The Note: Super-Scare

If this wasn't a super-scare, what might be?

Six solid weeks of Wright's wrongs, "bitter" pills, bad bowling, gaffes, and goofs (and one big loss in one important state) surely have registered with those astute political observers known as superdelegates, and yet . . . Sen. Barack Obama's magic number shrinks by the day.

It's not a flood that washes away the mess left by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, but Wright's wake brought Obama another three superdelegate pickups Wednesday -- compared to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's two.

It widens Obama's lead at a time that Clinton needs to be making up ground -- and might just be the answer we've been waiting for to the question of whether all these distractions matter.

And Thursday brings a switcher in Obama's direction -- a big Clinton name in a key state: Joe Andrew, an Indiana native who served as DNC chairman from 1999-2001 -- installed by Bill Clinton -- announces his move from Clinton to Obama at a 10 am ET press conference in Indianapolis.

"I am convinced that the primary process has devolved to the point that it's now bad for the Democratic Party," Andrew tells the AP's Nedra Pickler.

Says his letter to fellow superdelegates: "A vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote to continue this process, and a vote to continue this process is a vote that assists John McCain."


If Democratic Party leaders are as concerned as Harold Ickes and Terry McAuliffe say they should be, now might be a good time for them to speak up.

Clinton, D-N.Y., is making her argument, and Obama, D-Ill., might even be helping her do it. But what if it's the wrong argument for the wrong time in the Democratic race? What if -- to borrow a timely phrase that we've heard can be used prematurely -- the mission has been accomplished?

"The senator from New York continues to lose ground with the one group that can still deliver her the nomination -- the party leaders and elected officials known as superdelegates," Jonathan Weisman and Shailagh Murray write in The Washington Post.

"For the Clinton campaign, the reemergence of the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., soon after Obama's comments about 'bitter' small-town voters, was supposed to be the moment when superdelegates decided Obama could not be elected president," they write. "Instead, he has won more superdelegate endorsements than Clinton in recent days, whittling her once-overwhelming lead down to about 20."

Key sentiment: "Anybody who did not think Republicans would characterize either of our candidates somehow as deeply flawed has been living in another country, if not another planet," said Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C., who remains undecided but tells the Post he believes Obama will be the nominee.

"Some people think the furor over Barack Obama's fiery ex-pastor could torpedo his candidacy, but nobody told that to the superdelegates who will decide the contest," Ken Bazinet writes in the New York Daily News.

Per ABC's count, it's never been closer on the superdelegate front: With Andrew's switch, Clinton's super-lead is down to 14, 257-243. Toss in the pledged delegates and Obama has a 143-delegate edge -- an advantage that looks bigger as you get closer to it.

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