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Question: Was the Michigan January election fair and legitimate?
Yes   -9 (17.6%)
No   -42 (82.4%)
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Total Voters: 51

Author Topic: Was the Michigan January election fair and legitimate?  (Read 2656 times)
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« Reply #25 on: March 23, 2008, 08:53:20 pm »
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it's hard to argue that Michigan's results aren't valid simply because Obama made the choice to keep his name off the ballot.

Absolutely correct, but it is valid to argue that when the rules said the delegates would not count, and one comported oneself accordingly, to then do an after the fact deus ex machina reanimation of the living dead to load the dice, is dirty pool.

And also that the delegates allocated from Michigan do not at all represent the will of the voter.
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« Reply #26 on: March 23, 2008, 09:01:22 pm »
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I will say it is legitimate only because the candidates knowingly elected to remove their names from the ballot. Was it fair, of course not. I would love a revote, but that is dead. So, either seat the delegates or disenfranchise the people. It is that simple...yes it is.
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« Reply #27 on: March 23, 2008, 09:23:50 pm »
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It was about as fair and legitimate as the GOP's Iowa straw poll last August, in that it was understood to be a nonbinding "beauty contest" at the time, and both candidates and voters decided on whether to participate or not accordingly.
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« Reply #28 on: March 23, 2008, 09:37:31 pm »
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I will say it is legitimate only because the candidates knowingly elected to remove their names from the ballot. Was it fair, of course not. I would love a revote, but that is dead. So, either seat the delegates or disenfranchise the people. It is that simple...yes it is.

Well, Obama has helped put himself (not it wasn't all his fault) in the position of "Disenfranchiser-in Chief."  Couldn't he still get behind a revote?
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« Reply #29 on: March 24, 2008, 01:35:12 am »
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Yes - the Dems wanted more power, so they screwed themselves over (or rather Mark Brewer screwed them over).
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« Reply #30 on: March 24, 2008, 02:20:48 pm »
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What was unfair about cutting the number of delegates in half, just like was done for other States that held January primaries like New Hampshire and Florida?

What would be unfair is if a party penalized some States more than was called for in the rules, while waiving penalties for others, and prevented candidates from campaigning.

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« Reply #31 on: March 24, 2008, 02:25:58 pm »
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Couldn't he still get behind a revote?

J. J., you haven't presented a compelling reason why he'd be stupid enough to get behind one.  If your best argument is that he'll be the "disenfranchiser".....fuggetaboutit.  He's already calculated that out and is not getting behind it.  His campaign has been anything but stupid....if it would hurt him to not support it,  he'd be screaming for a re-vote.
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« Reply #32 on: March 24, 2008, 02:39:59 pm »
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What would be unfair is if a party penalized some States more than was called for in the rules, while waiving penalties for others, and prevented candidates from campaigning.

I agree with you in that it was completely unfair of the DNC to punish FL & MI while letting IA & NH off the hook.  But, in assessing whether we should view a particular election as free and fair, don't we have to consider what the rules were at the time those votes were cast?  While the DNC should have punished IA & NH, they didn't.  While the DNC shouldn't have held FL & MI to a different standard, they did make it clear **at the time those primaries were held** that the results wouldn't count for anything, and both the candidates and the voters acted accordingly.  So is it now fair to retroactively say that yes, it should count after all?
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« Reply #33 on: March 24, 2008, 02:49:36 pm »
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It's the Democrat's fault for this disaster. I think Florida's should most certainly be counted, but it's hard to argue that Michigan's should since only Hillary was on the ballot.
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« Reply #34 on: March 24, 2008, 03:11:38 pm »
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It's the Democrat's fault for this disaster.

Which Democrat? Huh
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« Reply #35 on: March 24, 2008, 03:35:50 pm »
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It's the Democrat's fault for this disaster.

Which Democrat? Huh

The short one that looks like an ass.
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« Reply #36 on: March 24, 2008, 05:28:10 pm »
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Couldn't he still get behind a revote?

J. J., you haven't presented a compelling reason why he'd be stupid enough to get behind one.  If your best argument is that he'll be the "disenfranchiser".....fuggetaboutit.  He's already calculated that out and is not getting behind it.  His campaign has been anything but stupid....if it would hurt him to not support it,  he'd be screaming for a re-vote.

