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Thursday, March 27, 2008
 
Florida and Michigan By the Numbers

This article strikes me as an eminently sensible solution to the Democrats' muddle with regard to those two primaries. Which of course means that it will not be acted upon.

The first question is whether Florida and Michigan voters acted like these primaries mattered, even though they knew the delegates they chose were not recognized by the national party. This can be discerned from turnout, and in the case of Florida the answer is yes.

Florida had a closed primary in which only registered Democrats could vote; turnout amounted to 46.7% of John Kerry's 2004 popular vote. The primary turnout relative to Kerry's 2004 vote in other closed primaries ranged from 39.8% in New York and 40.8% in Connecticut to 48% in Delaware, 49% in Arizona to 58.5% in Maryland. In other words, Florida Democrats acted as if their primary mattered just as much as other Democrats. By contrast, turnout in Michigan was only 23.7% of Kerry's 2004 vote, and it is an open primary. Michigan Democrats did not act like their primary mattered.


When it comes time to be prescriptive:

The third option would be to let the early primary votes stand, and select delegates according to the outcome. On a statistical basis, this is clearly the right result for Florida. The easiest solution for Michigan is to simply award the 45% of the vote uncommitted or for another candidate to Mr. Obama. This appears to be the intent of those voters, as well as the likely result of a rematch. It would reduce Mr. Obama's current edge in pledged delegates to 115 from 167. It would also reduce the adjusted popular-vote margin, that converts caucus votes to primary votes, to an edge for Mr. Obama of 466,000. If Mrs. Clinton wins Pennsylvania by the margin polls now suggest, the two candidates would be essentially tied in popular votes, with an Obama edge in delegates of about 80. That would leave the remaining primaries and the superdelegates to decide the outcome of an essentially tied race.


Of course, you can see the problem; Obama's not going to agree to anything that appears to give Hillary a chance of winning.
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