Democrats & Liberals Archives

Sorting out Superdelegates

Are they an anti-democratic outrage or a reasonable protection against an even more undemocratic brokered convention? Born out of the rancor which was the messy Democratic convention of 1968, the introduction of superdelegates is getting more attention this year as the race for the nomination remains close.

I have heard concerns expressed among some fellow Obama supporters that the superdelegates who are party insiders, are heavily skewed toward Clinton, and will tip the nomination to Clinton, even if Obama wins a clear majority of the other delegates. That scenario, in my view, is highly unlikely. Some have misreported the percentage of superdelegates as being close to or even over 40%, when in fact the actual percentage is 19.6%.

Still, that is certainly enough superdelegates to tip the nomination in a different direction than the duly elected delegates in a close campaign such as this one. Such a development would be a huge public relations disaster for the Democratic Party. Party insiders understand that, and I am confident there would be tremendous pressure on superdelegates to avoid it, regardless of which candidate would be affected.

Currently among the 796 superdelegates, 211 are pledged to Clinton & 128 are pledged to Obama, while 457 remain unpledged. (Other counts vary, but not substantially.) Clinton's lead in superdelegates therefore CURRENTLY is larger than her total lead. However, if Obama starts to pull ahead in future contests, but not enough to clinch the nomination with regular delegates, there will be strong pressure on the superdelegates to swing his way rather than create a situation where Clinton gets the nomination solely because of her backing by party regulars. In fact there would be pressure on previously committed Clinton superdelegates to switch rather than create a controversy that would damage the party and hurt the nominee's chances in November.

Call me naive, and I could be wrong, but actually I think practical politics will save us from this fear. That's not to say that I think Obama will win. Clinton still has a huge advantage from the inside machinery. But I believe she'll need to win the majority, or very close to the majority of the regular delegates to win the nomination.

Superdelegates may yet present the party with a PR dilemma if the race remains very close, with different methods of determination showing a different candidate ahead. For instance, what if Obama gains a small 10 to 50 vote lead among the regular delegates, but Clinton can point to a small but real popular vote margin among actual voters in the combined primaries? Or what if Clinton can claim she would have the regular delegate lead by sitting the Florida and Michigan delegates, even when ceding all of the uncommitted delegates to Obama, but Obama is clearly faring better in more recent head-to-head polling against the Republican nominee, as he is currently trending.

While I am confident that a significant number of the superdelegates will be motivated to support the candidate that the public feels has earned the nomination, if both candidates can stake convincing claims to that title, then all bets are off.

People will continue to challenge the logic of even having superdelegates, but we should remember that its genesis stemmed from concerns about brokered conventions, in which the winner can be determined in back rooms, and ultimately have far less to do with who the rank and file have voted for. The thinking was that by having party regulars, a large number of whom were duly elected by their own constituents, constitute a significant minority of the delegates, these folks could be counted on to follow popular trends to help to give a clear leader the majority, when multiple candidacies have split the delegate count sufficiently to otherwise keep that from happening. Since Edwards, the only additional candidate likely to have received significant numbers of delegates, dropped out before Super Tuesday, it turns out the the superdelegates are unlikely to play that role this year.

Posted by Walker Willingham at February 7, 2008 2:15 PM
Comments
Comment #244817

Walker, thanks for shining some light on the process as I had no understanding of it at all. While I will not be voting for the Democrat candidate, I would dislike seeing a repeat of the Chicago convention as that serves no one.
Frankly, until Romney pulled out today, I was hoping for a brokered Republican convention. Well, our candidate will be McCain and he is already saying the words necessary to get the backing of me and my fellow conservatives.
I have voted for a Democrat in past presidential and congressional elections when the candidate displayed some understanding of my conservative position. I don’t see that with either Clinton or Obama so I will be with John McCain, our two present Texas Senators and our great congressperson, Louie Gohmert.
I am curious to know how liberals feel about MoveOn.Org’s backing of Obama over Clinton. They are sure raising a lot of money for him. Does that piss anyone off?

Posted by: Jim M at February 7, 2008 4:29 PM
Comment #244819

It might piss some people off, but if you think about it, you’ll realize that MoveOn’s more or less part of the movement that’s backing Obama in the first place.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 7, 2008 4:44 PM
Comment #244831

Florida and Michigan seem to be more of a problem to me than the superdelegates, who will probably go along with the majority of the other delgates. Hillary’s campaign is in financial trouble. I do not think she will do well going forward in the next primaries. Fundraising problems will continue. She seems to be hoping that someone else will bring out something about Obama that will help her, but that would just create a mess. Obama will play the victim card if any deals happen to get Hillary the nomination.

