Discredited and traumatized by the debacle of 1980, the Democrats who gathered in Philadelphia for their midterm convention saw everything coming their way, and no one wanted to mess up the prospects. They are looking toward the congressional elections this fall, and drooling.

Wherever Democrats convene, the hotel elevators do not work, nor does the air conditioning. This tradition, at least, endured in Philadelphia. In the lobby of the Bellevue Stratford, a swarm of sweaty delegates was elbowing and bumping onto crowded elevators. One overloaded car jammed on the fourth floor –– Philly firemen to the rescue –– and aggravation was rising. The delegates’ destination was the 19th floor, where Walter Mondale, putative candidate for president in 1984, was holding a big reception in the Rose Garden room. Mondale is so popular among his fellow Democrats that in the last Gallup poll, all of 12 percent of them named him as their favorite.