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. Anonymous






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

    Wolf, stop promoting Clinton's view. This is what they want us to think. But this is as simple as the delegates should go with whom their state voted for. What is so hard about that?

    March 10, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  3. Roy

    Obama is the best to beat McCain because he is the best and different. America needs someone that is not tied to this expensive,distructive "lie of a War" We need trust to be brought back to us and the world.

    March 10, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  4. OBAMA 08

    Senator Obama has huge national support to run as Independent, if he is cheated out of nomination. He would either win or split the vote and have McCain Bush win. Remember when the DNC represented the American Citizen? The Clintons and their cronies have and will continue to give our money and country away no differently than Bush. She has many of the same contributer to her campaign as Bush.

    March 10, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  5. jd

    Obama/Edwards 08- Period Billary Go Home!

    March 10, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  6. BK

    There is no reason to re-do Florida. If it had been two white people running they would have already been seated. An appeal to the DNC should be all that needs to be done. Now Al Sharpton has got involved in Florida and its turning more and more into a racist election.

    March 10, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  7. Troy

    The SD better make the right decision, because if they don't, they will have handed the election over to the republicans.


    March 10, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  8. Eduardo - San Diego California

    This race is just too important for the Super Delegates to cast their votes without a nationally televised event.

    They should all wait until after Florida & Michigan weigh in and then gather together and have the candidates address them formally in a televised event. It should be very similar to a Causus vote.

    The DNC should take a proactive part and begin touting this event now so that the Superdelegates can remain silent until this event.

    I have to tell you Wolf, that if the DNC doesn't get more actively involved now and ALSO Pay for a good portion of of Florida & Michigan's REVOTE I'm converting to Independent after 36 years as a Democrat.

    March 10, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  9. Justin Cider

    Dan – wow, interesting that a Clinton supported would want to FL and MI delegates seated... awfully convenient for you that Obama wasn't even on the ballot nor did he campaign in FL as all the candidates stated they would. Yes, Hillary didn't campaign in FL, but she made several "appearances" in FL prior to the primary, shrewd woman that she is...

    Perhaps you can tell us where in the "RULES" it states that a "do-over" is required... The only rule breaking I see is how they moved theirs up despite warning from the DNC.

    March 10, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  10. Stephen

    Wolf, at the of the day they are all civil servants and should do what is best for the country and the American people. Historically, delegates left there counties, cities and states to go to Washington and represent their people. When in doubt I believe we should go back to the basics and the pledge and superdelegates must realize who they represent. Fair is Fair.

    March 10, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  11. Obama 2008

    I believe that the element of super delegates has been added into the equation for a good reason. In case the popular vote is too close, like today, these super delegates can weigh in and change the outcome. That is what they are supposed to do. I would rather the super delegates decide the nominee than the 'U S Supreme Court of 2000'. Although I would like to see these super delegates vote with the popular vote, I am afraid some of those votes will be for sale to the highest bidder. Clintons are better at the flea market politics, with more experience in deal making. Oh yes, experience pays off!

    March 10, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  12. Marlene

    The super delegates should do what they were intended to do - vote their own opinion.

    March 10, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  13. Candi

    If the Super Delegates were listening to the American people they would realize that Hillary Clinton is a fraud and will stop at nothing to corrupt this election. But if they let Hillary get away with how childish she is acting trying to persude them to change the rules, then when Novermber come without Obama on the Ticket first then, they can say goodbye to the White House. Plain and simple because everyone knows that Hillary did not win it fair and SQUARE. Appartently she can't read either. RULES are RULES if she never taught Chelsa that being honest and playing by the rules will get you respect then let her keep playing dirty and then they will see come November.

    March 10, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  14. Paul

    After crunching the numbers from RCP Obama wins if he averages just 46.4% percent of the remaining pledged and unpledged delegates. He will go over the halfway threshhold while Clinton can not if she doesn't get at least 59.5% of the remaining delegates. If Michigan and Florida end up revoting the numbers change slightly (because the number needed to win increases) with Obama needing just 47.4% and Clinton needing at least 56.9% of all remaining delegates.

    If Obama gets any higher than the 46.4% in any state the the less percentage of delegate he will need. If Clinton gets and less than the 59.5% the percentage needed goes up for her and so on.

    The race is basically over and this is why the Clintons are begging for the SPLIT TICKET. Clinton needs it, Obama does not. Clinton needs Michigan and Florida, Obama does not. Let's end this mess because the numbers don't lie.

