Michael Barone, one of the most astute students of politics in the media, is projecting an awkward situation at the conclusion of the final Democratic primaries:
Barack Obama will be leading in pledged delegates, those elected in primaries and caucuses. Clinton will be leading in popular votes. Obama’s delegate lead will be entirely due to his victories in caucus states. Clinton’s popular vote lead will be entirely due to her projected victory in the Puerto Rico primary. Who then is entitled to the nomination? You could easily think up plausible arguments for either side. This would be a nightmare for the superdelegates who will have to make the decision.
I don’t know if this will happen or not–Barone’s numbers for Hillary look a little too optimistic (winning 60% of the vote in Pennsylvania?) to me. But then again, few would have imagined that the Democratic primary would still be in full force now, at the end of April.
This scenario is probably Hillary’s only chance at the Democratic nomination, and even if it comes to this it’s far from clear that she will get the nomination. So far she hasn’t shown any great talent at wooing superdelegates, but a string of primary victories could change that.
So if it comes down to Hillary winning the popular vote and Obama winning the delegate count, what will the superdelegates do? Will they follow the will of the people and give the nod to Hillary? Or will they treat it like a giant caucus, which Obama has done so famously well in? A few months ago, I would have predicted the superdelegates to go with the most electable candidate, then unquestionably Barack Obama. Given whats happened since then, I don’t know if he can still play that card.
Cross posted at Tennesseefree