I agree with Mike that a North Carolina loss would be a disaster for Obama. But we're also starting to see a weird phenomenon taking shape: that as Hillary moves up in various polls, keeps winning important states, etc, superdelegate sentiment actually drifts towards Obama. I noted last week that, even as his poll numbers among whites plummeted, Obama had finally caught up to Hillary in Hill supers. And now, via Ben Smith, the LA Times reports some superdelegate wavering within the Clinton camp:
Christopher Stampolis of Santa Clara, a superdelegate who endorsed Clinton after the Iowa caucuses, said that he remained in the New York senator's camp but that his commitment expired with the end of the primaries.
"When it's done, all of us, whether we're committed or not, we're going to take a look" at the final eight contests, said Stampolis, who until recently worked in external relations for a Bay Area environmental firm. "Our job is to represent the constituents who trusted us to win the White House."
Clinton, obviously, is hoping the flow will go in the other direction after the end of the primaries. In fact, her whole strategy rests on the idea that if she closes the vote gap with Obama, the superdelegates will rush her way. But the way in which she's closing that gap -- inveighing against "this mindset where elite opinion is always on the side of doing things that really disadvantage the vast majority of Americans" -- may well make the opposite happen. I bet her new anti-economist shtick turns off some superdelegates (who, remember, are explicitly the "elite" within the Democratic party) even if it wins primary votes. Members of Congress have already treated her gas tax idea with total disdain and disgust. I can easily see a situation in which she does heroic work to narrow the pledged-delegate and, especially, the popular-vote gap with Obama by June, but the supers then refuse to play the role she has written for them.
I keep thinking of the line from Mark, "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" What does it profit Hillary to win all these votes and narrow her gap with Obama if she loses the superdelegates' favor?