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First Thoughts MSNBC / Resolving FL & MI

From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Domenico Montanaro
*** Resolving Florida and Michigan:

After 51 sanctioned contests over the last five months, there are just two dates left on the Democratic primary calendar, and they both occur within the next four days. Sunday is primary day in Puerto Rico (where 55 delegates are at stake and where polls open at 8:00 am ET and close at 3:00 pm ET). And on Tuesday, Montana (16 delegates) and South Dakota (15 delegates) hold their contests. But before those dates comes Saturday’s DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in DC, where committee members will most likely decide what happens with those Florida and Michigan delegations. Here are two nearly indisputable predictions about Saturday: 1) something WILL be done and 2) the entire delegations from both states will NOT be seated. So the current magic number of 2,026 will not be in effect by Sunday June 1, and we know the magic number will not be 2,210, as hoped for by the Clinton campaign. It’s likely to be either 2,118 or 2,131, depending on whether the Rules committee decides superdelegates should be penalized in the same vein as pledged delegates. The question then is how will the Florida and Michigan delegates be allocated. Keep in mind that DNC hard-liners on the Rules committee, who may be the swing vote between the Clinton and Obama forces, are more intent on figuring out a way to punish Michigan more than Florida.

*** Possible scenario I: We’ve hesitated reporting on every rumor we’ve heard about a potential compromise, but here’s one plan circulating that seems to be gaining momentum: It would halve the votes for all of the Florida delegates, netting Clinton 19 and, more importantly, counting that popular vote. But Michigan’s primary results would not be accepted and instead that state’s delegates would simply be split 50-50 between Clinton and Obama. All of the delegations, under this compromise, would be seated in full, but each delegate’s vote would be counted as 0.5, including the superdelegates. (Keep in mind, when the nine — cut to 4.5 in this scenario — Edwards’ pledged delegates are factored in for Obama, that reduces Clinton’s net to 14.5.) Should this compromise pass, it would mean the new magic number for nomination would be 2,118. And according to our math (bringing Obama’s delegate total to 2,060 with the Edwards delegates, and Clinton’s to 1,876.5), that would put Obama 58 total delegates away from the nomination. Assuming that Obama gets 43 of the 86 remaining pledged delegates from Puerto Rico, Montana, and South Dakota, he would need just 15 more superdelegates to clinch the nomination under this scenario.

*** Possible scenario II: Another resolution would be cutting both state delegations by 50% according to how the primary vote went (and giving Obama Michigan’s uncommitted vote). That would give Clinton a net of 19 in Florida and nine in Michigan for a total of 28. The magic number here also is 2,118, and it would put Obama 62.5 delegates away from clinching the nomination. Assuming Obama splits the remaining pledged delegates, Obama would need 19.5 more superdelegates to clinch the nomination.

*** Possible scenario III: Another scenario floated is a 50% cut of the pledged delegates in both states according to the primary vote, but keep superdelegates at 100%. That would make the magic number 2,131. Obama then would be 65.5 delegates away (and Clinton 242.5). Indeed, the maximum Clinton could pick up as a result of Saturday’s Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting is 91. That’s what Clinton would gain if she gets the delegates seated according to the discounted primary results in Florida and Michigan — and Obama gets zero out of Michigan, because he doesn’t get any of Michigan’s “uncommitted” vote. If that maximum solution were to happen, Obama’s 161 pledged delegate lead would be cut to 70. But such a scenario at this point seems like, well, a fairy tale. It’s just not going to happen. 

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