Thursday, February 07, 2008

What one superdelegate thinks about the nominating process

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

Our superdelegate friend DNC member Jenny Greenleaf from Oregon commented in a post below and I thought it should be seen by everybody.

I am absolutely remaining uncommitted until Oregon votes.

I've talked with some of the other delegates about what an odd process we have for electing a party standard bearer. As our former Governor Barbara Roberts said, "Making things fair makes things complicated."

Those who have more history than I do tell me that most ideas for simplifying the process will make it less fair. Certainly the way we award delegates proportionally in the congressional districts is odd, but that's because it really tries to be fair to the voters and reflect differences around the state. Winner take all is a lot simpler, but I'm not sure we'd like the result.

I'd love to see regional primaries, but we'd have to federalize the process, and the states who do caucuses would have to give them up. That might not go over so well in a lot of states.

As far as I understand it, before the superdelegates existed, the party leaders and elected officials would run for the delegate slots (and win), leaving few for the regular folks who want to go to the convention. So that wasn't fair either.

I also think many of you are doing some of the superdelegates a disservice by making assumptions about them. Sure, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are superdelegates, but most of the DNC members are people like me who came out of the grassroots. I'm about as far from a "party elite" as you can get.
Thanks for your comment!


Anonymous said...


Please move some of the Obama superdelegates into a second column like you did the H/Clinton side.

Why? Because you just seem to be running his list to the bottom of the screen for some strange reason.

Secondly- Why don't you note anywhere that "superdelegates" can easily change their minds at any time?

I know of one S/Delegate who, because the state so overwhelmingly went against their candidate of choice, is seriously considering switching her SD to the other candidate. Yes, she is THAT embarrassed she said!!

I have a feeling that may happen more and more as this race goes on.

Also - for the sake of fairness, and so that this site does not look as partisan as it has been - please put the red S/Delegates into a seperate column or on a different page.

Your partisanship by creating these lists is showing.

Please Matt and Oreo - BE FAIR!!

Anonymous said...

Do you really think moving some of Obama's superdelegates into a second column is going to make him have more superdelegates?


I see a handfull difference in Hillary's column 1 and Obama's...who cares.

Anonymous said...

haha moving into a second column
would be fair -

Why dont you ask Matt/Oreo to
put in caps and bold BO superdelegates.

Looks like the whole race is going to split the democrats

McCain 08

Matt said...

You have got to be kidding me. The Obama list is 4 longer than the Clinton list. We'll give Obama a 2nd column when it makes sense to from a formatting perspective.

We will not move the MI/FL superdelegates off this page. We colored them red. Our philosophy is "we report, you decide" That's why we present the delegate numbers both without and with FL/MI. Choose to follow whichever set of numbers you want.

Why does this site look partisan? It's a fact that Clinton has more endorsements. Not much we can do about that.

You wrote "Your partisanship by creating these lists is showing." Huh? Are you saying we would be more fair by not providing this information? As Democrats, we always believe in freely available information. Not providing this information is something Republicans do.

Adding a note about "changing their mind" might make sense. We'll look at it. Note that it is also true of pledged delegates also. Any delegate to the convention can vote for anyone they want to (has to be a Democrat).

Anonymous said...

Actually, I think this idiot is complaining that Sen. Obama's list is longer (in length) than Sen. Clinton's. By making two columns for both canidates, it would shorten Sen. Obama's list, and therefore be less partisan. (*whatever*) I don't think he realizes that we realize that two very slightly shorter columns is STILL more than only one slightly longer column! (WOW! Imagine that? Who wooda' thunk it, now, ya' reckon?)

Most of his post have been biased in favor of Sen. Clinton, stating that somehow Sen. Obama being the nominee would polarize the Democratic leaning voters, and they would vote for Sen. McCain. (Or some other retarded point, not sure what it is.)

Frankly, you could tell him to go *enter explicative here* himself, and that would make me happy!

(Full Disclosure: GO OBAMA! Whoot!)

Dan said...

I think doing it by congressional districts makes it less fair than just allocating delegates on a state-wide proportional basis.