I had a high opinion of Obama a while back, but the more he talks, the lower than opinion gets. I suspect he will have the same problem in the general election, but probably not in the rest of the primaries. Unless something happens to derail his candidacy, he is going to be the nominee, and then will lose the election. We are going to get McCain and 100 years in Iraq. McCain will not be re-elected in 2012, Obama will be governor of Illinois.

Posted by: ohrealy at February 7, 2008 5:45 PM
Comment #244864

ohrealy:

I had a high opinion of Obama a while back, but the more he talks, the lower than opinion gets.

You’re in the minority among the people in our party, and a large number of independents then, because the fact is, the more folks know about Obama and his platform, and the more they’ve listened to him speak, the more they’ve grown to like him. This is why almost all of Clinton’s huge leads gradually disappeared over time. Because the more voters have seen and heard him, the more likely it was that they wanted to vote for him, while the more they’ve seen and heard from the Clintons, the opposite has been true.

I suspect he will have the same problem in the general election, but probably not in the rest of the primaries.

No, Obama is well liked among independents because they know he wants to change the tone, and work with folks across the aisle to get some good things done for this country.

Unless something happens to derail his candidacy, he is going to be the nominee,

I don’t know why you sound so sure about this. I’m certainly not sure that Obama will get the nomination. I do think however, that the DNC is going to want them to sit down and talk at some point about what will be best for our party.
I bet they’re going to suggest that they run on a single ticket. But if Obama is the one they think will do better, he’d be crazy to allow her to be his VP. Why? Because it’s clear that the Clinton’s have a hell of a lot of very heavy baggage they’re carrying - and who needs it?
Recent case(s) in point: Bill Clinton’s extremely well paid (but failed) Dubai Ports Deal “Advisory” gig. And now the recent revelation about how in 2005 Bill flew to Kazakhstan on the private jet of Candadian financier who wanted a mining contract for extensive amounts of recently discovered uranium. How Bill arranged for him to meet and get the contract from the strong-arm President of Kazakhstan, and in return the Canadian makes a $31.3 Million donation to the Clinton charitable foundation.
Hillary has been running on their combined “experience”? LOL! The American people are tired of such experience. Besides, the GOP is going to have a field day with this kind of stuff if Clinton is the nominee.
We simply can’t afford this! Democrats MUST win this election in order to restore our Constitution and the rule of law, bring back checks and balances, bring back Habeas Corpus, stop this Unitary Executive BS, stop the wiretapping of our citizens, stop the torture and rendition, end the Iraq war, etc. etc.

and then will lose the election.

I think that this is very unlikely to happen. Democrats have been out voting in HUGE numbers! And the GOP base isn’t happy with the choice of McCain. Not at all. Now, please take a look at this.
We CAN win against McCain. Yes We Can!

We are going to get McCain and 100 years in Iraq.

Do you have any idea just how unpopular the Iraq war is? I’m telling you my fellow Democrats, our people don’t want McCain’s century of war and occupation, and they know we can’t afford it.
Btw, I really don’t think that Dems liked McCain’s referring to all of us as “the enemy” on Super Tuesday.

Posted by: veritas vincit at February 8, 2008 4:01 AM
Comment #244874

ohrealy,

I agree that Florida and Michigan will be problems, but I only worry about McCain winning if Hillary get the nod. All the polls I’ve seen show Obama running better than her against any Republican candidate. As for Obama being governor, I doubt it. I think his ambitions run far wider than state government, and after Blagojevich’s bungling, I worry about ANY Democrat winning Springfield next election. Remember, before Roddie Bad Rug, there hadn’t been a Dem Illinois governor in 30 years. (and if you don’t get the toupee joke, you’ve never seen our governor. It looks like it’s about to jump off his head and run away)

L

Posted by: leatherankh at February 8, 2008 9:37 AM
Comment #244879

Anyone who thinks Obama will be a more successful candidate than Gore or Kerry is seriously deluded. People supporting Obama seem unable to do the math, especially electoral college math. His main asset is good luck. If Hillary keeps trending downward, there should be an Anyone but Obama movement. Due to racial politics, this would probably work against anyone else who went up against him, in the Democratic party. So we are most likely stuck with him.

Even people in Illinois are not used to hearing him speak as much as he has in the campaign, and look at a calendar, it is still 7 months away and there is plenty of time for people to get very very tired of the “fix us and repair the world” rhetoric.

