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February 02, 2008

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Will either Clinton or Obama be above the 50% minimum on the first round of voting (now that it's down to the two of them), or is it possible for delegates to remain committed to Edwards (his dropping out doesn't seem to have dropped him below 10% in some states, about the same as when he was running!) who would then be an active negotiator in brokering a solution?

Other than the floor fight to seat delegates, in other words, are we still looking at a possibly brokered convention with multiple rounds of voting?

And what does happen to my vote if I go ahead and cast it for Edwards on Tuesday? Who "gets" it?

"Uncommitted" is a legitimate designation for a delegate, just as Clinton Pledged, or Obama Pledged will be. Even if only a few percent of the delegates get elected uncommitted and/or stay uncommitted, in a close first round of voting, that could preclude an early nomination.

If there is any semi-organized effort to develop a body of uncommitted delegates, I pitty them. I have a friend who was a Hart Delegate in 1984, and Mondale was a few committed votes shy leading up to the convention, and she ended up having to turn off her phone -- too many persuaders this and that way were calling, beginning at 7:30 and going on till 10:30 at night. She ended up persuading her teen aged kids to call their friends and chat day and night.

So, if I understand correctly, there will be no more than three possible delegate designations at the convention: Clinton, Obama, and Uncommitted. Is that right?

It seems like any delegates who find themselves in the position your friend was in back in 1984 will have quite a bit of influence, if their votes turn out to be in such high demand. Which brings up two questions.

First, who would the uncommitted delegates be? Suppose enough New Yorkers vote for Dodd that he would have earned a delegate had he still been running. Would the individual who goes to the convention as the putative "Dodd delegate" -- in reality "uncommitted" -- be the same person who would have gone there if Dodd had stayed in the race?

Second, if it does turn out that uncommitted delegates find themselves in position to make a power play, what would you want them to do? Other than gaining some more powerful position within the party for themselves (probably the most likely recourse), is there any "ring the bells" effort that they could stand for?

"Uncommitted" stands in the same way a candidate name does. I could vote that way in Caucus this Tuesday for instance, and on many state ballots in primaries, one can vote for a list of uncommitted delegates. In fact in Michigan, 40% of the potential delegates are uncommitted. Elected, but not necessarily seated. Of course an uncommitted list has to meet the same standards a candidate does -- 15% Viability, Gender Balance and all. Individually, I suspect many of the Superdelegates could stay uncommitted up to Convention Time, particularly if they support one candidate, and their state or district supports the other. Chairs and DNC members frequently do this. Uncommitted can mean a number of things -- none of the above, or I am not willing to engage in this particular tiff quite yet.

By the Way, Matt Bai has an interesting article on Superdelegates in this Sunday's NYTimes Magazine.

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