FLORIDA DEMS.

P1010016.JPG

Despite the fact that the Democratic National Committee is penalizing Florida Democrats by taking away all their delegates, Democrats here have voted in record numbers already. As of the end of early voting on Sunday, 437,038 Democrats had voted, and another 70,000 absentee ballots were expected. That's more than quadruple the number of Democrats that voted early or absentee in the 2004 primary. Without the national campaigns here, the get-out-the-vote work is being done by local Democratic organizations and fleets of volunteers who have organized their own work on behalf of the candidates, putting out materials like the bumper sticker above in hopes of getting Dems riled up for the primary. It still remains to be seen what effect the delegate situation will have on overall voter turnout today, though.

The Clinton campaign is now trying to push how important the Florida vote is today, hosting a conference call with reporters. "Floridians want their voices heard, and their voices will be heard tonight," said campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle. "We hope and we expect the Florida delegates will be seated. With this level of participation we don't think they will be able not to seat the delegates."

"The decision not to seat delegates was the decision of the DNC," added Clinton chief strategist Mark Penn. "We think that a million people coming out to vote matter."

Clinton will also be making an appearance in Florida this evening after polls close, which she's assuming will be a victory speech, as she's got a clear lead in the polls here. Here camp is playing up Florida in hopes it will give her more positive coverage going into Super Tuesday.

I agree it was a bad call for the DNC to disenfranchise voters in Florida, the biggest, most diverse state to hold a primary thus far. But the Clinton camp's emphasis on the importance of Florida seems pretty disingenuous at this point. They could have raised a stink about this a few months ago when they thought they'd make a clean sweep on the nomination. They could have refused to sign the pledge not to campaign here. They didn't, and at this point, it seems more desperate than sincere.

--Kate Sheppard