299 superdelegates on the wall,
If one of those superdelegates should happen to fall,
298 superdelegates on the wall.
My apologies. Whoever created the song "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" shares some of the blame (along with John Yoo) for redefining the word "torture" for the American public. [I should note that some sing a different third line in this charming ditty -- Take one down and pass it around -- but I felt that was a wee bit inappropriate when talking about Democratic superdelegates. Ahem. And it would be even more accurate to change it to "on the fence" rather than "on the wall," now that I think about it. But I digress....]
Anyone who has ever been on a school field trip bus, or even the backseat of the family car on a vacation road trip knows exactly what I mean about this song. The cyclic (and seemingly endless) drip-drip-drip of counting down from ninety-nine to zero is enough to drive anybody crazy. And that's starting from less than 100.
But the subject at hand is not beer bottles, it is Democratic superdelegates. And while the mainstream media is (as usual) missing the point, these superdelegates are where the nomination race is going to end. Anyone with half a brain could see this was going to happen six weeks before Pennsylvania voted, but then we are talking about the mainstream media here.
There are approximately 300 superdelegates left (out of a total of around 800) who have not yet decided which candidate to back. And it's all about these 300 right now. Sooner or later (later is my guess) the media is going to notice this fact.
Sure, it's more fun for them to bloviate endlessly about the next upcoming "do or die" primary, but the fact of the matter is that none of the remaining primaries (absent a total meltdown by Hillary or Barack) is going to decide much of anything -- which everyone in the media is fully aware of. They know nothing's going to be decided by the remaining races, but much like an addict struggling to put down the crack pipe, they keep going back for one more refreshing hit. Look at how much mileage they got out of the non-story: "Pennsylvania votes exactly as everyone expected them to," for instance.
Don't believe me? Go over to CNN's "delegate math" game and play around with the numbers for a while. If you honestly estimate what the outcome of the remaining races is likely to be (Hillary wins some states, Obama wins some states) for each of the primaries (without touching the slide bar for superdelegates), you will see that when all the voting is done, Obama is going to need fewer superdelegates than Hillary to cross the finish line. Numbers differ slightly, but it looks to me like he's only going to need about 100 out of those remaining 300 undecided superdelegates to reach the magic winning number of 2,024.
Those are pretty good odds for Obama. What's more, the wind is at his back when it comes to picking up superdelegates. Since Super Tuesday, he has cut Hillary Clinton's lead in superdelegates from around 100 down to (as of this writing) 22. And that number has been steadily shrinking. Hillary has picked up some superdelegates since then, but every time she picks up one, Obama picks up three (he's added 103, she's added 32). If this continues, Barack is going to pass her very soon, and gain the lead in superdelegates. This is the point where I have predicted the news media will wake up and discover that Obama has "closed the deal."
But no matter whether the media talks about it or not, Obama still only needs one-third of the remaining superdelegates to win. Depending on the primary outcomes, and depending on how many of the 300 actually support Obama, this will likely mean that even if Michigan and Florida are seated, there is just no way Hillary Clinton is going to be able to win.
Now, superdelegates aren't some herd creature, although you wouldn't know that from the way some people talk about them. Although the Obama camp has leaked rumors (at least twice) that a huge number of superdelegates are going to "break" his way imminently, what has instead happened is a steady drip-drip-drip of lone superdelegates announcing their endorsement one way or the other. This is likely to continue.
Until, one of these days, the media's going to notice that for the past two months, Barack Obama has been winning handily in the only remaining contest that matters. Because these 300 people are going to decide who the Democratic nominee for president is going to be. And if the trend continues, it's going to be Barack Obama. No matter who wins Indiana.
297 superdelegates on the wall...
Chris Weigant blogs at: ChrisWeigant.com