WASHINGTON What had been a daily trickle of new endorsements of Barack Obama has become a steady daily stream with Thursday's announcements of support from the United Steelworkers union, the president of the Communications Workers of America and two influential California congressmen.
Although Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's 41 percentage-point victory in Tuesday's West Virginia presidential primary has kept her campaign alive, the new endorsements of Obama provide growing evidence that many Democrats want to bring the race to a conclusion as soon as possible.
"I would describe it as relentless," said Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, an activist for the Obama campaign. "It would not surprise me if we had a numerical basis to declare victory certainly well before the third of June."
Obama's failure to win the support of blue-collar white voters in West Virginia has accelerated the desire of many Democrats to end the race, according to Sandy Maisel, a government professor at Colby College.
"I think it was wakeup call for some of these folks that you've got to bring loyal Democrats back to the Democratic Party," he said.
David Rohde, a political scientist at Duke University in North Carolina, said the race is essentially over anyway. "People who had not taken sides are starting to rally behind the winner," he said. "It's over because we know how it's going to come out. Barring some catastrophic event, Obama will amass the number of delegates necessary."
Obama has 1,895 delegates, which is 131 shy of the 2,026 needed for the nomination, according to the latest count by The Associated Press. Clinton has 1,718, which is 308 delegates short.
Clinton, for her part, has vowed to remain in the race through the last two primaries in Montana and South Dakota on June 3.
And her campaign began insisting a few weeks ago that the nominee won't be determined until one candidate gets 2,210 delegates because the Michigan and Florida delegations should be seated at the convention and given the right to be involved in the process. The Democratic National Committee has stripped those two states of their delegate votes because they violated party rules by holding early primaries.
The outcome of that dispute could be decided in a party rules meeting May 31, which makes it less likely Clinton would withdraw from the race before then.
The steelworkers union, which originally endorsed former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, said its executive board voted unanimously in agreement with Edwards, who announced his support for Obama on Wednesday.
NARAL Pro Choice America, a leading abortion rights group, also endorsed Obama on Wednesday despite its longstanding ties to Clinton.
Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America, said his union would not make an endorsement until late June, but he decided not to wait because he also is a superdelegate and member of the Democratic National Committee.
"It seemed to me we are drawing to the end and we should all make a decision," Cohen said in an interview. "I don't think it's good for the Democratic Party to have this go on and on."
Cohen hopes Obama can lock up the nomination on or before the last two primaries. "It's not like we are going to get new information," he said. "We can't stay undecided or on the fence forever."
Reps. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Howard Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also endorsed Obama on Thursday.
"I wanted to make sure that Senator Clinton had every opportunity to bring her campaign to the American people," Waxman said in a statement. "It is now clear, however, that the Democratic Party is nearing a broad consensus on our nominee."