We answer the eternal question, what are Superdelegates and why the hell your Facebook friends won’t shut-up about them?!
On Tuesday in the New Hampshire primaries, Hillary Clinton suffered an electoral beat down by Bernie Sanders. While state demographics did play a huge part of it, a 22 point loss is still no joke. Tuesday was a huge win for the Sanders campaign!
But then people took a closer look at the results…
As you see in this terribly formatted table – you can click on it to see it clearer – even though Sanders beat Clinton handily on Tuesday, they left New Hampshire with the same number of delegates.
Before you ask, no the Democratic Establishment is not trying to pull one over on the Sanders campaign. This is a process that has been going on since the mid-80’s. It has everything to do with a concept called superdelegates. Here’s our 10-Point Expert on the matter.
Point 1: In general there are two types of individuals that technically vote in the presidential nomination process for the Democratic and Republican Parties; pledge delegates and superdelegates.
Point 2: When Americans go out and vote for candidates in primary elections, they’re specifically voting on an individual – ie a pledge delegate – that has an understanding that if voters are to choose them, they will support said candidate at the convention.
Point 3: Superdelegates on the other hand, are not bound by a specific region or candidate. So they can vote for whoever they want to in that state’s primaries. These individuals usually are high ranking party leaders in the Democratic and Republican Parties, like members of Congress, former presidents, governors, high ranking party officials, ect. Superdelegates – just like pledge delegates – have just one vote at the convention.
Point 4: So to understand why superdelegates exist, you have to go back to the 1980 presidential election. Specifically to the 1980 Democratic National Convention. At that convention, chaos broke out among the Democrats when the Ted Kennedy and his supporters tried to overtake the Democratic nomination from the incumbent at the time, President Jimmy Carter. As this news report from 1980 shows, things got pretty chaotic.
Point 5: Eventually order was brought to the Democratic Party before the general election, but after that convention, Democratic leaders felt party outsiders were gaining too much control of the nomination process. So in hopes of avoiding similar incidents in the future, the concept of superdelegates was created to give party leaders more control over the party’s nomination.
Point 6: Currently in the Democratic Party, there are a total of 4,763 delegates. Out of those there are 4,051 that are pledge delegates and 712 superdelegates. You need 2,382 delegates to win the Democratic nomination in 2016.
Point 7: So on Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, Bernie Sanders ended up winning 15 out of the 24 pledge delegates that were up for grabs in the New Hampshire primary. So out of pledge delegates, Clinton only won 9 of them.
Point 8: However there were 6 superdelegates in New Hampshire that pledged their support to Clinton even before Tuesday’s primary. That’s why both Sanders and Clinton tied in the number of delegates (15 each) in New Hampshire, even though Sanders handily won the New Hampshire primary.
Point 9: As originally reported by the Associated Press, Clinton has been aggressively courting superdelegates since last year. She’s aiming to secure about 360 superdelegates across the country. In contrast, Sanders only has 8 superdelegates as of this writing.
Point 10: Now if you’re a Bernie Sanders supporter, I know the idea of superdelegates may sound incredibly shady, but in all honesty they actually aren’t. Unlike pledge delegates, superdelegates can change their vote anytime leading up to the Democratic National Convention. In all honesty, if Sanders were to end up getting more pledge delegates than Clinton, they would absolutely change their affiliation from a Clinton nomination and back Sanders instead. While true, they could absolutely defy the “will of the people” and back a candidate that receives fewer actual votes, but why would they? It would be suicide for the Democratic Party!
The Democrats would lose complete trust and legitimacy in their party if that were to happen, which would spell doom for decades of elections! If Sanders wins the popular vote, even by a slim margin, the superdelegates would come along as well. After all, the purpose of the superdelegates is to protect the party’s interest. Backing a candidate that didn’t win the popular vote, would be doing exactly opposite of what they were originally created to do. So to everyone who thinks the superdelegates are a giant conspiracy created to screw Sanders out of the presidency, they should just…
That’s just not going to happen.
(Photo Credit: Pixabay.com, Google Images)