(CNN) – Barack Obama will formally capture the Democratic presidential nomination soon after next week's final primaries, the Illinois senator's top campaign aide is predicting.
In an interview with the New York Daily News, Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod said that after the June 3 primaries in South Dakota and Montana, Obama will "be at the number we need to claim the nomination."
"We're very close now," Axelrod said. "When the primaries end, I think, we'll be where we need to be. ... We'll be at the number we need to claim the nomination."
According to CNN's latest estimate, Obama is now 52 delegates short of clinching the Democratic nomination while Clinton is 246 delegates short of the magic number. There are 86 pledged delegates up for grabs in the remaining three contests. Just over 200 superdelegates also have not publicly declared who they are supporting.
Obama is unlikely to clinch the nomination with pledged delegates alone, but his campaign has said it expects enough superdelegates will declare their support of the Illinois senator soon after the final two primaries.
Axelrod's comments come two days after Bill Clinton suggested some are trying to “push and pressure and bully” superdelegates to make up their minds prematurely.
The former president also suggested Sunday that if the New York senator ended the primary season with an edge in the popular vote, it would be a significant development.
"If you vote for her and she does well in Montana and she does well in Puerto Rico, when this is over she will be ahead in the popular vote,” said Clinton.