[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/02/art.joe.trippi.jpg caption="Joe Trippi is the former campaign manager to Howard Dean."]
(CNN) - If the corpulent lass hasn’t ululated her first note yet, she is only a few hours away from the performance - at least that’s what Democratic strategist Joe Trippi believes. The man who engineered Howard Dean’s ascension through the party ranks and advised John Edwards during his primary run earlier this year thinks that by the time the speeches are over on Tuesday night, Barack Obama may be over the finish line.
To get there – at the moment I am writing this – he needs 48 delegates. He’ll likely come away from Montana and South Dakota with an additional 10-15, and he’ll probably get a few more of the delegates that are currently pledged to John Edwards. Which means he only needs somewhere around 30 uncommitted superdelegates to come to his side, and he’s across the finish line.
Will it happen by Tuesday night? I’m not so sure. We’ve been talking to supers along the way, and many of them seem to prefer to wait until it’s all over to announce their support. Donna Brazile told us yesterday on CNN’s Election Center that “Wednesday is a new day. Tuesday’s not a new day. Wednesday is.” In recognition of Hillary Clinton’s history-making campaign, they may just wait until the final two contests are over.
But the prevailing wisdom, from Trippi and others, is that Obama will go over the top not long after the final results are in. He only needs 12-15 percent of the remaining pool of superdelegates, whereas Hillary Clinton would have to convince at least 85 percent of them to support her. Could she pull it off? Technically, anything is possible, but it’s worth noting that two more superdelegates declared for Obama at the same time Clinton was handing him his lunch in Puerto Rico.
Her crushing win in the commonwealth certainly gives her bragging rights. Her argument that she may come away with more individual votes than Obama reopens all of those old wounds from the year 2000. But just like the 2000 election, the popular vote doesn’t matter in this contest. What does is delegates. And by that measure, Obama is within a hair’s breadth of becoming the presumed nominee.
The calls for her to drop out have wisely abated. There’s certainly no harm at this point in finishing out the competition. Taking the battle beyond that point gets problematic, according to Trippi. He points out that the DNC rules committee had the votes to pass the 50-50 split in Michigan, but in deference to Clinton, adopted the Levin plan of a 69-59 apportionment. As Trippi told me this morning, “What you saw in that committee meeting is how a committee that’s been the Clintons' has switched and moved to Barack Obama.” It would appear the same could be said about the party itself.