Friday, August 22, 2008

Superdelegate Ups and Downs

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As we've all learned this election season, the number of superdelegates, and therefore the total number of delegates and the number of delegates needed to win, is not a constant, but changes for various reasons. Here's the history since December, 2007.

  • In December, 2007, there were 797 superdelegates
  • December 11, 2007: Steve Beshear is sworn in as Governor of Kentucky. Up 1 to 798.
  • December 15, 2007: Rep. Julia Carson died. Her seat will be filled by Special Election on Tuesday, March 11. Down 1 to 797 superdelegates.
  • January 15, 2008: Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco leaves office. Down 1 to 796.
  • February 11, 2008: Rep. Tom Lantos died. His seat will be filled by Special Election on April 8. Down 1 to 795 superdelegates.
  • February 28, 2008: Former DNC Chairman Ken Curtis's legal residence changed from Maine to Florida, and therefore he lost his superdelegate voting status. Down 1 to 794 superdelegates.
  • March 8, 2008: Bill Foster wins the Special Election for Denny Hastert's old seat. Up 1 to 795 superdelegates.
  • March 11, 2008: Andre Carson wins the Special Election in his grandmother's old seat. Up 1 to 796 superdelegates.
  • March 12, 2008: NY Governor Eliot Spitzer resigns. Down 1 to 795. Note that the DNC has now confirmed that David Paterson is not resigning his DNC seat.
  • March 17, 2008: The DNC vacancy from the National Conference of Democratic Mayors has been filled by Mayor Brenda Lawrence of Southfield, Michigan. Michigan has no delegates at this time. Down 1 to 794.
  • March 27, 2008: Maryland Congressman Al Wynn announced his resignation bringing the total number of superdelegate votes down to 793. His resignation became official on June 2.
  • April 8, 2008. Jackie Speier wins Tom Lantos' old seat in Congress. Up 1 to 794.
  • May 3, 3008. Don Cazayoux wins the Special Election in LA-6. Up 1 to 795. Overall number of delegates is 4,048, and it takes 2,024.5 to win.
  • May 13, 2008: Travis Childers wins a huge special election runoff in MS-01 and becomes the 796th superdelegate vote. Total delegate number now 4049 with 2025 to win.
  • May 31, 2008. Florida and Michgan pledged and superdelegates are restored at 1/2 vote per delegate. There are now 823.5 superdelegate votes, and 3409.5 pledged delegate votes for a total of 4,233 delegates, and it takes 2117 to win.
  • June 17, 2008: Donna Edwards wins the special election in MD-4. She becomes the 824.5th superdelegate vote, making the total number of delegate votes 4,234, so 2117.5 are needed to win.
  • August 22, 2008. The final list of superdelegates has been received. The following changes have been made:
    • Two new DNC at-large members have been chosen, to fill the two unfilled DNC at-large positions: Todd Stroger (IL) and Laphonza Butler (MD). This did not change the delegate count.
    • Gov. David Patterson gave up his at-large DNC position, but is still a superdelegate by being Governor. Former NY state chair Dave Pollack is now an DNC at-large member. This increases the total number of delegate votes to 4,235, so 2118 votes are needed to win.
    • Rebecca Gwatney has replaced her husband, the late Arkansas State Chair Bill Gwatney, as a superdelegate. This did not change the delegate count.
    • Moses Mercado moved from TX to the NY delegation.
  • Note: The current list was prepared before the passing of Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones. Rep. Tubbs Jones is still shown on the official list of certified delegates.
  • Note: The current list assumes 1/2 votes for the FL and MI delegations. That may be changed to full votes at the convention.
Note: Joe Lieberman hasn't been a superdelegate since he was sworn into the Senate as an "Independent Democrat" in January, 2007. (Before any of us even knew what a superdelegate was). His endorsement of McCain in December was just the icing on a cake that has already crumbled.

48 comments:

Galois said...

