Update: An accidentally released Obama campaign document envisions a virtual tie in delegates going into the convention.
Barack Obama's advisers are anticipating the possibility of a Democratic presidential race deadlocked past the last primary, and the outcome may hinge on a fight over whether delegations from Florida and Michigan get seats at the party's national convention in Denver.
One scenario prepared for the Illinois senator's campaign and released inadvertently yesterday with another document projects Obama will end up in June with 1,806 of the delegates who select the party's nominee to 1,789 for New York Senator Hillary Clinton. That is short of the number needed to win the nomination.[...]
Another issue is the so-called super delegates, 796 Democratic officials and officeholders who aren't bound by the results of primaries and caucuses. Obama's campaign forecast projects less than half will be pledged to either Obama or Clinton. The rest could swing the nomination.
The scenario envisioned by the Obama camp anticipates Clinton winning Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania, and a narrow loss in Maine, with their candidate capturing the bulk of the smaller states. They project winning 1806 delegates to Clinton's 1789 delegates, with the ultimate decision hinging on the superdelegates, and the Florida and Michigan delegates still in limbo.
For what happens if there is a tie, read on. My original post from two weeks ago appears below.
---original post begins here---
Imagine Clinton and Obama are Tied in Delegates
Published: Jan 26, 08 07:00 PM
It would be a Democratic Convention nightmare if Obama and Clinton are in a virtual tie after the primaries are all over and neither receives a decisive enough delegate count or public mandate to take the nomination, but there are rules to handle such possibilities.
Keith Olbermann's program on MSNBC did a fairly decent job last night in explaining how the delegates -- and more importantly the super-delegates -- add up and factor in to the Democratic Party's nomination process. It explains what the Democratic Party's rules provide for in the case of a virtual tie. Watch the video (4:43):
Before the Obamatrons cry "foul" since this method seems to increase Clinton's chances at this particular point in time (that could change of course), keep in mind that these rules have been in effect for 25 years.
This time we may find ourselves, for the first time in those 25 years, at a point where the super-delegates decide the nomination. So far there has always been one candidate with enough primary and caucus victories to take the nomination regardless of super-delegates.
Since the probability is high that there won't be an absolute tie, and that someone will be in first place even if they don't have enough delegates to take the nomination, it's logical to assume that the candidate in first place will get the nod from the super-delegates (Obamatronic conspiracy theories notwithstanding).
But even if you assume that to be true there will be controversy over the delegate counts, and "who's in first place?" may not be a straight-forward, simple answer. The already-simmering disagreement between Clinton and Obama over the final Nevada delegate count underscores that possibility.
For now, let's just hope that one of the candidates emerges and moves forward with a decisive-enough delegate count to make the question moot. The other possibility is a little too frightening to consider...
But for those who are willing to consider that question, think back to the star of the 2004 Democratic Convention, and imagine what would happen if the nominating process hinged on the ability of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to win the super delegates over to their side there, at the convention.
On the one hand you'd have Barack Obama standing tall at the dais, giving a speech that no doubt would put Hillary Clinton to shame...and on the other hand you'd have the Democratic party's 'elite' back in those smoke-filled rooms wondering if they should play it safe and go with Hillary, or take a chance on Obama...
Who would get the nomination?
I think the nomination would have to go to Obama. Fewer Clinton supporters would feel disenfranchised by an Obama nomination than Obama supporters would feel disenfranchised by a Clinton win, especially if it came down to the super-delegates deciding Clinton was it, and even more so if Obama was on top in terms of delegates and/or popular count, but the super-delegates decided to give it to Clinton.
To award the nomination to Clinton under any circumstance other than she's the clear-cut leader would assuredly dampen the spirits of a great many Americans who are truly longing for change -- a change away from our eight-year path of national self-destruction. To find ourselves emerging from this two-term trek down the wrong road -- bloodied and disheveled and quarrelling amongst ourselves -- is not the destiny of Blue America.
Hope and Change will trump Experience, everything else being equal, because that is "progressive," and that's who and what we are as Democrats.
Update: Of course, one compromise that could be encouraged by party officials would be a Clinton/Obama or Obama/Clinton ticket. That scenario is one I've been floating for a couple of months now, and I think a virtual tie increases the likelihood of that outcome.
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