell, NO, don't seat the superdelegates at all. They're the ones who played chicken with the DNC and lost. Any number of solutions with pledged delegates seems fair, but the superdelegates who set up beauty contests instead of elections screwed the voters, not just the candidates. The voters didn't get the benefit of up close and personal campaigning with the candidates (no, national media is not an appropriate substitute), they didn't get to make informed choices, and some people didn't vote at all because they thought their votes wouldn't count.

In this case "some sort of representation" would be exactly the wrong kind of representation.
posted by maudlin at 11:05 AM on May 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This is quite possibly the worst possible proposal I have ever heard. Here is why:

The problem was created when party leaders in the two states (particularly Michigan) moved the primaries up ahead of what the DNC rules allowed. So the superdelegates from these states are the ones that created the problem. Your proposal would penalize the people of the states (voters) while granting the rule-breaking superdelegates full representation.

This is absolutely backwards.
posted by Justinian at 11:14 AM on May 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

The problem was created when party leaders in the two states

It is the state legislatures, not the party leaders, that set the primary dates.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:36 AM on May 9, 2008

It wasn't their fault their representatives fucked this whole thing up.

Who voted for those representatives who fucked the whole thing up?
posted by helios at 11:37 AM on May 9, 2008

Who voted for those representatives who fucked the whole thing up?

You mean the people who voted for the Republican majority in both houses of Florida's legislature and Florida's Republican governor?

(I don't know what Michigan's excuse is, as Democrats have a majority in one house there.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:48 AM on May 9, 2008

IMHO Neither state's delegates of either kind should be seated. The DNC said quite early that they had broken rules, so the candidates did not really 'run' in those states. It would be like saying the 100 yard dash is canceled and then running the race with whomever showed up, and declaring these also-rans the Olympic Champion.
posted by Gungho at 11:49 AM on May 9, 2008

>the pledged delegates represent the people who voted

Well, no, they do not. Clinton was the only Democrat on the ballot in Michigan. And I know a number of Democrats who did not vote because it was a waste of time.
posted by yclipse at 12:02 PM on May 9, 2008

No compromise is called for. The Democratic party is entitled to enforce party discipline - if they adjusted the rules for every situation, you can imagine the even greater potential chaos. Any compromise would be a bad precedent to set; it would constitute, essentially, wheeling and dealing, pressuring the Party to change its rules for whom the (entirely predicted) outcome suddenly seems unfair. So it's not just that no one has propsed the right compromise, but that there is a strong and justified resistance from within the party to oppose any compromise. The time for compromise was before the election dates were moved.
posted by Miko at 12:40 PM on May 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

It is the state legislatures, not the party leaders, that set the primary dates.

Endorsed by the congressional delegations; the Michigan legislature in particular would not have moved the date if the congressional delegation hadn't been on board.
posted by Justinian at 1:14 PM on May 9, 2008

They broke the rules, and to compromise and say "Okay, you can have x number of delegates" would be saying to future candidates, "Don't trust the DNC when they tell you not to campaign somewhere since it won't count, because it will."
posted by Solon and Thanks at 1:20 PM on May 9, 2008

A compromise will be much easier to reach after the Democratic nominee is chosen, and the conventional wisdom is that something will be worked out.

While the nomination is up for grabs, however, Obama's supporters would be idiots to hand free extra delegates to Clinton, despite the party leadership's ruling that they don't count.
posted by designbot at 2:48 PM on May 9, 2008

It's a mess. I think Florida's was moved up by a GOP legislature, for one. For another as far as pledged delegates.. why punish the voters who went out to the polls by making their voices not count? It's a political problem, esp if the Dems want to win Florida in November, to not alienate their own party members..

Also as far as enforcement. I don't know.. the DNC is not that powerful.. heck they're almost broke too.. and the committees who deal with these things are people with competing interests not a monolithic DNC body, exactly.

Furthermore the candidates did agree not to campaign, and they didn't (well, you can dispute whether Obama's national cable news ads counted) but in Michigan, Obama took his name off the ballot, which was in no way required, and convinced the Edwards people to go along with it and do the same - part of it was winning approval in Iowa for supporting the states going in order with Iowa first.. part prob just their view that Obama wouldn't win there (and maybe this was incorrect but too late now). Also AFAIK the DNC rules do not require stripping the delegates..

Plus, New Hampshire and South Carolina moved their primaries up too. It's just that I guess they were moved in an order the DNC approved of.
posted by citron at 3:04 PM on May 9, 2008

DNC: Highlights of the 2008 Rules.
Pre-primary FAQ on the Florida vote from the Florida party.

