Superdelegates! Like Superheroes But Way Less Exciting

Superdelegates! Like Superheroes But Way Less Exciting

Adrienne BoettingerTuesday,23 February 2016

Have you heard the Democratic Party has recently been overrun by Superdelegates, hell-bent on making sure ‘Murica doesn’t feel the Bern? Before you Tweet your outrage or appear on Fox News to show how steamed you are at Debbie Wasserman Schultz, take a moment and hit the pause button.

Despite what you may assume given the recent frenzy by the 24-hour noose cycle, Superdelegates were not newly created by Secretary Clinton to make sure her eventual global domination is uncontested. Both parties, Democratic and Republican, have Superdelegates and have had them for a few decades. The GOP changed the rules for its Superdelegates last year but apparently both parties had been sick of their national conventions turning into shitshows and wanted something to counter chaos (and potentially candidates that the parties themselves didn’t care for). And thus, in a hail of kryptonite and unflavored rice cakes, Superdelegates were born.

For the current circus masquerading as a primary season, here’s how Superdelegates work on both sides:

Democrats: About 15% of all delegates that will determine the nominee are Superdelegates. You get to be a Democratic Superdelegate if you’re a current Democratic governor, member of Congress, or state party chair, or if you’re a former president or vice president. When you’re a Democratic Superdelegate, you can vote for whoever you want in any of the vote counts at the national convention. You can say now that you pledge your vote for one candidate and totally change your mind at the convention. Way more Democratic Superdelegates have pledged support for Secretary Clinton than Senator Sanders. That seems logical since Senator Sanders only joined the Democratic Party like a minute ago but it also has a ton of people ready to revolt.

Republicans: About 7% of all delegates that will determine the nominee are Superdelegates. You get to be a Republican Superdelegate if you’re one of three members of each state’s national party. As of 2015, Republican Superdelegates MUST vote for the candidate who won the delegates of their respective states…for the first vote count. However, if the convention goes bonkers and is contested, the different states’ rules mean some delegates — including those Superdelegates — aren’t locked into their votes at differing points. Most states’ delegates become unbound from their previously-bound candidates if the first vote doesn’t generate a nominee supported by more than 50% of the delegates.

Don’t get all excited with the talk of bondage—this stuff is not 50 Shades of Electoral College. It’s all super complicated and sure to piss off everyone before a nominee finally emerges, bloody and battered from this nightmarish hellscape of a campaign season. At some point it would be nice if the parties tried to make this crap less complicated and if the Dems made it so the Superdelegates had to vote according to who their respective states voted for, but it would also be nice if the majority of candidates stopped acting like ignorant asshats. What are the chances of that?

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Image Credit: Steffen Voß on Flickr



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