At this point, around 2,500 pledged delegates to the Democratic National Convention - a little over three-quarters of the total - have been chosen.
Only 138 pledged votes separate Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton. According to CNN, Sen. Obama has 1,328 pledged delegates to Sen. Clinton's 1,190. If one adds in "superdelegates," the margin is a bit closer - Obama is estimated to have 1,527 total delegates to Clinton's 1,428.
There are nine states remaining that have not cast ballots in this process - not including Florida and Michigan. Mississippi will the next state to weigh in - the Magnolia State votes on Tuesday. Sen. Obama has been leading in the polls there. After Mississippi, we will be waiting six weeks for the next contest - the Pennsylvania Primary on April 22.
According to currently available polling data, if the remaining states - Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Indiana, North Carolina, West Virginia, Oregon, Kentucky, Montana, and South Dakota - vote as the polls currently indicate, Sen. Obama will be leading in delegates over Sen. Clinton by about the same margin as he is now, but will have between 1,700 and 1,800 total delegates - between 200 and 300 delegates short of the number needed for the nomination.
At this point, there seems to this observer to be no discernible momentum toward either candidate. Even with his win in the Wyoming Caucuses yesterday and his expected win in Mississippi on Tuesday, the Illinois Senator has not regained his post-Super Tuesday momentum. However, Sen. Clinton has not really gained any momentum on her part. While she has succeeded in stopping Sen. Obama's momentum, it does not seem that she has gained any of her own.
Perhaps Pennsylvania will be a turning point in establishing momentum for Sen. Clinton or Sen. Obama. However, it is also possible that a win - as expected - by Sen. Clinton could leave the waters even more muddied than before. After the final Montana and South Dakota primaries in June, the candidates could be even closer together in their numbers of pledged delegates than projected now - with neither having the 2,025 delegates need for nomination.
It is possible that even the "superdelegates" will not be able to decide the contest. According to CNN, out of 796 "superdelegates," 437 have endorsed a candidate - 238 for Clinton and 199 for Obama. According to these numbers, 359 "superdelegates" have not declared a preference. These remaining "superdelegates" could still split in such a way that neither candidate has 2,025 votes.
If the nomination process gets to this point, the Democrats have a number of options. The "superdelegates" could caucus and agree to support that candidate that the majority of "superdelegates" support. This would seem to be both unlikely and undesirable - unlikely because it's hard to imagine figures like Ted Kennedy, who have endorsed Sen. Obama, agreeing to hand the nomination to Sen. Clinton in this way and undesirable because it will inevitably lead to charges of "backroom dealing." The party could seek revotes in Florida and Michigan. If the expense of such revotes can be figured out, this might be a good way to go. Of course, there would be the ultimate compromise of a Clinton/Obama or Obama/Clinton ticket. The difficulty here is deciding who would get the top spot.
Presidential primaries have been the dominant method of selecting Presidential nominees since the 1960s. In the context of this recent period of history, the Democrats are in uncharted territory. We need to go back to the 1920s to see a Democratic nominating contest as potentially deadlocked as this one. In 1924, it took 103 ballots for the Democrats to nominate John W. Davis; Davis went on to lose to President Calvin Coolidge in the November election. The 2008 Democratic convention might be able to nominate a candidate on the first ballot - but it should not be taken for granted.