ChrisWeigant.com

An Elegant Solution To The Superdelegate Problem

[ Posted Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018 – 17:07 PDT ]

With all the bombs bursting in air and rockets' red glare emanating continuously from the White House, other important political news sometimes gets buried. Which is my way of apologizing for not noticing a very important change which is likely to come soon to the Democratic National Committee. On the same day Anthony Kennedy announced he would be stepping down from the Supreme Court, the D.N.C.'s Rules and Bylaws Committee held a very important vote. They voted (almost unanimously, with only one holdout) to adopt a modified version of a proposal to dramatically reduce the importance of superdelegates in selecting a presidential nominee at the party's quadrennial convention. But the way they chose to do so was actually pretty elegant, because while it does reduce their power, it will also guarantee that the superdelegates get to take part in the process, one way or another. Senator Bernie Sanders is happy with the way things worked out, which is important since he and his followers were the ones pushing to make changes in the first place. Sanders released a statement right after the committee voted, in which he said: "This decision will ensure that delegates elected by voters in primaries and caucuses will have the primary role in selecting the Democratic Party's nominee at the 2020 convention. This is a major step forward in making the Democratic Party more open and transparent, and I applaud their action."

Here's how the new system will work. Rather than superdelegates being automatically allowed to vote in the first round of voting (the way it previously worked), they will only be allowed to vote in the first round if one candidate has already secured the nomination by winning a majority of the pledged delegates. So the primaries and caucuses will be more important than before, and any endorsements of superdelegates before the primaries are over will be much less important, since their vote will only count if someone has already won the nomination through the primary process. This will level the playing field in the exact manner that Sanders wanted, putting the focus back on the primary voters themselves rather than party bigwigs.

If no candidate secures enough delegates for an outright majority of the pledged delegates, then there will be a second round of voting at the convention. This can only really happen if there are at least three candidates who have won delegates in the primaries, obviously (in a two-person race, one candidate or the other is guaranteed to win a majority, in other words). If the party faces this situation, then the superdelegates will not be allowed to vote in the first round of voting. Since no nominee will emerge from this first round, the superdelegates will then be able to vote in the second round of voting. Competition for their endorsements will be quite fierce in such a situation, one would assume, because it will put them in the position of casting the deciding votes.

The elegant part of this compromise is that no matter what happens -- no matter how the nominee is chosen -- the superdelegates will still get the thrill of actually casting their votes at the convention. In the first case, the winner will be a foregone conclusion anyway, so their votes won't tip the scales. In such a case, it is kind of petty to exclude their votes, since the winner will have won outright at the polls already. In the second case, the superdelegates will actually become the key swing votes during the second (and any subsequent) round of voting. But either way, they'll get to cast their votes.

This is a lot more inclusive than the original proposal from the Sanders crowd, which was to just abolish the superdelegate system altogether. After all, Republicans don't see the need for such superdelegates in their own nominating process, so why should Democrats cling to such an elitist and undemocratic system? Other proposals were floated that were less harsh than abolishing all the superdelegates, such as drastically reducing their overall numbers. But this would have led to many party bigwigs being informed that their wig wasn't quite big enough to be in the "in" crowd (which would have led to a lot of resentment, obviously).

The superdelegates themselves, for the most part, exuded an air of entitlement about the mere suggestion that they should relinquish some of their power. "The very idea!" they exclaimed, while clutching at their pearls. OK, perhaps that's a bit harsh, but at the very least it has to be said that the reform proposals were certainly not enthusiastically embraced by the people who would have to forego their automatic seat at the convention. It's a big perk, so having it yanked away would have been jarring for the party elite.

The compromise idea initially would have left the superdelegates out in the cold during the first round of voting, no matter what. Since it is incredibly rare that any convention goes beyond this first round, this would have been the equivalent of just doing away with the superdelegates altogether. They would have nominally been allowed to vote in second rounds, but if second rounds never happened then they might as well just stay home and not bother attending the convention.

