Superdelegates Are Still Around
Dems’ Balloting Procedure Still Favors Moderates
Even though the democratic party nominee selection procedure at the National Convention has been tweaked to be more “democratic” after accusations of favoritism from Bernie’s supporters in 2016, it is still structured to favor establishment candidates.
Why is that?
The reason is that Democratic party superdelegates, a non-elected group of handpicked unpledged delegates comprised of democratic governors, congressional reps, and party stalwarts (key party officials, party loyalists, etc.) are mostly moderate establishment democrats. In 2016, these superdelegates were allowed to vote on the first ballot at the Democratic National Convention and of the 616 superdelegates who voted, 572.5 voted for Hillary Clinton, only 42.5 voted for Bernie Sanders, and 1 voted for Martin O’Malley. 96 did not vote for anyone.
With such a lopsided superdelegate vote for Hillary Clinton, the cards were definitely stacked against Bernie at the outset. As it turned out, Hillary’s huge superdelegate margin of 530 votes gave her a big win of close to 1000 votes. Bernie received 1,820 pledged delegates to Hillary’s 2,271, a difference of only 450 votes. But Hillary received 572.5 superdelegate votes to Bernie’s 42.5. Had the superdelegate vote swung the other way, Bernie would have won.
Because of the many complaints about the influence of superdelegates, in 2018, the DNC tweaked the system, so in 2020, the 717 or so superdelegates cannot vote on the first ballot, but can vote for any candidate in subsequent ballots.
Analysis: The implications of this change are that progressive candidates like Sanders and Warren better try to win on the first ballot (by getting a majority of the pledged delegate vote). Otherwise, they have NO chance when the superdelegates—most of whom are establishment democrats-- are involved in subsequent rounds of balloting.