This would also be a good year for third party candidates. A right wingnut would help Obama if he gets the nomination. Can the Cryptonazis really get behind McCain after all the bashing? Even Ron Paul “I got mine screw you” might help Obama.

Obama is to his most ardent aupporters as Bush is to the Rpblcns. If you are not a true believer, then you are the enemy because it has not been revealed to you that he is god’s annointed. His last speech on Tuesday was arrogant, (I have a terrific senior senator, Dick Durbin, pointless, it went on and on until the media was looking for him to come to his main point, which never happened, and condescending, clearly referring to Hillary as the past.

The main race that interests me this year is Foster versus oberweiss for Hastert’s seat. We lost out on replacing Hyde with Duckworth last time. Dan Seals is running against Mark Kirk again. If McCain is elected, he might have more democrats in the USHOR, and maybe we will even get a real majority in the Senate.

Posted by: ohrealy at February 8, 2008 10:44 AM
Comment #244901

Ohrealy:

Anyone who thinks Obama will be a more successful candidate than Gore or Kerry is seriously deluded.

Let’s not forget that Gore won, but had his presidency unconstitutionally removed from him by the Supreme Court.
As for Kerry, he didn’t start a movement against the corruption that is the status quo, nor did he come out strongly against the Iraq war, nor did he make it clear that a change in the way that Democrats will lead this country and talk to our opponents has been and is, vitally necessary. Obama is doing all that, and obviously people are agreeing.

His main asset is good luck.

That is such a ridiculous insult. Come now ohrealy, I know you don’t like him as much as Hillary, but you have to admit that he has managed and run an absolutely brilliant campaign. He started out against the “Inevitable Hillary Clinton”, yet like a good chess player, he has blocked every move.
Personally, I think his main assets are his obvious intelligence, his decency of purpose, the public service trajectory of his career, his humble background, his ability to connect with and inspire the voters, and his noticable ability to stay three moves ahead of his opponent(s).
And all of the above can give this country the kind of good leadership we haven’t seen in a very long time.

So we are most likely stuck with him.

Oh how horrible to be stuck with a Democrat who can win.

Even people in Illinois are not used to hearing him speak as much as he has in the campaign, and look at a calendar, it is still 7 months away and there is plenty of time for people to get very very tired of the “fix us and repair the world” rhetoric.

When the world is in such a state of disrepair, I wonder how anyone can get sick of hearing how an intelligent and articulate leader will go about fixing it? Btw, Obama’s rhetoric is sure to take on new and different themes as time goes on. As I said before, this guy is running an absolutely brilliant campaign, much like a chess player.

Obama is to his most ardent aupporters as Bush is to the Rpblcns. If you are not a true believer, then you are the enemy because it has not been revealed to you that he is god’s annointed.

That’s nonsense. Most of his supporters don’t think Obama is godlike. (I certainly don’t.) We are however clearly able to see that he’s a hell of lot more honest, intelligent, and likable a candidate than Hillary Clinton. He is also a lot closer to our values than her Republican lite stances on many issues.

clearly referring to Hillary as the past.

I think that she is the past, and that her divisiveness is a killer for our party.

The main race that interests me this year is Foster versus oberweiss for Hastert’s seat. We lost out on replacing Hyde with Duckworth last time. Dan Seals is running against Mark Kirk again. If McCain is elected, he might have more democrats in the USHOR, and maybe we will even get a real majority in the Senate.

I think we have a very good chance at a real majority.
Check out our numbers from Super Tuesday:

Democrats: 18,628,105
Republicans: 12,550,753
Difference: 6,077,352

Yeah, baby! :D

Posted by: veritas vincit at February 8, 2008 3:02 PM
Comment #244908

Some interesting info on fund raising, and on questions about the Democratic candidates tax returns. Obama has released his tax info already. Clinton says she will release hers only if she wins the nomination.
Also, Clinton recently “lent” her campaign 5 million dollars? I wonder how that makes those who have given her campaign donations feel?

Posted by: veritas vincit at February 8, 2008 4:55 PM
Comment #244931

Who says The Clinton’s can’t win?
The Three Co-Chairs of the DNC Delegate Credentials Committee All Served in Clinton Administration

Damn, I truly hope it doesn’t end up coming down to Michigan and Florida. I have the distinct feeling it really does have the potential to tear our party totally apart at the seams.
All this newly engaged and happily energized Obama enthusiasm - only to be thwarted by a few entrenched old timers of the Clinton party machine? Thwarted mind you, after Clinton had previously agreed not to acknowledge those delegates at all because of the DNC’s decision? Which also kept Obama’s name off their ballots completely?