It seems like another source for a change in numbers is the current vacant spots on the DNC. Vacant state spots (Arizona and Illinois) I would expect will get filled. I would also suspect the National Conference of Democratic Mayors will fill its 3rd spot (must be a woman) especially as it's losing Kilpatrick's spot if Michigan isn't seated. The senior coordinating council also has a spot (must be a man). There are also two vacant at-large spots. If these spots don't get filled or are filled by members from Florida or Michigan the number will go down.

math 101 said...

i have hope that within 1-3 weeks we will have an official announcement to Michigan and Florida. Well at least i hope the dnc would never want this on/over there heads. lets all relax a bit. hahaha thats never going to happen please just use the open thread. One question off topic does anyone have a good link to information on the delegates abroad contests. I heard that it was online. How well received was it? Will there be a new way to vote? Well i ramble if this should be in a different place let me know.

Matt said...

Galois - You are correct. But the DNC has until the convention to fill all of these slots, so we may not know until then if any of the spots won't be filled.

YHO said...

Where is Joe Lieberman's loss of superdelegate status (after his endorsement of McCain) in this history? That's another superdelegate biting the dust, no?

Matt said...

Lieberman was never a superdelegate. See http://demconwatch.blogspot.com/2008/02/
everybody-wrong-on-lieberman.html

YHO said...

Thanks for the clarification.

Kevin said...

Matt,

You need to add to the list of possible changes, the fact that NY's new govenor may resign his position within the NY DNC.

craig said...

Re: Lieberman. It is more accurate to say that Senator Lieberman forfeited his super delegate status with the DNC when he left the party and became an Independent.

On a different note, now that Lt. Gov. Patterson (NY) has the option of super delegate status based on both his governorship and his status within the DNC is there any compelling reason for him to officially switch his SD statusvto the governorship, thereby freeing one DNC slot for someone else?

Galois said...

Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones is an Ohio DNC member. Rep Maxine Waters is a California DNC member. Rep. Joe Baca and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson are at-large members of the DNC. All four of these Democratic congresspersons would still be superdelegates if they resigned their DNC seats. Yet I hear no indication that they might do so to free up superdelegate spots for others. (Soon-to-be) Gov. Paterson is in the same position. He is also an at-large DNC member. I don't see why any of these five would be interested in resigning their DNC seats to create more superdelegates. It's not like they would get to name the new DNC members. If someone has read something reliable saying that Gov. Paterson intends to resign his at-large DNC membership, that would be interesting. But while it is true that the resignation of any of these five members of the DNC could lead to a new superdelegate, I don't think Paterson should be singled out.

Matt said...

Galois, your right. The only qualification is that the others you mention have had both positions for a while. This is new for Paterson, so it's certainly reasonable to ask the question as to whether he will give up his DNC seat. But we won't assume it, and won't add it as a possibility unless we hear rumors that it might happen.

Galois said...

That's a fair point Matt. I don't mean to imply it is an unreasonable question. Nor do I mean to say I would be shocked if he decided that things were so crazy in Albany that he did not have the time to devote to DNC matters. I would be a little surprised, though. It doesn't seem to me that being a member of the DNC is so terribly time consuming and one can miss a meeting and still keep ones seat. Certainly it is possible for some governors to find the time for both as the Democratic Governor's Association gets three seats on the DNC. I had thought perhaps there was a chance he would find it upsetting to some "balance of power" for there to now be four governors on the DNC. Yet the same thing could have been said about being an extra Lt. Governor position, so I doubt this is a consideration. Anyway, I think the main point that needs to be made is that the position of "superdelegate" is just one incident of being a DNC member. Just because someone is in a position to be a superdelegate anyway, does not make their membership on the DNC meaningless. Once again thanks for all of the work you put into this site.

Simeon said...

It's not clear to me how filling a vacancy in Michigan causes the total number of superdelegates to drop. Which state actually *lost* the delegate?

math 101 said...

the seat was lost from a list that was the vacant, unassigned, and un-endorsed list.
hey matt one question shouldnt the
-And the big one: If Florida or Michigan get their delegations seated ... Florida's 23 and Michigan's 27 superdelegates would rejoin their brethren.
be changed to
-Florida's 23 and Michigan's 28

MAR1962 said...

The Maine superdelegate dispute between Jennifer DeChant and Rita Moran has been resolved in favor of DeChant, according to this Maine political Web site. http://www.politickerme.com/tags/jennifer-dechant

Matt said...

