I’ve spent a fair amount of time recently discussing how the Clinton campaign is using spin to keep its prospects alive, despite a tremendously difficult path to the nomination. And though I’ve criticized the type of journalism that gives both sides a say and calls that objectivity, I’m going to let the campaign explain how it plans to traverse that path.
Here’s Clinton’s delegate counter, Harold Ickes, from a conference call earlier today. Note that the Clinton campaign refers to superdelegates as “automatic delegates.”
The unvarnished facts are that neither one of these candidates will be able to achieve the nomination — whether with the lower amount [of delegates], 2024, without Florida and Michigan, or whether with the higher amount, 2208 — neither candidate can achieve the nomination solely with pledged delegates because they’re split damn near right down the middle.
Thus, either candidate is going to have to have a very substantial number of automatic delegates to reach the nomination. As we look down towards the end of [the primary campaign], we think that both candidates are going to be within a hair of each other by the time the last states vote, which will be Montana and South Dakota. And assuming that the remaining unpledged automatic delegates generally stay where they are — unpledged as they watch this race unfold, as they see new information being developed, particularly about Sen. Obama — at the end of this process, neither candidate will have the nomination and each candidate is going to have to depend on the remaining automatic delegates to make their decisions, and that applies to Sen. Obama as well as Sen. Clinton.
In a word: superdelegates.
Ickes mentioned at a different point in the call that the Clinton campaign is still holding out hope for revotes in Michigan and Florida.
What Ickes doesn’t acknowledge is that while Obama and Clinton will both need superdelegates to push them over the top, the Obama campaign has the pledged delegate lead and the popular vote lead, which lends credibility to its pitch to the undecided party honchos who will ultimately decide this thing.