[Sigh] This would not be a good (or fair) thing at all.

Posted by: veritas vincit at February 8, 2008 10:09 PM
Comment #244957

Ohrealy

I totally agree with your assessment of Barack. I am a former Barack supporter but have become scared off by the attempts to make him sound like saint Barack. Also, after hearing him talk time after time after time-I find little substance. I would still like more concrete information from him. He has his talking point learned but seems to go no further.

I wish John Edwards was still in the race.

Posted by: Carolina at February 9, 2008 8:08 AM
Comment #244963

No POTUS has ever been elected by the popular vote, and the rules have not been changed. 2008 needs to be compared to 2000, 1988, 1980, 1968 and 1960 for electoral college strategy. Except for 1960, very close, Rpblcns took office. These are the elections before reapportionment. I don’t think McCain will Nixon or Bush Obama, but he could easily Reagan him. The Presidency is generally considered to be the last job that a person will have.

I am not going to go through this state by state yet, because I’m hoping to get someone else to do that. The last totals I saw, there were more votes cast on the Rpblcn side in the GA primary, which is considered a victory for Obama. IL and other states with large urban populations, get bluer all the time. Big square empty states have more electoral votes in proportion to the national popular vote.

Those are some things that the superdelegates should take into account before voting at the convention. It’s 9 months to the general election. McCain is very well known, except for his medical history. Obama is mostly unknown. People have a general vague positive impression of him. It is much easier to get people not to vote for someone, than to get them to vote for the newest guy being described as the next JFK.

Primary voters are a little different from general election voters. McCain is kissing up to the right, which is not difficult for him, since he is actually a conservative, just not mean-spirited enough for the likes of Cape Girardeau’s big fat Hister impersonator.

This is what a speech should sound like:
“I think we can end the divisions within the United States. What I think is quite clear is that we can work together, in the last analysis. And that what has been going on with the United States over the period of the last three years, the divisions, the violence, the disenchantment with our society, the divisions - whether it’s between blacks and whites, between the poor and the more affluent, or between age groups, or in the war in Vietnam - that we can work together. We are a great country, an unselfish country and a compassionate country.”
Short and to the point, not endless me me and blah blah buzzwords blah blah cut down others blah blah blah for long enough until some of are starting to wonder when the real opposition is going to start comparing him to some nearly dead dictator on an island where I want to spend my retirement.

Posted by: ohrealy at February 9, 2008 10:51 AM
Comment #244973

Caroline:

after hearing him talk time after time after time-I find little substance. I would still like more concrete information from him. He has his talking point learned but seems to go no further.

It sounds to me like it is you who has gone no further than repeating this talking point that the Clintonista’s have been using ad nauseum for a very long time. The reason they use it is because they know that Hillary isn’t even close to be gifted the way that Obama is. Indeed, she has an annoying voice, and no public speaking eloquence or charisma whatsoever.
If you would really like some more concrete information (rather than act like Obama’s speeches are required to spoon feed his entire platform to you), you can simply read the information at this link.

I wish John Edwards was still in the race.

I was an Edwards supporter and campaign contributor myself, but understood when the American people thought he was coming off too angry, because that had occurred to me myself as I listened to him in the debates. I’d always liked Obama too however, and I couldn’t help but notice that he was coming off more level headed and presidential, and that his speaking style and the substance of what he’s been saying was tapping into the energy and mood of the entire country. So, when Edwards bowed out, I then switched to Obama — as most Edwards supporters have. Most of us are well acquainted with what the Clinton’s are all about, and because we do, we’ve rejected them.

As it stands right now, I’m not at all sorry that because of Edwards departure I switched to supporting and contributing to Obama. I’ve come to realize that he is running one of the best managed and most exciting campaigns I’ve ever seen.

Posted by: veritas vincit at February 9, 2008 3:35 PM
Comment #244975

veritas vincit

A little touchy there aren’t you? I do not base my opinion on what Hillary says. I make up my own mind. I am not a Hillary lover nor am I a Hillary hater. If I feel she can deliver as president and can win the nomination I will vote for her.

I am not voting for someone just because they are a good motivational speaker. I have gone to Obama’s website and read his platform. I don’t consider it spoonfeeding me to expect him to do more in his speeches than continue to talk about change and how wonderful our life will be after he is elected. I said that I was an Obama supporter and then switched to Edwards because of his ability during speeches and debates to articulate his thoughts in concrete, clear manner. Now that he is no longer in the race, I expect Barack to win my vote by doing more than being a motivational speaker.

