A warning and a plea, By Doug Thompson

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By the time you read this, Super Tuesday will be long over. I’m going to use these last moments of peace on Monday to issue something between a warning and a plea.
Odds are that Democrats will be locked in a divisive fight that will go on for a while and the Republicans will have settled on a nominee.
This, of course, would be the exact opposite of what I would have predicted a couple of weeks ago.
Anybody who reads this space once in a while knows I’m no fan of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. So take me seriously when I say that he’s doing very, very well in every poll.The momentum is clearly his. He’s even landed some good punches. Rival Sen. Hillary Clinton did take a different stance from Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on allowing torture and changed it later.
Obama will, in all probability, do very well Tuesday night.
I hope he does.
There are two ways, however, that he could appear to be “cheated” out of delegates, with potentially setting off a wildfire.
First, there is the very possible occurrence of the “Bradley effect,” a tendency for black candidates to do better in polls than in the voting booth. Fewer white voters wind up voting for the black candidate and undecided voters break for the white candidate in disproportionate numbers, according to exit polls.
This is usually associated with latent white unease with a black candidate, and is named after Tom Bradley, a mayor of Los Angeles who lost his bid for California governor. It was been cited as a possible explanation in the stunning New Hampshire Democratic primary results.
The fact that this effect is named after something that happened in California adds to my discomfort. California will provide more than one-fifth of the night’s delegates.
Speaking of delegates, the delegate selection process is, well, weird. That’s the second big danger.
It’s quite possible that Obama could lose many key states and still do well in the delegate count. The reverse is also true. Clinton could barely win some states or even lose a few and come out very well in the delegate count.
Let me be repetitive but clear: There is serious potential for either Democratic candidate to do well in the vote and do a lot less well in the delegate count.
Obama supporters forgive me, but you cry foul every chance you get. If the system rips off your candidate, you’re going to bellow like a branded calf and we all know it.
I hope that does not happen. I hope the Democrats have either a clear-cut victory, or a split-down-the-middle delegate and vote-wise.
I also have a history of calling the Democratic delegate selection process goofy beyond belief. Want to pick a candidate who can win? Hold your early primaries in swing states.
The whole thing raises the question of why party’s use delegates anyway. Delegates look like a quaint holdover from past centuries.
Well, the first reason is to give the party faithful a reward for all their work. Delegates get to go to a convention, and the convention picks a president. It also sets a platform among other important work. Trivial as all this sounds to people who never get political fever, it matters to the folks who get to go.
Second, suppose John Edwards had done better. He could have held the balance of the vote in his hands and decided which of the other two got to be president. It’s a worthwhile chance for minority candidates to have some say in the outcome.
In the Republican primaries, McCain will win the primary even if Mitt Romney wins in California. The reason is simple: Nobody’s contributing to Romney’s campaign anymore except Romney.
Our former governor, Mike Huckabee, is giving conservatives who mistrust McCain another option besides Romney. Sometimes, clichés are true — The only apparent reason Huckabee’s still in the race is that he must want to be McCain’s vice-presidential pick, on the theory he could help cover McCain’s right flank.
I don’t know if McCain will pick up Huckabee or not. However, I don’t know anybody who makes middle-to-liberal positions sound conservative better than Huckabee.

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