Monday, March 31, 2008

The New Michigan Delegate Plan

The longer this drags out the more complicated the resolutions get. As Michigan and Florida have grappled with the DNC over seating delegates at this summer's convention, several plans have surfaced to deal with the stand-off. Despite rejections of do-over primaries (mail-in or in-person) and even distributions of the delegates between the candidates, some momentum remains behind the idea of solving this issue before it is arbitrated by the Credentials Committee at the convention.

The newest plan put forth by US Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) applies to the situation in Michigan. Under his plan all 156 of Michigan's Democratic delegates would be restored (I'm sure the DNC is already madly in love with the idea of their sanctions being thrown by the wayside here.), with basically half being allocated based on the January 15 primary and the other half based on the popular primary vote nationwide. The former appeals to Clinton because she won the Michigan primary and the latter to Obama since he will more than likely maintain his popular vote lead nationwide as the contest phase of the campaign wanes.

So how this thing ultimately breaks down will determine whether that conclusion holds. Let's do the math. Under the Stupak plan, Clinton would get 47 of the 83 primary delegates and Obama the remaining 36. Votes on these delegates would take place at the congressional district conventions April 19. But what about the other 73 (national popular vote) delegates? For the time being, let's assume that the margin Obama holds now in the category will be the margin once all the contests have been completed. That means (according to Real Clear Politics) that Obama leads either 49.5 to 46.9 without Florida and Michigan or 47.6 to 47.2 with them included (but excluding estimates of some of the caucus states). Those are the two extremes here; one where Obama is advantaged and one that is to Clinton's detriment. When we convert these to two candidate totals (reallocating the support of other candidates who have dropped out), the margins remain the same while the overall percentages now sum to 100 (See, I told you this had gotten confusing.). The two sets of possible popular vote numbers I'm working with here though are 51.3 to 48.7 favoring Obama or 50.2 to 49.8 also favoring Obama. Either way you cut it, Obama ends up with 37 delegates while Clinton gains 36. Adding the popular vote totals to the primary delegates gives Clinton a ten delegate advantage in Michigan.

That's fine, but what about the other problem child? What happens if we extend this same plan to the Sunshine state? Florida has 210 Democratic delegates that were stripped by the DNC. Using essentially the same breakdown, 110 delegates would be awarded based on the January 29 primary and the remaining 100 would be allocated based on the national popular vote from all nominating contests. The numbers aren't as tricky in the Florida case because both candidates were on the ballot. If the 17% of the Florida primary vote is reallocated evenly to each of the candidates, Clinton would have won 58% of the vote to Obama's 42%. From that Clinton would take 64 delegates to Obama's 46.

For the remaining 100 delegates (based on the popular vote), the same ranges that were used in the Michigan case will be used here as well (50.2 to 49.8 or 51.3 to 48.7). Again, one scenario helps Obama and the other helps Clinton. The difference though is only one delegate. Either the delegates would be split 50/50 or 51/49 in favor of Obama. The result is an 18 or 19 delegate advantage for Clinton coming out of Florida.

Overall then, between both Florida and Michigan, this plan nets Clinton 28 or 29 delegates at Obama's expense. And even that won't help erase the deficit unless she begins winning big in some of the remaining contests she's projected to do well in. So while the DNC may not go for this plan because it discards their sanctions, Obama's camp may actually be willing to listen since it won't change the current state of play (especially in view of the superdelegates who are siding with him--see here, here and here).

1 comment:

Robert said...

Obama can afford to be magnanimous.