Obama and the Superdelegates

Last year the talk was whether Hillary Clinton could manage to win the Democratic nomination due to having a greater number of superdelegates. That turned out not to be a factor as superdelegates shifted towards Obama along with the primary and caucus voters, and now its Obama’s party. The Democratic National Committee is looking at how to change the process and one idea is to reduce the number or outright eliminate the superdelegates.

Touching on what may prove to be one of the more contentious issues considered by the DNC, one presenter, Democratic Party activist and Harvard University lecturer and former superdelegate Elaine Kamarck, suggested that it may be time to completely eliminate superdelegates since most of those party leaders clearly determined their role in 2008 to be one of ratifying the decision made by voters in primaries and caucuses.

“We can probably let go of the superdelegates,” said Kamarck.

“Their deliberative role,” she added, “has in fact been supplanted by a very very public process.”

Other matters under discussion include starting the process later in the winter and the always controversial question of who gets to go first.

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  1. 1
    Leslie Parsley says:

    This last campaign was probably one of the most exciting I can remember – because the choices and the issues were so clear, and of course because the people in this country were taking a big step in possibly voting for its first black president. And then there was always Sarah

  2. 2
    Leslie Parsley says:

    To continue (I cut myself off): It was the longest damn campaign in history. I live and breathe politics, and have done so since I was in highschool, but not everyone is a political animal. I think the general population was getting pretty tired of it all. It also is prohibitively expensive, making it tough for a talented bright candidate – but a poor one – toFortunately, “the right” folks turned out at the polls. But how long will this continue.

    I have always questioned the super deligate practice feeling that it takes power away from the people. I may be wrong, but did this not stem from the days of big boss politics? I’m thinking of Chicago’s Mayor Daly, Tammany, etc.

  3. 3
    Fritz says:

    Superdelegates came about as a reaction to the 1972 campaign.  McGovern worked the primary process very well (and the primary process had been highly democratized after 1968), even though the political pros predicted (correctly) that McGovern would be smashed in the general election.   Superdelegates were added to try to add some “seasoned political wisdom” (or something like that) to the candidate selection process.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    The question after the 2008 campaign is whether it will help the party to have superdelegates step in. When Clinton was trying to win the nomination with support from superdelegates it also looked likely that if she did this she would have handed the election to McCain. If superdelegates had stepped in in 1972 it is possible that they could have come up with a more electable candidate in principle, but they would have also had the problem of those who backed McGovern in the primary staying home on election day.

    Regardless of what happened in 1972 Nixon would have won. He had the best campaign slogan ever:

    Don’t Change Dicks In The Middle Of A Screw–Reelect Nixon in ’72

    The political pros did predict correctly that McGovern would be smashed in the general election, but the margin of the defeat is also a consequence of many of the party pros refusing to back him and contributing to this outcome.

  5. 5
    Leslie Parsley says:

    Thanks for giving me the heads up. Yea, I remember McGovern. He was the guy who said he stood behind his VP choice – Thomas Eagleton – 1000 percent after the news broke that TE had undergone electroshock treatments for clinical depression. McG did an about face several days later when he “accepted Eagleton’s resignation.” Yea, right. Several things about this p’d me off and I think I went fishing on election day.

    Hey, hey – don’t remember that particular slogan for ole Tricky Dick but I sure do like it.

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