Affirmative Action in the Democratic Race?

This primary has brought out some nasty emotions in the democratic party. Try The Confluence, where one of the authors writes of Edwards “He’s not worth my spit.” Nevermind that Edwards was the candidate who did the most to make this primary about who could be an authentic progressive–making poverty and healthcare a central part of his message before it was a de facto assumption that any Democrat would make that a key part of their appeal. Note that Elizabeth Edwards, who was very important in the campaign, is considered a key voice on healthcare, and has yet to endorse because of doubts about Obama’s plans.

Reading this site and the level of contempt is scary. There is one argument I found there that needs comment. It’s that Barack Obama is the beneficiary of affirmative action for men (nasty set of associations if you think about it) since he only needs 2025 delegates to get the nomination, while she needs 2209. This is bull-pucky.

Any candidate can cinch the nomination with 2025 delegates, so long as the Michigan and Florida delegations aren’t seated. That’s why Clinton did not complain when the announcement was first made, and even signed the pledge not to campaign in either state. At the time, it was more or less assumed that she would be winning the nomination either way–though Obama had begun to pick up momentum, she was still the front-runner. So 2025 is her threshold as the matter stands.

However, Clinton has based her strategy on seating the Michigan and Florida delegates, since it would improve her standing in the delegate race. That means her goal is set at 2209. That is a consequence of her choice. But, if she seats those delegates, the goal line moves for Obama as well–he has to come up with the additional delegates to meet the 2209 mark.

Bottom line: at the convention, if the race is still being contested, the delegate threshold will be the same for each candidate. Hard to see how you can argue otherwise.


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