Superdelegates For Obama -- Sooner?

Could Obama's defeat last night actually speed up the process of superdelegates declaring themselves in favor of Obama? Maybe. Here's the logic. Superdelegates are smart, and their decision-making is governed by their answers to at least four different questions: (1) who do they personally like? (2) for whom did their constituents vote? (3) Who is likely to be the nominee? (4) Who is most likely to beat John McCain?

(4) and (3) might contradict each other -- indeed, a majority of Pennsylvania Democrats believe that Obama will be the nominee but think that Clinton is most likely to beat McCain.

But (4) depends somewhat on the condition (3) is in -- and the more (3) is damaged, the more (4) gets hurt.

Assuming that the overriding interest of a typical undecided superdelegate is to win the election and not to curry favor with a particular candidate, it would make sense to think critically about how the process itself is likely to influence the perception and chances of the nominee. (Borrowing from Don Rumsfeld: you fight the general election with the nominee you have.) So if our typical superdelegate believes that, regardless of whether he or she wants Obama to win, Obama is likely to be the nominee, then it makes sense for them, to, as Rich Lowry puts it, "protect him and stop the nomination race before even more of his vulnerabilities become evident."

Example one: Gov. Brad Henry of Oklahoma.