Yes, John McCain has a pesky Mike Huckabee reminding him that his red-state appeal could use some improvement. Yes, there is some segment of the conservative base that will dog him to move right just when he should be clinging to the center in the general election. However, his — and in turn the GOP’s issues — pale in comparison right now to the Democrats’.
We know the Democratic race is knotted and may come down to a superdelegate buy-a-thon, arm-twist-a-thon to determine the nomination, an awful prospect for the party which has spent decades trying to escape the smoke-filled room brand of politics (and not just through smoking bans). There is a bigger problem, actually two problems: Michigan and Florida.
Michigan had 156 delegates and Florida had 185 delegates before the DNC stripped both states of their delegates for breaking DNC rules and jumping into the pre-February 5 time period. In a race this close these delegates could decide the winner. Would the Democrats really pick a nominee without counting votes from two populous states that will be critical in November?
Several ideas are circulating to deal with this increasingly critical problem. Hillary Clinton, of course, wants to seat the delegates based on the votes already cast, arguing 1.8 million Florida and 600,000 Michigan votes should not be thrown out. Barack Obama contends that unlike his opponent (silly him) he abided by the DNC rules and did not compete (or even list his name on the Michigan ballot), and the recorded votes are therefore meaningless. Other ideas include a convention or caucus “do over” in the spring or some combination of a “do over” and retention of the the original results.
For all their reform-minded zeal, the Democrats may have a good old fashioned rules fight over sitting the disputed delegates and a smoke-filled room or two might determine their nominee. Political junkies might think this would be grand fun, but for both Democratic candidates and the DNC this may be their worst nightmare. The bitter feelings and lawsuits resulting from such a titanic struggle could paralyze the party that many had predicted would sail into the White House. McCain and the GOP might finally have caught a break.