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The danger for Democrats

  • Story Highlights
  • Democrats yet to chose presidential candidate, race between Obama, Clinton
  • Race has many unknowns, including disputed delegations from Michigan, Florida
  • Danger after prolonged race may be that the losing candidate cries foul
  • Last time losing candidate claimed to have been defeated unfairly was in 1968
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By William Schneider, CNN senior political analyst
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(CNN) -- The danger to Democrats is not that the race will go on too long. The voters seem to love it. Turnout in the Democratic primaries is breaking records in state after state. The danger is that the loser will claim the process was unfair -- that he or she was cheated.

Some Barack Obama supporters have urged Hillary Clinton to quit because it will be difficult for her to catch up with Obama's delegate count. Clinton's response? Unfair! They're trying to bully me out of the race.

The Obama campaign sees another sinister conspiracy -- that the superdelegates will try to reverse the will of the people.

Obama is ahead among pledged delegates, those elected in primaries and caucuses. He's behind among superdelegates -- party leaders and elected officials who automatically get convention votes.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has not endorsed either contender, has said: "If the votes of the superdelegates overturn what happened in the elections, it would be harmful to the Democratic Party."

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The superdelegates have the power to reverse the will of the voters, but only if they can provide a powerful moral reason why it is necessary to do so. Like new and damaging information about the prospective nominee. Or evidence that the leading candidate can't win. The burden of proof is on the Clinton campaign.

Then there are the disputed Michigan and Florida delegates. Clinton argues that it would be unfair to exclude them. Obama insists it would be unfair to seat them. The party is trying to work out a compromise whereby delegates from Michigan and Florida would be seated but their votes would not determine who wins.

The last time the losing candidate claimed to have been defeated unfairly was in 1968, when the Democrats nominated Hubert Humphrey, who had not even competed in the primaries. Eugene McCarthy's supporters took to the streets of Chicago, and Republican Richard Nixon won the election.

Of course, the differences between Democrats over Vietnam were much greater than their differences over Iraq. This time, however, a lot of Democrats are emotionally invested in the election of either the first woman or the first African-American President. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About John McCainBarack ObamaHillary ClintonDemocratic PartyNancy Pelosi

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