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Michigan and Florida: the Democrats' trickiest decision

A committee meets Saturday on Michigan and Florida delegates.

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On Wednesday, she circulated a lengthy memo aimed at uncommitted superdelegates – party leaders and elected officials who can back whomever they wish for the nomination – making her case for why she would be a stronger nominee than Obama. Cutting into Obama's delegate lead with Florida and Michigan delegates is part of her calculation. She also claims she is beating Obama in the "popular vote," but her math includes Florida and Michigan and calculates the caucus states' popular votes in a way that works to her advantage.

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Clinton is expected to win big on Sunday in the Puerto Rican primary – another trove of votes she will add to her popular vote "lead." But because Puerto Ricans do not vote in the general election, that's another popular vote victory that will require an asterisk, analysts say.

Then there's Saturday's meeting. Clinton is nothing if not tough, and her chief knife fighter – Harold Ickes – will be in the room as a member of the Rules and Bylaws Committee. According to The Hill newspaper, 13 of the members support Clinton, eight back Obama, and nine are uncommitted. But just because there may be a committee tilt toward Clinton, that doesn't mean the members won't do what's in the best interests of the party, which is a compromise that everyone can live with, party activists say.

"I feel pretty confident that they're not going to come to a decision that would have the potential to change the outcome of the presidential race," says a Democratic strategist who asked not to be named.

At the end of the day, this strategist and others say Clinton will recognize that the math is the math and have to give up. The final two primaries, Montana and South Dakota, are on June 3, and Obama is expected to win both. After that, most if not all of the remaining superdelegates are likely to announce their endorsements, with Obama expected to wind up with a majority of all delegates.

"That's just the way it will go," says Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University. "I think the Clinton forces are beginning to recognize that."

He expects Clinton to endorse Obama and work hard for him, much the way Senator McCain endorsed George W. Bush and supported his candidacy after losing a tough nomination battle in 2000.

But in advance of Saturday's meeting, Clinton and her team are behaving as if they can beat the odds. "This thing is not over by a long shot," said communications director Howard Wolfson on MSNBC Wednesday.

The campaign is even still running contests to drum up support. In an e-mail released Tuesday under the name of daughter Chelsea, Clinton invited supporters to select the winning design for the campaign's next T-shirt.

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