Saturday, February 16, 2008

Democrats Look to Avoid Convention Rift - New York Times

Democrats Look to Avoid Convention Rift - New York Times

POLS 101: We talked about this on Thursday. The Democrats are trying to avoid a train wreck at the convention. It is certain that neither Obama nor Clinton will have enough pledged delegates to win on the first ballot, unless one of them drops out (not likely).

1. The superdelegates would then be able to pick the nominee. If they vote for the candidate who won the most pledged delegates, maybe that's not a problem. But if they pick the candidate who, in essence, lost the primary season, it could lead to a fractured party in November and a lot of voters staying home. Obama has enough of a lead in pledged delegates that Clinton probably can't catch him (although he can't win a majority and it will remain close). But she has more endorsements from superdelegates. If he goes to the convention as the winner of the primary season, what will his supporters do if the higher powers in the party give the nomination to Clinton?

2. The other issue is the Michigan and Florida delegations. They are not to be seated and the candidates agreed not to campaign there, per party order, because those state parties held their primaries too soon. But Clinton wants those delegates anyway... do the Dems handle this situation? They are meeting to discuss it right now.


Jonathan said...

Is there a reason some delegates are allowed more freedom than others? They are elected, so does that mean they have some sort of "inside" knowledge that could allow them to make a better decision about who to nominate? The only commentary I've heard on the topic is amount of cash the Democratic nominees have donated to them - roughly $900,000.00. To me, this means that the "special inside knowledge" may be nothing more than a lot of cash.

Evan McKenzie said...

The Democratic Party has used superdelegates for a long time--going back to the 1980s at least. These folks are office holders--legislators, governors, members of congress, etc. It is basically just a perk of being a Democratic Party member who holds public office. So that means almost 800 Demo officeholders get to be delegates, which is a cool thing for them, and also that they can vote for whoever they want. I guess it is a recognition that they are important people who have their own minds. But that $$ you are talking about--and you are right about the amount, I think--is an especially troublesome aspect of the process. Obama and Clinton are making contributions to the campaigns of the super-delegates for whatever office they hold.