The Super-delegates Will Decide

Not Me Us

This year’s Democratic Party convention in Philadelphia July 25–28 will be the first in which super-delegates will make the decision on a presidential nominee. The questions that will be asked: (1) Are super-delegates supposed to choose the most electable candidate? or (2) Were super-delegates given the job of making sure the establishment-chosen candidate wins over an insurgent?

What is a super-delegate? From Wikipedia:

[A] “superdelegate” is a delegate to the Democratic National Convention who is seated automatically and chooses for whom they want to vote. These Democratic Party superdelegates include distinguished party leaders, and elected officials, including all Democratic members of the House and Senate and sitting Democratic governors. … Because they are free to support anyone they want, superdelegates could potentially swing the results to nominate a presidential candidate who did not receive the majority of votes during the primaries.

Why does the Democratic Party have super-delegates?

The super-delegate story begins with the traumatic 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, which resulted in the nomination of then Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey (President Lyndon Johnson decided not to run for re-election that year after being challenged by popular anti-Vietnam War candidate Rep. Eugene McCarthy). There was widespread dissatisfaction among the voters because Humphrey did not compete in any primary elections. Humphrey lost the general election to Richard M. Nixon.

A commission headed by South Dakota Senator George McGovern and Minnesota Representative Donald M. Fraser met in 1969 and 1970 to make the Democratic Party’s nominating convention less subject to control by party leaders and more responsive to the votes cast in primary elections. The rules implemented by the McGovern-Fraser Commission shifted the balance of power to primary elections and caucuses, mandating that all delegates be chosen via mechanisms open to all party members. The number of state primaries increased from 17 in 1968 to 35 in 1980.

Despite a huge increase in the level of primary participation, McGovern’s 1972 presidential run resulted in a landslide defeat for the party. The same thing happened in President Jimmy Carter’s 1980 race against Ronald Reagan. Party leaders established another commission in an attempt to balance the wishes of rank-and-file Democrats with the collective wisdom of party leaders and to thereby avoid the nomination of insurgent candidates. Following a series of meetings held from August 1981 to February 1982, the Hunt Commission issued a report which recommended the set aside of un-elected and un-pledged delegate slots for Democratic members of Congress and for state party chairs and vice chairs.

The problem for the 2016 election

Neither Dem candidate is likely at this point to finish the primary campaign with a majority of pledged delegates. Un-pledged super-delegates make up about 15% of the overall convention votes, and these delegates will choose the party’s nominee in July.

According to former Vermont Governor, DNC Chair and now lobbyist/super-delegate Howard Dean, “Super delegates don’t ‘represent people.’ I’m not elected by anyone. I’ll do what I think is right for the country.” (86% of voters in this year’s Vermont primary election chose Bernie Sanders, but Dean remains committed to voting for Hillary Clinton at the convention).

Of course, the assumption has always been that Democratic insurgent candidates like Bernie would be less electable in the general election. In 2016 it looks like this isn’t a good year for establishment candidates like Hillary Clinton. A lot of people thought we were doomed to a Bush-Clinton contest, but Donald Trump won so much support among Tea-GOP voters that he’s their presumptive nominee. And it looks like Bernie is the more electable Democratic candidate.

Hillary Clinton Now Loses to Trump in Polls. Bernie Sanders Beats Trump by 10.8 Points. (Hillary’s poll numbers have gone down, however she is within the margin of error against Trump — and the Democrats can expect a built-in advantage in the Electoral College, the so-called “Blue Wall”).

It’s up to the super-delegates to decide. Win with Bernie (and nudge the party to the center) or risk losing with Hillary (confirming that right-wing Dems cause progressives to abandon the party).

  1. #1 by Larry Bergan on May 23, 2016 - 4:14 pm

    Rolling Stone magazine has endorsed Clinton and Matt Taibbi has a very interesting and credible take on why his bosses might be squeamish about Sanders. We’ve all heard the old refrain; “those who ignore the past are destined to repeat it”, but in my opinion, this ain’t the past. Young people seem to be getting most of their news from the internet, not the corporate TV. How else can you explain them even knowing who Bernie Sanders is?

    I love the end of Taibbi’s article. The Democratic establishment is playing with fire if they ignore the young and independent voters. I think there is reason to believe even some Republicans will bolt from Trump if Sanders is the alternative.

    Young people don’t see the Sanders-Clinton race as a choice between idealism and incremental progress. The choice they see is between an honest politician, and one who is so profoundly a part of the problem that she can’t even see it anymore.

