Tacoma Urbanist

Feb. 13, 2008 at 12:34am

Will The *Superdelegates* Thwart Tacoma's Caucuses?






On Frebruary 9, many Tacoma residents attended their local caucus and participated with great pride.

Here's a typical Tacoman caucus report from Tacoma Momma

Proud To Be From Tacoma

I am. Yesterday was amazing. Thousands of people packed into the Jason Lee cafeteria, but everyone seemed to be in a great mood despite the crowds and the chaos and the noise.

A diverse and multi-generational crowd turned out. No matter their candidate, everyone seemed practically giddy about the idea of making change happen with this historic election.

All Pierce County legislative districts favored Obama by a rate of 3-2.  Overall in Washington, Obama won Washington 2-1. That means our state caucus result will be represented as such at the national level right?  Unfortunately, it's not the easy or democratic.

Enter the "Super Delegates"


As Peter Callaghan discusses in his article Superdelegates Gets Supersized, Washington has 80 regular delegates from the caucuses.  However, there is an additional 17 percent from superdelegates which are democratic party and elected leaders throughout the state.  Each superdelegate can count for thousands of citizen delegates.

Thus, the superdelegates have the ability to control the selection of the presidential nominee so long as neither primary candidate gets more than around 20 percent more than the other.

In the TNT today, Thrice All America's Jamie Paulson writes a letter to the editor entitled Superdelegates need to respect voters’ choice:

There is a significant chance that at the convention, the delegates elected via the primaries and caucuses will pledge their votes in favor of Obama, only to have the nomination decided for Clinton on the shoulders of the nearly-800 superdelegates whose votes represent only themselves.

This would essentially snub the grass roots of the Democratic Party and create division and frustration at a time when people are genuinely excited about participating in the political process.

Also, see Erik Emery's post on the issue.

Potential Superdelegate Crisis

In the last few days, many media sources are examining what a disaster it would be should be if the presidential candidate the citizens delegates selected were overridden by the superdelegates.

Rep. Adam Smith had some good insights also showing what a potential problem this is and what he would do about it:

During a news conference Friday in Seattle, Obama said if he wins a majority of the caucus and primary delegates, he should get the nomination. He said "it would be problematic for political insiders to overturn the judgment of the voters."

If that happened, there would be "an enormous backlash" within the party, said U.S. Rep. Adam Smith of Tacoma, Obama's campaign chairman in this state....


I cannot think of an event that would cause such frustration on the part of citizens to see their choice for a presidential nominee thwarted by political insiders.  No doubt it would discourage a great many people from voting in the general election or participating in caucuses again.

This is a big deal with national media, blogs and web sites analyzing this issue in great detail.

Washington Superdelegates


Washington State has a potential trainwreck on its hands.  Washington has come out 67.51 percent for Obama and 31.2 percent for Clinton.  Yet, declared Washington superdelegates are voting the other way with 62.5 percent for Clinton and 37.5 percent for Obama. 

Just because the Democratic superdelegates may be able for override the citizen delegates doesn't mean they should exercise the power.

Solution

Washington Superdelegates through the State Democratic party should issue a joint statement thanking people for participating in the Washington caucus and promise the following.

1) That the superdelegates will not override the citizen caucus vote.

2) That they will respect the Washington caucus on February 9th and apportion themselves in the same ration as the citizen delegates.

There are still 8 Washington State superdelegates who have not supported either party.  If they work with the other superdelegates, they can still apportion the Washington superdelegate count so that no declared superdelegate need withdraw their vote.

Let's hope the race for primary does not come out that close. 

For more information, see


Seattle Times

During a news conference Friday in Seattle, Obama said if he wins a majority of the caucus and primary delegates, he should get the nomination. He said "it would be problematic for political insiders to overturn the judgment of the voters."

If that happened, there would be "an enormous backlash" within the party, said U.S. Rep. Adam Smith of Tacoma, Obama's campaign chairman in this state....

Smith said the Obama campaign is not saying superdelegates already committed to Clinton -- even those in states like Washington where Obama won handily -- should switch right now. But if Obama wins a majority of the regular delegates, Smith said, "Then, yes, I would definitely be asking them to change."

And his message to undecided superdelegates is this: "The strongest consideration should be not to overturn the will of the elected delegates."...

"Either you trust your voters in the Democratic caucuses and primary or you don't," Smith said.


A Way Out of the Superdelegate Mess (The Atlantic)

Why There Won't Be a Superdelegate Train Wreck

But what’s worse is that we could have a situation where Obama wins a majority of the pledged delegates and the super delegates decide to hand the nomination to Hillary anyway. This would cause an all out civil war in the party, and would make Hillary one of the weakest nominees in modern Democratic politics, virtually assuring a President John McCain....

2008 Democratic Convention Watch

Superdelegate on Wikipedia

Superdelegate on KOS

comments [6]  |  posted under caucus, tacoma, washington

Comments

by NumbSkull on 2/13/2008 @ 12:54am
NumbSkull and Ms.N went to the caucus. NS going to be a pessimist on this topic & say there always seems to be a way to SCREW the little guy. Even if the caucus goes the way of the Delegate Vote, isn't it interesting that the Superdelegates can overule that Vote? NS means why is that rule even freaking there? This makes NS think of the Electoral & popular vote during a presidential election. NS will be sad, but will not be all that surprised. Late, NS

by thriceallamerican on 2/13/2008 @ 7:24am
If you do want to put a little pressure on Cantwell and Murray, but don't have time to write a letter, join the 4000+ (and growing fast) signers of this petition.

by KevinFreitas on 2/13/2008 @ 7:38am
Just signed that. Thanks thrice!

by Erik on 2/13/2008 @ 11:53am
Here's a WSJ article on it:

Democrats' Nightmare: Back to Smoke-Filled Rooms
By June Kronholz

WASHINGTON -- Here's a nightmare for the Democrats: The party's bigwigs, rather than its voters, may end up choosing the presidential nominee.

If neither Illinois Sen. Barack Obama nor New York Sen. Hillary Clinton manages to pull decisively ahead in the next few weeks, the nomination could depend on the convention votes of 796 party leaders, or superdelegates, who are free to ignore the preferences of Democratic voters.

"To the public, that looks like a throwback to the old, corrupt system of smoke-filled rooms," says University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato.


by Erik on 2/13/2008 @ 11:56am
If you do want to put a little pressure on Cantwell and Murray, but don't have time to write a letter, join the 4000+ (and growing fast) signers of this petition.

Thanks for leading on this one Jamie. Hopefully, the democrats will take handle the issue before so many superdelegates committ that they paint themselves in a corner.

by Erik on 2/13/2008 @ 2:01pm
The "superdelegate" issue appears to be further escalating. Even many of the superdelegates are now realizing what a problem it is.


Kind wants end to the use of superdelegates

U.S. Rep. will support whoever wins his district on Tuesday

WASHINGTON (AP) - Rep. Ron Kind says that he’ll cast his super-delegate vote for whichever presidential candidate wins the most votes in his congressional district in next week’s Democratic primary.


Kind is a Democrat representing the 3rd Congressional District in southwestern Wisconsin. As a super-delegate, he is not bound by the results of the state’s primary between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.

But he also is urging the Democratic National Committee to scrap the super-delegate system. Kind says it can be used to thwart the will of voters.


Where is our political analyst NEAL? Perhaps he has some insider insight.