How likely will a revote in Michigan be? If Barack Obama has anything to say about it, not very — and it appears he does. Michigan lawmakers have made it clear that they will not approve a statewide primary unless Barack Obama agrees to it:
State lawmakers looking at a Democratic presidential primary redo in Michigan appear to be locked in a standoff heading into a crucial week: Legislative leaders say the U.S. Sen. Barack Obama camp needs to agree to the repeat election before legislation is written, and Obama supporters say they must see the bill before signing off on the plan.
Whether Michigan has a do-over primary in June depends on resolving that issue.
State Sen. Tupac Hunter, D-Detroit, said Sunday that allies of U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton are bent on a do-over primary to enable their candidate to try to pull up to Obama in the presidential race. Hunter said he won’t sign off on a repeat election unless he sees detailed legislation answering his concerns.
The only reason Obama would want a revote is if he would win it. According to a poll released ten days ago by Rasmussen, he might — but a lot has happened in the last ten days. That poll got conducted just after the March 5 mini-Super Tuesday, in which Obama lost three out of four states. It preceded the revelations of Jeremiah Wright and his pulpit demagoguery, and in a state with a large white working-class bloc of Democratic voters, that could mean trouble for Obama.
He wouldn’t even need to reject the revote outright. If he stalls long enough, Michigan would simply run out of time to prepare the election. They’re already close to the deadline for action. Michigan requires 60-70 days of lead time to stage an election, and the latest date they can do it is June 3rd. With three weeks of stalling over language and parameters, the Obama campaign can run out the clock without looking explicitly like the bad guys. The DNC has a June 10 cutoff date for considering election or caucus results, and Obama can shrug his shoulders and lament the late start to consideration of alternate plans.
Does that entail any risk? Obama has run on the notion that he plays politics completely above board, and that he doesn’t play games with the will of the voters. That is essentially his argument to the superdelegates in Denver to keep them from supporting Hillary Clinton. If he gets too closely tied to a stall maneuver in Michigan, that could undermine the basis for keeping the superdelegates on board.
The other option here is a straight split of Michigan’s delegates — an option Obama would take any day over the risk of a revote.
Update: It looks like Florida won’t bother with a revote, either:
Facing strong opposition, Florida Democrats on Monday abandoned plans to hold a do-over presidential primary with a mail-in vote and threw the delegate dispute into the lap of the national party. …
“A party-run primary or caucus has been ruled out, and it’s simply not possible for the state to hold another election, even if the party were to pay for it,” Thurman said. “… This doesn’t mean that Democrats are giving up on Florida voters. It means that a solution will have to come from the DNC Rules & Bylaws Committee, which is scheduled to meet again in April.”
Florida doesn’t need to bother with a revote. Unlike Michigan, the ballot had all of the contenders on it when Florida Democrats went to the polls in January. Some claim that the sanction on the primary depressed turnout, but even if it did, it’s impossible to say whether that disadvantaged one candidate over the other. Over 1.6 million Democrats cast votes in the primary, just a little less than the Republicans — certainly enough to legitimize the results, if the DNC desires.
I suspect the DNC will grant Florida half of its delegates, giving Hillary a victory but minimizing its impact. She’ll wind up with a 19-delegate gain rather than a 38-delegate gain.