In American politics, a superdelegate is an unpledged delegate to the Democratic National Convention who is seated automatically and chooses for themselves for whom they vote. These Democratic Party superdelegates (who make up slightly under 15% of all convention delegates) include elected officials and party activists and officials.

Democratic superdelegates are free to support any candidate for the presidential nomination. This contrasts with pledged delegates who are selected based on the party primaries and caucuses in each U.S. state, in which voters choose among candidates for the party's presidential nomination. On August 25, 2018, the Democratic National Committee agreed to reduce the influence of superdelegates by generally preventing them from voting on the first ballot at the Democratic National Convention, allowing their votes only in a contested nomination.[1]

At least in name, superdelegates are not involved in the Republican Party nomination process. There are delegates to the Republican National Convention who are seated automatically, but they are limited to three per state, consisting of the state chairman and two district-level committee members. Republican Party superdelegates are obliged to vote for their state's popular vote winner under the rules of the party branch to which they belong.[2]

Although the term superdelegate was originally coined and created to describe a type of Democratic delegate, the term has become widely used to describe these delegates in both parties.[3] However, it is not an official term used by either party.


Of all the delegates to the Democratic National Convention, slightly under 15% are superdelegates.[4] According to the Pew Research Center, superdelegates are "the embodiment of the institutional Democratic Party – everyone from former presidents, congressional leaders and big-money fundraisers to mayors, labor leaders and longtime local party functionaries."[4] For Democrats, superdelegates fall into four categories based on other positions they hold, and are formally described (in Rule 9.A) as "unpledged party leader and elected official delegates"[5] (unpledged PLEO delegates) consisting of

  1. Elected members of the Democratic National Committee: "the chairs and vice chairs of each state and territorial Democratic Party; 212 national committeemen and committeewomen elected to represent their states; top officials of the DNC itself and several of its auxiliary groups (such as the Democratic Attorneys General Association, the National Federation of Democratic Women and the Young Democrats of America); and 75 at-large members who are nominated by the party chairman and chosen by the full DNC."[4] Most of the at-large members "are local party leaders, officeholders and donors or representatives of important Democratic constituencies, such as organized labor."[4] There were 437 DNC members (with 433 votes) who were superdelegates at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.[4]
  2. Democratic Governors (including territorial governors and the Mayor of the District of Columbia). There were 21 Democratic Governors who were superdelegates at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.[4]
  3. Democratic Members of Congress. There were 191 U.S. Representatives (including non-voting delegates from Washington, D.C. and territories) and 47 U.S. Senators (including Washington, D.C. shadow senators) who were superdelegates at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.[4]
  4. Distinguished party leaders (consisting of current and former Presidents, Vice Presidents, congressional leaders, and DNC chairs). There were 20 of these who were superdelegates at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.[4]

Of the superdelegates at the 2016 Convention, 58% were male and 62% were non-Hispanic white (20% were black and 11% were Hispanic). The average age was about 60.[4] There is no bar on lobbyists serving as DNC members (and thus superdelegates); ABC News found that about 9% of superdelegates at the 2016 Democratic National Convention (67 people in all) were former or current lobbyists registered on the federal and state level.[6]

For Republicans, there are three delegates in each state, consisting of the state chairman and two RNC committee members, who are automatic delegates to the national convention. However, according to the RNC communications director Sean Spicer, convention rules obligate these RNC members to vote according to the result of primary elections held in their states, if the state holds a primary.[2]

Comparison with pledged delegates

Democratic Party rules distinguish pledged and unpledged delegates. Pledged delegates are selected based on their announced preferences in the contest for the presidential nomination. In the party primary elections and caucuses in each U.S. state, voters express their preference among the contenders for the party's nomination for President of the United States. Pledged delegates supporting each candidate are chosen in approximate ratio to their candidate's share of the vote. They fall into three categories: district-level pledged delegates (usually by congressional districts), at-large pledged delegates, and pledged PLEO (Party Leaders and Elected Officials) delegates. In a minority of the states, delegates are legally required to support the candidate to whom they are pledged.[7] In addition to the states' requirements, the party rules state (Rule 12.J): "Delegates elected to the national convention pledged to a presidential candidate shall in all good conscience reflect the sentiments of those who elected them."[8]

By contrast, the unpledged PLEO delegates (Rule 9.A) are seated without regard to their presidential preferences, solely by virtue of being current or former elected officeholders and party officials. Many of them have chosen to announce endorsements, but they are not bound in any way. They may support any candidate they wish, including one who has dropped out of the presidential race.[9]

Unpledged PLEO delegates should not be confused with pledged PLEOs. Under Rule 9.C, the pledged PLEO slots are allocated to candidates based on the results of the primaries and caucuses.[8] Another difference between pledged PLEOs and unpledged PLEOs is that there is a fixed number of pledged PLEO slots for each state, while the number of unpledged PLEOs can change during the campaign. Pledged PLEO delegates are not generally considered superdelegates.

