Huffpost Politics
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Robert Creamer Headshot

Time for Superdelegates to Ratify Obama's Insurmountable Pledged Delegate Lead and Settle the Democratic Nomination

Posted: Updated:

The handwriting is on the wall. It is virtually impossible for Hillary Clinton to overcome Barack Obama's insurmountable lead in pledged delegates.

The party's superdelegates are faced with only one choice. They must decide whether to ratify the outcome of the primaries and support the candidate with the most pledged delegates, or they must overturn the outcome of the primaries in order to give the nomination to Hillary Clinton.

They will be faced with exactly the same choice now or in June. It is much better for the party -- and for our nominee -- that they make that decision now.

Let's look at the math.

Obama currently has a 167-vote lead among pledged delegates. There are 566 pledged delegates yet to be selected. To overcome Obama's lead, Clinton must win just under 65% of all remaining pledged delegates. That just isn't going to happen.

If you look at the states in question you see why the math is so daunting. Let's say for the sake of argument that Obama doesn't win any other state. Assume he gets only 50% in the states where he has an advantage or is tied in the polls (North Carolina, Oregon, South Dakota, Montana and Indiana). Then let's assume Hillary blows Obama out -- and gets 70% in each of the states where she has an advantage in the polls (Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Kentucky, and also Puerto Rico). And we'll throw in Guam for good measure.

Even in that unlikely situation, Hillary doesn't catch Obama. She makes up only 122 of her 167 pledged-delegate deficit.

Or let's look at a more likely scenario where Clinton does very well in the state's where she is favored, but Obama does only modestly well in the others. Let's assume that Clinton wins Pennsylvania by 18 points -- 59% to 41%. She wins West Virginia 71% to 29%, Kentucky 59% to 41% and Puerto Rico 65% to 35%. Now let's assume that Obama wins Oregon 55% to 45%, South Dakota 55% to 45%, North Carolina by only 53% to 47%, and Montana 55% to 45%. Finally, assume that Indiana and Guam are draws: 50% to 50%.

If that were the outcome of the next two and a half months of primaries, Clinton would gain only 50 of the 167 delegates she needs to catch Obama in the pledged-delegate count. At the end of the day, Obama would still have a lead of 117 pledged-delegates.

There is simply no plausible scenario where Clinton surpasses Obama in pledged delegates. So in June the superdelegates will be faced with the same choice they are faced with today: give the nomination to Obama who leads in pledged delegates, or give it to Clinton who has lost the primaries.

If the superdelegates choose the latter course -- now, or in June -- they will fracture the Democratic Party. If they wait until June to declare for Obama and confirm his nomination, they give John McCain two-and-a-half more months to smile and be "presidential" while Barack and Hillary (and their surrogates) are tearing each other to pieces.

The next two-and-a-half-months could easily resemble a three-way race, where two of the candidates savage each other with negatives and the third one emerges from the fray as the unscathed winner.

Hillary Clinton has argued that the super-delegates were intended to be part of the process in order to look out for the long-term interests of the Democratic Party. On that point she is right. They should do their duty and confirm the will of the primary voters by throwing their support to Barack Obama now.

Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist and author of the recent book: "Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win," available on Amazon.com.