Superdelegates Are Not Obligated To Thwart The Popular Will

by: Chris Bowers

Wed Feb 13, 2008 at 19:03

During the numerous discussions that have taken place on the subject of super delegates, the notion that super delegates can vote for whoever they wish is continually raised. Let me make the best counter-point to this argument as simple as possible:

DNC rules do not obligate super delegates to thwart the popular will of Democratic primary voters and caucus goers. Just as DNC rules allow for super delegates to thwart the popular will of Democratic primary voters and caucus goers, those same rules allow for super delegates to ratify the popular will of Democratic primary voters and caucus goers. Both are well within the rules. The decision is up to the super delegates.

The difference is that if super delegates decide to ratify the popular will of Democratic primary voters and caucus goers, then super delegates are upholding both the rules of the DNC and the principle of democracy. In other words, voting to thwart the popular will upholds our rules, but not our values, while voting to ratify the popular will upholds both our rules and our values.

Super delegates should uphold both our rules and our values by ratifying the popular will. That is as simple as I can make it.  

Chris Bowers :: Superdelegates Are Not Obligated To Thwart The Popular Will

Tags: , , (All Tags)
Print Friendly View Send As Email

Very simple! (0.00 / 0)
I'll drink to that!

How cruel would it be..... (4.00 / 1)
..if in the year we thought the GOP would fracture into 2-3 pieces, our party is actually the one that fractures because Hillary convinces party insiders to steal the nomination away from Obama?

I hope the superdelegates start to make their way to Obama so we can wrap this thing up.  With McCain already sniping at him, it is time to coalesce around Obama and prepare for the fall without wasting our resources.

waiting (0.00 / 0)
There is no hurry for them.  They are waiting to see how he does in Texas and Ohio.  If he can win those or show he can attract outside of his base as he did in the Potomac, they will start to flock.  If he loses big, then it goes on.

[ Parent ]
Tad Devine (4.00 / 1)
wrote an excellent op-ed piece for the NYT about this which is well worth a read:

You can taste the bitterness n/t (4.00 / 1)

"Don't hate the media, become the media" -Jello Biafra

[ Parent ]
The whole "gotcha" (4.00 / 2)
game, does not sit well with me.  

Yes, Clinton would get votes from Sen. Kennedy and Sen. Kerry.  Obama is not going to go cringe in the corner, he is standing up for the principles of democracy and if they don't jibe with him getting his way - so be it.

It's not wit, it is competitive snark and one of the reasons Clinton is unappealing for me.

I don't want a "winner" as my President, I want a leader.

[ Parent ]
Super Not Stupid! (4.00 / 1)
     Consider what would happen if Obama won something like thirty or more states, won all states in the key swing region of the upper Midwest/Missouri Valley (oh, I forgot, Clinton won Michigan by 55% against nobody), had the most pledged delegates, beat Clinton by 20-30% in fifteen states, had a message of change that works better against McCain than the message of experience, brought a lot of enthusiastic younger voters into the Party, had the most pledged delegates -- and the Superdelegates denied him the nomination.  It ain't gonna happen unless the leadership of the Democratic Party is totally witless.  Certifying the pledged delegate leader is not only the correct thing to do from a values standpoint, it is the only thing to do from a practical standpoint.

It is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners -- Albert Camus

generally I agree (0.00 / 0)
But we can't ignore the effect of the perception of the superdelegates on the race.

Put it like this, CNN is using the known superdelegate preferences in their delegate counts.  How does that impact the race?  It keeps Clinton more competitive (or even ahead until yesterday) in the race narrative.  If Obama is only up a handful of delegates, by including the superdelegates CNN is warping the actual situation on the ground with respect to ordinary voters.

I'm not accusing CNN of anything here, there are defensible reasons to include the supers, but on the whole I would rather they didn't.  

I could only speculate on the impact of course.  It's possible more Obama voters come out because they think the race is closer than it really is, or that more Hillary supporters come out because they think she has a better chance than she does at this point.

But even before voting, the perception of the supers is affecting the race, so it is important to get more of them to publicly say they will vote for the clear popular support winner regardless of their personal preference or endorsement.

[ Parent ]
Whom does a super delegate represent tho? (0.00 / 0)
Their district? Their state? The Country?

