In my post below, I postulate that losing Iowa will cause little heartache for Hillary Clinton. She leads in the delegate-rich states of the coast, and Barack Obama will not be able to pick up any momentum from his opening-night win, if in fact he pulls it off. However, there is a much more substantial reason why Hillary will win the nomination — the party Establishment:
The Associated Press contacted 90 percent of the 765 superdelegates, mostly elected officials and other party officers, who are free to support anyone they choose at the convention, regardless of what happens in the primaries.
Hillary Rodham Clinton leads Barack Obama by more than a 2-1 margin among those who have endorsed a candidate. But a little more than half of those contacted — 365 — said they haven’t settled on a Democratic standard bearer.
“The fact that under half have publicly committed shows me how open the Democratic race still is,” said Jenny Backus, a Democratic consultant who is not affiliated with any campaign. “It’s a sign that the race isn’t totally done in many people’s minds.”
Clinton has the endorsement of 169 superdelegates. She is followed by Obama, 63; John Edwards, 34; Bill Richardson, 25; Chris Dodd, 17; Joe Biden, 8, and Dennis Kucinich, 2.
Superdelegates come from the DNC, Congressional Democrats, and other elected officials. They represent the Democratic Establishment, the people who make and lead the party, and who owe their loyalties to the people who got them elected. They are free agents, but they have their own interests in mind — and as a bloc, they comprise more than a third of the votes necessary to win a nomination. (Republicans have far fewer superdelegates, around 100.)
Of the national candidates for the nomination, which candidate has worked longer for elected Democrats? Not Barack Obama; he has only served half of his first six-year term in the Senate. John Edwards couldn’t even get himself re-elected in his home state after one Senate term. Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd, and Joe Biden couldn’t get anyone else elected anywhere except in their home states.
The party needs the Clintons. Democrats in the House and Senate need Bill to raise funds for their re-election efforts, and he will do it — as long as they support Hillary now. The only reason Hillary hasn’t gotten public commitments from these delegates as yet is because she doesn’t really need them. If push comes to shove, and it likely won’t, they’ll make it clear that the Democratic Establishment understands their own interests and will keep the nomination from winding up in the hands of those who have not yet proven their worth to the party.