Much has been made of the fact that, in a 4-delegate CD, you need 62.5% of the vote in order to not split the delegates 50-50. In a relatively homogenous state of 10 CDs, then, you could secure 60% of the vote and still come out with only a 53% lead in delegates.

Wouldn't it be fairer to allocate delegates on a state-wide basis and be done with this CD business?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous = Bill

Anonymous said...

Jenny Greenleaf:
The Democratic party is in danger of having the superdelegates decide this whole thing, basically ignoring the will of the national democratic vote. I'm sorry, but your vote, or Al Gore's vote, or Howard Dean's vote, should not count for 10,000 of us.
The solution is very simple: all superdelegates should sign a compact declaring they will all vote for the winner of the PLEDGED DELEGATES, meaning those delegates actually earned by the candidates with the democratic process. This will avoid a brokered convention, more infighting, and a possible crisis. Can you imagine if the superdelegate vote tips the nomination toward the LOSER of the pledged delegates? In my opinion, that would be just as horrific as Bush v. Gore, 2000.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Josh. If my candidate won the pledged delegate vote, but a different nominee was selected by the Democratic elite, I will feel so betrayed that I will sit out the general election or vote for McCain (the only Republican I would vote for).

Having the superdelegates change the outcome is the sure way to hand the election to the GOP.

Josh said...

For more information on the Democratic Superdelegate Compact Proposal, check out this blog:

Erasmus said...

Thanks for your rational comments, and particularly your integrity in waiting until Oregon votes, as a fellow Oregonian it makes me proud.

But the Dems really need to change this system, I was depressed yesterday to learn that it is nearly impossible now to win without superdelegates. I would think after the debacle in 84' they would have revised it. Most superdelegates are more cynical than you and are willing to trade their endorsement for some kind of qid pro quo, the system encourages it and I am sure the candidates are persuasive.

I suspect that frontloading was supposed to help us unite quickly and render such a possibility moot, but it appears to have backfired. Hillary banking on the clinton built in advantages and running down the clock has gotten us deadlocked. She's now arguing it wasn't' frontloaded enough (MI & FL). Now we are a mess, and at great risk of dividing (I remember the 90's and the Iraq 'threat' and will never vote for her, I am certain that many passionate women probably feel similarly about my guy. I am disappointed by the party leaders for allowing such a situation to again arise. (There is a cliche about defeat here somewhere). I hope that you will use your position to foster a change.

Yes we can

DaxDiamond said...

I am a neutral observer with respect to the Dem nominee. imho, if a candidate has clearly won over one half of the elected delegates, the chance of the superdelegates handing the nomination to the other candidate is virtually nil. In the first place, many supers would feel that supporting the elected delegate leader would be the only fair thing to do. Secondly, most would realize that it would be suicidal for the party to do otherwise.

However, there are at least two legitimate concerns relative to this issue. One is that individual supers may have different opinions on the count for "elected" delegates, depending on what happens with FL and MI. If FL and MI gets settled in a manner that satisfies both candidates, this will not be a problem. If not, Obama may need to have the lead with FL and MI counted per their primary result in order to make the superdelegate issue a non-issue.

The second concern is that most major media sources are showing total delegates with no split between elected and super. That is the number the average guy sees. Going into the March 4 primaries, this total delegate count will look very close. The important number will be that Obama has a 100 lead in elected, but most voters will not even know that. Some people like to vote for a winner, and he will miss out on that advantage.

That's what is going on now with the declarations. These supers are not really saying how they will vote. They are just trying to help their favorite candidate win the PR battle.

If Obama gets his elected number to half of total elected, with FL and MI happily resolved (or if not, included per primary result), its over, he wins. If he can not do that, he probably loses.

How FL and MI get resolved is still wide open. The DNC wants a redo, and both candidates would support that. FL says no. Its a big game of chicken and quite fascinating to watch it all unfold.

Murphy said...

Ms. Greenleaf-
Thank you for engaging this subject.

“There was a view that the Democratic party had allowed the grass roots to become too empowered and that in too many instances, people whose job it was to get Democrats elected were being shut out of the process, says Meredith McGehee.

