Thursday, February 7, 2008

Superdelegates give Hillary the lead on Super Tuesday.

As the delegate count from SDTT (Super Duper Tsunami Tuesday) continues to settle, the democrats are realizing that they could face a particularly touchy subject come the Democratic National Convention. Ever since Al Gore took the popular vote but lost due to a technicality back in 2000, the Democratic Party has been acutely aware of how painful it is to be told that, when put to the test, each vote actually doesn’t matter.

What the party could face on August 28 in Denver, Colorado is an internal version of that struggle that could potentially disillusion massive numbers of voters. Right now, Barack is only down by .5% (7,347,971 v 7,294,851) according to the vote count, however he’s down 5% (1045 v 960) according to the delegate count. This goes back to the superdelegates. Although the states split their democratic delegates proportionate to the voters demands, the superdelegates can do what they see fit. Since Hillary has been wooing them for quite some time, they’ve found it appropriate to support her.

Many consider unfair and ridiculous that the democratic party even has superdelegates, but it's certainly not without rationale. The Republican primaries often send all of a states’ delegates to the candidate who can achieve a simple majority. This often creates a large enough disparity to anoint a clear winner of the party nomination, even if the momentum that high delegate counts can create isn’t always fair.

The democrats, to avoid this issue, reflect voter patterns when they distribute delegates, but they also don’t want a completely split party when the convention arrives. Part of the primaries is to find the best candidate, the other part is to galvanize support around them. The superdelegates are supposed to heighten that momentum, and in the end shouldn’t end up making that much a difference. If, however, the popular vote says that Obama should be their candidate, but the superdelegates swing the nomination over to Hillary solely based on their desires, then I could see some serious tension arising.

To sum it up: I’ve said before that if it comes to a 50/50 split on the nomination, I’d rather have people well connected to politics, such as the superdelegates, strike the final blow on the nomination. Personally, I wouldn’t have a problem if the superdelegates are the one to tip the balance, better them than a bunch of people who are making up their minds a day or two before the election based on a handful of commercials. The problem is that we would make people apathetic at the party level. It’s one thing to be apathetic about politics and have that belief confirmed at the national level. It’s wholly another to be excited enough about politics to vote in the primaries, only to have your own party deny the wishes of their constituents and nominate who they want.

Here's my favorite part about these delegate counts, however. "The AP tracks the delegate races by projecting the number of national convention delegates won by candidates in each presidential primary or caucus, based on state and national party rules, and by interviewing unpledged delegates to obtain their preferences." That means that Hillary's 85 delegate lead is mainly imagined. Their not-so-super delegate count is almost equal. To avoid pandemonium, the superdelegates are likely to simply vote for the candidate in the lead at the convention. The current lead is almost entirely speculation.

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