DNC Unity Reform Commission and superdelegate reform, 2016–2018

On July 23, 2016, ahead of the 2016 Democratic National Convention, the 2016 DNC Rules Committee voted overwhelmingly (158–6) to adopt a superdelegate reform package. The new rules were the result of a compromise between the Clinton and the Sanders campaigns; in the past, Sanders had pressed for the complete elimination of superdelegates.[10]

Under the reform package, in future Democratic Conventions, about two-thirds of superdelegates would be bound to the results of state primaries and caucuses. The remaining one-third—members of Congress, governors, and distinguished party leaders—would remain unpledged and free to support the candidate of their choice.[10]

Under the reform package, a 21-member unity commission, chaired by Clinton supporter Jennifer O'Malley Dillon and vice-chaired by Sanders supporter Larry Cohen, was appointed after the 2016 general election. The commission's recommendations would be voted on at the next Democratic National Committee meeting, well before the beginning of the 2020 Democratic primaries.[10] The commission was to consider "a mix of Clinton and Sanders ideas": expanding the ability of eligible voters to participate in caucuses (an idea supported by Clinton) and expanding the ability of unaffiliated or new voters to join the Democratic Party and vote in Democratic primaries via same-day registration and re-registration (an idea supported by Sanders).[10] The commission drew comparisons to the McGovern–Fraser Commission, which established party primary reforms before the 1972 Democratic National Convention.[10]

By April 2017, the complete committee had been appointed. In accordance with the compromise agreement, the 21 members include, in addition to O'Malley Dillon and Cohen; nine members selected by Clinton, seven selected by Sanders, and three selected by the DNC chair (Tom Perez).[11] By May 2017, the DNC Unity Reform Commission had begun to meet to begin drafting reforms, including superdelegate reform as well as primary calendar and caucus reform.[12]

In a series of meetings in the summer and fall of 2017, the Unity Commission "considered various proposals for dealing with superdelegates — including automatically binding their votes to their states' choice" but the issue of whether to abolish superdelegates altogether remained controversial within the party.[13] In November 2017, Senator Tim Kaine—Clinton's running mate in the previous year's election, and a former DNC chair—urged the party to abolish superdelegates, writing in a letter to DNC chair Perez: "I have long believed there should be no superdelegates. These positions are given undue influence in the popular nominating contest and make the process less democratic."[13] In December 2017, the Unity Commission's recommendations are set to be delivered to the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee.[14] By December 7, both Perez and Deputy DNC Chair Keith Ellison co-authored an "op-ed" document for CNN, stating they intended to make "a "significant reduction" of the number of superdelegates who vote to decide the party's nominee for president".[15]


After the 1968 Democratic National Convention, at which pro-Vietnam War liberal Hubert Humphrey was nominated for the presidency despite not running in a single primary election, the Democratic Party made changes in its delegate selection process to correct what was seen as "illusory" control of the nomination process by primary voters.[16] A commission headed by South Dakota Senator George McGovern and Minnesota Representative Donald M. Fraser met in 1969 and 1970 to make the composition of the Democratic Party's nominating convention less subject to control by party leaders and more responsive to the votes cast in primary elections.

The rules implemented by the McGovern-Fraser Commission shifted the balance of power to primary elections and caucuses, mandating that all delegates be chosen via mechanisms open to all party members.[16] As a result of this change the number of primaries more than doubled over the next three presidential election cycles, from 17 in 1968 to 35 in 1980.[16] Despite the radically increased level of primary participation, with 32 million voters taking part in the selection process by 1980, the Democrats proved largely unsuccessful at the ballot box, with the 1972 presidential campaign of McGovern and the 1980 re-election campaign of Jimmy Carter resulting in landslide defeats.[16] Democratic Party affiliation skidded from 41 percent of the electorate at the time of the McGovern-Fraser Commission report to just 31 percent in the aftermath of the 1980 electoral debacle.[16]

Further soul-searching took place among party leaders, who argued that the pendulum had swung too far in the direction of primary elections over insider decision-making, with one May 1981 California white paper declaring that the Democratic Party had "lost its leadership, collective vision and ties with the past," resulting in the nomination of unelectable candidates.[17] A new 70-member commission headed by Governor of North Carolina Jim Hunt was appointed to further refine the Democratic Party's nomination process, attempting to balance the wishes of rank-and-file Democrats with the collective wisdom of party leaders and to thereby avoid the nomination of insurgent candidates exemplified by the liberal McGovern or the anti-Washington conservative Carter and lessening the potential influence of single-issue politics in the selection process.[17]

Following a series of meetings held from August 1981 to February 1982, the Hunt Commission issued a report which recommended the set aside of unelected and unpledged delegate slots for Democratic members of Congress and for state party chairs and vice chairs (so-called "superdelegates").[17] With the original Hunt plan, superdelegates were to represent 30% of all delegates to the national convention, but when it was finally implemented by the Democratic National Committee for the 1984 election, the number of superdelegates was set at 14%.[18] Over time this percentage has gradually increased, until by 2008 the percentage stood at approximately 20% of total delegates to the Democratic Party nominating convention.[19]

Superdelegates in practice

Election of 1984

In 1984, only state party chairs and vice chairs were guaranteed superdelegate status. The remaining spots were divided two ways. The Democrats in Congress were allowed to select up to 60% of their members to fill some of these spots. The remaining positions were left to the state parties to fill with priority given to governors and big-city mayors; led by Democrats and based on population.