He's counting on the delegates not being seated; that is a mistake.  As we both know, if Clinton had hold a bare majority, including the super delegates, they can be seated.  That's the first reason.

The second is that it can have an effect on the MI voters (not to mention that Democratic Party operatives) in the fall.

He doesn't yet realize how damaging this can end up being.
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« Reply #37 on: March 24, 2008, 05:39:23 pm »
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Couldn't he still get behind a revote?

J. J., you haven't presented a compelling reason why he'd be stupid enough to get behind one.  If your best argument is that he'll be the "disenfranchiser".....fuggetaboutit.  He's already calculated that out and is not getting behind it.  His campaign has been anything but stupid....if it would hurt him to not support it,  he'd be screaming for a re-vote.

First, it'd be extreme stupidity to assume such a thing. His campaign only has to look at the numbers to see why it's a bad idea.

Second, I think his campaign is smart enough to realize they have to think in the short term, at least as far as it comes to winning the nomination. They'll think about Michigan after the convention.

He's counting on the delegates not being seated; that is a mistake.  As we both know, if Clinton had hold a bare majority, including the super delegates, they can be seated.  That's the first reason.

The second is that it can have an effect on the MI voters (not to mention that Democratic Party operatives) in the fall.

He doesn't yet realize how damaging this can end up being.
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« Reply #38 on: March 24, 2008, 05:44:26 pm »
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It's the Democrat's fault for this disaster.

Howard Dean, most notably.
Which Democrat? Huh
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« Reply #39 on: March 24, 2008, 06:11:14 pm »
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We need a poll for this that only lists "Yes/Uncommitted/Kucinich/Gravel".. to accurately reflect the situation.
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« Reply #40 on: March 24, 2008, 06:13:30 pm »
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It's the Democrat's fault for this disaster.

Howard Dean, most notably.
Which Democrat? Huh

MI Dem Chair Mark Brewer - it was his idea - and he's the one who forced the Rep. Senators into it saying, "we can hold a private primary because we have money and you can't" (it's true - MI GOP is broke), and the Reps said, well, we'd rather have the people chose and get 1/2 the delegates than have a caucus like Wyoming.

It's Mark Brewer's fault - and that's ironic, because he did it to help his man, John Edwards.
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« Reply #41 on: March 24, 2008, 06:39:25 pm »
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MI Dem Chair Mark Brewer - it was his idea - and he's the one who forced the Rep. Senators into it saying, "we can hold a private primary because we have money and you can't" (it's true - MI GOP is broke), and the Reps said, well, we'd rather have the people chose and get 1/2 the delegates than have a caucus like Wyoming.

I don't think the Michigan GOP really cared much about losing half their delegates.  Since all the recent nomination contests have been decided as soon as one candidate reached a critical mass of momentum, they were more than happy to gain influence on early momentum in exchange for giving up half their delegates.
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« Reply #42 on: March 24, 2008, 06:57:47 pm »
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MI Dem Chair Mark Brewer - it was his idea - and he's the one who forced the Rep. Senators into it saying, "we can hold a private primary because we have money and you can't" (it's true - MI GOP is broke), and the Reps said, well, we'd rather have the people chose and get 1/2 the delegates than have a caucus like Wyoming.

I don't think the Michigan GOP really cared much about losing half their delegates.  Since all the recent nomination contests have been decided as soon as one candidate reached a critical mass of momentum, they were more than happy to gain influence on early momentum in exchange for giving up half their delegates.


Originally it was a big deal to some.
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« Reply #43 on: March 24, 2008, 07:08:30 pm »
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Originally it was a big deal to some.

In every single state that's been sanctioned, the party officials in the state complain loudly about the delegate sanctions, but the vast majority of them will still gladly take the tradeoff....vote earlier in exchange for giving up delegates.  The only time it's really not worth it for them to make the tradeoff is, for example, in the case of FL & MI on the Dem. side this year, since they lost 100% of the delegates and the candidates didn't even campaign there.