At the last minute, however, the elegant change was introduced. If one candidate won a majority of the pledged delegates outright, then what would be the harm in allowing the superdelegates to vote for that candidate? Barring them from doing so is a little petty, in other words, since a clear winner would already have emerged. Allowing them to vote for (or against) a foregone winner wouldn't change anything at all, and -- importantly -- it guarantees that the superdelegates will be able to cast a vote for their party's nominee, no matter what happens.

This is inclusive -- it still give the party elders their perk -- but at the same time it creates a much fairer system of nominating Democratic presidential candidates. The voters will have the first say, and the only time the superdelegates' votes become important is if the voters haven't rallied behind a single candidate. This elevates the primary process to center stage, which is where Bernie Sanders wanted it to be. It also means that during the entire primary process, it will be almost immaterial how many superdelegate endorsements any particular candidate manages to get in his or her corner. The tallies by the news media will likely not even bother counting superdelegate endorsements, or at the least will only mention them as an afterthought, rather than being the key to winning the nomination. And that is the real change that Bernie wanted. No longer will a candidate like Hillary Clinton be able to lock up hundreds of crucial votes before the primaries even begin, which will leave a level playing field rather than a very biased one.

This isn't a done deal quite yet, it is worth mentioning. The process has been a long one, and it is not over yet. The Unity Commission came up with the plan and presented it to the Rules and Bylaws Committee. This committee just voted 27-1 to adopt the reform plan. The last step is putting the plan up for a vote by the entire Democratic National Committee next month. While at this point it is impossible to predict the outcome, it now seems the reforms have a pretty good chance of being formally adopted. The almost-unanimous vote in the committee shows that the new plan has wide support among both Sanders and Clinton supporters within the party. The last-minute change to allow superdelegates to vote if the candidate has already essentially won the nomination will go a long way towards assuaging hurt feelings among the superdelegates themselves -- many of whom are members of the full D.N.C., and will thus get to vote on the new plan in August. No matter how the candidate is selected, the superdelegates will still get to cast their votes. The only real change is that they will no longer be allowed to be the "thumb on the scale" before such a nominee emerges with a clear majority of the pledged delegates. In other words, the superdelegates will have to give up some power, but they will still be allowed to participate in the process, one way or another. The new system will be a lot fairer to underdog candidates like Sanders, and will elevate the primaries and caucuses to the prominence that they really deserve, making the overall process a lot more (small-d) democratic.

That, to me, is a very elegant solution to what had been a vexing problem. I sincerely hope this proposal will be adopted by a landslide by the full Democratic National Committee next month.

-- Chris Weigant

 

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

29 Comments on “An Elegant Solution To The Superdelegate Problem”

  1. [1] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Credit where credit is due. This is reasonable solution to a real problem.

    Not only will it not allow the superdelegates that did want to tip the scales in the primary by announcing their vote, it will allow superdelegates that did not want to announce their vote because they didn't want to tip the scales to endorse a candidate in the primaries if they want to.

    But hey, which is more surprising- the solution to the superdelegate problem or my comment about it? :D

  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Happy Fourth of July, everyone!

  3. [3] 
    neilm wrote:

    To make this really fair we should get rid of caucuses and just go with primaries - these caucuses are a joke in my opinion.

    Also the Democrats should create 4 large groups of states and have each vote one month apart, but Iowa and New Hampshire placed randomly so other states get a chance to go first.

  4. [4] 
    Michale wrote:

    Here's how the new system will work. Rather than superdelegates being automatically allowed to vote in the first round of voting (the way it previously worked), they will only be allowed to vote in the first round if one candidate has already secured the nomination by winning a majority of the pledged delegates. So the primaries and caucuses will be more important than before, and any endorsements of superdelegates before the primaries are over will be much less important, since their vote will only count if someone has already won the nomination through the primary process. This will level the playing field in the exact manner that Sanders wanted, putting the focus back on the primary voters themselves rather than party bigwigs.

    Except on Tuesdays, at night with a quarter moon.. :D

  5. [5] 
    Michale wrote:

    Happy Fourth of July, everyone!

    Thank you, Liz.. :D

  6. [6] 
    Michale wrote:

    Here's a general on topic question that I would really like a serious answer??

    Why do Democrats feel they need to "fix" something just because they lose??

