Obama to declare victory on May 20?

The Politico reports that a senior advisor to the BO campaign is telling them he will declare victory in two weeks:

Not long after the polls close in the May 20 Kentucky and Oregon primaries, Barack Obama plans to declare victory in his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

And, until at least May 31 and perhaps longer, Hillary Clinton’s campaign plans to dispute it.

It’s a train wreck waiting to happen, with one candidate claiming to be the nominee while the other vigorously denies it, all predicated on an argument over what exactly constitutes the finish line of the primary race.

The Obama campaign agrees with the Democratic National Committee, which pegs a winning majority at 2,025 pledged delegates and superdelegates—a figure that excludes the penalized Florida and Michigan delegations. The Clinton campaign, on the other hand, insists the winner will need 2,209 to cinch the nomination—a tally that includes Florida and Michigan.


Obama will not reach the 2,025 magic number on May 20. Rather, on that date he is all but certain to hit a different threshold—1,627 pledged delegates, which would constitute a winning majority among the 3,253 total pledged delegates if Florida and Michigan are not included.

“On May 20 we’re going to declare victory” said an Obama senior advisor who asked that his name be withheld to speak candidly, adding that after those contests they will be “the ones with the most pledged delegates and the most popular votes.”

While the nature of that declaration of victory is “still developing” in the advisor’s words, the Obama campaign contends that the winner of a majority of pledged delegates should be the party nominee.

“Senator Obama, our campaign and our supporters believe pledged delegates is the most legitimate metric for determining how this race has unfolded” wrote Obama campaign manager David Plouffe Wednesday in a memo to superdelegates. “It is simply the ratification of the DNC rules – your rules – which we built this campaign and our strategy around.”

The Clintonistas say not so fast:

“We don’t accept 2,025. It is not the real number because that does not include Florida and Michigan” said Howard Wolfson, one of Clinton’s two chief strategists. “It’s a phony number.”

Wolfson said they intend to contest the DNC’s 2,025 number “every day” as well as any declaration of victory made by Obama based upon that number, because it does not include Florida and Michigan.


[…] the Clinton campaign’s insistence on counting Florida and Michigan would alter not only the overall delegate math, but the pledged delegate math as well. Because if the two states are included in the count, the total number of pledged delegates would rise from 3,253 to 3,566—which means the magic number for a majority rises to 1,784, not 1,627 as the Obama campaign asserts.

By hewing to that interpretation, the Clinton campaign would thus be able to raise doubts about a May 20 declaration of victory by Obama.

Since the earliest possible resolution of the Florida/Michigan dispute is May 31, when the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee will meet in Washington to address petitions from Michigan and Florida DNC members, the 11-day period between the May 20 primaries and the RBC meeting could produce a chaotic stretch where Obama claims to be the party nominee while Clinton argues otherwise.

And speaking of Michigan, it sounds like a resultion is close at hand:

LANSING — Michigan Democratic leaders settled today on a plan to give presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton 69 delegates and Barack Obama 59 as a way to get the delegates seated at the national convention

Clinton won the Jan. 15 Michigan primary and was to get 73 pledged delegates under state party rules, while Obama was to get 55. The state also has 29 superdelegates.

The state party’s executive committee voted today to ask the national party’s Rules and Bylaws Committee to approve the 69-59 delegate split when it meets May 31. The plan would shrink Clinton’s delegate edge in Michigan from 18 to 10 and allow the state’s 157 delegates and superdelegates to be seated at the convention.

The state’s Democratic leaders also pushed back the date of the party’s State Central Committee meeting from May 17 to June 14 to give the rules committee time to act. The party is to pick 45 pledged delegates and two superdelegates at that meeting. It chose 83 pledged delegates last month at district conventions.

A separate plan submitted to the rules committee by Democratic National Committee members Joel Ferguson of Michigan and Jon Ausman of Florida, both superdelegates, apparently will be withdrawn now that the Michigan executive committee has settled on the 69-59 plan. Under their proposal, delegates would have been allocated based on the primary election results, but have had only half a vote each. The superdelegates would have had full voting rights.


State party Chairman Mark Brewer said he thinks the state is closer to reaching a solution agreeable to the candidates and state and national party officials, although there is no guarantee that the rules committee will accept the plan or agree to seat the delegates.

“This does move the process forward in terms of stating our own position to the DNC. I really appreciate all the work of the working group to get us this far” Brewer said today after the meeting.

Obama spokesman Bill Burton said of the decision, “It is clear results in January won’t be used to allocate delegates, and we agree with that decision. We have been talking with Michigan leaders about this proposal and will continue to do so.”

Reading between the lines, it’s clear that the Obama campaign does not want these delegates seated – period. His campaign implied as much in this memo written to superdelegates prior to the news from Michigan:

With the Clinton path to the nomination getting even narrower, we expect new and wildly creative scenarios to emerge in the coming days. While those scenarios may be entertaining, they are not legitimate and will not be considered legitimate by this campaign or its millions of supporters, volunteers, and donors.

We believe it is exceedingly unlikely Senator Clinton will overtake our lead in the popular vote and in fact lost ground on that measure last night. However, the popular vote is a deeply flawed and illegitimate metric for deciding the nominee – since each campaign based their strategy on the acquisition of delegates. More importantly, the rules of the nomination are predicated on delegates, not popular vote.

Just as the Presidential election in November will be decided by the electoral college, not popular vote, the Democratic nomination is decided by delegates.

If we believed the popular vote was somehow the key measurement, we would have campaigned much more intensively in our home state of Illinois and in all the other populous states, in the pursuit of larger raw vote totals. But it is not the key measurement.

Wasn’t it Al Gore who said something along the lines of “every vote must count” back during the disputed 2000 presidential election? But I digress …

Even though Clinton would only gain 10 delegates on Obama under the proposed Michigan plan, it would also mean the pledged delegate majority threshold number would change, meaning that their declaration of victory on May 20 would have to wait. Not only that, but it would mean (I think) that the total votes would have to count among the popular vote totals, an argument Clinton probably is already using with the superdels. This argument would be a somewhat credible argument if she could get Florida’s popular vote totals to count, also.

Stay tuned …

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