Wednesday, February 20

What is a Superdelegate?

We are hearing more and more about the possible role "superdelegates" could play in choosing the Democratic nomination. But what is a superdelegate and why is their vote so powerful? Here's some interesting facts from Wikipedia:
  • Superdelegates are not selected based on the party primaries and caucuses in each U.S. state.
  • Instead, the superdelegates are seated automatically, based solely on their status as current or former elected officeholders and party officials. They are free to support any candidate for the nomination.
  • At the 2008 Democratic National Convention the 796 superdelegates will make up approximately one-fifth of the total number of delegates.
  • Among the superdelegates, there are 270 Members of Congress, 32 Democratic Governors, 20 Distinguished Leaders, and 313 Democratic National Committee Members. The remainder are mostly unpledged add-on delegates that have yet to be named, and mostly named by each state's Democratic party.
  • Superdelegates may support any candidate they wish, including one who has dropped out of the presidential race.

Interestingly, the superdelegate is a modern invention. After the 1968 Democratic National Convention, the Democratic Party changed its delegate selection process to make the convention less subject to control by party leaders and more responsive to the votes cast during the campaign for the nomination. However, some Democrats thought these changes weakened the role of party leaders and elected officials so the superdelegate was created after the 1980 election.

The first test of the superdelegate came in the next election. Gary Hart and Walter Mondale went to the convention with Hart slightly behind in total number of votes cast but Mondale won the support of almost all the superdelegates and became the nominee.

What do you think? Could the superdelegate change the course of history in this election?


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