    They’ve seen in the last decades that politicians who promise they can deliver change while also taking the money, mostly just end up taking the money.

    And they’re voting for Sanders because his idea of an entirely voter-funded electoral “revolution” that bars corporate money is, no matter what its objective chances of success, the only practical road left to break what they perceive to be an inexorable pattern of corruption.

    Young people aren’t dreaming. They’re thinking. And we should listen to them.

    I fear the super delegates will vote for comfortable over Sanders.

  2. #2 by Richard Warnick on May 24, 2016 - 2:55 pm

    The Bernie or Bust movement is a long way from finished. They have permits to demonstrate in Philadelphia during the convention and there is already an event planned for Salt Lake City two months from today!

    March for Bernie in SLC Against the DNC
    July 24, 10 am – 1 pm
    Liberty Park

  3. #3 by Larry Bergan on May 24, 2016 - 10:16 pm

    The longer Debbie Wasserman stays as DNC chair, the uglier it gets. Even Bill Moyers is asking her to leave. I doubt that’s going to happen and besides it’s probably too late. The obvious conflicts of interest between the democratic party’s leaders and it’s grass roots, makes the whole party look like a farce.

    I’m glad Sanders is sticking it out and that’s what most democrats have said they want. This, ever increasing, push by the media and establishment democrats to smear Sanders is leaving a bad taste in my mouth, and I’ve been a very loyal democrat all my life.

    I’m with Bernie, whatever he decides to do. We’ll know soon enough what that is.

  4. #4 by Larry Bergan on May 24, 2016 - 10:24 pm

    I went to a democrat organizing meeting on Saturday, and there were about 9 people there. Two Hillary supporters and the rest were totally on board with Sanders. I’m going to go to the office next week to help out. I put a Doug Owens sticker on my car right next to my Sanders one. I also like the Democrat who’s running for governor and Ash Anderson. Also an old name has been going around; Scott Howell always seemed OK.

    I’m not giving up on the democratic party, and I’m excited about all the young democrats Sanders has inspired. I think that’s why governor Herbert invited Karl Rove out here to figure out what to do about the situation. Ugh!

  5. #5 by Richard Warnick on June 2, 2016 - 9:54 am

    LieparDestin has been writing BNR (Bernie News Roundup) on DailyKos for about a year, every single day, a long, informative, optimistic, well sourced post. One of the most read diaries on DKos.

    He now has his own blog site, The Progressive Wing.

    One more reason to avoid DKos. I haven’t gone to that site since Markos issued his March 15 edict against Bernie supporters.

  6. #6 by Richard Warnick on July 25, 2016 - 10:47 am

    Still Not Too Late For Sanders: Super-delegates, this election is in your hands.

    [Bernie] would almost certainly have won the nomination if the DNC had played fair and the media had given him equal time. More importantly, imagine what he could do with the full power of the DNC standing behind him as the Democratic nominee for President of the United States. The media would have to cover him and he would go toe-to-toe against Trump in a debate about the issues that the American people care most about. It isn’t too late.

    We are here at the Democratic National Convention and anything can happen. A Sanders upset would be “yuge,” and would dominate the news for weeks to come. The political bump from such an upset would give the Democratic Party the greatest chance of defeating Trump and the Republicans. Bernie Sanders is the candidate America needs. Superdelegates, this election is in your hands. It is time to put party and country ahead of cronyism.

  7. #7 by Larry Bergan on July 25, 2016 - 12:28 pm

    I’ve been wondering if Donald Trump wasn’t just blowing up the Republican party so Clinton could win. I’m not the only one who thought that. It’s been too bizarre to believe his campaign was real.

    Now, I’m starting to wonder if the Democrats want to win. Think about how easy it’s been for them when the Republicans are in power. All they have to do is tell us how powerful and terrible the Republicans are and play the good-cop nice guys, while they and their friends get richer and ask for donation to fight the bad Republicans.

    This is an old movie, and wasn’t ever that good anyway.

    • #8 by Richard Warnick on July 25, 2016 - 12:45 pm

      Some people have compared Trump’s campaign to the plot of “The Producers” (1968). His unexpected success in winning the nomination wasn’t part of the plan.

      As for the Dems, I think they would rather lose with Hillary than win with Bernie and have to depart from their accustomed corruption.

      • #9 by Larry Bergan on July 25, 2016 - 2:45 pm

        I think Pelosi would rather have not had to say, “impeachment is off the table”. It would have been so much easier to lose the house.

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