Take One Down, Pass It Around: 70 Superdels on the Wall

Despite Hillary Clinton’s dominating win in Kentucky this evening, Barack Obama is still going to win enough pledged delegates to own the majority in that metric. He who holds the pledged-delegate majority holds the key to the kingdom, we’re told. But that doesn’t mean Clinton’s win will be for naught. Her queen-size victory may be enough to fortify her superdelegate friends who are still wary of flooding to Obama … for another week or two.

There’s no way to be sure of the exact numbers quite yet, but according to Slate ’s Delegate Calculator , Obama stands to gain somewhere around 15 to 18 pledged delegates from the Bluegrass State. That opportunity, combined with a likely win in Oregon, should net him between 40 and 50 pledged delegates this evening. Coming into these primaries, DemConWatch had him 108 away from the 2,025 needed for the nomination. If he grabs 40 to 50, that means he’ll need 70 more superdelegates at most.

(Note: We’re using 2,025 as the majority of delegates necessary. This does not include Michigan and Florida. Obama would only need a handful of extra superdelegates to achieve a majority with the two naughty states included.)

Seventy is a lot of superdelegates to get immediately following a win in Oregon, but it’s not a totally unrealistic scenario. Plenty of superdelegates (Pelosi, Carter, and Reid included) have said they will vote for whoever wins the most pledged delegates, and Barack Obama will own that title after tonight. But that doesn’t mean they’re going to come out and publicly back Obama, especially with such an embarrassing loss in Kentucky. Clinton won more than 70 percent of the white vote, and more than 30 percent of voters say they’d rather vote for McCain than Obama in November. Those aren’t the prettiest numbers to endorse.

So, instead, we’re likely to see the same steady superdelegate stream to Obama that we’ve seen over the last few weeks. But that still means Clinton is going to be mathematically defeated sooner rather than later. At that point, the chorus chanting for her withdrawal will be deafening. Just ask Mike Huckabee .

UPDATE 9:29 p.m: Hawk-eyed reader Titbug reminds us that Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Clinton supporter, has said she’ll back the pledged delegate and popular vote leader. A list of superdelegates using pledged-delegate tallies as the deciding factor is available here .