Senator Barak Obama was run an astonishingly good campaign, coming from being a virtual nobody famed only for his 2004 convention speech to an excellent chance at winning the nomination. Senator Hillary Clinton has run a faltering campaign that has taken her from being the presumed nominee to someone who is facing a personal and philosophical political defeat from which not even her “Comeback Kid” spouse can recover.

Senator Clinton has been the Wile E. Coyote to Barak Obama’s Roadrunner, and her campaign strategy appears to have been created by the same brilliant individuals who design and build Acme products. She has tried to ride the race rocket and the experience slingshot to catch the speeding Obama, but in every case she has either hit the wall or run off the edge of the cliff. She has now lost 10 primaries or caucuses in a row, she is running out of money, her voter base is being eroded by Obama, and she appears to lack either the energy or the intelligence to revitalize the once sure-thing quest for the nomination.

But let’s not plan Obama’s coronation quite yet.

This is a contest for delegates – the Democrats have some four thousand of them – and it takes 2,025 to win the nomination, a number that neither contender is anywhere near to achieving at this time. Obama now has some 1,174 delegates to Clinton’s 1027; he’s 850 shy of a win, and she’s a full 1,000 away from the prize.

What is left to pick up? There are only three delegate-rich states that have not voted – Texas (193), Ohio (141) and Pennsylvania (158). If either of them got every last one of them – and neither one will! – he’d still be about 360 short and she’d be a full 500 below the bar.

The other big chunk is the potential delegates that the DNC stripped from Michigan (128) and Florida (195) as the penalty for holding their primaries before 5 February. Clinton has already applied to have all of them awarded to her since she won the straw polls in both states – something not likely to happen if the DNC members expect to be alive at the end of the day. Now, even if either got all of what’s left in these blocks, he’d still be about 50 delegates short, and Clinton would lack some 195.

That means that neither contender can win outright even if they take all of the outstanding big blocks of delegates. Now, the smattering of small states, the two dozen Edwards delegates, the so-called “superdelegates”, and the wheeling and dealing of the convention become the arbiters of destiny for either candidate. While Obama clearly has the momentum, it assures him a win only if it sways the uncommitted and possibly some Clinton-committed superdelegates.

The odds are now that the foundering Clinton campaign and the surging Obama tsunami will mean that the matter is resolved in the “smoke-filled room” that lays just out of sight beyond the convention floor.

Most sincerely,

T. J. Flapsaddle