In the case of FL & MI on the GOP side, it was surely worth it for them to move up their primaries.  Florida, in fact, may well have been the pivotal state.  No way that would have happened if they'd voted on Feb. 5th or later.
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« Reply #44 on: March 24, 2008, 08:59:38 pm »
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I remember reading a news report - I think it was on CNN. They interviewed a voter in Michigan who had just come out of the booth. He said "I'm a Democrat, but because Obama isn't running here and I couldn't vote for him, I voted Republican for McCain" - or words to that effect.

If that voter thought that the dem delegates would end up counting, my guess is he would have changed his vote to vote "uncommitted" - and that's assuming that Obama for whatever reason had withdrawn his name even expecting the delegates to be seated.

To suggest that a one-horse race yielded a fair and legitimate result would be like suggesting the forthcoming elections in Zimbabwe are fair and legitimate.
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« Reply #45 on: March 24, 2008, 09:08:55 pm »
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I remember reading a news report - I think it was on CNN. They interviewed a voter in Michigan who had just come out of the booth. He said "I'm a Democrat, but because Obama isn't running here and I couldn't vote for him, I voted Republican for McCain" - or words to that effect.

If that voter thought that the dem delegates would end up counting, my guess is he would have changed his vote to vote "uncommitted" - and that's assuming that Obama for whatever reason had withdrawn his name even expecting the delegates to be seated.

What about the voter who is a Democrat, and supports Clinton, but because she didn't campaign in Michigan and they thought the vote didn't count, they voted Republican for McCain? Or something "to that effect"?

If that voter thought that the dem delegates would end up counting, my guess is he would have changed his vote to vote for Clinton - or if Hillary had withdrawn her name and Obama was the only one on the ballot, perhaps he would have voted uncommitted to show opposition to Obama.

What about the voter in Florida or New Hampshire in 2000 who said "Oh, if I thought the election would be so close, I would have voted"?

The point is, these things cancel themselves out. For every candidate on one side who would have voted, there is a candidate on the other side. In the end, you still get a pretty good expression of the popular will.

And what about the 565,000 people who did vote? Everyone who says the Michigan vote meant nothing is basically telling 565,000 people to shut up because their voice doesn't matter. You can find as many anecdotes as you want about someone who claims they would have done differently, but in the end, 565,000 did speak and the question is whether their views will count for something-- or nothing at all.
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« Reply #46 on: March 24, 2008, 10:21:42 pm »
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What about the voter who is a Democrat, and supports Clinton, but because she didn't campaign in Michigan and they thought the vote didn't count, they voted Republican for McCain? Or something "to that effect"?

If that voter thought that the dem delegates would end up counting, my guess is he would have changed his vote to vote for Clinton - or if Hillary had withdrawn her name and Obama was the only one on the ballot, perhaps he would have voted uncommitted to show opposition to Obama.


Exactly my point. Voters aren't disenfranchised by following through on penalties, they're disenfranchised when the rules are changed after the vote. The DNC effectively did an Obi Wan Kenobi: "these are not the primaries you're looking for" and people didn't vote because their vote wouldn't have an effect. Regardless of whether or not the delegates are seated, people are going to be disenfranchised. The DNC either will disenfranchise the voters who came out anyway, or they will disenfranchise the voters they told to stay home.   

What about the voter in Florida or New Hampshire in 2000 who said "Oh, if I thought the election would be so close, I would have voted"?


That's a completely different scenario. If the voter had been told that there were no elections in Florida or New Hampshire in 2000 and that even if they voted, their vote wouldn't count - and then the rules were changed immediately afterward to allow those votes - I'd agree with you, but as it stands, they knew their vote would count towards the result, they just were too apathetic to vote. Voters in Michigan and Florida were told they'd be disenfranchised and made decisions accordingly - to vote in the Republican primaries or to not vote at all.

The point is, these things cancel themselves out. For every candidate on one side who would have voted, there is a candidate on the other side. In the end, you still get a pretty good expression of the popular will.


Maybe they cancel each other out, maybe they don't. Maybe Clinton would have hit 60% of the vote, maybe she wouldn't have. The point is - when you change the rules, you change the result. Perhaps her supporters were discouraged equally to Obama's supporters, or Edwards' supporters, perhaps not. We simply don't know. Personally, I think it had a bigger effect on Obama and Edwards, because their names weren't even on the ballot paper, and while their supporters could still vote "undecided" I think it discouraged their voters more than it discouraged Clinton's. I don't have any statistical or other evidence to back that up, it's just what I think.