I think most are just gonna vote for the leader of the pledged delegates, and the leader of the pledged delegates has more say over the credentials committee, thus we should stop worry about super all this nonsense and focus on the one number of pledged delegates.

none of the above (0.00 / 0)
They represent their political party.

[ Parent ]
Hey Chris (0.00 / 0)
Senator Clinton does not agree with you.

WASHINGTON -- Hillary Clinton will take the Democratic nomination even if she does not win the popular vote, but persuades enough superdelegates to vote for her at the convention, her campaign advisers say.

Clinton advisers rejected the notion that the candidate -- and the party -- would be badly wounded in the general election if the nominee were essentially selected by a group of party insiders.

"This is a nomination system that exists of caucuses, primaries, superdelegates and also the issue of voters in Florida and Michigan,'' states whose delegates currently will not be seated at the convention because they broke party rules by moving up their primaries to January, said Mark Penn, senior strategist for the Clinton campaign. But "whoever the nominee is, the party will come together behind that nominee,'' he said.

Read more here.

Roles Reversed? (0.00 / 0)
I wonder if we would be pushing this super delegate transparency scheme as vigorously if the roles were reversed.  If Senator Clinton was ahead in the delegate count I have little doubt we'd say things like "blind adherence by super delegates to the popular will isn't a good progressive position.  We frequently find ourselves ahead of the popular will."  Am I too Machiavellian?  

if clinton were ahead in the delegate count (4.00 / 3)
as much as Obama is this would be over.

Michael Bloomberg, prince of corporate welfare

[ Parent ]
Not With Dean (4.00 / 1)
Dean was far ahead in delegate counts that included superdelegates until Super Tuesday in 2004 but none of us really believed that the Supers would overturn the energing (and disastrous) Kerry consensus.

Those Dean delegates were considered effectively lost unless Dean could establish a solid lead in pledged delegates.  I don't remember anybody trying to argue otherwise.

[ Parent ]
Is this the only argument (4.00 / 2)
From the other side of this debate, that we are being disingenous or hypocritical or tendenitious?  I guess it must be because the case for the rightness of Hillary scooping the nomination by strong arming supers instead of winning hearts and minds is pretty obviously bad.

You have "little doubt" you say.  Are the Open Left front pagers dedicated Obama partisans suddenly after critiquing him consistently for not being progressive enough for a period of months?

It's one thing to note that people often adopt arguments that suit their ultimate purpose, but you need some basis for that claim if you're going to make such an accusation.  

The beliefs espoused here are pretty evidently morally defensible, rational and ideologically consistent with the progressive/liberal ethos.

But some seem to think it would be ok, that after millions of people had spoken, and narrowly but distinctly preferred one candidate, that a few hundred speak and overturn that result.  How could you justify such elitism?  The "rules"?  Are we Socrates here, and we drink the hemlock because the law says to?  No, the progressive is the one in the jail cell asking his friend "what are you doing out there?"  Just because the rules allow for an unjust result doesn't mean that makes it ok.  

(Besides, I don't care how much one likes Hillary or hates Obama.  Hillary could not win the presidency if she gets the nomination under such a cloud (Obama neither). Dead on arrival.  From a pragmatic standpoint this is a no-brainer.  A nominating disaster like this would be far more damaging than Obama merely losing the general because he's somehow so flawed that he can't win.  A whole generation of new voters would switch off again and give up on the Democrats.)  

Hillary can win, but she has to do it right.  I don't think we should tolerate being accused of cognitive dissonance for holding her to that.

[ Parent ]
DCW SD margin has dropped by 5 in one day (0.00 / 0)
I've been keeping an eye on the DCW SD chart and the sites it links to and have noticed movement. Not that long ago the DCW margin for Clinton was over 100. It was down to 91 yesterday and today it dropped another to 86.

He's catching her.

oops (0.00 / 0)
That should say 'another 5 to 86.'

[ Parent ]
I'd suggest that Edwards and Gore (0.00 / 0)
And other prominent Democrats who haven't endorsed anyone so far to wait until the primaries are over and endorse the winner of the pledged delegate count.

