March 10th, 2008
01:12 PM ET
10 years ago

Blitzer: How superdelegates are making up their minds

Candidates suggest the race will continue beyond March 4th.

Candidates suggest the race will continue beyond March 4th.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - It’s now clear that neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama will have enough elected or pledged delegates to guarantee the presidential nomination.

Even if you add Michigan and Florida makeover primaries to the equation, neither is going to reach the magic number required for the Democratic nomination - which would increase with the addition of both states - with strictly pledged delegates. They will require superdelegates to put them over the top.

Undecided superdelegates will have to make a critical decision. Even decided superdelegates are in play – they are, of course, also allowed to change their minds. We have seen some high-profile switches in recent weeks. They, too, could be in play.

How should the superdelegates make their decision? What factors should they consider?

Some will naturally tend to go along with the candidate who has won the most pledged delegates. Right now, that looks like Obama.

Others will go with the candidate who has won the most popular votes across the country. Right now, that’s Obama but it could become Clinton after all the upcoming ballots are counted, especially if there are makeover contests in Florida and Michigan.

Some superdelegates will be inclined to support the candidate that carried his or her congressional district or state.

Yet other super delegates will look to the specific states that the two candidates have won and ask which candidate has the best chance of beating Republican John McCain in the fall. Clinton’s advisers point out that she has won the biggest states with the most Electoral College votes, including New York and California. That, they say, would bode well for her against McCain.

I have spoken with several undecided superdelegates in recent days, and most of them tell me they will eventually pick the candidate they believe has the best chance of beating McCain and helping other Democrats increase their majorities in the House and Senate.

What do you think? Do you agree with them?

–CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer

Filed under: superdelegates • Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (188 Responses)
  1. B. Smart

    . . . . .After the FINAL Texas votes are tallied, that would be Senator Barack Obama.

    YES WE CAN!!!!!!!

    March 10, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  2. sacto joe

    The superdelegates should ensure that whoever wins the popular vote gets the nomination.


    End of discussion.

    March 10, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  3. Dan

    With all the talk about the "Rules," I wish the Obama fan's would READ them...The RULES STATE that the super-delegates can vote however they want, and should not be pressured into a decision by anyone, for any reason....Second, the RULES also state, that there need be no "do-over" in FL and MG, they only need to appeal to the DNC before the convention to seat the previously awarded delegates... So, I agree that a "six year old" could tell how unfair and messed up this election has been...I wish Obama's kids would explain it too him...Before you go by the rules, you have to read them.

    March 10, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  4. Darryl

    The Superdelegates should follow the will of the people. The Clinton mechine is working hard to compell the superdelegates to side with them. The Clinton is still have some debts to repay. Just ask Peter Paul?

    March 10, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  5. Wayne

    Its a national election. Super Delegates would be wise to side with the will of the national pledged delegates. Oh yea. 150 delegate lead by Obama is a HUGE lead. This is NOT a close race. Hillary gained only 10 delegates from Ohio, Texas and RI. On Saturday Obama gained 2 from Wyomming. When you see how hard it is to net delegates from even large states you begin to realize how HUGE a lead 150 delegates truly is.

    March 10, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  6. Ian

    I think they should vote for Ron Paul. ; )

    March 10, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  7. New York expat in Santo Domingo

    Superdelegates need to remember that any state Hillary won, Obama SHOULD CARRY in the General Election. The fear-mongering and despiration of the Clinton-campaign should be dismissed for what it is: desperate grabs for power when all else has failed. Give Obama the momentum he needs going into not only the Convention, but the General Election. He is the near-term future head of the party. Democratic loyalists and faithful need to wrap their minds around that fact if the party is to grow and thrive. The future Democratic Party will remember those who did not subvert their will or they will punish them (through re-allignment or disaffection) if they do. Obama is the answer, because he represents the will of the Party.

    March 10, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  8. Bob

    This is a balanced piece that lays out the factors that go into the superdelegate's decision. Folks need to realize that "the will of the people" is something that is in constant flux.

    For example, all of last week, national polls put Clinton ahead of Obama by about 4 points. Should superdelegates have instantly changed their votes? This week, Obama is ahead by 2 points. Should they change again?

    If we go by popular vote, we're looking at less than 1 tenth of 1 percent different between the two. It's that close.

    I think that if Hillary does not have a mandate based on popular vote after Penn, FL and Michigan have had a chance to weigh in, that she must consider dropping from the race. If she DOES have the popular vote at that point, then superdelegates should weigh that heavily in their minds.

    March 10, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  9. JM

    The democratic party should stand by its name. Democraty is the power of the people by the people. And the poeple have spoken.Time for change has come. Therefore,the supredelegates should respect the voice of the poeple. If not go Mcain.

