But it is still remarkable, as the primary season winds down, how close Clinton has come – and how little it seems to be impacting the perception of Obama's candidacy. Regardless of what the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee decide this weekend about the delegate allocations in Michigan and Florida, the margin of victory for Obama is going to be slim.
Clinton may well have an edge in recorded popular votes (with a lot of creative math involved). And, if she wins Puerto Rico, Clinton will have won five of the last ten contests compared to two states for Obama. Even giving him South Dakota and Montana next Tuesday, Clinton still has had an edge in contests at the end of this process (Guam was a split).
And, while so much has been said about the "will" of the voters and the "rules" of the Democratic nominating process, there's simply no getting around the fact that this race will be decided solely on the backs of the nearly 800 free-agent superdelegates whose decisions are governed by no rules at all. Among pledged delegates won in the contests, Obama has a relatively slim lead of just 157, according to the CBS News delegate count. His total of 1,653 pledged delegates is nearly 400 short of what will likely be needed to wrap up the nomination.
So, this is a decision that ultimately is being made by party leaders, not in the kind of smoky back-rooms that so many once imagined would lift Clinton to the nomination, but in the process set up by the party. It's those rules which the Clinton campaign appears to be hanging onto – keep Obama under the threshold once all the contests have been held, then force party leaders like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others still on the sidelines to crown the victor.
It all raises a couple of interesting questions. Would Clinton be hailed as the inevitable winner if the positions of these two candidates were reversed or would superdelegates be warned not to reverse the "will" of the people (the popular vote)? And what kind of shape would almost any other candidate in any other race be in had they cruised through the middle of the primary calendar then stumbled toward the end, losing states like Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana?
Of course, these are no ordinary candidates in the Democratic primary and it has been anything but a normal campaign. And, in the end, the best thing that might have happened to Obama is Clinton's candidacy because it appears to have both galvanized the perception that he is the rightful winner and has stifled concerns about his primary performances at the end of the process.
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