Obama Campaign Banks Superdelegates

In June of 1984, the day after California handed Gary Hart a last-minute victory and New Jersey, thanks to Hart's having insulted the state, voted for Walter Mondale by 15 points, Tad Devine, Mondale's chief superdelegate counter, was ready. Worried that Mondale would not meet his pledge to end the primary season with a majority of delegates, Devine and his team made a "frantic" series of phone calls to undeclared party leaders; by noon, a few dozen superdelegates endorsed Mondale en masse, taking the wind of out Hart's campaign forever.

Neither the Clinton nor the Obama campaign is clear what the DNC's rules and bylaws committee will do on May 31; depending upon how or whether they re-allocate delegates, Obama could wind up within to 20 to 30 votes of the nomination -- a situation rectifiable by a piddling performance in Puerto RIco, South Dakota and Montana -- or more than 100 delegates short, requiring solid performances in those states plus a few dozen superdelegate endorsements to put him over the top.

To prepare for that eventuality, the Obama campaign has, for the first time, really, begun to bank delegates. Sources close to the campaign estimate that as many as three dozen Democratic superdelegates have privately pledged to announce their support for Obama on June 4 or 5. The campaign is determined that Obama not end the first week in June without securing the support of delegates numbering 2026 -- or 2210, as the case may be.