Is there some sort of nuclear option that can be invoked to maximize the political damage caused by a candidate losing the pledged delegates but winning the superdelegates to take the nomination so that there is a sufficient disincentive to go that route?  I have a feeling that Howard Dean would go along with it since he has shown more spine in the MI/FL controversy than Senate Democrats have shown over FISA, threatening to take 100% and not just 50% of their delegates and refusing to back down.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both

Chris, help me out here... (0.00 / 0)
...because I could be wrong.  If memory serves me correctly, did not the superdelegates in 1984 push Mondale over the top securing the nomination?  Though he had more delegates than Gary Hart, the delegates the Colorado Senator had earned through the primary season were enough to make Mondale short of the number needed for nomination.  I seem to remember that clearly.  Of course after all these years my mind may be playing tricks with me, but I'm pretty damn sure that's what happended.

My point is, this is not unprecedented.  Not that it makes it alright either.  But the fact remains this is ground that has already been trod before.


Truman's Conscience

Follow up... (0.00 / 0) my assertion.

At least the New York Times thinks it had something to do with Mondale's nomination.


Truman's Conscience

[ Parent ]
Indeed (0.00 / 0)
Mondale did not have an overall majority.  I believe he may even have been slightly short of a pledged delegate majority, in that Jackson and Hart between them had around 50% of the pledged delegates.  Mondale was well ahead in the pledged delegate count, though, and got an overall majority via the superdelegates

[ Parent ]
Chris.. (0.00 / 0)
If you need anymore reason why a Clinton presidency would be disastrous for the Democratic party I present Lanny Davis:

I noticed that (0.00 / 0)
Shorter Lanny Davis: In praise of smoke-filled rooms...

Another interesting thing: Lanny Davis's role as Leiberman's attack dog against the netroots is referenced nowhere in his wikipedia biography. His nastiness during the Lamont-Lieberman CT Senate campaign is what he's most known for around these parts, for those of you who have come lately to the political internets.

[ Parent ]
Yeesh (0.00 / 0)
That Lanny Davis piece is ridiculous, on so many levels.

Clinton didn't two shits about the MI and FL issue until after their primaries. Further, she was the only person on the ballot in one of those states - how in the hell is that "representative" of anything?

The reasoning Davis gives for the creation of the super delegate may be technically correct, but its application is still indicative of a party leadership which does not trust the will of its members. In any case, the conditions which gave rise to the SD (low voter turnout in the primaries) do not apply here.

Of course, there's the issue of Davis being a long-time water carrier for the Clintons, so I take just about anything Davis says with a grain of salt.

The Dems are on the cusp of making sweeping changes from the WH on down. How disastrous it would be for the SDs to decide the nominee - either one - and completely alienate half its membership. And don't bother with the platitude of "Dems unite behind the candidate" - this wouldn't be a case of the party membership deciding, it would be a case of "Father Knows Best" being administered by the party establishment.

[ Parent ]
Maybe not (0.00 / 0)
"DNC rules do not obligate super delegates to thwart the popular will of Democratic primary voters and caucus goers."

But they were designed to do exactly that. Remember when us old people (ah, but we were young then) chose McGovern as our nominee in '72?  That kind of behavior on our part had to be stopped! So they gave us Super Duper Delegates. Democracy in action.

SDs not a doomsday machine (0.00 / 0)
They were designed to allow that, but it doesn't mean that they MUST thwart the popular vote, as if SDs were a doomsday machine designed to automatically foil the popular will, which at least one strident Clinton partisan has been arguing (or at least was arguing). It's such a stupid argument I'm not even sure it was intentional, or if the person was just following his impulses into an absurd position.

[ Parent ]
McGovern... (0.00 / 0)
proved to be an awful candidate who alienated virtually the whole party.  He also only won the nomination thanks to making sure California's primary, contrary to the rules that McGovern himself had helped set up, remained winner take all, while states that Humphrey, et al, won had to be divided up proportionately.  And McGovern was most certainly not the choice of the majority of the party.  His candidacy was an utter disaster.

But superdelegates didn't arrive in the 1976 campaign (in that event, Carter probably would have been stopped).  They appeared first in 1984.  And the main issue was not to destroy insurgents, particularly, although this was a consideration.  It was to allow party leaders to be delegates at the convention, and also to avoid situations like that which would have occurred in 1984 had there been no superdelegates - to secure a majority without superdelegates, Mondale would have probably had to buy Jesse Jackson's support by making Jackson his running mate.

