Before the early (often inaccurate) exit polls start trickling in from Indiana and North Carolina, let’s just state in advance that if Barack Obama wins both states, that’s it for Hillary Clinton; conversely, if she wins both, whatever his numerical advantages in pledged delegates, and despite the fact that he has shrunk her lead among superdelegates into the teens now, he enters a very dangerous stage.
Of course, most likely she’ll win Indiana and he will win North Carolina. That means things will continue to chug along, with Obama making progress in the literal sense that he moves closer to the 2,025 threshold (equally-sized wins in the two states should provide him more net delegates, given that NC is larger), but appearing to stall in the momentum and narrative senses.
Which brings me to my point: Starting tomorrow, there will be fewer pledged delegates to win in the remaining contests than there will be undecided superdelegates left to persuade, and those as-yet-unannounced superdelegates really need to get off their butts and make a public commitment. Many of them have committed in the two weeks since Pennsylvania; the number of uncommitted is down to about a third of all delegates, which is good. But as the mysterious “Mr. Super” -- a superdelegate blogging under that alias -- clarified in his very first blog post, most superdelegates aren’t really undecided: They know whom they support; they’re just not committing publicly.
Isn’t the whole point of having superdelegates to have them provide direction in precisely situations like this? Every time another week passes and the nomination battle continues, superdelegates are abdicating their responsibility -- especially since, again, most have already made up their minds. Those looking for somebody to wag a finger of blame for this ongoing and increasingly messy contest should aim it at these superdelegates.