In the 1984 election, the major contenders for the presidential nomination were Gary Hart, Jesse Jackson, and Walter Mondale. Entering the final handful of primaries on June 5, 1984, Mondale was leading Hart in the delegate count, with Jackson far behind. The battle for delegates became more dramatic that night when Hart won three primaries, including the big prize of California in a cliffhanger. The Mondale campaign said, and some news reports agreed, that Mondale secured the needed 1,967 delegates to clinch the nomination that night in spite of losing California. But the Associated Press concluded he was "barely short of the magic majority." Mondale wanted to make it indisputable that he had enough delegate votes, and his campaign set a deadline of one minute before noon; he made 50 calls in three hours to nail down an additional 40 superdelegates and declared at a press conference that he had 2,008 delegate votes. At the convention in July, Mondale won on the first ballot.[20][21][22][23][24]

Election of 1988

In 1988, this process was simplified. Democrats in Congress were now allowed to select up to 80% of their members. All Democratic National Committee members and all Democratic governors were given superdelegate status. This year also saw the addition of the distinguished party leader category (although former DNC chairs were not added to this category until 1996, and former House and Senate minority leaders were not added until 2000). In 1992 was the addition of a category of unpledged "add-ons", a fixed number of spots allocated to the states, intended for other party leaders and elected officials not already covered by the previous categories. Finally, beginning in 1996, all Democratic members of Congress were given superdelegate status.[25]

The superdelegates have not always prevailed, however. In the Democratic primary phase of the 2004 election, Howard Dean acquired an early lead in delegate counts by obtaining the support of a number of superdelegates before even the first primaries were held.[26] Nevertheless, John Kerry defeated Dean in a succession of primaries and caucuses and won the nomination.

In 1988, a study found that superdelegates and delegates selected through the primary and caucus process are not substantively different in terms of viewpoints on issues from each other. However, superdelegates are more likely to prefer candidates with Washington experience than outsider candidates.[27]

Election of 2008

At the 2008 Democratic National Convention, the superdelegates made up approximately one-fifth of the total number of delegates. The closeness of the race between the leading contenders, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, led to speculation that the superdelegates would play a decisive role in selecting the nominee, a prospect that caused unease among some Democratic Party leaders.[28] Obama, however, won a majority of the pledged delegates[29] and of the superdelegates, and thus clinched the Democratic presidential nomination by June.[30]

At the 2008 Democratic National Convention, superdelegates cast approximately 823.5 votes, with fractions arising because superdelegates from Michigan, Florida, and Democrats Abroad are entitled to half a vote each. Of the superdelegates' votes, 745 were from unpledged PLEO delegates and 78.5 were from unpledged add-on delegates.

There was no fixed number of unpledged PLEO delegates. The number was allowed to change during the campaign as particular individuals gained or lost qualification under a particular category. The unpledged PLEO delegates were: all Democratic members of the United States Congress, Democratic governors, members of the Democratic National Committee, "[a]ll former Democratic Presidents, all former Democratic Vice Presidents, all former Democratic Leaders of the U.S. Senate, all former Democratic Speakers of the U.S. House of Representatives and Democratic Minority Leaders, as applicable, and all former Chairs of the Democratic National Committee."

There was an exception, however, for otherwise qualified individuals who endorse another party's candidate for President; under Rule 9.A, they lose their superdelegate status.[8] (In 2008, Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut endorsed Republican John McCain, which, according to the chairwoman of the Connecticut Democratic Party, resulted in his disqualification as a superdelegate.[31] Lieberman's status had, however, previously been questioned because, although he was a registered Democratic voter and caucused with the Democrats, he won re-election as the candidate of the Connecticut for Lieberman Party and was listed as an "Independent Democrat".[32] The count for Connecticut's delegates in the state party's delegate selection plan, issued before his endorsement of McCain, reportedly excluded Lieberman,[33][34] and he was not included on at least one list of PLEO delegates prepared before his endorsement.[35]) In the end he was not a superdelegate and did not attend the Democratic Convention; he was instead a speaker at the Republican Convention.[36]

The unpledged add-on delegate slots for the various states totaled 81, but the initial rule had been that the five unpledged add-on delegates from Michigan and Florida would not be seated, leaving 76 unpledged add-on delegates.[37] Michigan and Florida were being penalized for violating Democratic Party rules by holding their primaries too early.

The exact number of superdelegates changed several times because of events. For example, the number decreased as a result of the death of Representative Tom Lantos, the move from Maine to Florida of former Maine Governor Kenneth M. Curtis,[38] and the resignation of New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. (Because New York's new Governor, David Paterson, was an at-large member of the Democratic National Committee, he was already a superdelegate before becoming governor.[39]) On the other hand, the number increased when special elections for the House of Representatives were won by Democrats Bill Foster, André Carson, Jackie Speier, and Travis Childers.[40]

The biggest change came on May 31 as a result of the meeting of the national party's Rules and Bylaws Committee, which lessened the penalty initially imposed on Michigan and Florida. The party had excluded all delegates (including superdelegates) from either state. The Rules and Bylaws Committee voted to seat all these superdelegates (as well as the pledged delegates from those states) but with half a vote each.[41] That action added 55 superdelegates with 27.5 votes. The total number of superdelegates could continue to change until the beginning of the convention (Call to the Convention Section IV(C)(2)). On August 24, the Democratic Party, at the request of Obama, awarded delegates from Michigan and Florida full voting rights.[42]

