Monday, February 11, 2008

What the hell is a "superdelegate," and why all of the sudden is everyone talking about them?

Up to 1/5th of the delegates in the 2008 Democratic National Convention will be superdelegates. Superdelegates can vote for whomever they want once they get to the convention -- some are "pledged" and some are "unpledged." This has dems talking -- because it's hard to guess how that swing vote is going to go. In a race this close, the superdelegates could end up holding basically all the power.

From wikipedia, a description of the superdelegates:
Superdelegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention include all Democratic members of the United States Congress, Democratic governors, various additional elected officials, members of the Democratic National Committee, as well as "all former Democratic Presidents, all former Democratic Vice Presidents, all former Democratic Leaders of the U.S. Senate, all former Democratic Speakers of the U.S. House of Representatives and Democratic Minority Leaders, as applicable, and all former Chairs of the Democratic National Committee." There is an exception, however, for otherwise qualified individuals who endorse another party’s candidate for President; they lose their superdelegate status. In 2008, Senator Joe Lieberman was disqualified as a superdelegate because he endorsed Republican John McCain. A list of superdelegates can be found here.

When I read that description, I hear "those who will hold the party line." To me, superdelegates are just one more way that the real will of the voters is being weakened by needlessly complicated bureaucracies. But, I'm home sick today so not in my best mood.

Enjoy learning more about the process,



Micah said...

the thing to remember is this is not an election at all. It is a PARTY nominating contest. This is a political party choosing it's own nominee, not the public choosing an elected official. The primary process has evolved over the years, it's relatively new and relatively untested. (there haven't really been that many primaries this close)

The winner of this contest has no power granted to them. Therefore the idea that they need to be held accountable to the people that elected them isn't as relevant as someone elected to office.

If you're concerned about this the best thing to do is to write the persons representing you that have superdelegate status (Wyden and whoever congressmen is) and tell them that you think they should vote with the state and district they represent.

Stu Farnham said...

Mistrusting the electorate, whether in a primary of in an election for public office, is nothing new. The framers of the US Constitution were also concerned about the potential excesses of true direct elections (meaning, the people voted against their wishes and interests), and so they instituted the Electoral College as a governor on the will of the great unwashed.

Look how well that turned out! It invalidated the American public's silly desire to elect Al Gore, and brought us W instead.