From Slim to Slimmer

Neither 2210 nor 2209 are likely to be made the new magic number in deciding ultimately who will be the Democratic party’s presidential nominee.

As unlikely as it may seem, Senator Hillary Clinton’s already astronomically slim chances of being awarded her party’s nomination have gotten even slimmer.

Two separate but related incidents today have made it even more unlikely that Hillary Clinton will be able to attain the required number of delegates necessary to sneak up from behind and wrench the nomination from Senator Obama’s grasp.

All of this centers upon the disputed delegate status of Florida and Michigan. The interesting thing about these two states, however, is that even if delegations from both are seated in full, and seated in what would be Clinton’s best case scenario, that would still not be enough for Clinton to overtake Obama in the delegate hunt.

But where her chances have grown dimmer rests in the fact that it seems highly unlikely that the delegations will be seated in full, or in Hillary Clinton’s best interests.

First we begin with an opinion put forth by Democratic party lawyers that insists that no more than half of the delegations from both states should be seated. While such an opinion has little legal weight (as I understand it), nor does it bear any authority, it is likely to be taken into consideration when the Rules and Bylaws Committee meets this Saturday to make its official decision on what to do with the two offending states.

Should the RBC cast its decision in keeping with the opinion put forth by the DNC legal team, that would greatly undercut the net delegate gain that Clinton picks up from such a decision, a delegate gain that, had it been granted in full, would still fail to give Clinton what she needs.

With the decision set to not go in Clinton’s direction, her nomination aspirations are further undercut by the fact that at least in Florida she will likely not be successful in mounting any legal challenges to the decision in court.

Today a lawsuit challenging the DNC’s stripping Florida of its delegation was thrown out, Judge Richard Lazarra justifying this move by explaining that political parties are free to choose how they select their nominees. This may not preclude further legal challenges.  However, it does indicate that such challenges would likely not overturn any rulings made by the DNC.

Of course the big show happens on Saturday when the RBC meets, but as we approach that date, the last fading glimmers of hope for Clinton are fading fast.

At this stage, about the only thing that seating Florida and Michigan could accomplish is lending a modicum of validity to Clinton’s popular vote count. For the past few weeks now, Senator Clinton has been making a highly disputed claim that she leads Senator Obama in the popular vote for the nomination.

Such a claim is, to say the least, disingenuous for much the same reason that portioning out delegates based upon the votes in Florida and Michigan would be disingenuous. These were uncontested votes, votes in which both candidates were not free to campaign in these two states, and in one state, one of the two candidates was not even on the ballot.

Further, as I’m sure you’ve read elsewhere, the math on this popular vote lead of Clinton’s becomes a little shakier when you stop to realize that she is omitting the vote totals in a handful of caucus states while counting the votes in states where both candidates pledged not to campaign.

In short, the popular vote argument becomes an argument of convenience that plays heavily upon Clinton’s superior name recognition in the early stages of the primary voting season.

But what one must remember is that the Democratic nominee is not selected based upon the popular vote tally, nor should it be given its current mechanisms. Should it be? Perhaps, and one would be hard pressed to think that after this election is over the Democractic party wouldn’t enact a severe overhaul to its nominee selection process. But the way that the primaries are dealt with now, a combination of popular vote totals and caucuses, with Super Delegates and proportionally awarded pledged delegates, relying upon the popular vote would greatly undermine the entire system as it exists today.

This is no matter. All that is important is that we do not select the nominee based upon the popular vote totals, and any arguments focused on the popular vote have only one use; wooing Super Delegates.

That Obama continues to pick up Super Delegates at a faster rate than Senator Clinton (and rumors abound that he has forty to fifty lined up to endorse him following the final primaries on June 3rd) goes to show that Clinton’s specious popular vote argument is failing.

(edited by DrGail)

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