The message from Democratic activists supplying the New York Times with this warning is clear — stop Bernie Sanders. Sanders and his supporters could prevent the Democratic primaries from securing a nominee to face Donald Trump, Jonathan Martin reports, thanks to the large field and rules changes made by the party after 2016. And some Democrats are taking the possibility seriously enough to play right into Bernie’s hands.

Every cycle has media outlets wishing for a brokered convention. This wish might be a little more realistic:

“If I had to bet today, we’ll get to Milwaukee and not have a nominee,” said Ms. Daughtry, who was neutral in the 2016 primary.

The reason, she theorized, is simple: Super Tuesday, when at least 10 states vote, comes just three days after the last of four early states. After that, nearly 40 percent of the delegates will have been distributed — and, she suspects, carved up among Democratic candidates so that nobody can emerge with a majority.

Unlike Republicans, who used a winner-take-all primary format, Democrats use a proportional system, so candidates only need to garner 15 percent of the vote in a primary or caucus to pick up delegates. And even if a candidate fails to capture 15 percent statewide, he or she could still win delegates by meeting that vote threshold in individual congressional districts.

Don’t forget that this is the first cycle in which Democratic superdelegates don’t get a vote — in the first round, anyway. That’s a reform that got put into place because of the DNC’s attempts to bury Bernie in 2016. He wouldn’t have won the nomination under those rules three years ago, but because Democrats had so many superdelegates, it still looked like the establishment could and would dictate the outcome. If they can’t decide the nomination on the first ballot, superdelegates get to vote on the second ballot. And what if Bernie led after the first round but Biden or Beto got chosen instead with the superdelegates?

Chaos, my friends. Pass-the-Orville-Redenbacher-gourmet-popcorn level chaos.

Democrats know it too — which is why Martin reports that the party’s leadership are trying to head off that result with, um … secret meetings in Washington DC and New York. Seriously?

The matter of What To Do About Bernie and the larger imperative of party unity has, for example, hovered over a series of previously undisclosed Democratic dinners in New York and Washington organized by the longtime party financier Bernard Schwartz. The gatherings have included scores from the moderate or center-left wing of the party, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi; Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader; former Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia; Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., himself a presidential candidate; and the president of the Center for American Progress, Neera Tanden.

Who’s supplying the cigars for these back-room conferences? The concession must be worth a fortune. Small wonder Sanders went on the offensive against Neera Tanden and CAP over the past few days. He might want to add a few more targets to his broadsides.

In fact, he already has. The campaign sent out a fundraising letter by e-mail accusing “the Democratic establishment and high-dollar donors” of plotting to stop Bernie … again:

Based on the New York Times story, it’s tough to dispute any of the allegations in the letter. In other words, it’s not paranoia if they’re really out to get you, and … they’re really out to get Bernie. That might be understandable, given the fact that Bernie wants the nomination of a party with which he barely and only occasionally joins, but it looks like they’ve learned nothing over the last three years about confronting that transparently rather than plotting behind closed doors.

What are Republicans to do? Place your orders, that’s what, and spread the wealth.