ATLANTA -- Will the Democrats have a deadlocked national convention this summer? In fact, such a scenario is probably just a political junkie's dream. But here are a few things along those lines to consider:
The past month has taught us that North Carolina's John Edwards has obvious appeal to independent and undecided voters, especially those who wait until the eleventh hour to make up their minds. John Kerry's success is commonly ascribed to his believed electability vs. President Bush, while Edwards' stronger-than-expected showings are commonly attributed to his energy and general likeability. That likeability is a plus, but it doesn't necessarily translate into electability in the bruising general election fight to come.
So how can Edwards convert his charisma into his party's nomination for president? The answer may be found in the Florida primary, where a wild crapshoot, last-second Hail-Mary pass by the Edwards campaign might be his best hope for a momentum-changing event. To get that chance, of course, Edwards must first win at least one of the 10 Super Tuesday primaries on March 2. If he doesn't, Florida probably won't matter.
Edwards' best shot on Super Tuesday could be Georgia, where former Democratic Governor Roy Barnes is furiously campaigning on Edwards' behalf among key African-American groups in the state. Barnes is responsible for removing the prominent display of the Confederate battle emblem from the state flag, for which he was awarded the prestigious John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award last year. His influence among blacks could create the possibility of an Edwards victory.
Ohio offers additional hope for Edwards. It's a Rust Belt state where moderate Democrats could play a key role.
Because the Democratic Party awards convention delegates to the candidates proportionate to the percentage of the votes received in the primaries -- unlike the Republicans and their winner-take-all system -- both Kerry and Edwards will win at least a reasonable number of delegates on Super Tuesday. When it's done, Kerry will maintain his substantial lead, but Edwards possibly could fare well enough in at least one or two states to set the scene for a high-profile "electability test" in the March 9 Florida primary.
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