Math101 - we already upped it from 26 to 27. Mar1962. Moran has been replaced with DeChant.

math 101 said...

sorry but i should have known.
THANK YOU
P.S. we need a thread where ppl can just say that they love the work you do like a pat on the back thread. just wanted to say appreciate the work.

Matt said...

Math 101 - we aim to please, even if it's for pats on our own back. We just posted a Guide to DCW. Its as good a place as any! thanks - Matt, Oreo, and the whole DCW team.

Matt said...

Simeon - The DNC assumes that all national vacancies (as opposed to ones tied to specific states) come from delegations that are not Michigan or Florida, even though the specific state is not specified. The DNC refers to the state for these vacancies as "Unassigned". But when this vacancy was filled with someone from Michigan, that superdelegate slot essentially vanished. Note that if you include MI/FL in the superdelegate totals, then no change occurs, just like no change would have occurred when Curtis moved from Maine to Florida.

Simeon said...

Matt, thanks for the explanation!

Mr Super said...

Wow. I kind of love this thread. Great work, guys. Another interesting twist to this...the DNC has attendance rules. If you've missed three meetings and have not sent a proxy, you are kicked-off the committee. I wonder if anyone is going to start to check attendance rosters from the past five meetings. Hmm...

Dan said...

What about the fact that the governor of Puerto Rico (a superdelegate, I believe) is now facing criminal charges?

Matt said...

Dan- As long as he stays in office, he stays on our lists.

Mr. Super - welcome to DCW! Oh, we know about the DNC attendance rule. The states have it also. Check our postings on the Maine superdelegate shuffle:

http://demconwatch.blogspot.com/2008/03/
more-maine-superdelegate-confusion.html

nickhauselman said...

Here's the math as I see it:

There are 689 total delegates left. Let's just say Obama get 45 percent of those (310). If you add that to his total, he will have a sum total (including super delegates) of 1,932.

That leaves only a difference of 93 Super delegates needed to get to 2,025. There are 247 Super Delegates left - does anyone really think that he wouldn't get at least 37 percent of the remaining Super Delegate votes?

It appears to me that there will be no need for back room dealing in this scenario, and the man with the most votes, states, and pledged delegates will have the 2,025 needed to secure the nomination.

DocJess said...

Please update to include Bob Casey (PA) having endorsed for Obama. Also he's joining the bus tour.

THANK YOU

Galois said...

The chance of a special election to fill Wynn's seat in time for the convention seems to have increased (although it is still far from certain). O'Malley is seeking emergency legislation to allow them to skip having a new primary. The idea is the parties have already selected candidates for the November election, therefore why waste the time and expense of a special election primary. WaPo has more.

It seems almost everyone is fully expecting Edwards to win the general election in November and thus fill the seat in January. Why leave the seat vacant for over 7 months?

Matt said...

Galois - post updated to reflect the latest developments. Thanks for the tip.

Dan said...

Question: by my count, the total number of delegates is 4047 (not 4044, as you wrote). Am I wrong?

By my count, 2687 pledged delegates have already been allotted (1415 Obama, 1254 Clinton, 18 Edwards), and 566 pledged delegates are at stake in the remaining contests. That's a total of 3253 pledged. Add the 794 superdelegates, and you get 4047.

Matt said...

Typo fixed. 4,047 is correct. thanks.

zelduh said...

Do we have all of these in the count?At a press conference in Philadelphia today: PA state senators Shirley Kitchen and Vincent Hughes, and state representatives Jewell Williams, Harold James and Tony Payton Jr. endorsed Obama just now; as did Philadelphia city Council members Curtis Jones, Bill Green, Jannie Blackwell, Donna Reed-Miller, Jim Kenney and Wilson Goode, Jr.

City Council President Anna Verna, who did not attend the press conference, also informed Obama that he has her vote as leader of the 36th Ward in South Philadelphia.I think they are all superdelegates, but I am not positive. I sent emails to the delegate counters to make sure they count these folks if they are.

Also, former Oregon governors Barbara Roberts and John Kitzhaber gave their endorsements today (but I think we knew these endorsements were coming.) The Democratic Party of Oregon holds its platform convention this weekend.

