Superdelegates Aren't As Super as You Think

Washington Matters

Superdelegates Aren't As Super as You Think

Before everyone gets too excited about the Democratic superdelegates meeting in secret and defying the will of the voters, keep this in mind: They won't.


There's no question that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will use every means of persuasion at their disposal to win each and every superdelegate, but it's crazy to think that many of the supers will be swayed by backroom deals.


Keep in mind who the superdelegates are and what's most important to them. The bulk are elected officials and party leaders, who either want to be re-elected or who want to see Democratic candidates win up and down the ballot. So if Obama wins a bigger share of the popular vote and gets more pledged delegates -- and continues to show an ability to bring hundreds of thousands of first-time Democratic voters to the polls, you better believe the superdelegates will go his way regardless of whether they prefer or even formally endorsed Clinton. Similarly, if he flops on his face and Clinton comes out on top, she'll have the edge with the supers. But she can't grab the lead by cutting a deal to seat the Florida and Michigan delegations that have been barred because those states broke party rules and then demand   superdelegate support. That would cause an uproar and split the party.


Right now, the advantage is with Obama. He's won 22 contests to Clinton's 10 (not counting Florida and Michigan), and he leads the total vote count, 9.4 million to 8.7 million.  (He even leads the popular count by 80,000 if you include Florida and Michigan.) The wins give him a lead in pledged delegates of 1,096 to 977. 


Clinton has to turn that around with primary wins in Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania before she can realistically hope that the superdelegates will give her enough backing to secure the nomination. Only if it were a virtural tie -- the Democrats' worse nightmare -- would the superdelegates really have the power to decide. And that's pretty unlikely.