Sunday, February 10, 2008



Friends of mine have been calling and asking what this whole brouhaha about superdelegates is all about. The other night I heard the increasingly implausible Nancy Pelosi on TV trying to spin the concept as... super democratic. It isn't; it's part of the war Democratic Party Insiders and careerists have with their own much-feared and loathed (smelly) grassroots. So whether you accept the conventional wisdom that this was the Democratic Party insiders' means for dealing with the naughty grassroots for nominating McGovern or if you want to believe Pelosi's fairy tale that it was a way to guarantee more grassroots participation by taking respected political leaders out of the delegate selection process where they would have an unfair advantage, what you're stuck with is 796 party insiders-- a kind of virtual ex officio House of Lords.

This is a problem that could, if the Clinton machine pushes (as has been their wont), rip apart the Democratic Party. Obama is clearly the favorite of the grassroots voters who are turning out like never before for the primaries and caucuses. Her one hope for a win this week, Maine, just evaporated, just like her chances did in Washington, Kansas, Nebraska, Louisiana and the Virgin Islands yesterday. Obama is sweeping every demographic in every part of the country. Many people like Hillary; but for a variety of reasons, they would rather see him as the Democratic nominee for president.

Meanwhile, the party insiders favor her. "Of the 796 lawmakers, governors and party officials who are Democratic superdelegates, Clinton had 243 and Obama had 156. That edge was responsible for Clinton's overall advantage in the pursuit of delegates to secure the party's nomination for president. According to the AP's latest tally, Clinton has 1,125 total delegates and Obama has 1,087. A candidate must get 2,205 delegates to capture the nomination."

Democratic activists outside the Beltway want to see the superdelegates commit to vote for whomever was the winner in the state or district they represent. This TV report in Colorado sums up the danger Democrats could face if the Clinton Machine tries to steal the nomination. There is no question, for example, that Udall would probably lose his chances to win a Senate seat if he backs Clinton after the state went overwhelmingly for Obama.

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At 4:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I am blown away by the ME results!

[Clinton probably too ;)]

Not only big towns, but tiny rural places going for Obama.

Even tho ME doesn't have all that many delegates, this is a huge win for Obama, bec. it indicates exactly how fed up people are with the status quo- and, that they see Hillary as part of the status quo.


At 4:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I agree the supers are anti-democratic and lean Hillary, after crunching the numbers, I'm cautiously optimistic about avoiding a divisive party meltdown. First of all, Obama won't need a majority of the supers to win. Second, of the supers who've already committed (most of them well before his surge), Obama gets about 40% of the supers. The ones who've waited to commit either want to wheel and deal or have the sense to wait and see where the electorate is.

Now for the math: Obama currently has about 986 pledged delegates. If he wins 60% of the outstanding pledged delegates (about 810), he needs only 29% of all of the supers (about 229). This is plausible. If he wins 55% of the outstanding pledged (about 740) he needs about 38% of the supers (about 296). Very plausible. If he only wins 50% of the outstanding pledged (about 675), he needs about 46% of the supers 364). This is where it gets dicey.

Our best hope for avoiding a divisive, heartbreaking power grab by the powers-that-be is for Obama to run up the score on the remaining states. And from what we've seen this weekend, it looks increasingly possible.


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