John Tabin explains how the Democrats are heading for a no-win convention that is doomed to alienate their eventual nominee from some important constituency.

The Democrats seem to be on a collision course toward an ugly fight. The proportional allocation rules they adopted in the '70s will make it very difficult for either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama to secure a majority of delegates on the strength of electoral success alone. An internal Obama campaign memo that was leaked earlier this week projected that after the last primary vote is cast, Obama will have 1806 delegates and Clinton will have 1789. Neither figure would constitute a majority, which means that the nomination would have to be decided by appeals to the superdelegates -- 796 Democratic leaders and elected officials who can vote at the convention however they like -- or even by a fight over whether to seat the Florida and Missouri delegations.

Duncan revealed that Howard Dean has called him up and asked if the RNC would be enforcing their sanctions on states that scheduled caucuses or primaries earlier than RNC rules allowed. Duncan told him that they would be ("we're the law and order party," he joked). Republican candidates may end up bringing their alternate delegates to St. Paul, and those people may get to attend as guests, but probably not as voting delegates. ...

The same isn't true of the Democratic sanctions. By adopting those draconian rules, the DNC put itself in an impossible position; if they don't enforce the sanctions, particularly if it turns out to matter, Obama's supporters will be furious -- they agreed not to campaign in Florida and Michigan, and weren't even on the ballot in the latter state. If the DNC does enforce the sanctions, they'll alienate not just the Clinton faction but also two battleground states.

More details about the problems with Michigan and Florida:

There is a growing sense of urgency about the need to deal with the Michigan-Florida issue, but no easy resolution. What happens could decide whether Hillary Rodham Clinton or Barack Obama becomes the party's presidential nominee.

The Democratic National Committee sanctioned Michigan and Florida for moving up their nominating contests in violation of party rules; it declared their primaries unofficial and denied them the right to seat their delegations in Denver. At the time of the sanctions, there was a widespread assumption that the eventual nominee would relent and allow both states full participation at the convention.

That was when it was also assumed that there would be an early outcome to the Clinton-Obama contest and that the winner could appear magnanimous toward two states with pivotal roles in the general election. That was when it was assumed the delegates wouldn't matter in the nomination battle. Today, it's clear they could.

The decision to seat the Florida and Michigan delegates could be the decision that chooses the nominee. If that happens, supporters of the losing candidate will obviously feel angry and disenfranchised... that after all the millions of votes cast, the selection will come down to some old, rich, white men in a smoke-filled room. What's more, if the delegates from Michigan and Florida aren't seated, those important states could be driven away from the Democrats during the general election.

Finally, the superdelegates will have to vote, and if their pick doesn't line up with the rest of the Democrat voters, watch out. Just imagine a scenario in which Barack Obama wins more votes and more delegates than Hillary, but not enough to make a majority. If the superdelegates then break towards Hillary and give her the victory, as is widely expected, there could be riots.

I love it. I've been looking forward to 2008 for a long time!

(HT: Jules Crittenden and Glenn Reynolds.)

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