Thursday, March 6, 2008

In Defense of Superdelegates

They exist for a reason.

Hillary's recent wins changed the race for the Democratic nomination. In the aftermath, Obama's delegate lead, essentially unchanged, stands around 100. He and his supporters argue that even with Clinton's comeback it's highly improbable that she will overtake him, or secure the all- important 2025th delegate. So, because Obama will have won more elected delegates, their argument goes, he should be the nominee.

But if Obama fails to reach 2025, a real possibility, it shouldn't be so automatic.

There's a reason for the delegate floor: if the party is so divided that no candidate can get a simple majority (2025/4049) then there's no mandate, and the party has other factors to consider. Factors like electability, and right now that factor surprisingly favors the Hill.

Her case--

Hillary Clinton won New York, California, Texas, Ohio, New Jersey, Florida and Michigan (although the latter two were basically uncontested). The point stands: she's won the biggest and most important states. She's likely to win Pennsylvania, which, along with Michigan, is essential for Democrats in November. Florida decided 2000 and Ohio 2004, those states lean Republican and if Obama can't beat Hillary Clinton there, how is he going to beat John McCain?

The Party has to think about that, and the consideration is in play because Obama cannot close the deal. That's why we're still here. The past few weeks, when the Clinton campaign "threw the kitchen sink" at him, Obama failed the test. Well, a picture of him in African garb is nothing compared to what Republicans have waiting.

Hillary, meanwhile, has had every possible insult and charge leveled at her over the past 17 years, we've heard it all, and she's still here.

His case--

The party doesn't want bigwigs to override the voice of the people, especially at the risk of alienating the record number of first time voters and contributors who have given the party a big advantage. Exit polls consistently show that Hillary does better with traditional Democrats, and those first- timers (who could turn their back on the party forever) side with Obama.

That assumes that Superdelegates will have robbed Obama of something he earned. Some will say that a 20 delegate win is still a win, just ask Al Gore. A 20 delegate lead after 4049 have been handed out entitles you to nothing. That's not new. The system is set up to get a nominee chosen by a majority of the party, not a plurality.

Similarly, the Electoral College, under the Constitution, mandates a candidate win 270/ 538 electors, and if no candidate does the election is in the hands of the House of Representatives.

It's not new, and it's not unfair. If a majority cannot agree, a consensus must be found elsewhere, somehow.


Stevekrik said...

When there are only two candidates, a plurality IS a majority...

Aaaaand that's my contribution to SamMag for the year. Count it.

Chris Meehan said...

yes but they aren't the only candidates who received delegates, remember John Edwards

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