    Isn't it possible that the political process (ANY political process, for that matter) is fine, that it's their own failings in their message or their actions that's the problem??

    Isn't that possible??

    Hey, Democrats, The System Doesn’t Need To Be ’Fixed’ Every Time You Lose An Election
    http://thefederalist.com/2018/07/03/hey-democrats-system-doesnt-need-fixed-every-time-lose-election/

    That article is more geared towards the EC, but it certainly can apply to the primary process..

  7. [7] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Michale-
    I don't think it matters whether they win or lose.

    It's not a very motivating campaign slogan to say "Everything's fine." or "I wouldn't change a thing."

    Even "Take Big Money- Lose Our Votes" is better than that.

  8. [8] 
    Michale wrote:

    It's not a very motivating campaign slogan to say "Everything's fine." or "I wouldn't change a thing."

    True.. But it would be HONEST and factual..

    How many times do Democrats have to lose because of their message for them to realize that maybe the problem IS the message??

  9. [9] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    the main problem for democrats is that their legislative actions don't match their rhetoric. the main problem for republicans is that their legislative actions DO match their rhetoric.

  10. [10] 
    Michale wrote:

    the main problem for democrats is that their legislative actions don't match their rhetoric. the main problem for republicans is that their legislative actions DO match their rhetoric.

    heh

  11. [11] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    The "superdelegate problem" is a Dem/Lib civil war. Let 'em fight it out till they're all extinct.

  12. [12] 
    Michale wrote:

    The "superdelegate problem" is a Dem/Lib civil war. Let 'em fight it out till they're all extinct.</i.

    "Don't tease me..."
    -Slider, TOP GUN

  13. [13] 
    neilm wrote:

    "If not for me, we would now be at War with North Korea!"

    Trump 7/4/18

    The man is beyond stupid, and into a whole new level of political crazy.

    Michale: do you think we would be at war with North Korea today is not for Trump?

  14. [14] 
    Michale wrote:

    Michale: do you think we would be at war with North Korea today is not for Trump?

    It's what you Democrats were saying about BEING at war with the Norks..

    Ya'all said we would be at war with the NORKS in xx months because of Trump if Trump got elected..

    Since we're not at war with the Norks and President Trump DID get elected....

    Yea, that's a reasonable possibility that we're not at war because of Trump....

  15. [15] 
    nypoet22 wrote:
  16. [16] 
    neilm wrote:

    Ya'all said we would be at war with the NORKS in xx months because of Trump if Trump got elected..

    Yeah, we'all said nothing of the sort - nice try at a deflection, but fail.

    Have a great 4th buddy.

  17. [17] 
    neilm wrote:

    ICE maintains that their focus on finding and splitting up harmless families has led to a drop in "their ability to pursue national security threats, child pornography and transnational crime."

    19 ICE agents believe that disbanding ICE and creating an investigations force would be far more effective in protecting America.

    https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4562896-FILE-3286.html

    This is not an isolated view in ICE - a senior ICEofficial backed the concerned ICE agents up saying that “operational challenges raised in that letter that merit some discussion.”

  18. [18] 
    neilm wrote:

    Reminder for the 4th of July:

    It was eight immigrants who signed the Declaration of Independence.

    Happy 4th!

  19. [19] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Michale [6]

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with looking at our system of government and wanting to correct the problem areas. But don’t think it is just a Democrat habit — Republicans are only concerned about the deficit when a Dem is in the White House. As for the EC, that is an archaic relic that prevents citizens from truly having a say as to who should be President. I have no doubt that we’d see an increase in voting numbers in every state if we used the popular vote to elect the president. I didn’t like it when I was a Republican and I still don’t see the point of it today.

    I also think that every elected official must be able to pass the same civil servants exam that the lowliest federal employee must pass to be a candidate. We have plenty of high level officials that could not get hired by your local police department because of their past, yet we grant them unfettered access to government funds with very little oversight.

    One of the only bright spots that I can see coming from this corrupt presidency is how it will result in the creation of lots of laws and rules being put in place to make sure this doesn’t continue. In Trump’s case, I think a lot of what we realized is broken is due to the fact that we always trusted candidates to do the correct and ethical thing. Trump showed us that we cannot trust anyone to do the right thing on their own; there have to be set rules in place to force compliance.