Wayne Holland, the chairman of the Utah Democratic Party endorsed him too.

Hope said...

Did you get Hillary's two SDs? I saw in the news that her campaign is bragging that she got two today...

David Pearl said...

I see that thegreenpapers web site shows 795 total Superdelegates. I suspect they show one more than you guys show because they have 29 Maryland Superdelegates. Do you suppose thegreenpapers people neglected to consider on March 27, 2008 that Maryland Congressman Al Wynn announced his resignation? Do you suppose thegreenpapers people keep that spot open and vacant?

Matt said...

Yeah, its Al Wynn. He hasn't officially resigned yet, so it's easy to justify keeping him on a list of superdelegates. We decided to preemptively remove him from the list, since we know he will not be a superdelegate at the convention. We could call the seat vacant and keep the number at 795, but that would assume a Democrat wins the Special Election. (And when we took Wynn off, the chances of a Special Election being held before the convention seemed very small). They're going to have to go down one when his resignation is official, and than we'll be back in sync.

Stacy said...

Is Brenda Lawrence still a superdelgate, representing Democratic Mayors, or is her seat one of the two DNC vacancies? Who determines who fills the two DNC vacancies? When will they be filled?

Oreo said...

Stacy,
Brenda Lawrence is an uncommitted superdelegate. You can see her on our list here

It's possible that the DNC vacancies are left vacant.

DemsRising said...

Hey folks, I mentioned on another thread that I had heard (on our local station in OR) that the "new" count went up from 2025 to 2026? The MSNBC front page shows 2026 as well. Oreo mentioned on the other thread that it was 2025.5. So, is my local station and MSNBC just rounding up, and DCW rounding down? Am I nit-picking? ;o)

Oreo said...

They're rounding up... we're not rounding down.

Al Wynn will to be a superdelegate at the convention so we removed him. This drops the needed to win number by .5

When Edwards wins his seat we will add her as a superdelegate and the number will be 2025.5

DemsRising said...

OK, I see. Thanks for the explanation Oreo. See ya on dKos then. :o)

Matt said...

One other thing. The DNC documentation uses 2,026, but specifically says they're rounding up. So they're clearly at 2025.5, but they're OK with the press using 2,026, so that's what you're likely to see from the media.

DemsRising said...

Hey thanks Matt for the clarification. I appreciate it.

DocJess said...

And let's remember that this is the same "math genius" media that believes "8.4%" rounds to double digits.....

Can't be said often enough -- THANK YOU DCW guys for accuracy in mathematics.

PeteInVA said...

Hi --

Do you have a link for the DNC documentation that shows it to be 2025.5? Is DNC indicating that there are 797 superdelegates?

Thanks.

Oreo said...

Pete,
We do not have a link. The difference is Rep. Al Wynn who the DNC is still counting as a superdelegate.

So the DNC does consider the total number of superdelegate votes as 797

KCinDC said...

The next-to-last bullet needs to be updated. First, the MS-01 election has already happened. Second, the MD-04 election is June 17, not June 14.

Matt said...

KC - fixed, thanks.

mike said...

I am truly impressed by the professionalism, organization and indepth knowledge of subject matter, and above all, the courtesy, maturity and your success in maintaining focus at all times. You are all able to put aside your personal preferences and remain objective through out this historic event. I am proud of you all. The Democratic party and all democrats should be proud of you.

You have a lot in common with the Obama campaign organization who, through its successes, has become a Political David conquering the mighty Clintonian Goliats. Experience, when measured in years at work, has its limitations.

I hope that the Obama campaign and all of you will work together for a successful Nov. election and beyond. They'll need your brains to succeed and America needs you.

Thanks to you all:
Oreo
Matt
Yousri
Mr Super
Quon_mom
Charlie Anthe
and others

David Pearl said...

Your May 21, 2008 note is just fine except for one detail. I think the date should be May 31, 2008 (today) not ten days ago.

Matt said...

Fixed, thanks. Also fixed delegate numbers in Edwards note, and added note about unfilled DNC at-large vacancies.

Matt said...

Updates have been made to this post.