    March 10, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  10. April in Texas

    Well the last polls I read showed that Obama is most likely to beat McCain. As far as I have read it appears that Obama leads in popular vote number of states won and pledged delegates. The only thing it seems Clinton is winning is the Super delegate count ATM. I don't really understand what bigger states vs smaller states mean as I see this as demeaning. All states count in the United States as far as I know and I live in one of the so called big states (Texas). Even if Florida and Michigan re-do their goof up votes it will still be close in delegates and pledged delegates unless Clinton can actually win by a large % which she hasnt been able to do.

    Obama '08

    March 10, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  11. Goodheart

    If the Superdelegates truly want to nominate the candidate with the best chance of beating McCain, how can they not nominate the candidate who wins the biggest states in this union? There is no way Wyoming, Hawaii, or DC (among a large number of small mostly caucus only states Obama has won) is going to decide who wins in November.

    March 10, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  12. Cindy

    I would think they got selected to use their best judgement. I hope... hope... hope... they see... they open their eyes.

    The excitement surrounding this election, is because of Obama. The American people have spoken, they are excited, they want someone different. Clinton may have scared people into thinking Obama might not be up for the job, he's too new... and may have scared people into believing it's too risky to go with something new, and make them go back to the safe, same ol same ol tried and true. It honestly is, right out of the Bush/Cheney playbook.

    It's sad to see her kill the people's spirits. I hope the superdelegates see this. I hope they go with Obama. He is so obviously the one.

    March 10, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  13. sky

    As long as none of them make their decision because of favors owed.

    March 10, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  14. Tim

    Wolfe? What exactly do you do?

    March 10, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  15. Mom in PA

    The superdelegates should uphold the will of the people. They should vote with the candidate with the most delegates and the most popular votes. Remember what happened the last time the will of the people was overturned? We got Bush even though most Americans voted for Gore.

    March 10, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    I think Obama is the best I have ever seen. He is so consistent in his speech than any other Candidate.

    I think the most important thing is to let the two candidate work together in their ticket. Whoever wins the nomination, the other candidate should accept the VP. The party should reinforce it

    March 10, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  17. Joe

    "helping other Democrats increase their majorities in the House and Senate"

    Both Hillary and Obama can beat John McCain but democrats will lose seats in the house if Hillary is nominee because she doesn't have 50 state strategy and democrats in the red state will lose their seat. Thats the reason you see lot of super delegates in the red state endorse Obama.

    March 10, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  18. Chris

    They should go with Popular Vote. End of Story.

    March 10, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  19. Theresa

    Hillary Clinton is the best candidate for the job. If everyone would take a deep breath and realize that experience not charisma is what is needed to rebound the country.. Charm and rhetoric doesn't cut it

    March 10, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  20. bond

    Scoreboard Obama

    March 10, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  21. Gary

    I totally agree with you Wolf. It matters not whom is eventually named the Democrat nominee in the general election. It will mean nothing if they cant win back the White House and be helpful in increasing their House and Senate numbers. In looking at the considerations Obama has a distinct advantage and I would suspect that the true Blue Democrat states like New York or California, as examples, will vote Democrat no matter who is on the ticket. Obama has other positive considerations...many many new voters, chances to win swing/purple states better, attract independents and Blue Republicans, and become a true national party, not one dimensional with hinge states to worry about, cycle to cycle...this should help win House members and increase the Senate mix. Unfortunatley Hillary is in pure denial,,,the 'inevitable' candidate isnt suppose to lose. America just hit her with the timing that it is time to change Washington. And that good judgement is better than any limited experience. We just experienced that painful lesson with Bush.

    March 10, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  22. Xavier, Washington, DC

    While the super delegates are free to vote however they choose, I think would be a sad day if they over ruled the will of the voters. The people want Obama so give us what we want (or we'll vote you out).

    March 10, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  23. Billy Turner

    There are but two types of Greats: One that can predict the future and report on it. The other who is caught up in the historical moment.
    From what I've witnessed, I am truly proud to be an American, for we are truly one nation under God. And it is God who's is guiding this unique, presidential election. Just imagine what we can tell our grandchildren!

    March 10, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  24. Yes We Can

    I hope they make up their minds for Obama. We really need a change.

    Hillary and Obama have the same experience. The only difference is he is a uniter and she is not.

    If any superdelegates are reading this, do what is best for the country, not one or two people.

    Obama 08

    March 10, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  25. Eric


    By your logic, no law should ever be changed because it is a "rule".

    When a rule no longer servers a valid purpose, it will be discarded (as it should be).

    You also contradict yourself, by saying FL and MG can appeal to the DNC, but you are forgetting that they are being punished for breaking the rules in the first place... You can't have your urinal cake and eat it too, either the rules are followed without question, or they are modified so that they make sense, and draw the most support for the democratic party as a whole.

    March 10, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
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