During the democratic primaries we hear a lot about Superdelegates and most of us tear our hair out listening to what seems unfair. So what is a superdelegate?
These are not pledged delegates who back a certain candidate in their state's primary election. Instead they are democratic governors, members of congress and party officials.
This year there are 717 superdelegates:
- 20 distinguished party leaders (DPL), consisting of current and former presidents, vice-presidents, congressional leaders, and DNC chairs
- 21 Democratic governors (including territorial governors and the Mayor of DC
- 46 Democratic members of the Senate (including Washington DC Shadow senators
- 193 Democratic members of the House of Representatives
- 437 elected members of the Democratic National Committee (including the chairs and vice-chairs of each state's Democratic Party
There is a long history behind these superdelegates dating back to 1980 when Ted Kennedy ran for president against Jimmy Carter. According to one writer, "the creation of superdelegates was a reaction to the messy 1980 Democratic convention, in which Ted Kennedy and his supporters challenged sitting President Jimmy Carter. Many Democrats felt that the democratization of the primary process had led to chaos, and resulted in many nominees that ended up losing. Therefore, they wanted to give party elites more of a say."
In other words, democracy was not all it was cracked up to be, the party's choice wasn't the people's choice, so they invented a way to tame the voters.
The republicans do not have this system but each election cycle it seems party leaders of the GOP attempt to tweak primary rules in reaction to the past election. They shortened the primary season in order not to drag out the process and get their nominee up and working without competition from within the party.
"We don't want a six-month slice-and-dice festival in our party. It's not good for picking a president. It's not good for our party," Chairman Reince Priebus told NPR."
Well that didn't work out well did it?