I can understand in the times of McGovern/Nixon, etc that the party was embarrassed, but their reaction with this policy is so undemocratic it's amazing. Especially since the Democratic party is the party of the people.

If we must have them, they should be pledged to follow the state/district popular vote as we are the ones who elected them to the status of superdelegate. In a race this close with candidates who's supporters are so ardent, we absolutely need to call for fairness, or at least an appearance of same.

That would benefit the winners of big states, in this case the Clintons, but that is at least approaching fair.

Please use your position to advocate all previously committed superdelegates to uncommit until their state votes, or recommit to however their state/district voted already.

Party officials should not vote at all. They are not held accountable on a public level and the power of their vote affects the whole country. If they must vote this year, they should absolutely wait until such time as all the primaries/caucuses are done and then only in the case of a tie.

This is an historic election involving ardent emotion of key party voting blocs. It is incumbent on the party to act to avoid unnecessary alienation of one or more key party memberships.

The party also must schedule caucuses for Michigan and Florida after all the other states have had their say.

Caucuses because the state party pays for them, not the entire population (states pay for primaries) of those states, many of whom aren't Democrats.

After all the other states so they are not rewarded for jumping the line.

We must reschedule them so the electorate has their say in this historic race.

Anything else is undemocratic.

This doesn't have to be hard. But it must all be done and done quickly or the party will lose everything it has gained and then some.

Please...can you help? Will you help us help by giving us contact numbers, emails, etc?

We have to fix this now.

Anonymous said...

I think this whole presidential nomination process can really be democratic ONLY when all the States will hold primaries and not just caucuses (as in the case of other States). Caucuses I believe descriminates against some demographics. To name a few:senior citizens, wage earners who have to work two jobs to make ends meet, hardworking people who work shifts (hospital and factory workers), and single parents.

While some democrats bewail the power of superdelegates (because they support a certain candidate), they have not questioned why Michigan and Florida electorates have to be punished just by moving their primaries at an early date.

Democrats should be wary that they are falling into a Republican trap (Divide and Rule). Do not be surprised if another Republican ends up replacing Bush in the White House.


Anonymous said...

If Obama wins the regular delegate count (which has been driven by new and independent voters) and the Democratic party nominates Hillary regardless, I don't see those new voters turning out in November.

Clinton is instutionally strong, but Obama is a movement, and I think he has a better chance of beating McCain. But neither will be strong if the newly-mobilized youth vote comes to a halt.

This country needs a Democrat in the White House. I am praying we don't F**K it up.

Anonymous said...

Our entire election mechanism is riddled with holes and archaic processes that remove it from a true democratic, "one (wo)man, one vote" system.

Significant "rounding" of voting through caucus systems, further "rounding" of votes through states allocating their individual delegates, or worse yet, winner take all!

Then factor in the general election process with the electoral college and inevitable lawsuits during a close race, and you have a President that kinda-sorta was chosen by the people.

Can it realistically be changed? Not in our lifetime. Or our childrens.

I will point out, however, that in my mind, we have already won the large battle! Neocon's have been slapped down and told even by their own party through their nomination for McCain, "We do not want ultra conservative dogma as the basis of our political system!"

My vote:
#1 Obama,
#2 Hillary,
#3 McCain

but *any* of them will be a welcome breath of fresh air after 8 years of idiotic neo-conservative leadership!

Josh said...

Pfbz, I agree on almost all counts. Standardization would benefit all of us -- I suppport a regional national primary (4 geographic zones, 4 different election days in 1 month, they change order every cycle). However, we like to stick to tradition in this country, and I'm not sure forcing states to give up caucuses is the right way. Probably starting the system with, say 25 states with a few big ones, will encourage others to "join the club."
We can change this and the electoral college system in our lifetimes, and I think accepting the status quo and shrugging our shoulders is just as bad as being a superdelegate who trades his/her vote for a cushy job later. A national primary compact is do-able, and should have momentum after this year. The electoral college, contrary to popular opinion, does not need a constitutional amendment in order to be changed. (see this for an explanation:

Let's think of constructive ways we can make the nomination and presidential vote processes more democratic.