I think Florida's was moved up by a GOP legislature, for one.

It was the result of Republican initiative, true. but nevertheless, the DNC should not bear the brunt of a lack of citizen action in Florida to prevent that move (which affected both parties, anyway).

why punish the voters who went out to the polls by making their voices not count?

This isn't a punishment, it's a consequence. They could and probably should have put pressure on their representatives at the state level, both in the party and in the legislature, to ensure that their states met the DNC's new rules.

The primary's not a publicly run general election, it's a private organization, so the party rules do matter - only the votes made according to its bylaws get counter. it's not the same as being denied a vote in a general election. If you don't meet the party rules, you don't really have a vote.

the DNC is not that powerful.

This is their process.

Obama took his name off the ballot, which was in no way required

It wasn't required by the Four-State Pledge, but Obama and four other candidates agreed to do so and requested that the others do, as well. It came down to the idea that those candidates didn't feel as competitive there, and wanted to demonstrate support for the four-state system, but they obviously would never have done this if they imagined the vote would later be counted - in making that decision, they accepted the party's rules that no delegates would be awarded. They played according to Party rules.

Plus, New Hampshire and South Carolina moved their primaries up too. It's just that I guess they were moved in an order the DNC approved of.

The DNC stated in 2006 that they were among the four states authorized to have their primaries moved to an earlier date. Twelve had applied, in a general rush to be among the early primaries, but the DNC created the present structure in attempt to maintain a more deliberative process (we got it!) That was in August 2006.

I don't really think it's a mess anywhere but within those two states, where the state party and the citizenship need to get their act together. The Democratic Party has long been plagued by sloppy discipline, and it's been a relief to see things tighten up. To allow a few strong-minded individuals to hijack the process and, essentially, blackmail the rest of the Party across the nation seems really beyond the pale. The DNC is right not to count the vote toward the nomination - though I do think it would be decorous to broker some ceremonious situation in which the delegates can sit in Denver.
posted by Miko at 4:05 PM on May 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

As a minor aside, I know that in Michigan, many Democrats fought hard against this change, arguing that what has happened would happen. This was ignored because Michigan voters, being formerly part of Super Tuesday, didn't feel like their issues were being given enough national attention. That was foolishness on their part—Michigan was only left out in 2004 because Dean decided not to campaign there—and while Michigan only ends up going blue by a modest margin (generally), the correct decision—politically, ethically and practically—is to not count their votes.
posted by klangklangston at 5:46 PM on May 9, 2008

So many states think that the earlier they move their primaries up, the more influence they carry. Left unchecked, we could be seeing 2012 primaries early in 2011. This is why the rules that penalized Michigan and Florida are in place. Otherwise, what's to stop a state from deciding that they want to vote ahead of Iowa, and then moving their primary to December?

The idea with Florida and Michigan was that the race would be over a long time before the convention, likely by Super Tuesday. By the time the convention comes, it's only a formality. So the party will seat the delegations, since they're not affecting the outcome anyway, and the party doesn't want to alienate the voters in those states.

Problem is, Obama comes along and runs a campaign for the ages, one that will be the blueprint for national campaigns for years to come. Super Tuesday comes and goes and they're essentially tied. Suddenly the FL/MI delegations become extremely relevant. Then Obama obliterates Clinton in the Potomac primaries, taking a lead that he won't relinquish. Now these delegations become necessary for Clinton. By the time Indiana and North Carolina are done, those delegations are the only prayer in hell that Clinton has left. Now the choice for the DNC is to hold their ground, compromise, or buckle and give Clinton a chance to drag this out further. If they hold their ground, then they will be blameless for having to adhered to their rules. However, they risk alienating the voters in those two states. Several compromise solutions have been floated, most notably counting each delegate as a half-vote. If they give in and seat the full delegations as-is, then in the future states will feel free to hold their primaries as early as they want. And Obama, since his name was not on the MI ballot, has a real case against seating MI as is.

To seat the superdelegates only is a worst-case scenario. It will have the same effect as not seating the delegations at all; the people will feel that the Democratic Party says they don't count.
posted by azpenguin at 10:19 PM on May 9, 2008

The citizens of Michigan and Florida have to un-elect their state reps- they are the ones who disenfranchised them, not the DNC or Hillary or Obama.

(not for nothing, Hillary's behavior during this solidified my decision to not support her. I suspect others felt the same way. Not taking anything away from Barack, it just shows that maybe some people still value ethics in their candidates...)
posted by gjc at 11:12 AM on May 10, 2008

Those of us who support Hillary certainly value ethics in our candidates, thank you very much.
posted by citron at 8:02 PM on May 16, 2008

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