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Why Florida's Delegates Must Not Be Counted

We have a staff editorial in our new issue taking the Clinton campaign to task for calling for the Florida and Michigan delegations to be seated at the convention in Denver. Aside from the fact that it would be an opportunistic, post-hoc revision to agreed-upon rules, it's pretty obvious why the Michigan delegation can't be seated as is: Obama wasn't even on the ballot there. But the Florida case seems less clear-cut at first glance: they were both on the ballot, so even though they didn't campaign there, isn't it reasonable to seat the delegation as is?

In a word, no. Poblano at Daily Kos has done a great job putting together a regression predicting Obama's share of the vote in each state. I'm not totally sold on it--it performs very well for the states that voted prior to when the model was constructed (which it obviously should, given that that's how the parameters were chosen in the first place), but did only so-so for this weekend's states (overestimating Obama's support in Louisiana and Nebraska, and underestimating it in Washington and Maine). Nevertheless, as Poblano notes, the model dramatically overestimates Obama's performance in Florida--that is, it suggests that if a normal campaign had been conducted in Florida just like everywhere else, there would have been a 12-to-14 point swing in Obama's favor. Obviously this should be taken only as a ballpark figure, but the implication--that the Florida contest lacks legitimacy because Obama, the lesser-known candidate, wasn't allowed to campaign there--is clear.

See also Brendan Nyhan for more political-sciencey goodness on the Democratic race. 

--Josh Patashnik