Clinton's ClaimsHillary Clinton is once again trying to claim that she leads in the popular vote in the Democratic primaries:
Clinton also repeated that she is "leading in the popular vote" -- although that claim is based only on when you add the votes she gained from the contests in Florida and Michigan, and Obama's name wasn't even on the ballot in the latter race.
It is a rather cheap shot to make in two contests where Clinton violated the established rules of her national party (as did the State Democratic organizations of Florida and Michigan) by participating in a nominating contest scheduled earlier than party rules allowed. The other Democrats running for President at the time honored the rules and neither campaigned in Florida and Michigan nor appeared on the ballot in those States-hence, Hillary's claim to be a fair-fight popular vote leader rings very hollow.
Florida and Michigan's Democratic primary process does raise an interesting question, however: What if all the candidates had campaigned in Florida and Michigan? Would the race be different, and is Barack Obama's likely anointing by the Democrats a sheer accident of the rules? Is Obama a nominee of circumstance and not process who was made so by a penalty imposed on State political organizations which neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama officially or actually control?
Clinton would almost certainly have won Florida even with Obama on the ballot there. The demographics favored her strongly, with a strange coalition of Hispanics, expatriate New Yorkers, and working-class whites in the panhandle the likely producers of a win. This would have significantly increased Hillary's delegate total, but would still not be enough to claim a decisive edge over Obama.
The real question mark is Michigan. Obama would have carried Detroit by a huge margin, and perhaps Lansing as well, but Clinton likely would have carried everything else. Would "everything else" have been enough for Clinton to win Michigan, and even if she did would her net delegates give her a significant lead over Obama (the margin in Michigan likely being very close)? These are questions that will never be answered, but are reasonable to ask when it is considered that if Florida and Michigan had legitimate primaries where the delegates were counted, the outcome of the Democrats' nominating process might be very different.