Howard Dean, the Democratic National Committee chairman, is voicing concern over the idea of a brokered convention at the end of the party's White House nominating contests, calling it a "bad scenario".
With the races between Obama and Clinton being so close that the Wall Street Journal is pointing out that it will be the Super Delegates that select the Democratic Candidate rather than a popular vote that elects the candidate, his concern is very real and well founded.
Here's a nightmare for the Democrats: The party's bigwigs, rather than its voters, may end up choosing the presidential nominee.
If neither Illinois Sen. Barack Obama nor New York Sen. Hillary Clinton manages to pull decisively ahead in the next few weeks, the nomination could depend on the convention votes of 796 party leaders, or superdelegates, who are free to ignore the preferences of Democratic voters.
"To the public, that looks like a throwback to the old, corrupt system of smoke-filled rooms," says University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato.
Wall Street Journal is right on the money there, because according to the RCP 2008 Delegate Count page, Hillary Clinton has 1077 Delegates and Barack Obama has 1005, and Hillary Clinton more Super delegates than Obama has, she has 211 and he has 128.
The remaining primaries/Caucuses for the Democrats start on Saturday, February 9, 2008 and end in June, which cuts very close to the endgame and brings Dean's concerns into focus.
On February 9, 2008, Louisiana hold their primary, Nebraska and Washington holds their caucuses and the Virgin Islands (gets nine votes in Denver) does their thing, which isn't listed as a caucus or a primary but is listed as "other". Between those four contests, there are 204 delegates at stake.
On Sunday, February 10, 2008, Maine holds its caucus and there are 34 delegates at stake.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008, District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia hold their primaries and there are 237 delegates at stake.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008, Hawaii holds its caucus and Wisconsin holds their primary and there are 121 delegates at stake.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont all hold their primaries and there are 444 delegates at stake.
Saturday, March 8, 2008, Wyoming holds its caucus and there are 18 delegates at stake.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008, Mississippi holds its primary and there are 40 delegates at stake.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008, Pennsylvania holds its primary and there are 188 delegates at stake.
Saturday, May 3, 2008, Guam holds its contest and there is 9 delegates at stake.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008, Indiana and North Carolina holds their primaries and there are 218 delegates at stake.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008, West Virginia holds its primary and there are 39 delegates at stake.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008, Kentucky and Oregon hold their primaries and there are 125 delegates at stake.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008, Montana and South Dakota holds their primaries and there are 47 delegates at stake.
Saturday, June 7, 2008, Puerto Rico holds its caucus with 63 delegates at stake.
To become the Democratic nominee for president, a candidate needs to capture 2,025 delegate votes.
Lets do the math.
There are still 1787 delegates left to be divided between Obama and Clinton depending on the who wins what states and by how much to know what proportions they will be divided by between the two.
Clinton, as mentioned above has 1077 Delegates right now, not including super delegates because they can still change their minds.
Obama has 1005 delegates.
Clinton needs 948 delegates to reach the 2025 number.
Obama needs 1020 delegates to reach the 2025 number.
If Super Tuesday, voting in 22 states across the country left the two candidates separated by less than 30 delegates, is any indicator of how the remaining races will turn out, those 1787 remaining delegates would just about be cut in half, which half of 1787 is 893.5, lets round up and say 894, which is not enough delegates to put either candidate over the 2,025 mark needed to take the democratic nomination.
Unless one candidate, Obama or Clinton, take a major lead or a majority of the remaining contests, it WILL come down to the super delegates to make the final determination.
Obama understands that it might come down to the super delegates and at a Chicago press conference on February 6, 2008, said"If this contest comes down to superdelegates, we are going to be able to say we have more pledged delegates, which means the Democratic voters have spoken. Those superdelegates, those party insiders would have to think long and hard how they would approach the nomination."Dean describes the situation "The idea that we can afford to have a big fight at the convention and then win the race in the next eight weeks, I think, is not a good scenario."
He goes on to say that if there is no clear frontrunner by the middle of March or April, they are going to have to "get the candidates together and make some kind of an arrangement."
Because I don't think we can afford to have a brokered convention -- that would not be good news for either party," Dean said.
Dean goes on to say that a "brokered convention has not been seen in decades, and harkens back to an era of shady political deal-making when powerbrokers and cash kings -- instead of regular voters -- chose one candidate over another at a raucous, smoke-filled convention hall."
Which brings us to another Wall Street Journal article, asking, in the title itself "Can Mrs. Clinton Lose?"
Does her sense of toughness mean that every battle in which she engages must be fought tooth and claw, door to door? Can she recognize the line between burly combat and destructive, never-say-die warfare? I wonder if she is thinking: What will it mean if I win ugly? What if I lose ugly? What will be the implications for my future, the party's future? What will black America, having seen what we did in South Carolina, think forever of me and the party if I do low things to stop this guy on the way to victory? Can I stop, see the lay of the land, imitate grace, withdraw, wait, come back with a roar down the road? Life is long. I am not old. Or is that a reverie she could never have? What does it mean if she could never have it?
We know she is smart. Is she wise? If it comes to it, down the road, can she give a nice speech, thank her supporters, wish Barack Obama well, and vow to campaign for him?
In these three articles lies the problems inherent with having two candidates, so close in the polls and primary votes, for example, New Mexico is recounting the votes because there was only a 1,000 vote difference between Obama and Clinton.
With this kind of contest, can either candidate look at the situation and understand how their party base will react if the numbers are close enough where the super delegates end up deciding the future of the party and what candidate will be nominated, rather than the voters doing it?
Would either candidate be willing to step down for the good of the party with a race this close?
I seriously doubt Hillary Clinton will.