As for Hillary I could care less whether she is as charismatic as Barack, I care about whether someone can get us out of Iraq, fix the economy and provide us with univeral health care.

Running and exciting and well managed campaign won’t get us out of Iraq, fix the economy, give us universal health care.

PS my name ends with an A not an E.

Posted by: Carolina at February 9, 2008 6:03 PM
Comment #244979

Carolina:

I am not voting for someone just because they are a good motivational speaker.

Well, I think that’s rather a shame, because it seems obvious that people do need a president to motivate us, in order to put away the partisan hatreds, and begin to come together for the good of the nation. This is what independents are looking for in a candidate, which is exactly why Obama is so popular amongst them. Looking at all of the polls, it has become clear that Hillary has already hit her ceiling of votes among Democrats, and will not garner much of the independent vote. No doubt because they see her as the epitome of a divisive partisan. Additionally she is sure to bring out the GOP in large numbers to vote against her. Therefore, I’m almost certain that if she is the candidate who wins our nomination, the independent voters are likely to vote for McCain.

I have gone to Obama’s website and read his platform. I don’t consider it spoonfeeding me to expect him to do more in his speeches than continue to talk about change and how wonderful our life will be after he is elected.

Speeches that do nothing but outline policy are dead boring to listen to. Hillary’s are boring for this very reason. Besides, there is much more to running for president than outlining policy anyway. After Bush’s complete lack of character (not to mention honesty), character is a very big issue in this race. Hillary’s character is already well known to the public, while Obama is a new figure on the political scene who needs to acquaint people with who he is, and what philosophy he holds.
If people wish to be truly fair about this, they would go back and take a look at the way that Bill Clinton spoke when he was first running for the presidency. He had even less experience in Washington than Obama does now, and he too was noticably light on policy in most of his speeches, preferring instead to talk a whole lot about the need for change.

I said that I was an Obama supporter and then switched to Edwards because of his ability during speeches and debates to articulate his thoughts in concrete, clear manner. Now that he is no longer in the race, I expect Barack to win my vote by doing more than being a motivational speaker.

I have to admit that it utterly baffles me how anyone could go from wanting to vote for John Edwards, to wanting to vote for the Clinton’s. Surely most folks had to notice that the vast majority of Edwards most forceful and angry comments had been directed toward the “New Democrat” candidate (Republican Lite), which is Hillary Clinton. They were not directed at Obama - who was also against the war, and who he admitted was also a candidate that was running on the need for change.


As for Hillary I could care less whether she is as charismatic as Barack, I care about whether someone can get us out of Iraq,

In 2002 Hillary Clinton did not even attempt to read the CIA National Intelligence Estimate on Iraqi WMD before she went to cast her vote for the authorization of this disastrously mistaken war and occupation. She now tries to act as though she didn’t realize that voting for war was what she was actually doing. She also won’t admit that these things were an enormous mistake. We need someone with better judgment than this when it comes to the issue of the war, and Obama has shown that kind of judgment by being against the war from the beginning.

fix the economy and provide us with univeral health care.

Both of the candidates positions on these things are similar enough that this shouldn’t even be a consideration.


Running and exciting and well managed campaign won’t get us out of Iraq, fix the economy, give us universal health care.

Actually, I feel you couldn’t be more wrong, because I believe that the way a candidate manages their campaign is an extremely good indicator of how efficiently they will go about running this country.
What we’ve seen from Obama is rather amazing in this regard, not only are the management skills are there, but how and where he has spent his money from the very beginning has been shrewdly and carefully thought out.
In contrast, we see that Hillary who started out with an enormous load of big money campaign donations has mismanaged things to the point where she now has had to “lend” her campaign five million dollars in order to keep going. There are also reports that those involved in running her campaign are presently working without drawing a salary (at least for a time) due to lack of funds.

So, I must strongly disagree that these details mean nothing.

Posted by: veritas vincit at February 9, 2008 7:56 PM
Comment #244993

You are certainly intitled to your opinion as I am mine.

Posted by: Carolina at February 10, 2008 7:43 AM
Comment #245008

I am having Sunday morning withdrawal symptoms. I have given up on NBC due to their unfortunate commments about Chelsea. I did not think they had anything I wanted to watch, but I usually watch half of Russert, and then Chris Mathews, after Stephanopolous.

On the superdelegates, Donna Brazile, http://www.donnabrazile.com/ , is talking about leaving the Democratic party if the superdelegates vote against the person with the most delegates. Hillary has actually gotten more votes than Obama, although Obama has had more delegates selected.

Posted by: ohrealy at February 10, 2008 1:08 PM
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