Pledged delegates from state caucuses and primaries eventually numbered 3,573, casting 3,566 votes, resulting in a total number of delegate votes of 4,419. A candidate needed a majority of that total, or 2,209, to win the nomination. Superdelegates accounted for approximately one fifth (19.6%) of all votes at the convention and delegates chosen in the Democratic caucuses and primaries accounted for approximately four-fifths (80.4%) of the Democratic convention delegates.[43][44] At the convention, Obama won 3,188.5 delegate votes and Hillary Clinton won 1010.5 with 1 abstention and 218 delegates not voting.[45]

Politico found that about half of the superdelegates were white men, compared to 28% of the Democratic primary electorate.[46]

In the Republican Party, as in the Democratic Party, members of the party's national committee automatically become delegates without being pledged to any candidate. In 2008, there were 123 members of the Republican National Committee among the total of 2,380 delegates to the 2008 Republican National Convention.[44] There are three RNC delegates (the national committeeman, national committeewoman, and state party chair) for each state.[47]

Election of 2016

On February 12, 2016, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee, was asked by CNN's Jake Tapper, "What do you tell voters who are new to the process who say this makes them feel like it's all rigged?" Schultz's response was, "Unpledged delegates exist really to make sure that party leaders and elected officials don't have to be in a position where they are running against grass-roots activists. We, as a Democratic Party, really highlight and emphasize inclusiveness and diversity at our convention, and so we want to give every opportunity to grass-roots activists and diverse committed Democrats to be able to participate, attend and be a delegate at the convention. And so we separate out those unpledged delegates to make sure that there isn't competition between them."[48] This statement was hailed by Clinton supporters as a wise policy to maintain steady, experienced governance, and derided by Bernie Sanders' supporters as the establishment thwarting the will of the people.[49]

Several mainstream media outlets included superdelegates in the candidate delegate totals during the primary elections although superdelegates do not actually vote until the Democratic convention and may change their minds on whom they are planning to vote for anytime before the convention. The Democratic National Committee eventually publicly instructed media outlets to not include them in primary delegate totals.[50] Nevertheless, many members of the mainstream media, including the Associated Press, NBC, CBS, and Politico, continued to report the candidate delegate totals by lumping the superdelegates into the totals, inflating Hillary Clinton's lead by over 400 delegates.[51] Critics alleged that this created a perception of insurmountability[52][53] and that it was done in order to discourage would-be Sanders supporters.[54][55][56]


Susan Estrich argued that these delegates would have more power than other delegates because of their greater freedom to vote as they wish beginning with the first ballot.[57]

Delegates chosen in primaries and caucuses do not precisely reflect the votes cast, but Democratic Party rules require proportional allocation rather than winner-take-all.[58]

Criticism against the Democratic Party's use of superdelegates also came in November 2017 from Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton's former running mate in the 2016 U.S. national election and the junior U.S. Senator from Virginia. On November 15, 2017, Kaine stated that he had sent a letter to Tom Perez, the current DNC Chairman, criticizing the use of the superdelegate system; in general agreement with the junior U.S. Senator from Vermont and 2016 Democratic primary challenger Bernie Sanders, with Kaine stating that "I have long believed there should be no superdelegates. These positions are given undue influence in the popular nominating contest and make the process less democratic."[59]

