Hillary Clinton leads Barack Obama in the popular vote, and this is her path to victory.
She will ultimately win the Democratic nomination by convincing the superdelegates that her popular vote lead makes it legitimate for them to support her. It gives them the cover they need to deny Obama a nomination that he otherwise would have won.
What's wrong with this picture?
First, Clinton does not lead Obama in the popular vote. It is a fantasy.
Second, the people she most needs to convince that this fantasy is true are the people least likely to believe it.
Let's first deal with Clinton's fantasy lead in the popular vote.
"I'm very proud that as of today, I have received more votes by the people who have voted than anyone else," Clinton said the day after her victory in the April 22 Pennsylvania primary.
But has she really? No. Not really. Not unless you throw out the existing rules of the Democratic Party and invent a new set of Hillary Rules.
Under Hillary Rules, Clinton counts the popular vote in Michigan, where she was the only major candidate on the ballot. The Democratic Party does not recognize those votes.
Under Hillary Rules, Clinton also counts the popular vote in Florida, where candidates were forbidden to campaign. The Democratic Party does not recognize the results of the Florida primary, either.
Under Hillary Rules, Clinton throws out the "votes by the people who have voted" in the states of Iowa, Nevada, Maine and Washington, because those were caucus states, where popular vote tallies were not officially kept and where, by the way, Obama won three out of the four contests.
Under Hillary Rules, Clinton gets to choose the contests that help her, throw out the contests that do not and declare herself the winner.
Steve Kornacki of The New York Observer did an excellent, detailed story last week on Clinton and the popular vote, going through a number of different scenarios and projections for the contests that remain.
His conclusion: "The point is that under the most basic and probably the fairest criteria - simply counting every state and U.S. possession where there was a legitimate primary or a caucus where popular votes were tallied - Obama will finish the primary season hundreds of thousands of votes ahead of Clinton."
But, hey, he's a journalist, and journalists don't count. Only the superdelegates count now, and this is where Hillary must win.
Which is her real problem. As I have previously pointed out, 56 percent of all superdelegates are members of the Democratic National Committee itself, and the DNC represents the largest bloc of delegates who have not yet committed to a candidate.
Am I saying that the DNC, the ultimate insiders, could decide who the Democratic nominee is? Yes, that is exactly what I am saying.
Why is this a problem for Clinton?
Because more than anybody, DNC members know that the popular vote doesn't count, even though Clinton says it does.
The DNC made the current rules. If it had wanted a national primary, a day on which all Democrats across the land would vote and choose the nominee (a legitimate idea), it would have created such a system.
But the DNC created a different system, one in which pledged delegates - selected from legitimate primaries and caucuses - and superdelegates get to select the nominee.
OK, but let's say you got the DNC members really, really drunk (not an outrageous scenario) and convinced them that the popular vote ought to count. Could you then convince them that counting Michigan and Florida makes sense?
No way. For starters, the DNC is the group that declared Michigan and Florida rogue states in the first place. Do you really think the DNC is now likely to accept the popular vote count from those states?
Second, to make Clinton's popular vote fantasy work, you have to throw out the votes in legitimate caucus states such as Iowa. The DNC turns its back on Iowa? As if.
Lastly, there is the big picture: Will the DNC really overturn the choice of the pledged delegates and substitute Clinton as the nominee over Obama?
I doubt it. First and foremost, DNC members care about the party and its future. So ask yourself: Is the DNC going to shatter the party by telling black voters and young voters that their votes in legitimate primaries and caucuses do not count?
Clinton can try to make up her own set of rules, but that doesn't mean they are going to rule the DNC or the day.