I don't think the superdelegates were ever expected to give the nomination to the loser in a head to head matchup, especially when the winner is pretty clearly someone who is, unlike McGovern, perfectly acceptable to the party establishment.

[ Parent ]
I'm too lazy to do the math right now (0.00 / 0)
But I'd Love to see the breakdown of SDs right now if they voted for their CD and State winners.  So the Reps vote CDs and the DNC and Senators and Governors vote for State wide winner.  I'm curious what the results would currently be.

The "Popular Will" (0.00 / 0)
Does the "popular will" not include the "popular will" of the voters who voted in primaries in Florida and Michigan?

Rep. Ron Kind WI-3 (0.00 / 0)
Will cast his SuperD vote for whoever carries his District next Tuesday.

This is a Test of the Emergency Free Speech System. This is only a Test. In an actual Free Speech Emergency, I'll be locked up.

Now that Obama is the front runner (0.00 / 0)
according to CNN, MSNBC, and the will of the Blogoshere, it is critical that the Superdelegates follow the will of the people by declaring for Obama before unnecessary efforts are wasted on unimportant primaries in Ohio, Texas, and Pennsylvania and the other states.  Although Mississippi is probably relevant since it represents a chance to turn another Red State Blue.

When the issue was in doubt, it was important that the Superdelgates act as mature party leaders to select the best change agent who could bring a landslide with post partisan rhetoric and hope.

If the evil Clintons win more of the large states in primaries with their massive participation, then it shows that primaries trample on the rights of the the change agent minorities.  If Obama wins the large state primaries, then it shows that the will of the people must be followed.

Do I have that right ?

No (4.00 / 1)
Superdelegates should wait until more primary votes are in.  By the way, Illinois, Missouri, Virginia, Georgia are not small primary states, and Obama is not being anointed by anyone.  He is beating Clinton in pledged delegates, racking up more blowouts in both caucus and primary states, and winning the popular vote.  If Clinton can turn that all around, she'll deserve to get the votes of the Superdelegates.  

[ Parent ]
You are correct (0.00 / 0)
Missouri (Bush/Kerry 53/46) Virginia (51/48), Georgia (58/41) and Illinois where Obama fought a hard fought tough battle against Alan (I may be crazy but I'm a Black Republican) Keyes. These states are a true measure of the disdain voters have for the Evil Clintons.

Truly, it's not the popular vote but the number of blowouts.   (def: Obama margin over Clinton vs virtual tie: Clinton margin over Obama)

Whatever gets Obama the nomination, I was just trying to get the story straight because the Lying Clintons spin so much

[ Parent ]
What is the popular will? (0.00 / 0)
What's certainly true is that the moral high ground will be held by the candidate who can claim the popular will lies behind them.

What's not so clear is exactly how the "popular will" is going to be understood. There are at least two critical considerations in this. One, do the voters in MI and FL get a say? I think no one who respects the concept of the popular will can say no -- though how they weigh into the calculus is subject to debate. Two, how do we weigh the caucus effect into the reckoning of the popular will? No honest person, looking at the huge underrepresentation of most voters in the caucus states, as compared to elections, can take caucus results as a fully legitimate expression of the popular will -- and that fact should certainly weigh into the question of what the popular will truly amounts to.

Perhaps the closest single and simple overall expression of the popular will is the overall popular vote, including, in some fair way, real or projected results from FL and MI. Now, the number in the overall popular vote might itself be adjusted one way or another to compensate for the distortions of caucuses.

If one candidate prevails on the score of popular vote, in its best interpretation, it's going to be VERY hard for the other candidate to claim the high ground in the debate over how superdelegates should vote, even if the pledged delegate count goes in the opposite direction, due to the arcane and artificial way in which pledged delegates can be assigned.

In the end the Democratic Party must base its decisions on bedrock principles of democracy, not on contrived rules that don't importantly conform to the perception, in the eyes of the people, of what democracy really consists in.

Those who insist that arbitrary rules must be applied instead surely should take up membership in some other party--perhaps the Hall Monitor Party might suit them better.


Open Left Campaigns



Advanced Search

Powered by: SoapBlox