Tag Archives: delegates

Why Republicans love the Democratic superdelegates

For all the righteous (and understandable) complaining the Democratic party makes over the Electoral College system, you’d think they’d let the popular vote determine their primary system. In fact, they instead use a system that is even less democratic than the Electoral College by employing “superdelegates” who are allowed to vote for anybody. Superdelegates are party leaders and other members of the Democratic party establishment, and they comprise about 800 of the roughly 4000 total delegates. So, about 20% of the delegates aren’t democraticaly allocated!

Given the closeness of the Hillary/Obama race, it’s highly likely that the final decision will not be in the hands of the people, but in the hands of the party establishment, which is largely controlled by the Clintons who have far better Washington connections. They already have nearly double the so-far pledged superdelegates than are in Obama’s camp, and if that proportion continues, the superdelegate system will spot Hillary a 6% advantage over Obama. This is a significant handicap in a race whose national poll margins are less than that. The process is pretty much preordained in her favor. Besides being patently undemocratic, the system also presents a pragmatic problem. With 700 superdelegates outstanding and unpredictable, it takes that much longer for a clear winner to emerge. All of this makes the Republican’s penchant for winner-take-all primaries look rather smart, actually. While McCain is busy already starting on his national campaign and closing rank with other Republicans, the Democrats are still locked in a divisive internal fight. At the rate they are going, this will continue all the way to their convention with neither side attaining enough delegates to ensure victory. The superdelegate system is thus handing the Republicans a distinct advantage, and its hard to chide the Republican party for their winner-take-all system when at least 95% of their delegates are determined by actual voters.

The superdelegate system was created to allow party officials to retain significant power over the nominee, preventing the people from choosing somebody the party deems unworthy or unelectable. While the wisdom of that is questionable, given that polls show Obama to be more electable than Hillary, it doesn’t even apply here. In the end, the superdelegate system appears to be just more of the same corrupt, self-dealing Washington establishment politics. The more ambitious of the superdelegates will use their power to buy their way into the administration of the eventual winner. This is why so many of them have not yet commited either way; they are biding their time, waiting for more clarity on who that will be before they make their pitch.

When the Democratic party doesn’t choose its own candidates democratically, it’s no wonder people are disenchanted with politics. And I’m guessing the superdelegate system isn’t something to which Hillary plans to “bring change” if elected.