Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Will Super Delegates Steal the Democratic Nomination?

A number of bloggers and columnists have begun to address this issue already, but I did want to voice my thoughts, particularly after seeing a 21 year old super delegate interviewed this morning on MSNBC. The 21 year old in question is a student member of the Democratic National Committee, has never voted in a presidential election before, and had been wooed by Chelsea Clinton during a private luncheon to vote for her mother, Hillary Clinton. (ABC's story on this is here:http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/Vote2008/story?id=4273078&page=1). As someone who has worked on many campaigns – historically mostly for the GOP – it truly bothers me that super delegates in effect have the power to subvert the primary process and ignore the popular vote results and/or the states carried by a primary contestant. Especially if the superdelegate is an inexperienced 21 year old political novice.
This possibility certainly smacks of the very dirty, backroom brokered, underhanded dealing in politics that I believe so many Americans are sick and tired of seeing. I surely hope that the super delegates do the right thing and vote consistently with how their respective districts voted. To do otherwise (1) would be anti-democratic and (2) could potentially invite a revolt by supporters of the candidate winning the popular and district vote and cause them to either (A) sit out the election in November, or (B) vote for the GOP candidate in November in retaliation. The fact that the likely GOP nominee is John McCain as opposed to some far right Neanderthal only increases such a prospect. The GOP must be salivating at this potential prospect. Here are some highlights from a New York Times article that indirectly looks at this issue (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/12/us/politics/12clinton.html?ei=5065&en=83bd560436fa713f&ex=1203397200&partner=MYWAY&pagewanted=print):

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and her advisers increasingly believe that, after a series of losses, she has been boxed into a must-win position in the Ohio and Texas primaries on March 4, and she has begun reassuring anxious donors and superdelegates that the nomination is not slipping away from her, aides said on Monday.

Several Clinton superdelegates, whose votes could help decide the nomination, said Monday that they were wavering in the face of Mr. Obama’s momentum after victories in Washington State, Nebraska, Louisiana and Maine last weekend. Some said that they, like the hundreds of uncommitted superdelegates still at stake, might ultimately “go with the flow,” in the words of one, and support the candidate who appears to show the most strength in the primaries to come.

Clinton advisers have said that superdelegates should support the candidate who they believe would be the best nominee and the best president, while Obama advisers have argued that superdelegates should reflect the will of the voters and also take into account who they believe would be the best nominee. Superdelegates are Democratic party leaders and elected officials, and their votes could decide the nomination if neither candidate wins enough delegates to clinch a victory after the nominating contests end.

With primaries on Tuesday in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, Clinton advisers were pessimistic about her chances, though some held out hope for a surprise performance in Virginia. And as polls show Mr. Obama gaining strength in Wisconsin and his native state, Hawaii, which vote next Tuesday, advisers, donors and superdelegates said they were resigned to a possible Obama sweep of the rest of February’s contests.

Yet some Clinton donors and superdelegates worry that the focus on Mr. McCain is premature, and that other strategic decisions by the campaign — like counting on Michigan and Florida delegates to be seated at the convention even though their status is in limbo — show faulty thinking that suggests the Clinton campaign does not have a short-term game plan against Mr. Obama. “They are looking way too much at Florida, Michigan and McCain, because all three won’t matter if she doesn’t blow Obama away in Texas and Ohio,” said a Democrat who is both a Clinton superdelegate and major donor, and who spoke on condition of anonymity to offer a candid assessment of campaign strategy. “Obama has momentum that has to be stopped by March 4.”

1 comment:

VaB251 said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but political parties are not legally required to follow the will of the people, are they? Can't they promote any candidate they choose? Let's assume for the moment that a candidate who the majority of superdelegates feel is unelectable gets the majority of the committed delegates. Wouldn't it be the duty of the superdelegates to ignore the popular vote and put forth the candidate who can get elected?