    March 10, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  15. emme

    i don't understand what's so hard:
    1. if he/she won the state, then the superdelegate should abide by the voters
    2. if you have the popular vote you should abide by the people

    i think the superdelegate are simply trying to perceive as more important than they really are. just vote already and lets get on with this (the actual general election campaigning repubs vs. dems). i understand all the media tv, web, radio and paper are all enjoying this for ratings and ad dollars. but please lets get straight to it already.

    CNN post this!

    March 10, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  16. Dale

    If the superdelgates override the people's vote the DNC better buckle down and start building some bunkers.

    March 10, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  17. mike mullin london ontario canada

    As a foreign viewer who has long been acnn junkie and abig fan of yours for just as long I have become very concerned with and disallusioned with cnn and your coverage. I have been an admirer of the republican system of government as practiced in the US and felt, upuntil now that it was superior to our parliamentary form of government. But I have to say Wolf that both cnn and you have appeared to us outside who have no dog in the hunt as Lou Dobbs would say that both you and cnn are unannounced endorsers of Clinton. The idea that superdelegates would ignore the leader of the race in turns of wins delegates and popular vote to swing the nomination to their personal and subjective choice is appalling. Do you ever respond to or comment on viewers comments? If so please send me an email and explain to me a Canadian why you and cnn have become so biased.

    March 10, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  18. Sacramento thinking

    It REALLY does not matter what I or anyone thinks. The superdelegates were designed to do exactly that; OVERTURN the will of the majority, IF the party felt it was needed. If not, why would they NEED TO EXIST? That is how it was designed to be. Those are the rules now and were in place before this all started. And, nobody had any problem with the superdelegate concept at the beginning. But now, so far into the race, Obama is trying to change the rules. He should have researched this issue before he got into the race. Now is not the time to change the concept. TOO LATE!!

    March 10, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  19. Ruth

    That candidate must be OBAMA! With Hillary as the nominee McCain will win the White House. There are so many skeletons in the Clinton's closet, and Republicans know how to use them, that is a FACT! Super delegates must be crazy in giving their vote to Hillary..... Unless, they want to give the White House to McCain in silver plate..... NOOOOOOO GOOOOOOOO FOR OBAMA!

    March 10, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  20. Just the Facts

    Please all mighty Blitzer...Tell us how they are going to vote...oh sage of biased political wisdom...Please tell us.

    March 10, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  21. MIchael

    As for the "do-overs" it's a dumb idea. They, Florida and Michigan, broke the rules that they voted for and this is the price you pay. It only became a hot button issue when one of the two finalist started losing. Where was the huge outcry of injustice when Ms. Clinton had the presumable lead? And the super delegate vote, should be wiped clean. They, the super delegates are American Citizens just like the rest of us, why can't they just vote like the rest and let the American people decide who we want to represent us. I just think it's a terrible precedent to set letting politicians decide who will run for president. What's wrong, The American voice is not enough. And this so-called "magic" number of 2000 something, well how about if one has 1091 delgates, and the other has 1092, then the latter wins. Period.

    March 10, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  22. Jbecks

    disillusioned democrats who won't vote for Hillary when she steals this election should be factored in to that equation. I think they are significant.

    March 10, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  23. Gary of El Centro, Ca

    The super delegates should line up behind whoever is in the lead after the last primary and put that person over the top prior to the convention. The notion that only Hillary can carry New York and California in the general election is a real stretch and I hope the supers don't put a lot of stock in that argument. If she is still behind after the final primary, the supers giving her the win at the convention would break the party apart and make it impossible to win in November.

    March 10, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  24. sl

    We all know Hillary has been working for the people since college. Can someone tell me just what Obama has done that will qualify him as Commander in Chief? I'm not particularly for Hillary, just can't see what the big deal is with Obama.

    March 10, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  25. Grey n Bay

    If the superdelegates have so much power that they can choose to override the popular vote, why should the states even bother to hold primaries and caucuses?

    My state held its primary, and the vote and winner were certified. I expect all superdelegates connected with my state to side with the winning candidate. To do anything else is to subvert the spirit of the Constitution and the will of the voters in my state.

    And if I'm correct in presuming that the superdelegates vote in their own state primaries, aren't they, in effect, voting twice? Which begs the question: could one of these people vote for, say, Obama in his/her state primary and then choose Clinton at the convention? How does that make any sense?

    Democracy of the people, by the people, and for the people!

    March 10, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
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