Donald Lambro

Independents made up 22 percent of the vote in the party primaries held thus far, and Obama has won this bloc by a hefty 64 percent to 33 percent. In Ohio, a swing state that will be pivotal in the fall, Clinton leads by 20 points among women, but Obama leads by 10 points among men who tend to turn out in larger numbers in primaries.

In the meantime, Democratic analysts have been doing the delegate math in the remaining 14 contests where 972 pledged delegates will, by and large, be proportionately accorded to each delegate based on the share of the vote in each congressional district.

Some have already concluded that Obama appears poised to come close to the 2,025 delegates needed to clinch the nomination.

"Most outside observers believe that Clinton must win both Texas and Ohio and do so by margins wide enough to eat into Obama's lead in pledged delegates. This will not be easy," wrote veteran Democratic strategist Bill Galston in a memorandum being circulated among Democrats last week.

"If Obama's (delegate) margin on March 5 is at or near its current level, many of the ... superdelegates who are now officially undecided will likely decide that it is time to bring this historic contest to a close," continued Galston, a domestic-policy adviser in the Clinton White House.

"If he were to win 65 percent of them ... he would finish with a total of 1,985 delegates, only 40 short of the 2,025 needed for the nomination, while she would trail with 1,604," Galston figured. That "would almost certainly bring into his camp the modest number of additional superdelegates needed for outright victory."

There has been talk in Clinton's high command about fighting it out at the August convention over the superdelegates and the delegates from Florida and Michigan, two states Clinton won but whose unsanctioned primaries go unrecognized by the Democratic National Committee.

Ickes talked ominously this week at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast with reporters about "a bitter and potentially very divisive credentials fight" at the convention.

Obama supporters believe that if he does well in Texas and Ohio, the remaining unpledged superdelegates will rally around him. But that kind of talk is given the cold shoulder from Clinton supporters.

"If Hillary Clinton regained the momentum and goes into the final months with the wind at her back, the superdelegates could play a significant role. Superdelegates were chosen to bring good independent judgment to the nominating process and not to be rubber-stamped," Grossman told me.

Sounds as if no matter what happens next week, Clinton isn't giving up without a fight, no matter what the costs in November.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.