See also


  1. ^ Herndon, Astead W. (August 25, 2018). "Democrats Overhaul Controversial Superdelegate System". New York Times. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Can GOP 'superdelegates' stop Trump?". Washington Examiner. Retrieved February 10, 2016.
  3. ^ Marcus, Ruth (January 17, 2008). "Looking Beyond Tsunami Tuesday". The Sacramento Bee. Archived from the original on June 10, 2008.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Drew DeSilver, Who are the Democratic superdelegates?, Pew Research Center (May 5, 2016).
  5. ^ "Delegate Selection Materials For the 2016 Democratic National Convention" (PDF). December 15, 2014. Retrieved April 16, 2016.
  6. ^ Jeff Naft, The Reason Why Dozens of Lobbyists Will Be Democratic Presidential Delegates, ABC News (February 29, 2016).
  7. ^ Sinderbrand, Rebecca (March 26, 2008). "Pledged delegates up for grabs, Clinton says". Retrieved June 11, 2008.
  8. ^ a b c Democratic National Committee (August 19, 2006). "Delegate Selection Rules for the 2008 Democratic National Convention" (PDF). Retrieved February 8, 2008.
  9. ^ "Romney suspends presidential campaign". February 7, 2008.
  10. ^ a b c d e Weigel, David (July 23, 2016). "Democrats vote to bind most superdelegates to state primary results". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
  11. ^ Daniel Marans, DNC Announces Members Of Unity Reform Commission, Huffington Post (April 17, 2017).
  12. ^ Alex Roarty, Beyond Trump, Democrats are bitterly divided, McClatchy DC (May 7, 2017).
  13. ^ a b Gabriel Debenedetti, Kaine calls for eliminating superdelegates: Hillary Clinton’s VP sides with Bernie Sanders in a fight that’s divided Democrats, Politico (November 15, 2017).
  14. ^ David Weigel & Ed O'Keefe, DNC reshuffle has some worrying about a ‘purge’, Washington Post (October 19, 2017).
  15. ^ Bowden, John (December 7, 2017). "DNC leaders call for 'significant' cut in Dem superdelegates". The Hill. Retrieved December 13, 2017. Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Tom Perez and Rep. Keith Ellison (Minn.), the DNC vice chairman, on Thursday penned an op-ed for CNN endorsing changes to the party's superdelegate system, which came under scrutiny during and after last year's primary...In the op-ed, Perez and Ellison ask the DNC's Unity Reform Commission, which is set to hold its final meeting this weekend to lay out changes aimed at healing party divisions, to endorse "a 'significant reduction' of the number of superdelegates who vote to decide the party's nominee for president".
  16. ^ a b c d e Branko Marcetic, "The Secret History of Super Delegates," In These Times, vol. 40, no. 6 (June 2016), pg. 21.
  17. ^ a b c Marcetic, "The Secret History of Super Delegates," pg. 22.
  18. ^ Broder, David S. (January 15, 1982). "Major turnaround by the Democratic Party". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). (Washington Post). p. 8.
  19. ^ Nather, David (February 25, 2008). "Leaping Voters In a Single Bound". CQ Weekly. p. 482. Archived from the original on November 27, 2008.
  20. ^ Berman, Ari (February 18, 2008). "Not So Superdelegates". The Nation.
  21. ^ "Mondale loses California, but near majority". Associated Press. June 6, 1984. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
  22. ^ "Mondale claims win; Hart fights on". The Miami Herald. June 7, 1984. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
  23. ^ "Democrats rally to bid by Mondale". The Miami Herald. June 7, 1984. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
  24. ^ "Calls yield delegates to Mondale". The Washington Post. June 7, 1984. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
  25. ^ Terry Michael, The Democratic Party's Presidential Nominating Process Archived May 28, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. March 2004 (pages 14-15)
  26. ^ Lynch, Dotty; Beth Lester (January 17, 2004). "Dean Leads 'Superdelegate' Count". CBS News. Retrieved May 18, 2008.
  27. ^ Richard Herrerra, "Are 'Superdelegates' Super?" Political Behavior, vol. 16, no. 1. (March 1994), pp. 79-92.
  28. ^ Nagourney, Adam; Hulse, Carl (February 10, 2008). "Neck and Neck, Democrats Woo Superdelegates". The New York Times.
  29. ^ Seelye, Katharine Q. (June 5, 2008). "For Clinton, a Key Group Didn't Hold". The New York Times.
  30. ^ "Superdelegates by Position". Democratic Convention Watch. June 7, 2008. Retrieved June 30, 2008.
  31. ^ Pazniokas, Mark (February 6, 2008). "Lieberman No Longer a Super Delegate". Archived from the original on February 8, 2008. Retrieved February 7, 2008.
  32. ^ Pazniokas, Mark (February 8, 2008). "CAPITOL WATCH: Obama leads Clinton, 6-1, Among CT Superdelegates". Hartford Courant. Retrieved February 14, 2016.
  33. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on May 9, 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-03.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  34. ^ "2008 Democratic Convention Watch: Everybody wrong on Lieberman superdelegate status". February 22, 2008. Retrieved August 22, 2009.
  35. ^ Office of Party Affairs and Delegate Selection (January 7, 2008). "Unpledged PLEO Delegates -- by state" (PDF). The Boston Globe. Retrieved May 17, 2008.
  36. ^ Bolton, Alexander (July 31, 2012). "Both party conventions snub Lieberman". Retrieved March 27, 2016.
  37. ^ "Add-on superdelegate selection schedule". 2008 Democratic Convention Watch. March 9, 2008. Retrieved March 19, 2008.
  38. ^ "2008 Democratic Convention Watch: Superdelegate from Maine moves to Florida - Superdelegate total now 794". February 28, 2008. Retrieved August 22, 2009.
  39. ^ "With Spitzer out, number of Democratic superdelegates drops by 1". The Dallas Morning News. March 18, 2008.
  40. ^ "2008 Democratic Convention Watch: Superdelegate Ups and Downs". August 22, 2008. Retrieved August 22, 2009.
  41. ^ Seelye, Katharine Q.; Zeleny, Jeff (June 1, 2008). "Democrats Approve Deal on Michigan and Florida". The New York Times.
  42. ^ Yellin, Jessica; Sinderbrand, Rebecca (August 25, 2008). "Clinton likely to release her delegates to Obama". CNN.Com. Archived from the original on August 30, 2008. Retrieved March 27, 2016.
  43. ^ "The Primary Season: 2008 Democratic Calendar". The New York Times. January 7, 2007.
  44. ^ a b "Election Center 2008: Delegate Scorecard". CNN.
  45. ^ "2008 Democratic National Convention Roll Call Results". Democratic National Convention Committee. August 2, 2008. Archived from the original on September 3, 2008. Retrieved August 2, 2008.
  46. ^ Josephine Hearn (February 15, 2008). "White men hold superdelegate power balance". Retrieved August 22, 2009.
  47. ^ Republican National Committee (November 9, 2007). ""Call for the 2008 Republican National Convention" (Rule 13(2))" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on December 4, 2007. Retrieved May 17, 2008.
  48. ^ "We need more questions like this one from Jake Tapper to Debbie Wasserman Schultz", The Washington Post
  49. ^ Strauss, Daniel. "Sanders supporters revolt against superdelegates". Politico. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
  50. ^ Abramson, Seth (March 2, 2016). "The National Media Has Been Instructed By the DNC Not to Count superdelegates, So Why Have They Refused?". Huffington Post.
  51. ^ Abramson, Seth (April 18, 2016). "Clinton Delegate Lead Down to 194, Even as Dramatic Miscounting of Delegates by Media Continues". Huffington Post.
  52. ^ Marcetic, Branko (May 20, 2016). "The Secret History of Superdelegates". Moyers.
  53. ^ Ryan, Shane (June 7, 2016). "The AP Announcing Clinton's "Victory" Was an Embarrassment to Journalism and U.S. Politics". Paste Magazine.
  54. ^ Phillips, Amber (May 9, 2016). "How Maine Democrats just voted to abolish superdelegates". Washington Post.
  55. ^ Ryan, Shane (February 10, 2016). "After Sanders' Big Win in New Hampshire, Establishment Figures Want to Scare You with Superdelegates. Here's Why It's Bullshit". Paste Magazine.
  56. ^ Atkins, David (February 27, 2016). "End the Superdelegates. End the Caucuses. For Democracy's Sake". Washington Monthly.
  57. ^ Karmack, Elaine (February 14, 2008). "A History of 'Super-Delegates' in the Democratic Party". John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  58. ^ Cook, Rhodes (2004). The Presidential Nominating Process: A Place for Us?. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-0-7425-2594-8.
  59. ^ Delk, Josh (November 15, 2017). "Kaine sides with Sanders, calls for eliminating superdelegates". The Hill. Retrieved November 16, 2017. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), the 2016 Democratic vice presidential nominee, is siding with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in advocating for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to end the use of superdelegates, saying that they have "undue influence" over the primary process...Kaine, who was Hillary Clinton's running mate last year, sent a letter to the DNC Chairman Tom Perez on Wednesday pushing the party to no longer use the powerful, unelected delegates, who overwhelmingly sided with Clinton against primary rival Sanders..."I have long believed there should be no superdelegates. These positions are given undue influence in the popular nominating contest and make the process less democratic," Kaine wrote in the letter, obtained first by Politico.

