First of all, what exactly is a superdelegate, besides some big scary word that corporate media likes to use?
From wikipedia: A “superdelegate” or an “unpledged delegate” is a delegate to the Democratic National Convention or Republican National Convention that is seated automatically, based on their status as current (Republican and Democratic) or former (Democratic only) party leader or elected official.
Although “superdelegate” was originally coined and created to describe this type of Democratic delegate, the term has become widely used to describe these delegates in both parties, even though it is not an official term used by either party.
For Democrats, superdelegates fall into two categories:
- delegates seated based on other positions they hold, who are formally described (in Rule 9.A) as “unpledged party leader and elected official delegates” (unpledged PLEO delegates); and
- additional unpledged delegates selected by each state party (in a fixed predetermined number), who are formally described (in Rule 9.B) as “unpledged add-on delegates” and who need not hold any party or elected position before their selection as delegates.
In some presidential elections, superdelegates can play a major role in determining the Democratic nominee, especially in a close race. Unlike delegates though, superdelegates are not bound to represent the popular vote of a region at the Democratic National Convention; they are free to support any candidate for the nomination.
Superdelegates are not selected on the basis of party primaries and caucuses in each state. Instead, superdelegate standing is based on the status of current or former officeholders and party officials, including all Democratic members of Congress. Superdelegate is a term that arose in the 1970s. Clinton’s camp declared in late August that they had 1/5th of the delegates needed to win and had secured the support of 440 of the roughly 700 superdelegates, although some have questioned that statement.
“This is really about how you put the numbers together.”
In order for a candidate to win the party nomination for president, he or she must gain the majority of delegate votes. We’ll cover the delegates in another article. The purpose of superdelegates is for high-ranking Democrats to maintain some control over the nominating process and each state has it’s own unique amount of delegates and superdelegates.
Based on the table below listing delegates and superdelegates and using Iowa as an example, and also assuming that Hillary Clinton has 75% of the superdelegates secured, if Bernie Sanders grabs 56 percent of the vote and Clinton grabs 44 percent of the vote, Bernie would get 25 delegates and Clinton 21. Add the superdelegates, 6 for Clinton and 2 for Bernie and it is a tie.
Of course as you’ll see on this list, some states such as New Hampshire and Massachusetts have 25% or higher superdelegate counts, so the formula varies a little bit and then you have Vermont, Sanders’ home state which has 15 delegates and 8 superdelegates but we are gonna call Vermont in favor of Sanders. (Bold move I know)
Let’s look at a state like Illinois which has 160 delegates and 30 super delegates while also assuming that Hillary Clinton has 75% of the superdelegates on her side, if Bernie Sanders grabs 54.5 percent of the vote and Clinton grabs 45.5 percent of the vote, Bernie would get 87 delegates and Clinton 73. Add the superdelegates, 22 for Clinton and 8 for Bernie and it is a tie.
Those figures also assume of course that no one is in the race, so to be on the safe side let’s give O’Malley 8% of the vote in Illinois. To do that we’ll shave 4% off of both Clinton and Sanders’ totals. In that scenario Sanders would need 50.5 percent of the vote to gain 81 delegates and 8 superdelegates, for a total of 89. Clinton would have 41.5 percent of the vote amounting to 66 delegates and 22 superdelegates for a total of 88 and O’Malley, assuming he’s got no super delegate support would have around 12. Keep in mind all figures have been rounded up.
|February 1, 2016||Iowa||46||8||Semi-open caucus|
|February 9, 2016||New Hampshire||24||8||Semi-closed primary|
|February 20, 2016||Nevada||31||8||Closed caucus|
|February 27, 2016||South Carolina||51||6||Open primary|
|March 1, 2016||Alabama||52||6||Open primary|
|March 1, 2016||Arkansas||32||5||Open primary|
|March 1, 2016||Colorado||64||13||Closed caucus|
|March 1–8, 2016||Democrats abroad||13||4||Closed primary|
|March 1, 2016||Georgia||98||14||Open primary|
|March 1, 2016||Massachusetts||95||26||Semi-closed primary|
|March 1, 2016||Minnesota||78||16||Open caucus|
|March 1, 2016||Oklahoma||38||4||Semi-closed primary|
|March 1, 2016||Tennessee||68||9||Open primary|
|March 1, 2016||Texas||208||29||Open primary|
|March 1, 2016||Vermont||15||8||Open primary|
|March 1, 2016||Virginia||95||17||Open primary|
|March 5, 2016||Louisiana||54||7||Closed primary|
|March 5, 2016||Nebraska||26||5||Closed caucus|
|March 5, 2016||Kansas||33||4||Closed caucus|
|March 6, 2016||Maine||25||5||Closed caucus|
|March 8, 2016||Mississippi||36||5||Open primary|
|March 8, 2016||Michigan||133||19||Open primary|
|March 15, 2016||Florida||207||31||Closed primary|
|March 15, 2016||Illinois||160||30||Semi-closed primary|
|March 15, 2016||Missouri||75||13||Open primary|
|March 15, 2016||North Carolina||107||13||Semi-closed primary|
|March 15, 2016||Ohio||148||17||Semi-open primary|
|March 22, 2016||Arizona||63||12||Closed primary|
|March 22, 2016||Idaho||20||4||Semi-closed caucus|
|March 22, 2016||Utah||24||4||Semi-open caucus|
|March 26, 2016||Alaska||14||4||Closed caucus|
|March 26, 2016||Hawaii||22||9||Semi-closed caucus|
|March 26, 2016||Washington||86||16||Open caucus|
|April 5, 2016||Wisconsin||79||10||Open primary|
|April 9, 2016||Wyoming||13||4||Closed caucus|
|April 19, 2016||New York||233||44||Closed primary|
|April 26, 2016||Maryland||78||27||Closed primary|
|April 26, 2016||Connecticut||51||14||Closed primary|
|April 26, 2016||Delaware||17||10||Closed primary|
|April 26, 2016||Pennsylvania||160||21||Closed primary|
|April 26, 2016||Rhode Island||22||9||Semi-closed primary|
|May 3, 2016||Indiana||70||9||Open primary|
|May 7, 2016||Guam||6||5||Closed caucus|
|May 10, 2016||West Virginia||26||9||Semi-closed primary|
|May 17, 2016||Kentucky||47||6||Closed primary|
|May 17, 2016||Oregon||52||12||Closed primary|
|June 5, 2016||Puerto Rico||51||7||Open primary|
|June 7, 2016||California||405||71||Semi-closed primary|
|June 7, 2016||Montana||15||7||Open primary|
|June 7, 2016||New Jersey||110||16||Closed primary|
|June 7, 2016||New Mexico||29||9||Closed primary|
|June 7, 2016||South Dakota||15||5||Semi-open primary|
|June 14, 2016||District of Columbia||17||20||Closed primary|
|TBA||North Dakota||14||5||Open primary|
|TBA||American Samoa||6||4||Open caucus|
|TBA||Virgin Islands||6||5||Closed caucus|
So all things considered, even if Clinton has the big edge in terms of superdelegates that have committed, Bernie still has the edge for winning the nomination. It’s no secret (except to some Clinton supporters) that Sanders has a massive following with the millennial crowd and with the politically disenchanted. Plus let’s not forget that Clinton had the edge over Obama with superdelegates but many of them switched teams and I’d look for some of the same thing to happen in 2016. Make no mistake, he’ll get his share of superdelegates and if the young people vote, Bernie wins easily.
To take a line from quarterback Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers early in the 2014 season – RELAX.
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