When Florida and Michigan passed legislation moving their primaries up in defiance to the Democratic National Committee’s rules, the DNC removed the two states’ national delegates, and the candidates signed a pledge not to campaign there. As a result, the state legislatures in Florida and Michigan have granted almost certain victories to the Clinton campaign. Clinton, aided by her 100% name recognition, regularly beats Obama by double-digits in Florida and Michigan. And due to the pledge, Obama can’t campaign in the two taboo states to attempt to bolster his position. Doing so would draw the ire of influential Iowa and New Hampshire activists afraid of their positions in the primary process being usurped.
Even though delegates gained from victories in the rule-breaking states are worthless, a triumph in either primary would serve as a huge momentum-dampener for any candidate breaking out after an Iowa/NH win. Clinton is facing her toughest competition in Iowa, polling neck-and-neck with Edwards and Obama. However, Michigan is merely one day after Iowa in the current calendar, providing a near certain fall-back plan for Clinton. New Hampshire’s primary is on the 22nd, with Florida and South Carolina a week later. Again, if Clinton loses New Hampshire, she can rely on a Florida victory to re-establish herself. Then, she remains strong for February 5th and is an excellent position for the nomination.