According to McClatchy, Barack Obama is preparing to declare victory "after next Tuesday's final primaries in Montana and South Dakota." It's unclear when exactly that would be, but according to Obama himself, it's simple: he'll do it whenever he gets the requisite number of delegates to win the nomination.
Obama said the nominee would be clear "after Tuesday.""I am sure we will have discussions with Senator Clinton and her team," he said.
He predicted that after the last primaries, "whatever remaining super delegates will make their decisions pretty quickly after that."
"If we've got the number of delegates to secure the nomination," Obama said, "then I'm the nominee."
"It is technically not over until we have the number of delegates that are needed to secure the nomination. Once we have that number, then we'll focus on the general election," he said.
So when might he have the magic number? Well, that depends what that magic number is.
As of now, in a world in which Florida and Michigan don't count and 2026 delegates are needed to win the nomination. According to DemConWatch, Obama has 1981 delegates to Hillary Clinton's 1781. 45 to go (note: the Obama campaign's count is 1985 as of this writing.)
In this world, looking just at the pledged delegates he is likely to win in Puerto Rico on Sunday and in Montana and South Dakota on Tuesday (using Obama's projected delegate spreadsheet as a guide for estimate's sake) Obama would leave Tuesday with 42 more pledged delegates than he has today, for a total of 2023 and Clinton would win 44 giving her a total of 1825. Obama would need 3 superdelegates to put him over the 2026 threshold, which, considering Obama's daily superdelegate rate, should not be a problem. Under this scenario, Obama would likely declare victory on Tuesday.
Now let's recalculate according to what is probably the most optimistic result from Saturday's RBC meeting: the Michigan and Florida delegations seated at half strength.
Again, according to DemConWatch, splitting the difference between the current non-MI & FL threshold (2026) and the full strength threshold (2209) we get a new threshold of 2117.5. Which means on top of the pledged delegates Obama is likely to get from the three remaining contests, he would need 94.5 delegates to clinch the nomination. Subtract the 34.5 Florida delegates he'd be awarded under this scenario, then he'd need only 60 between the RBC's Michigan delegate allotment and any superdelegates who may declare for Obama in that period, a "few dozen" of which are reportedly ready to do so after Tuesday's votes. In other words, it's difficult to see Obama not clinching and declaring mid to late next week.
There's a possibility, of course, that Clinton may dispute his declaration, for any number of reasons including her assertion that 2209 is actually the threshold of victory. Will she continue to assert such a threshold even if the DNC rules that it's not so? According to Obama, it won't really matter much.
In a question and answer session Wednesday night with reporters on his campaign plane between Denver and Chicago, the Illinois senator dismissed the idea that rival Hillary Clinton's stated willingness to take her fight for the nomination to the party convention in late August would matter.
"When Dukakis won the nomination, you know, Jesse (Jackson) was still running until the convention," Obama said. "When Bill Clinton was running, Jerry Brown was still technically in it. As far as I can tell, this is fairly standard fare."