Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Un-democratic Democratic Superdelegates

Recent discussions focused on who superdelegates will support at the party convention in June. Given the closeness of the race and disqualifications of more than 300 delegates from Michigan and Florida, it is unlikely that either Clinton or Obama will have the necessary 2025 delegates needed to win the nomination. Superdelegates make up about 20% or 800 of the total delegate counts, and are seen as the deciding factor in the democratic race.

It is perplexing and ironic that the eventual democratic nominee may be selected by a group of party insiders and some non-elected officials. The intent of proportionality of delegates (as opposed to winner takes all) was based on the principle of fairness and attempt to truly reflect the desire of voters in each congressional district. Superdelegates were meant to allow party leaders/insiders to play a key role in the nomination process – to perhaps influence candidates on specific policy issues or positions, but certainly not as kingmakers.

The increasingly diverse democratic constituency vis-à-vis the shrinking Republican Party tent will likely attract and excite certain demographic groups, and they will gravitate toward a particular candidate. The Clinton-Obama divide will not be the last, but the beginning struggle for party influence between Latinos and African Americans, elites/educated and working class, Baby Boomers, Gen X and Y, females and males, etc. The existence of superdelegates and the role they play in close contests will no doubt be viewed suspiciously by the losing candidate and their supporters. The Democratic Party should revamp the nomination process perhaps, first by jettisoning the superdelegates, and simply awarding the nomination to the candidate with the most votes. But again, politics is never simple.

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