  20. [20] 
    Michale wrote:

    Yeah, we'all said nothing of the sort - nice try at a deflection, but fail.

    Yea, right.. :^/

  21. [21] 
    Michale wrote:

    It was eight immigrants who signed the Declaration of Independence.

    ***** STRAWMAN ALERT *******

    ***** STRAWMAN ALERT *******

    ***** STRAWMAN ALERT *******

    ***** STRAWMAN ALERT *******

    ***** STRAWMAN ALERT *******

  22. [22] 
    Michale wrote:

    Republicans are only concerned about the deficit when a Dem is in the White House.

    And if we were talking about generic hypocrisy (such as Democrats are ALSO only concerned about the deficit when a GOP'er is in the White House) you would have a point.

    But we're not, so you don't..

    As for the EC, that is an archaic relic that prevents citizens from truly having a say as to who should be President.

    The point is, NO ONE on your side of the aisle said BOO about the EC in 2008 and 2012...

    How come??

    In 2008 and 2012, ya'all were PERFECTLY OK with the EC..

    How come??

    I also think that every elected official must be able to pass the same civil servants exam that the lowliest federal employee must pass to be a candidate.

    Sure.. Why not throw in a religious test and ideological litmus test as well??

    And we can add an 'ethics' test too..

    Do you think Hillary would have passed?? :D

    In Trump’s case, I think a lot of what we realized is broken is due to the fact that we always trusted candidates to do the correct and ethical thing

    Correct and ethical by WHOSE definition??

    Trump showed us that we cannot trust anyone to do the right thing on their own; there have to be set rules in place to force compliance.

    IF YOU LIKE YOUR DOCTOR YOU CAN KEEP YOUR DOCTOR

    Funny how you weren't worried about "the right thing" then, eh? :D

  23. [23] 
    Michale wrote:

    Sure.. Why not throw in a religious test and ideological litmus test as well??

    And we can add an 'ethics' test too..

    Do you think Hillary would have passed?? :D

    10,000 Quatloos says you do.. :D

  24. [24] 
    neilm wrote:

    Do you think Hillary would have passed?? :D

    Talking of tests, remember when Trump took a vegetable identification test, managed to pass, and Michale went ape shit about how smart Trump was? (Word is that they avoided difficult vegetables like broccoli or artichokes.)

  25. [25] 
    neilm wrote:

    Do you think Hillary would have passed?? :D

    Talking of tests, remember when Trump took a vegetable identification test, managed to pass, and Michale went ape shit about how smart Trump was? (Word is that they avoided difficult vegetables like broccoli or artichokes.)

  26. [26] 
    Michale wrote:

    remember when Trump took a vegetable identification test, managed to pass, and Michale went ape shit about how smart Trump was?

    Nope.. Don't remember that at all..

    I DO remember when ya'all hysterically accused Trump of being mentally ill and I posted the results of a test that PROVED ya'all were full of shit..

    I don't expect you to remember that though..

    You don't even remember when ya'all claimed, by omission or commission, that Trump would ignite a 2nd Korean War...

    Funny you have such a selective memory, eh?? :D

  27. [27] 
    Michale wrote:

    Facebook flags Declaration of Independence as hate speech
    https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/jul/4/facebook-flags-declaration-independence-hate-speec/

    This is the Democrat Party's problem in a nutshell...

  28. [28] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Michale,

    When the EC aligns with the popular vote numbers, why would there be any complaint? It’s when the will of the people to name their President is suppressed by the EC that people complain — and rightfully so! Trump was vocal about his displeasure with the EC, prior to it handing him the presidency.

  29. [29] 
    Michale wrote:

    When the EC aligns with the popular vote numbers, why would there be any complaint? It’s when the will of the people to name their President is suppressed by the EC that people complain — and rightfully so! Trump was vocal about his displeasure with the EC, prior to it handing him the presidency.

    So, that makes ya'all no better then Trump..

    Funny.. I had THOUGHT that the Democrat Party was better than Trump... I mean, that's ya'all's claim, right??

    Apparently, it's a claim that is not factually accurate..

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