And what about the 565,000 people who did vote? Everyone who says the Michigan vote meant nothing is basically telling 565,000 people to shut up because their voice doesn't matter. You can find as many anecdotes as you want about someone who claims they would have done differently, but in the end, 565,000 did speak and the question is whether their views will count for something-- or nothing at all.

The 565,000 people who voted, did so despite being disenfranchised. What about all the democrats who voted in the Republican primary, or who didn't vote because they were being disenfranchised? Not counting the Michigan result merely upholds the status quo. It doesn't disadvantage those who voted - at least, not any more than when they voted. Counting the result only after telling voters to stay home disadvantages anyone who made an active decision to not vote in the Democrat primary.

I personally think that the DNC should have penalised Michigan and Florida, but not to the extent they did. The GOP idea of taking away half their delegates was probably fairer - it didn't entirely disenfranchise voters in the state, but it did penalise the state for going against the rules. Since it's a bit late for that, my next preferred position would be a revote - either caucus or primary. Since they've ruled that out, my next preferred position would be to leave the rules as they were when the votes were cast - ie. don't seat the delegates. My least preferred position is to move the goalposts and seat the delegates.
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« Reply #47 on: March 24, 2008, 10:23:27 pm »
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Of course, that's just my opinion. I don't get to vote in US elections, and I wouldn't have been voting in the democrat primary even if I did get to vote over there.
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« Reply #48 on: March 24, 2008, 11:28:31 pm »
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Certainly Smid. What are we here but to exchange our casual opinions? Whether you get or don't get to vote in U.S. elections or would vote in the Democratic party primary really has no bearing on how valid your arguments are, and they seem to be well articulated.

Exactly my point. Voters aren't disenfranchised by following through on penalties, they're disenfranchised when the rules are changed after the vote. The DNC effectively did an Obi Wan Kenobi: "these are not the primaries you're looking for" and people didn't vote because their vote wouldn't have an effect. Regardless of whether or not the delegates are seated, people are going to be disenfranchised. The DNC either will disenfranchise the voters who came out anyway, or they will disenfranchise the voters they told to stay home.

The problem with that argument is that people did vote. Over half a million of them, in fact. Now, the obvious next question to ask is: did more people vote because they felt the election was valid, or did more people stay home because of your interpretation of what the DNC did? Let us compare the Democratic and Republican primaries then. The Republican primary was a competitive one in which all the candidates were on the ballot and competed, and Michigan is a swing state which generally runs very close in general elections, so you would expect approximately a similar number of Democrats and Republicans.

According to the numbers on this site, about 590,000 Democrats voted in the Democratic primary, and about 870,000 Republicans voted in the Republican primary. This despite the fact that only Republican candidates campaigned in Michigan. Had the Democratic candidates campaigned in Michigan, the number of Democrats voting in the Michigan primary probably would have been even higher. Nonetheless, Democratic turnout was at 68% of Republican turnout. That means that, assuming roughly equal Democratic and Republican primary participation, approximately twice as many Democrats turned out to vote on the assumption that their vote would count for something, than stayed home on the assumption that it would not. And this is being generous given at the Democratic candidates did not campaign in the state.

You are right that some voters would be disenfranchised either way. But more voters would be disenfranchised by counting Michigan for nothing than counting it for something.

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That's a completely different scenario. If the voter had been told that there were no elections in Florida or New Hampshire in 2000 and that even if they voted, their vote wouldn't count - and then the rules were changed immediately afterward to allow those votes - I'd agree with you, but as it stands, they knew their vote would count towards the result, they just were too apathetic to vote. Voters in Michigan and Florida were told they'd be disenfranchised and made decisions accordingly - to vote in the Republican primaries or to not vote at all.

