Much Ado About Seating


(DENVER) Remember when you were in junior high school and all of the cool kids sat at the back of the school bus? Political conventions work the same way, only in reverse, with a few privileged delegations getting the best seats at the Pepsi Center.

Yesterday, I took a stroll across the convention floor where workers were putting up the final placards to mark the seating locations for the 56 delegations (50 states, American Samoa, The District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, The Virgin Islands, and Democrats abroad).

Front and center is the delegation from Barack Obama's home state of Illinois, flanked by Delaware (Joe Biden's home state) and Colorado (the host state). The delegates from Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean's home state of Vermont also get front-row seats.

Michigan and Florida's delegations also have prime seating assignments. They're both swing states, and in putting them front and center, the DNC may have been trying to offer a carrot to help heal lingering wounds from the extended battle over whether their delegates would receive votes at the convention after each state broke party rules by scheduling their primaries in January. Yesterday, the Democratic National Committee's Rules and Bylaws Committee awarded both states' delegations full voting rights.

The dubious honor of getting the worst seats in the house goes to Oregon. Delegates from the Beaver State are tucked away in the far right corner behind Mississippi, Kentucky, Puerto Rico and even Democrats abroad (ouch!).

Yesterday, the Republican National Committee tried to exploit any wounded egos some states might harbor because of their seating assignments, sending out an email to reporters with the provocative subject line: "MCCAIN REPORT: Obama Gives Up On MO and NC? Ohio To The Rear".

The RNC's claim that "it looks like Senator Obama is making some concessions to reality after months of talk about a 50 state strategy," might be a bit of a stretch to suggest based on a seating chart. Still, a lot of delegates came a long way to get to Denver, and it never hurts to have the best seats to the show.