4.23.2008

Looking ahead: Will superdelegates continue waiting?

The Democratic race continues, and very little has changed. Superdelegates and donors are now Hillary Clinton's primary audience, more so even than the voters of the upcoming state. She will not be able to meaningfully dent Obama's lead among pledged delegates and there are only a few important contests remaining; Clinton has to score credible victories in most of them, certainly, but she first has to convince superdelegates to wait until June to make up their mind and persuade donors that her campaign is still worth contributing to.

Yesterday's results have been a great success in tremendously boosting Clinton's fundraising. Hillary's campaign is reporting that they have now raised $10 million since the polls closed last night and from now 50,000 donors. That's a very impressive display of strength and, considering how close to being broke Clinton was 24 hours ago, this money will allow her to press on; even if she remains far behind Obama's fundraising haul, it looks like Clinton is more willing to spend her entire fortune while Obama understandably would want to save some for the summer fight against McCain.

[Update: The Clinton campaign via Terry McAuliffe later corrected itself saying it was on track to raise $10 million in 24 hours, still an impressive sum but certainly not what I wrote here. Note that some are doubting these claims. Update 2, Thursday morning: Well, the $10 million happened after all, as of 11pm last night.]

Meanwhile, the superdelegate question is up in the air. There appears to be a consensus that a large number of uncommitted superdelegates are looking to endorse Obama but are unsure of when to do so, with many planning on waiting until the end of the voting process on June 3rd. For now, indeed, there has been no massive movement towards one candidate of the kind that could end the race.

Will it be different this time? Some Obama supporters are hoping that, instead of triggering panic about their candidate's strength, the Pennsylvania results push superdelegates who are leaning Obama to worry about the harm this long primary is inflicting to the party and openly declare themselves. Just this morning, Obama already got a high-profile endorsement from Brad Henry, the Governor of Oklahoma, a state Clinton won handily. And there have been rumors swirling that the Obama campaign has been holding on to a large number of supers who will endorse him in the coming days;

But how much of this is just spin, an elaborate story that the Obama campaign has successfully transformed into conventional wisdom? What is the proof that such large pockets of superdelegates exist since they have not been coming forward for weeks now. Rumors such as these have circulated again and again since Super Tuesday, hinting at massive movements to come and a resulting implosion of the Clinton campaign. They have never come true. Credible media sources reported, for instance, that Obama would get 50 superdelegate endorsements en masse after March 4th, days passed with no such news; neither did reports that Obama was about to get the collective endorsement of the entire North Carolina congressional delegation come to pass.

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