External links

2008 Democratic Party presidential primaries

The 2008 Democratic presidential primaries were the selection processes by which voters of the Democratic Party chose its nominee for President of the United States in the 2008 U.S. presidential election. Senator Barack Obama of Illinois was selected as the nominee, becoming the first African-American to secure the presidential nomination of any major political party in the United States. However, due to a close race between Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton of New York, the contest remained competitive for longer than expected, and neither candidate received enough pledged delegates from state primaries and caucuses to achieve a majority, without endorsements from unpledged delegates (superdelegates).

The presidential primaries actually consisted of both primary elections and caucuses, depending upon what the individual state chose. The goal of the process was to elect the majority of the 4,233 delegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention, which was held from Sunday, August 25, through Wednesday, August 28, 2008, in Denver, Colorado. To secure the nomination, a candidate needed to receive at least 2,117 votes at the convention—or a simple majority of the 4,233 delegate votes. This total included half-votes from American Samoa, Guam, the United States Virgin Islands, and Democrats Abroad, as well as 'superdelegates' - party leaders and elected officials who were not chosen through a primary or caucus. The race was further complicated by a controversy over the scheduling of the Michigan and Florida state primaries, which had been scheduled earlier than party rules permitted, affecting the number of delegates that those states sent to the national convention.

The popular vote tally from most news organizations did not include Iowa, Maine, Nevada, and Washington. These states did not release the results of the popular vote from their caucuses. The media reports did include Florida, which neither Clinton nor Obama contested, and Michigan. Both states were penalized by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) for violating party rules. Michigan proved a source of controversy due to the change in the date of the primary election. Consequently, Obama and other nominees removed their names from the ballot yet Clinton did not. The DNC did not count the popular vote from Michigan, and evenly split the states delegates between Clinton and Obama. As a result, without the Michigan vote, Obama won the popular vote; whereas with the votes from Michigan, Clinton won the popular vote. Nevertheless, regardless of how votes were counted, the candidates' totals were within less than one percent of each other.Obama received enough superdelegate endorsements on June 3 to claim that he had secured the simple majority of delegates necessary to win the nomination, and Clinton conceded the nomination four days later. Obama was nominated on the first ballot, at the August convention. He went on to win the general election, and became the 44th President of the United States on January 20, 2009. Clinton went on to serve as Obama's Secretary of State for his first term as president, and the Democratic nominee for president in 2016.

2008 Maine Democratic caucuses

The Maine Democratic Presidential Caucuses took place on February 10, 2008, and had 24 delegates at stake. The winner in each of Maine's two congressional districts received all of that district's total delegates, which totaled 16. Another eight delegates were awarded to the statewide winner, Barack Obama, at the Maine Democratic Party Statewide Convention on May 31, 2008. These 24 delegates represented Maine at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado. Another 10 unpledged delegates, known as superdelegates, also attended the convention and cast their votes as well.

Although Maine technically sent 24 pledged delegates to the Democratic National Convention, John Knutson, the superdelegate Chairman of the Maine Democratic Party, had pledged to support whoever won the majority of the vote, making the total number of pledged delegates effectively 25.

