What a titanic struggle for delegates is unfolding in the Democratic race for the White House! With Senators Clinton and Obama locked in hand-to-hand combat for every single delegate, it is beginning to look as if the Democrats may not have a candidate who will have the required 2,025 delegates to secure the nomination after all the primaries and caucuses are concluded.
How can that be? The answer to that question is the role that so-called “superdelegates” will play in the nominating process. Since superdelegates will make up approximately one fifth (19.6%) of all delegate votes at the convention in Denver, only 80% of delegates are selected by caucus or primary voters.
In a hotly contested and evenly divided race such as the one in which Senators Clinton and Obama are locked, it is almost impossible to gain the required 50% + 1 (2,025), especially since by party rule all Democratic caucuses and primaries award delegates proportionally, with a ban on decisive “winner-take-all” results. This is very democratic, but it makes it much more difficult for a candidate who wins the majority of states, but does so in close races, to amass the required majority of delegates.
Consequently, the superdelegates—which include all Democratic members of the U.S. Congress, Democratic Governors, the Democratic National Committee members, as well as all former Democratic Presidents, Vice-Presidents, Senate and House leaders, and all former Chairs of the Democratic National Committee—will play a pivotal role.
These superdelegates—disproportionately middle-aged (that’s being charitable), white, and male—are free to vote their “consciences,” without regard to what throngs of Democratic primary or caucus voters in their districts or states may have done.
How “democratic” is that? It appears that the superdelegates are a symbol of liberal elitism. “Yes, you can vote for the candidate of your choice,” but if the people chose unwisely, the party elders, fulfilling the role of elitist “nanny” state, will decide what is “best for the people.”
Frankly, I doubt that the rank-and-file Democratic Party primary and caucus voters will sit still for this blatant paternalism. I certainly hope not!