While we thought the political sands would certainly shift over time, the one thing we didn't foresee was the Republicans closing out their nomination process before the Democrats. Or the Dems getting themselves into a possible deadlock. Yet here we are and that's what could happen.
Almost certainly, Sen. John McCain will be crowned the Republican king by Wednesday morning. No, he won't be over the top in delegates--he'll still have a ways to go. Who knows, Romney might even top McCain in California, which would at least give Romney good reason to keep going. And maybe Huckabee will drop out after Super Tuesday--he certainly should if the only state he wins is Arkansas. So it won't be quite over, but the MSM will treat McCain as the presumptive nominee.
On the Democratic side, however, the race has become incredibly tight. Polls show Hillary and Obama in a statistical dead heat in numerous states. Turnout will likely be high and there will be some surprises.
But under the Democrats system of allocating delegates proportionally, neither Hillary nor Obama is going to come out of Super Duper Tuesday with any kind of decisive lead. Nor, barring a surprise (and we've had some of those, so don't be, er . . . surprised) will the MSM be able to declare one or the other the clear victor. It will be all spin city.
Here's the problem: the Dems award MOST of the delegates in each state proportionally, but then hold out a few as superdelegates, convention slots given to party bigwigs. So, even with Edwards out, it is possible in a close two-candidate race for neither to get enough pledged delegates to go over the top.
That's too bad, because it raises an ugly spectacle for the Democratic Party: the possibility that those unpledged superdelegates--instead of the millions of primary and caucus voters--will decide the nominee. It also raises the specter of a nasty floor fight over the delegates that were stripped from some states, most notably Michigan and Florida, where Hillary "won," but where Obama played by the rules.
The ugliest prospect: the nomination process ends with Obama leading in delegates pledged from the primaries/caucuses, and leading if you count up the "popular" vote, but with not enough delegates to put him over the top. Then the superdelegates line up disproportionately behind Hillary, helping her restore the Michigan and Florida delegates and ultimately putting her over the top.
Cries of "stolen election" come from the Obama camp and, irony of all ironies, freaking Florida is once again at the center of it all.
Conventional wisdom virtually all of last year was that the Democratic nominee would sail into the White House. Believe us, the Dems could still blow it, big time. Then again, we still have time for the conventional wisdom to say the Democrats blew it, that McCain will win, only to have that conventional wisdom also shot down in the waning days of October and early November.
In any event, let's hope we don't end up with an awful controversy over the selection of the Democratic nominee.