The Note: Whispered Shouts

Who is more stubborn -- the uncommitted superdelegates, the Clintons, or the math?

Who has the most to lose if the Democratic race lingers -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bill Clinton, or Sen. Barack Obama?

Who has the most to gain -- Sen. Clinton, Obama, or McCain? (Think for four years or so before answering that one.)

Who is Obama running against now -- Clinton, McCain, or himself?

Will we see an exit that's a Mitt Romney (crisp and timely), a Mike Huckabee (a few weeks too late), or a Ron Paul (non-existent)?

Fortunately, the Democratic Party has seen fit to empower superdegates to sort out such questions. And as everyone takes a breath in this new stage of the campaign, the flood has been stalled -- but enough lips are moving to keep the water churning.

It means, perhaps oddly, that the clash of the titans is set to become a kinder, gentler campaign. For Clinton, the surest way to end the race now would be to attack. Obama also benefits from non-engagement: The more he can ignore Clinton and look forward to his battle with McCain, the less hard work we has to do later.

To the math: Four superdelegates -- including a switcher from Clinton -- joined the Obama train on Wednesday, putting Obama within three in the tally of party insiders, per ABC's count. (He trailed by 60 as recently as Super Tuesday.)

That doesn't count former senator George McGovern, D-S.D., whose switch to Obama on the even of Clinton's visit to South Dakota may get a mention or two for another day.

It also doesn't count the dozens of party leaders who are offering carefully calibrated -- if unsolicited -- advice. (If you listen carefully, you'll hear a drumbeat.)

"What I think a lot of us are worried about is the grinding and grinding on with this, and how tough it's going to be to come back and run a top-notch campaign in the fall," Gov. Phil Bredesen, D-Tenn., an uncommitted superdelegate, tells Bloomberg's Heidi Przybyla and Laura Litvan. "In a good marriage it's OK to fight, but there are just things you don't say and places you don't go and can't get back from."

"Her only leg to stand on with the superdelegates was to win the popular vote," Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa., another uncommitted superdelegate, tells Roll Call.

"The air is completely let out of them," Rep. Jason Altmire, D-Pa., also uncommitted in the race, told The Wall Street Journal about his congressional colleagues who support Clinton. "They are resigned to the fact that it's probably not going to work out."

Even staunch supporters want an explanation: "I think the race is reaching the point now where there are negative dividends from it, in terms of strife within the party," Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., told reporters Wednesday. "I think we need to prevent that as much as we can."

"I urge her to take the day off and think very seriously about doing what's best for the country and best for the party," Clinton supporter Rep. Dale Kildee, D-Mich., told The Hill. "I got straight A's in math."

"It's improbable to suggest she'd be at the top of the ticket," says another Clinton backer, Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla.

"It's her decision to make and I'll accept what decision she makes," said a suddenly less-than-voluble Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

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