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Obama heads for edge in Superdelegates

Obama Heads for Superdelegate Edge

Candidate Benefits
From Calculations
Of Elected Officials

April 29, 2008; Page A4

Despite his loss in Pennsylvania and other campaign bumps, Barack Obama is heavily favored to win what will be the final and decisive contest for the Democratic presidential nomination — the “invisible primary” for the convention votes of party leaders.

[Barack Obama]

The reasons say a lot about these superdelegates’ calculations for the November elections — the presidential one, or their own.

The 795 superdelegates, who can vote for any nominee, fall into one of two groups — the elected and the unelected.

Sen. Obama has taken the lead among elected officials, and Monday got the endorsement of New Mexico Sen. Jeff Bingaman, though Sen. Hillary Clinton will counter Tuesday with a commitment from Gov. Mike Easley, whose North Carolina holds the next primary. Sen. Clinton still leads by double digits among nonelected national and state party officials, but her edge has been narrowing.

The elected are the party’s 28 governors, 234 House members, 49 senators and assorted big-city mayors and state officeholders. Democrats in both camps say that for many, these superdelegates’ decisions to endorse someone — or stay uncommitted — reflect their answer to the question: What is best for my political future?

The nonelected superdelegates are the more than 400 national and state party officers of the Democratic National Committee. While many lean to the candidate who would draw more votes in their states, Democrats say that for most the bigger question is this: Who has the best chance of winning the White House?

Among elected officials, Sen. Obama leads in endorsements from governors and senators. He is behind among House members by one, but both camps expect him to pull ahead unless he does badly in next Tuesday’s Indiana and North Carolina primaries. If he doesn’t stumble, enough elected Democrats are expected to back Sen. Obama after the last primaries June 3 to give him the delegate majority needed for nomination.

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