WASHINGTON (CNN) - It’s now time for the remaining voters to speak out. The first of those will have their chance in Indiana and North Carolina on Tuesday. The following Tuesday, May 13, they will make themselves heard in West Virginia. And a week later, on May 20, they will add their voices in Kentucky and Oregon. This could easily continue until the final contests in Montana and South Dakota on June 3. Only then will all the primaries and caucuses have taken place.
Since neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama is even by then expected to have accumulated enough pledged delegates to guarantee his or her nomination, it will almost certainly be up to the superdelegates to weigh in.
Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic Party, wants the remaining undecided super delegates to make up their minds as quickly as possible but certainly in June after the final two contests. Many other top Democratic leaders are recommending the same thing. They fear that uncertainty going into the Democratic convention at the end of August will merely help John McCain consolidate his Republican base and win over independents and moderate Democrats.
Hillary Clinton’s supporters, including North Carolina’s Governor Mike Easley, say this process actually could go on until the convention, and they insist that is not necessarily such a bad thing.
They also note that the fate of those Michigan and Florida delegates remains up in the air – something that could eventually hurt any Democratic nominee in November if the Democratic voters in those two states feel disenfranchised.
All of this is fascinating material for you political news junkies to ponder. I think about the various scenarios all the time. But the immediate issue on the agenda right now is North Carolina and Indiana. Let’s take it one step at a time and see what happens next Tuesday. We will then be in a better position to assess the days and weeks that follow.