2008 Puerto Rico Democratic primary

The 2008 Puerto Rico Democratic primary took place on June 1, 2008. It was an open primary. Puerto Rico initially planned to hold caucuses, as was done in 2000 and 2004, on June 7, 2008. In December 2007, an error in the plan was discovered; the caucus date should have read June 1, 2008. Puerto Rico also decided to conduct a primary, rather than caucuses. Puerto Rico sent 55 pledged delegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. These delegates were allotted on a proportional basis. The territory's delegation also included eight unpledged "superdelegates". Puerto Rico also selected one unpledged add-on delegate. Selection of the unpledged add-on delegate occurred at the Assembly of the Democratic Party of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico on June 21, 2008 in San Juan. Polls were open from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm, prevailing local time, Atlantic Standard Time (AST) (UTC-4, same as Eastern Daylight Time). Hillary Clinton won the primary.

The primary was the subject of a book published in 2010

Bill Gwatney

Bill Gwatney (August 26, 1959 – August 13, 2008) was an American politician who served as the State Chair of the Democratic Party of Arkansas. He had previously served as a State Senator for ten years and as the financial chair of Mike Beebe's campaign for Governor of Arkansas in 2006. Gwatney was selected as a superdelegate at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, but was assassinated before the convention.

Brokered convention

In United States politics, a brokered convention (sometimes referred to as an open convention and closely related to a contested convention) can occur during a presidential election when a political party fails to choose a nominee on the first round of delegate voting at the party's nominating convention.

Once the first ballot, or vote, has occurred, and no candidate has a majority of the delegates' votes, the convention is then considered brokered; thereafter, the nomination is decided through a process of alternating political horse trading—(super) delegate vote trading—and additional re-votes. In this circumstance, all regular delegates (who may have been pledged to a particular candidate according to rules which vary from state to state) are "released" and are able to switch their allegiance to a different candidate before the next round of balloting. It is hoped that this extra privilege extended to the delegates will result in a re-vote yielding a clear majority of delegates for one candidate.

The term "brokered" implies a strong role for political bosses, more common in the past and associated with deals made in proverbial "smoke-filled rooms", while the term "contested" is a more modern term for a convention where no candidate holds a majority but the role of party leaders is weaker in determining the eventual outcome.For the Democratic Party, unpledged delegate votes, also called "Superdelegate votes" used to be counted on the first ballot. Although some used the term "brokered convention" to refer to a convention where the outcome is decided by Superdelegate votes rather than pledged delegates alone, this is not the original sense of the term, nor has it been a commonly used definition of a "contested convention." As of 2018, Democratic party superdelegates will only participate if no winner emerges after the first round of balloting.

Christine Pelosi

Christine Paule Pelosi (born May 5, 1966) is an American Democratic Party political strategist from California; she is the author of Campaign Boot Camp (2007), a guide to successful campaigning. She is the daughter of Nancy Pelosi and Paul Pelosi and sister of Alexandra Pelosi.

David Parker (attorney)

David P. Parker (born 1954) is an attorney based in Statesville, North Carolina and the chairman of the North Carolina Democratic Party from January 2011 to February 2, 2013.

Parker earned undergraduate and law degrees at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was the campaign manager for Sen. Terry Sanford's 1992 re-election campaign. From 1995 until his election as state party chair, Parker served as a member of the Democratic National Committee and was thus a superdelegate. He is a former Iredell-Statesville school board member and former chairman of the board for Mitchell Community College.

Debbie Dingell

Deborah Ann Dingell (; née Insley; November 23, 1953) is an American Democratic Party politician who has been the U.S. Representative for Michigan's 12th congressional district since 2015. She is the widow of John Dingell, who was the longest-serving U.S. congressman. She worked as a consultant to the American Automobile Policy Council. She was a superdelegate for the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.She is active in several Michigan and Washington, D.C., charities and serves on a number of charitable boards. She is a founder and past chair of the National Women's Health Resource Center and the Children's Inn at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). She is also a member of the Board of Directors for Vital Voices Global Partnership. She is a 1975 graduate of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

Debra DeLee

Debra DeLee (born 1948) was Chair of the Democratic National Committee from 1994 to 1995, and was the second woman to hold the post. She also served as CEO of the Democratic National Committee.

She is currently President and CEO of Americans for Peace Now (APN), a national Zionist organization dedicated to enhancing Israel's security through peace and to supporting the Israeli Peace Now movement. She was born in Chicago, Illinois, is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She was a superdelegate for the 2008 Democratic National Convention and endorsed United States Senator Hillary Clinton of New York in the primaries.

Kenneth M. Curtis

Kenneth Merwin Curtis (born February 8, 1931) is an American lawyer and former politician. He is currently a principal in the law firm of Curtis Thaxter Stevens Broder & Micoleau Limited Liability Company, P.A.

List of Democratic Party superdelegates, 2008

This is a list of Democratic party unpledged delegates, also known as superdelegates or automatic delegates, who voted in the 2008 Democratic National Convention, the culmination of the Party's presidential nominating process that began with the 2008 Democratic Party presidential primaries and caucuses.

At the time of Hillary Clinton's campaign suspension on June 7, 2008, the count was 246½ for her and 478 for Barack Obama, with 99 still 'Uncommitted' of the 823½ total then existing, although this number represents the realignment of around 50 superdelegates who switched their support from Clinton to Obama when he had gained the majority of delegates. Clinton released her delegates during the convention.

The breakdown by position for Clinton was 144 DNC, 52½ Representatives, 14 Senators, 17 Add-ons, 10½ Governors, and 7½ DPLs;

the breakdown by position for Obama was 229 DNC, 157 Representatives, 34 Senators, 29 Add-ons, 20 Governors, and 9 DPLs;

and the breakdown for "Uncommitted" was: 39 DNC, 22 Representatives, 1.5 Senators, 32.5 Add-ons, 1 Governor, and 3 DPLs.

