Sunday, February 10, 2008

Clinton-Obama: Loser Takes All?

With Barack Obama's Saturday sweep, are the Democrats headed for their own version of Bush-Gore 2000 in which the candidate with the most popular votes ends up losing?

Using the latest available tallies from CNN and Time, my calculator shows Obama ahead of Clinton by 168,721 votes of 15,854,593 cast on Super Tuesday and in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nebraska, Louisiana, Kansas, Washington, Nevada and the Virgin Islands. (He won in Iowa, too, but the popular vote there is a mystery.)

If this trend continues, as it may very well do, Hillary Clinton could lose in the popular voting but win the Democratic nomination as a result of what 796 Super Delegates decide, just as George W. Bush moved into the White House in 2001 based on what nine members of the Supreme Court ruled.

In a year of strong feelings, would such a situation lead to a contentious convention like the one in 1968 that tore the Democratic Party apart and led to the election of Richard Nixon by less than one percent of the vote in November?

I was there as an alternate delegate in Chicago to be tear-gassed by the police of Democratic Mayor Richard Daley, which, to my lasting shame, led to the decision to vote for Hubert Humphrey but not campaign for him, as did others I knew.

Over the years, Democrats have found many ways to lose elections they might have won. Will we find a new one this year?

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