The Nation: Alternate Democratic Visions

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WISCONSIN, 54 ... Massachusetts, 102 ... Nebraska, 18 ... Oregon, 34 ... New Jersey, 71 ... California, 271 ... Last week, in the final phase of the spring primary season, George McGovern's sleek and improbable juggernaut rolled through New York. As the votes were counted, McGovern stood amid his euphoric supporters in Manhattan's Biltmore Hotel, his thin hair flecked with confetti, his tanned face creased with a wide, white grin. "SOUTH DAKOTA wow," proclaimed one cardboard sign. In his flat, prairie tones, McGovern said calmly; "I'm convinced we will now win the nomination in Miami Beach."

So it seemed. With his sixth straight primary victory, McGovern had acquired 226 of the 278 New York delegates. The spring's relentless arithmetic had now pushed his delegate total over 1,300, putting him fewer than 200 votes from the 1,509 he will need for a first-ballot victory at the Democratic Convention. By this week, McGovern's men claimed, he would have raised the total to just over 1,400—including pledges he expected to pick up from uncommitted delegates in half a dozen states. McGovern was also hoping to pry loose some 40 to 50 black delegates, even though they were reluctant for the moment to desert Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm before she had a chance at least to be nominated. If McGovern "nickeled and dimed" his way to Miami Beach, picking up delegates anxious to join a winner's bandwagon, he could turn the convention balloting into a mere ratification ceremony.

Hints. The entire McGovern phenomenon—his progress from near-obscurity to something like a fait accompli—has left the Democratic Party in a state bordering on stupefaction. Only now, perhaps too late, are the party's regulars beginning to shake off their astonishment and think of ways to avert what many of them regard as the disaster of a McGovern candidacy. But thus far no one has produced a candidate, an organization or a plausible scenario to stop McGovern.

After dropping some hints that he might be available, Edward Kennedy last week issued a Shermanesque statement (see following story). Edmund Muskie remained in the race, hoping dimly that if McGovern fetched up short of a first-ballot victory, the convention might deadlock and turn to him. Hubert Humphrey, behaving with all the scrambling ebullience of a fresh contender, says he remains convinced that in the end organized labor and the party's regular leaders will reject McGovern and leave him 100-150 votes short of a first-ballot nomination. Humphrey says he expects to control 672 first-ballot votes out of the total of 1,700 non-McGovern delegates, thinks that by the third ballot he can pick up enough support from delegates pledged to Muskie, George Wallace, Henry Jackson, Wilbur Mills and others to take the nomination. At the moment, says Humphrey, "my chances are 1 in 4."

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