Politics & Government

How will delegates be doled out?

The last big vote of the primary season takes place in a Washington, D.C., hotel, where Democratic Party rules officials meet today to determine how to allocate 156 delegates in Michigan and 210 in Florida. The party stripped both states' delegates for moving up their primaries against party wishes, but officials now want to make nice with the states' voters before the general election. Barack Obama leads Hillary Clinton 1,984-1,782 in overall delegates. The winner currently needs 2,026 to secure the nomination.

Here are some possible solutions:

The Clinton Solution:

What would happen: The Michigan and Florida votes would be counted as is, with Obama getting none of the "uncommitted" Michigan votes. Delegation seated fully at convention.

Net gain for Clinton: About 100 delegates, not including superdelegates.

New magic number for nomination: 2,210

Why not? Fair play. Obama's campaign says he took his name off the ballot in Michigan, and Florida voters didn't get the chance to hear his message.

Likelihood of adoption: Slim, although Clinton folks say they will settle for nothing less.

The Punishment:

What would happen: Both state delegations cut by 50 percent, then all delegates awarded according to the vote of the primaries. Obama would receive Michigan's "uncommitted" votes.

Net gain for Clinton: About 30 delegates.

New magic number for nomination: 2,118

Why not? Voter disenfranchisement. The Clinton campaign says votes in Florida and Michigan shouldn't count for half, plus there's no way to know if "uncommitted" voters would have voted for Obama.

Likelihood of adoption: Close to what we'll end up with, but DNC might be reluctant to alienate Michigan and Florida voters by shorting them at the convention.

The Hot Rumor:

What would happen: Each delegate would be worth a half vote in both states. Florida's awarded based on the primary results and Michigan's split 50-50. All delegates seated at the convention.

Net gain for Clinton: About 20 delegates.

New magic number for nomination: 2,118.

Why not? See "The Punishment." Clinton supporters will howl that she won Michigan yet didn't get credit for it.

Likelihood of adoption: This one could fly -- it seats all the delegates, counts all the Florida votes, and acknowledges that Obama was not on the Michigan ballot. The perception of fairness to all parties might make this proposal a winner.