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Scalia to Determine Democratic Nominee

Still crunching numbers here, looking at absentees in American Samoa, reading the exits from Alaska, etc., and the one obvious conclusion is that the contest for the Democratic nomination may be decided by the very frightening Credentials Committee mentioned yesterday by Howard Dean. The Credentials Committee will try to seat the Michigan and Florida delegates at the convention [one of the committee chairs is Clinton insider Alexis Herman, just fyi], even though they are supposed to be punished for their jumping-the-gun impunity [surely that's not the word I want -- impertinence, maybe?]. That will, in turn, incite lawsuits galore -- really apocalyptic stuff with heavy-hitters emerging from The Palm and the Capitol Grille to let fly with legal briefs that will curl the hair on your back. And that legal case will surely go all the way to the Supreme Court.

Which means that, as in 2000 with Gore v. Bush, it's going to come down to the whim of Nino Scalia.

Don't be shocked if at the end of this whole thing, the Bush family declares martial law.

Someone find out where Jeb is.

[As a journalist you have to think ahead, anticipate the next story, get in position to pounce on news the moment it rears its nasty little head. I'm on the next plane to Florida.]

Look at your map for a moment, and discern the pattern: Clinton won New York, but Obama won Illinois. Clinton won New Jersey, but Obama won Georgia. Clinton won Oklahoma, but Obama won Colorado. Clinton won Arizona, but Obama won Utah. Clinton won California, but Obama won Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, Delaware, and a bunch of other small ankle-biter states that could make California run to higher ground. And so on.

Pattern: A perfect muddle.

If you look at the most representative state in the country, Missouri, the bellwether [sp?] for [to? of?] the general election, the most recent vote tally shows:

Obama: 405,284

Clinton: 395,287

Which is less than the Edwards vote apart. If you're a McCain you call that a smashing victory and sweep up tons of delegates, but Democrats don't work that way, because of their fetish for "fairness" and all that. [Here's a site that says Clinton and Obama are now tied with 703 pledged delegates each; Clinton has an edge in superdelegates.]

As Milbank tells us, the Clinton camp executed some world-class spin on Massachusetts result: "If Senator Obama doesn't win Massachusetts, I think that would have to be a significant disappointment." Yeah, Mr. Wolfson, except that the most recent polls there showed Clinton trouncing Obama. When I visited a few days ago I couldn't walk two paces without bumping into someone who liked the Clinton brand name and basically had never heard of this Obama person.

[Though never one to toot my own horn, let me note the mounting evidence for my omniscience. Called Massachusetts for Clinton, foresaw another Huckaboom when I went to Arkansas, detected McCain's weakness in his home state, and discerned anti-Clinton feelings in Utah. But what's most amazing -- like, getting into Nostradamus territory -- is that in the Utah story I predicted outright, and boldly, that Romney would carry the state.]

The Republican race remains interesting if only as a grand spectacle of foot-stamping by conservative talk show hosts. Today's GOP wrap-up by Jonathan Weisman has Romney supporters saying that the conservative talkers can still help propel him to the nomination. But even if they stamp their feet so hard they shake the very crust of the Earth [fyi, Romneyphile Hugh Hewitt is actually being conciliatory this morning toward McCain], Romney just can't get over the hump, or, more precisely, over Huckabee. After the dust settles, Romney is going to have to look at some hard numbers, such as 176, which is the numer of delegates he officially has as of this morning, and $35,000,000, which is how much of his own money he's spent so far.

On my napkin that comes out to almost exactly $200,000 per delegate. No bargain.


[Now sitting at patio table at Starbucks, wondering what happened to winter. Got aircard cranked. Pulling blog items from atmosphere. Could wireless communications be contributing to global warming? All that radiation? I'm just asking.]

Bad night for Zogby in California, says Buck Naked Politics.

Tom Schaller at Tapped reports that Clinton heavy Mark Penn believes that neither candidate will have a final Super Tuesday margin of more than 6 delegates. Essentially a wash, as they say.

Lots more delegate counting at the Politico.

Kevin Drum says Obama has lost momentum. But if there's one thing in this whole presidential season that's been consistently overrated, it's momentum. Momentum appears to be something of a media fantasy.

[Tell no one, but I've yet to make it to the office, and am now in a diner, still aircarding up a storm.]

Here's Tony Blankley talking about the quirks of GOP history:

"Assuming John McCain gets the Republican nomination, it will show how whimsical history can be. It would be the first time in living memory that a Republican presidential nomination went to a candidate who was not merely opposed by a majority of the party, but was actively despised by about a half of its rank-and-file voters across the country --and by many if not most of its congressional officeholders...."

Blankley says Jeb was easily the best candidate, but couldn't run because this is the first time in 20 years when no Bush could possibly get into the race. He thinks George Allen would have taken it but for the macaca moment. He goes on:

"...what was left after the two strongest candidates couldn't run was one venerable candidate (Mr. McCain), one suspiciously newly minted conservative (Mr. Romney), one not-quite-plausible factional figure (Mike Huckabee), one social liberal (Rudy Giuliani), a quixotic anti-war candidate (Ron Paul) and an older Southern gent with a smashing younger wife for whom he seemed to be saving most of the energy he should have used in what was risibly called his 'run' for the presidency (Fred Thompson)."

Tim Livengood Picture of Capitaol January 2008.jpg

[Photo by Tim Livengood.]

By Joel Achenbach  |  February 6, 2008; 8:33 AM ET
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