List of Democratic Party superdelegates, 2016

This list tracks the support for given candidates among the 716 unpledged delegates (commonly known as superdelegates) who were eligible to cast a vote at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, held July 25–28, 2016 in Philadelphia. The 8 unpledged delegates from Democrats Abroad carry half-votes at the convention, yielding a total of 712 votes. Unpledged delegates represent about 15% of the overall convention votes (4,767 delegates, 4,763 votes) and come from several categories of prominent Democratic Party members:

437 elected members (with 433 votes) from the Democratic National Committee (including the chairs and vice-chairs of each state's Democratic Party)

20 distinguished party leaders (DPL), consisting of current and former presidents, current and former vice-presidents, former congressional leaders, and former DNC chairs

191 Democratic members of the United States House of Representatives (including non-voting delegates from DC and territories)

47 Democratic members of the United States Senate (including Washington, DC shadow senators)

21 Democratic governors (including territorial governors and the Mayor of the District of Columbia).Superdelegates are "unpledged" in the sense that they themselves decide which candidate to support. (In other words, they are not allocated according to voter preferences as the majority of delegates are.) Pledged delegates can change their vote if no candidate is elected on the first ballot and can even vote for a different candidate on the first ballot if they are "released" by the candidate they are pledged to. Superdelegates, on the other hand, can change their vote purely of their own volition. With the exception of the eight DNC members from the Democrats Abroad, who each receive a half-vote, all superdelegates are entitled to one vote (including when a sitting official or distinguished party leader is also a DNC member). Throughout this page, those who qualify under multiple categories are considered as sitting officials first, then as DNC members, and then as DPLs (for example, a sitting senator who is also a DNC member is listed as a senator).

The list below is based on the most recent information on how unpledged delegates voted at the roll call vote at the Democratic National Convention in July, 2016.

Mannie Rodriguez

Mannie Rodriguez (born c. 1950) is a member of the Democratic National Committee from Colorado. The owner of a halfway house operation in Denver, Colorado, Rodriguez was elected to the DNC in 2004. As a superdelegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention, Rodriguez publicly supported Hillary Clinton before Barack Obama became the presumptive Democratic nominee.

Maria Handley

Maria Handley (born 4 October 1977) is a member-at-large of the Democratic National Committee from Colorado. A veteran of both Bill Bradley and Howard Dean's campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination, Handley was appointed by Dean to the DNC.

As a superdelegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention, Handley has publicly supported Hillary Clinton.

Martha Fuller Clark

Martha Fuller Clark (born March 14, 1942 in York, Maine) is a Democratic member of the New Hampshire Senate, representing the 21st District since 2012, and having represented the 24th District from 2004-10. Prior to her Senate service she was a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives from 1990 through 2002.

She first ran for the United States Congress to represent New Hampshire's 1st congressional district in 2000 but was defeated by then incumbent representative John E. Sununu. She ran again in 2002, but lost to former Congressman Jeb Bradley. Today, Sen. Clark serves as Vice-Chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party and a member of Democratic National Committee, serving on the Resolutions Committee. In 2008 and again in 2012 she was a co-chair of the New Hampshire Committee to elect Barack Obama President of the United States, a superdelegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, and was a member of the United States Electoral College in 2008, when she cast one of New Hampshire's four electoral votes for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

Additionally she serves on a number of boards and commissions in her community. She recently retired as President of the Board of Strawbery Banke, and continues to serve as on the board. She is also an advisor to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and is the past President of Scenic America.Fuller Clark, daughter of environmental activist and former Maine legislator Marion Fuller Brown, earned a master's degree in art history from Boston University, and an undergraduate degree from Mills College. She was born and raised in York, Maine. Since 1973, she and her husband, Dr. Geoffrey Clark, have lived in the city of Portsmouth where they raised their three children, Caleb, Nathaniel, and Anna.

Mary Hales

Mary Hales was a Democratic member of the Wyoming House of Representatives, representing the 36th district from 2007 until 2010.

She was an unpledged superdelegate in the 2016 Democratic Presidential primary, and announced her support for Hillary Clinton.

Nita Lowey

Nita Sue Melnikoff Lowey (; LOH-ee; born July 5, 1937) is an American politician who has served as a U.S. Representative from New York since 1989. She is a member of the Democratic Party. Lowey's district was numbered as the 20th from 1989 to 1993, as the 18th from 1993 to 2013, and has been the 17th since 2013.

Ramona Martinez

Ramona Martinez (born September 1943) a member of the Democratic National Committee from Coloradofor 16 years. A businesswoman and former president of the Denver City Council, Martinez has served on the DNC from 1992 to 2009. As a superdelegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention, Martinez has publicly supported Bill Richardson, and then Hillary Clinton.

Stan Gruszynski

Stan Gruszynski (born February 6, 1949) is a former Democratic member of the Wisconsin State Assembly representing the 71st district. He served five terms as State Representative from 1984 to 1994. He served as a member of the Democratic National Committee and, therefore, a superdelegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He endorsed Barack Obama in the 2008 United States Presidential Election. In June, 2008, Gruszynski announced he would seek the Democratic nomination for the 36th district of the Wisconsin State Assembly.

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