Hillary Clinton’s superdelegate lead over Democratic presidential rival Barack Obama has plunged in recent months — and some Clinton superdelegates are considering a move to Obama.
In December, an Associated Press tally had Hillary ahead by 108 superdelegates. In February her lead was down to 87, and it now stands at just 30.
Clinton trails Obama in the total number of delegates awarded in state primaries and caucuses. But neither candidate may emerge from the primary season with enough elected delegates to secure the nomination, so the race may be decided by the superdelegates — the nearly 800 elected officials and Democratic activists who are not bound by election results and are free to vote for the candidate of their choice.
The Clinton campaign is working hard to keep superdelegate supporters from defecting, but “it’s dripping the wrong way,” former John Edwards adviser Joe Trippi told the Los Angeles Times.
“Psychologically, they’re playing defense with superdelegates, not offense.”
Two Democratic senators, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, recently said they had abandoned plans to stay neutral and are backing Obama.
Rep. Lynn Woolsey of California, a leader of the House Out of Iraq Caucus, had endorsed Clinton, but last month backed away from Hillary and said she would support the candidate with the largest share of the popular vote.
New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, a superdelegate backing Clinton, said on Thursday that he too might support the candidate with the most popular votes, the Times reported.
Obama currently has a lead of about 700,000 votes, excluding the tallies in Florida and Michigan, whose delegates may not be seated at the party’s convention.
Obama is winning over superdelegates because “his arguments are more persuasive,” said Democratic pollster Mark Mellman.
One prominent superdelegate likely in Obama’s camp is former President Jimmy Carter, who told a newspaper during a visit to Africa:
“My children and their spouses are pro-Obama. My grandchildren are also pro-Obama. As a superdelegate, I would not disclose who I am rooting for, but I leave you to make that guess.”
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