What it means

The magic number is now 70. Forty of those will come from Puerto Rico, Montana, and South Dakota. It won’t be hard, or take long, to round up the rest.

As far as I can tell, Obama started the day forty delegates from clinching the nomination. The Rules and By-Laws Committee just moved the goalposts back about 30 24 delegates.

He’s likely to get about 40 of the 85 delegates at stake tomorrow and Tuesday. That means he will need about 30 24 superdelegates. Some of those &#8212 about 20 &#8212 Obama actually already has in the bank: they’re the nominally unpledged add-ons yet to be selected on the basis of past primaries. So he actually only needs about 10 4 more announcements. That being the case, the only question right now is whether enough supers announce Monday and Tuesday so that it’s Tuesday night’s voting that formally puts him over the top.

Update An alert reader reminds me of the “Pelosi Club” superdelegates, who have announced that they will vote for the candidate with the most pledged delegates once the primaries are over. If they follow through, subtract six from Obama’s magic number, which would put him over the top. Maybe that’s why the Obama forces fought so hard for those last four Michigan delegates.

Second update Post-Puerto Rico, the Obama website says the magic number is now 46. Tuesday should be good for 15-20 of those. With the six “Pelosi Clubbers,” he’ll need about 20 superdelegate endorsements Monday and Tuesday for Montana and South Dakota to formally put him over the top.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com