Florida and Michigan May Still Matter

Dare it be said: I think the Des Moines Register's David Yepsen doesn't quite have the right reading of the "Four State Pledge" the leading Democratic presidential candidates, including Hillary Clinton, took last week.

If Clinton loses Iowa, Yepsen writes, "What could she do? She might have tried to use her financial advantage and name recognition in the polls to mount a quick comeback in Michigan and Florida. Now, she's taken that option off the table."

Not completely. It's true: she won't win any delegates. But (a) the media coverage of Florida and Michigan is TBD. And (b), the pledge doesn't prevent the campaign from spending certain amounts of money in Florida, raising money in Florida, or even scheduling $1 a pop major rallies. It doesn't prevent campaigns from giving interviews to local television, from running national cable advertising spots, or even, in some interpretations, from running ads on local television stations. In theory -- and the Clinton campaign certainly endorses this theory -- Michigan and Florida are no longer closed piggy banks. In theory, a Clinton "win" there could help her blunt a defeat in, say, South Carolina.

That said, it's true that, had Michigan and Florida remained in good standing with the DNC, Clinton would have a better strategic vantage point.