Salena Zito

"A lot of people are mad at the DNC, but most people blame the Republicans for the mess we are in," Reiskind said.

He argues that Republicans were up to some "suspicious activities" when Florida's Republican-dominated legislature voted to move up the primary and GOP Gov. Charlie Crist signed off on it.

"We are very angry at the Republican legislature. Who pays the price for our vote not counting? Not the Republicans," Reiskind said.

Reiskind describes Alachua County as "a blue county in a sea of red." Alachua's Democrats out-register Republicans by nearly 30,000 voters, according to the county's supervisor of elections. The county -- which has 128,687 registered voters, 66,193 of them Democrats and 36,950, Republicans -- went Democrat for Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004.

Another reason for the anger: Florida's ballot on Jan. 29 includes a decision on property taxes, Reiskind said. The constitutional amendment, known as Amendment 1, offers property tax relief through state-mandated cuts by local governments. It is generally favored by Republicans, officials with both parties said.

With fewer Democrats voting, the property tax amendment could have a better chance of passing -- "an amendment that most Democrats are opposed to," Reiskind said.

Leonard Joseph, executive director of the Florida State Democratic Party, said party officials had no choice but to go along with the earlier date. Florida held its 2004 primary March 9.

"We could have done a caucus," he said, "but given the sheer size of our state, that would not have been a practical alternative."

Joseph said voters, reporters and candidates have flooded his office with calls.

"We are in a very tricky position," he said. "There is a lot of resentment from voters here directed at the candidates. They are very hurt by the fact that all of the candidates signed a pledge to not campaign here."

Michigan's situation wasn't much different, officials said. Although a Democrat-controlled legislature and Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm agreed to the early voting date, the outcome was the same -- stripped delegates. Michigan held its 2004 presidential primary Feb. 7.

The Michigan State Democratic Party urged people to vote anyway, and because Clinton was the only leading Democrat on the ballot, she won 55 percent of the vote. The other Democrat on the ballot, U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, won 3.7 percent.

But 40 percent of Democrats there voted "uncommitted," an apparent nod of support for Obama or Edwards, who took their names off Michigan's ballot to comply with the official schedule.

All of this, said political analyst Sabato, might not matter by the August convention, if a clear leader has emerged for the Democratic nomination.

"Then, this controversy will fade to nothingness," he said.


Salena Zito

Salena Zito is a political analyst, reporter and columnist.
 


TOWNHALL MEDIA GROUP