This morning the Democratic Party's convention site-seers will meet here to listen to the last three of eight cities' bids to host their 1988 gathering. If they think about it, they've come to the right place already. The Democrats should stake out this friendly territory right now. By any standard of taste, frugality, comfort, safety and good old-fashioned patriotic fun, Washington is a natural. It has a hospitable platform, the Convention Center, square in the back yard of the White House. Without knocking any of the other cities hoping for a nod, we know of no region more eager, more equipped or politically more congenial than this capital city.

There is another singularly important and practical reason for the Democrats to select Washington. Mayor Barry and the two Democratic governors cosponsoring this invitation, Maryland's Harry Hughes and Virginia's Gerald Baliles, point to the "the $9-million Washington advantage" -- the estimate of what convention delegates, staffs and other participating groups would save because so many of them are right here already. They suggest that the party could take most of what would be saved and spend it on the campaign. This is a fine example of how to manage a budget and get results.

There have been some whispers over at these presentation sessions that the fix may be in for Atlanta, Houston or New Orleans -- good places, it is suggested, from which to launch an appeal to the southern vote. But surely the democratic process remains open, and if the geography books are open as well, the members will note the location of Washington below a certain line, standing it in excellent southern stead. It is also said in some corners that the politicians and Washington correspondents would prefer to party away from where they work. But this city is no slouch at providing good fun. Besides, there's no better town for families seeking free and interesting tourist attractions and historical goings-on.

All the other elements are in place: a fine, centrally located and fully equipped convention center; the security offered by a strong, experienced and respected police department; Eastern Daylight Time, also known as Political Prime Time for TV; ample accommodations in all price ranges; excellent office space; the cleanest and most efficient subway system in the country; and the most sophisticated worldwide communications system anywhere.

Washington came in second to San Francisco last time, and if anything, it is an even more attractive place now. The red carpet is ready to roll, and if the Democrats are too, Washington is the winning ticket.