Sen. John McCain will be the Republican nominee. How is this the case even though McCain does not have the necessary delegates? While McCain has been able to build his large delegate lead in the many previous Republican primaries and caucuses that have been winner take all, many of the upcoming contests award delegates proportionally. So Mike Huckabee (or Mitt Romney, who still leads Huckabee in delegates and has only "suspended" his campaign) would not just need to get more votes than McCain, he would need to blow him out: getting 80-90% of the vote in all upcoming proportional contests to make up his current deficit. So why is Huckabee staying in the race? Well, he has been helping McCain all along, so why should he stop now? Him staying in the race means McCain is still out campaigning, raising money, and Republican contests are regularly covered in the news. The Republicans, who combined have not raised as much money as either Clinton or Obama individually, need all the free press they can get. The Harlem Globetrotters need the Washington Generals, right?
Despite Sen. Barack Obama's big wins since Super Tuesday, he is only a little ahead of Sen. Hillary Clinton in total delegates and neither are close to the total needed for the nomination. All Democratic contests award delegates by a (very complicated, but more or less) proportional system. (If you really want your eyes crossed, you can check out Texas' combined primary and caucus system (slightly less complicated explanation).) Sen. Obama has a 1,096 to 977 lead in pledged, i.e., voted for, delegates. Superdelegates make the whole Democratic picture a little murkier. There are about 800 of these delegates that are not responsible to any voter, only to themselves. They are made up of elected officials, former elected officials, and other officials from the party. Unlike the Electoral College, whose role as imagined by the Founding Fathers was to ensure the masses did not make a horrible mistake, the role of the superdelegates has traditionally been to make sure the people's voices are heard. Sounds weird right? "Let's have some unaccountable people help decide the nominee to make sure the people's voices are heard." Well, that was the idea. If there is a three-way race, the superdelegates can push the most popular candidate over the top. Unfortunately, nearly 400 superdelegates have already stated their nominee preference; many before any voting by actual citizens. This is seen acutely in Massachusetts, where notable superdelegates like Sens. Kennedy and Kerry have thrown their support behind Sen. Obama and are not changing their intentions despite Sen. Clinton's winning that state's primary. A balancing example can be found right here in St. Louis, where Mayor Francis Slay continues to support Sen. Clinton even though Sen. Obama won Missouri and St. Louis (the latter by a very wide margin). Rather than ensuring the people's voices are heard, the superdelegates, who will decide the nomination if the race remains close, may decide the nomination.
Hopefully the remaining superdelegates will resist the temptation to commit and will ensure the people's votes are reinforced, not overturned.