Here's the good news: We might be getting closer to knowing when the Democratic race will actually end. And then here's the bad news: What the media is reporting as a call for a deadline really seems more like an expression of hope.
Last week, in an interview with CBS, Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean said he wanted all remaining undecided superdelegates to make their candidate choice by July 1. "There's 800 of them and 450 of them have already said who they're for," Dean said. "I'd like the other 350 to say who they're on between now and the 1st of July so we don't have to take this into convention."
In an interview with CNN Tuesday, Dean reiterated those sentiments, though he also seemed to say that he would not actually make July 1 a deadline. Dean told CNN's John King:
I do believe that the unpledged delegates need to make their preferences known long before the convention. They can do it whenever they want.
But the truth is, if you go into a convention divided, you usually come out of the convention divided. There's no reason that we shouldn't know who our nominee is by the 1st of July.
As King noted, however, Hillary Clinton has already expressed her disapproval of Dean's idea. King asked Dean, "If one of the candidates says, 'No, I don't think it will be decided by July 1st,' what is the prospect it will be?" To this, Dean responded, "I think the voters will decide, whether anybody likes it or not, whether I like it or Senator Clinton likes it or Senator Obama likes it. The voters will make their decision. I think that's a good thing."
Much of the media has been treating Dean's words as a proposal, not just a hope. Questioned about the idea of a proposal, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid expressed his support for it. NBC's First Read blog reports that an unnamed reporter asked Reid, "Do you support [Howard Dean's] proposal to have superdelegates vote by July first or express their preference by July first?"
"Either that or before," Reid responded.