Of course, if Clinton wants to make the case to the public and to the superdelegates that caucuses, and thus the delegates they produce, are unfair—to some caucus-state voters, and by extension, to her campaign—she first has to get her audience thinking of caucus delegates as a separate category; it’s hard to bear a grudge against something that isn’t yet defined.
And it’s clear that she does want folks to think of caucuses as something less than a primary. Take another look at what she told Inskeep, especially that “which are smaller gatherings” closer. You should read it as a put-down: Aw, aren’t those caucuses just the cutest things? So don’t take them seriously!
There’s another reason why now is the time for Clinton to make this pitch: save Guam’s four delegates, there are no caucuses left. (Last week, Puerto Rico announced it would switch from a caucus to a primary.) And there’s a general sense that Clinton has, overall, more favorable demographics in the eight states still to vote than Obama does.
In the (unlikely) event Clinton wins Pennsylvania by 18 percent, as a recent poll suggests, she could easily net twenty-plus delegates in that state alone. My gut says it’s still an unlikely scenario, but if the bulk of the other contests go her way, Clinton could come to Denver able to claim that she’d won the primary delegates and the superdelegates, and that Obama only won the caucus delegates—two out of three (of the categories she created) wins the day.
If she keeps talking up a difference between caucus delegates and primary delegates, the press will—hell, I just did—fall in line and split the numbers. Maybe not always, but from time to time, certainly.
There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. As the electoral math forces Clinton to campaign on these sorts of arguments, the press should meet her there, and take hard looks at her claims, Obama’s counterclaims, and most important, do some independent thinking.
Only then can the voters and the superdelegates adequately weigh the case and decide for themselves. But if journalists present Clinton’s numbers without serious scrutiny of the argument behind them, they’ll just be doing her handiwork.