Those campaign buses (and planes and trains) making their way across Pennsylvania this weekend will be carrying an awful lot of baggage (and they -- along with a certain television network -- may have picked up a fresh load back at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia).
For Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., a "win" in a debate will only be relevant or remembered if Tuesday's Pennsylvania primary reflects it -- and only running up the score really counts.
For Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., a difficult debate can be erased by keeping it close in the Keystone State -- but he can add Bill Ayers to the list of names that will follow him for as long as he's a candidate.
Yet all those "questions" and "doubts" probed at the debate and beyond only matter if superdelegates see them -- and a certain point, it's actions that matter, not words (with apologies to Obama).
And so far . . . nothing.
"Despite giving it her best shot in what might have been their final debate, interviews on Thursday with a cross-section of these superdelegates . . . showed that none had been persuaded much by her attacks on Mr. Obama's strength as a potential Democratic nominee, his recent gaffes and his relationships with his former pastor and with a onetime member of the Weather Underground," Patrick Healy writes in The New York Times.
It may be the voting that (shockingly) counts: "If there were some moments of concern reflected in the debate -- the talk of Mrs. Clinton's high unfavorability ratings, Mr. Obama's flashes of annoyance -- they all doubted that those moments would be deal-breakers, either," Healy writes. "Instead, most of the superdelegates said they wanted to wait for the results of at least the next major primaries -- in Pennsylvania on Tuesday and Indiana and North Carolina two weeks later -- before choosing a candidate."
As Obama sought to turn post-debate fire on the debate itself -- and as both candidates took a truthiness break Thursday night -- the first day after what may have been the last debate brought movement toward only his direction: Two new superdelegates give Obama a 145-delegate edge, per ABC's delegate tracker.
(Clinton's margin among the supers is down to 20 -- some people must agree with Clinton that Obama can beat Sen. John McCain.)
For the supers -- and for the press -- wins aren't necessarily wins: "Anything less than a double-digit victory could solidify the perception that Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is the inevitable Democratic nominee, sparking a flow of superdelegates to his side," Amy Chozick writes in The Wall Street Journal. "Her goal must be to change the dynamic of the race, raising doubts about Sen. Obama's ability to carry states like Pennsylvania and lifting her chances of replicating the win in Indiana on May 6."
Count Dr. Dean among those who want an answer -- now. "I need them to say who they're for -- starting now,'" DNC Chairman Howard Dean said of superdelegates, on CNN. "We cannot give up two or three months of active campaigning and healing time. . . . We've got to know who our nominee is."