True, the only point was that just because a voter says they "would have voted had they known" after the fact by itself, it does not mean the election is illegitimate. Rather, the voter must have a reasonable expectation that certain probabilities are likely to occur. For example, prior to the 2000 election, voters in NH and FL did know that their states could be close; that it was a possibility. Similarly, prior to the Michigan primary, voters in MI had a reasonable expectation that their delegates would eventually be seated at the convention, and that the results in Michigan would be spun by one campaign or the other. In January 2008 and before, there was a lot of expectation that "the delegates would eventually be seated". If you had asked people to place bets on whether the Michigan delegation would have been seated on Jan. 15, 2008, the odds would likely have been in favor. I have no proof of this, but I believe that was the general impression. Therefore, the two situations are actually similar.

Maybe they cancel each other out, maybe they don't. Maybe Clinton would have hit 60% of the vote, maybe she wouldn't have. The point is - when you change the rules, you change the result. Perhaps her supporters were discouraged equally to Obama's supporters, or Edwards' supporters, perhaps not. We simply don't know. Personally, I think it had a bigger effect on Obama and Edwards, because their names weren't even on the ballot paper, and while their supporters could still vote "undecided" I think it discouraged their voters more than it discouraged Clinton's. I don't have any statistical or other evidence to back that up, it's just what I think.

Sure, when you change the rules, you change the result. When you conduct an election by mail, you will get a different result from when you conduct it in person. When you choose a caucus, you will get a different result from when you choose a primary. When you list the names of a lower level office in alphabetical order on the ballot itself, you will get a different result from if you list the names in random order. None of this, however, destroys the legitimacy of an election that was carried out which 590,000 people voted in, unless you can find some systemic bias in the rules that helped one candidate over the other.

It is certainly possible that not having his name on the ballot discouraged his voters more than it discouraged Clinton's. But Obama was not forcefully removed from the ballot. He had the option of keeping his name on the ballot while at the same time remaining in complete compliance with the DNC and any pledges the DNC had asked him to take. He chose, voluntarily, to remove his name from the ballot. Therefore, arguments that the election is illegitimate merely because his name was removed from the ballot cannot hold water. That would be akin to John Kerry removing his name from the ballot in 2004 in Ohio at the last minute then declaring the entire Presidential election illegitimate.

The 565,000 people who voted, did so despite being disenfranchised. What about all the democrats who voted in the Republican primary, or who didn't vote because they were being disenfranchised? Not counting the Michigan result merely upholds the status quo. It doesn't disadvantage those who voted - at least, not any more than when they voted.

Disagree- it does, because at the time that they voted there was a reasonable expectation that the delegates selected would eventually be seated at the convention. And those who made an active decision not to vote in the Democratic primary at least had a choice: they could vote, and at least have a chance of seeing their ballot count, or stay home, and have no chance. Whatever bind they are in they could have avoided by choice. The 590,000 who did vote did all that they could to see to it that their voices counted-- not to count them would be to say to the people: "Even though you did all that you could to see that your voice would count, we are still going to silence you." That is a poor message for a meritocracy.

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I personally think that the DNC should have penalised Michigan and Florida, but not to the extent they did. The GOP idea of taking away half their delegates was probably fairer - it didn't entirely disenfranchise voters in the state, but it did penalise the state for going against the rules. Since it's a bit late for that, my next preferred position would be a revote - either caucus or primary. Since they've ruled that out, my next preferred position would be to leave the rules as they were when the votes were cast - ie. don't seat the delegates. My least preferred position is to move the goalposts and seat the delegates.

The Obama campaign has come out in opposition to a revote because they are afraid of the will of the voters. They are locking in their position and adopting a siege mentality. It's a poor tactic to take, in my view. If Obama really is the great uniter, he should not be afraid to have a re-vote in Michigan and take his message to all the people.
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« Reply #49 on: March 24, 2008, 11:32:22 pm »
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Partially. It was a legitimate election, though obviously turnout would've been higher if Obama and Edwards were on the ballot and if it were known that the results would actually count.

Obama would obviously win far more than two counties in Michigan if he had actually been on the ballot. I don't think anyone can dispute that. But at the same time, a lot of Clinton's voters stayed home too, so in the end her popular vote margin might've been larger than it was, and thus would've improved her chances of being able to win the national popular vote.

So all in all it's a wash as to who would really be helped more if it had counted.
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