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. bond

    If the dem superdelegates overturn the will of the people, it will ensure a repub white house for the next 20 years.

    March 10, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  2. Atiya

    Superdelegates need to realize that Hillary is incapable of winning the general election. No matter how much Democrats and Republicans whine about their respective nominee, they will fall in line come November. This election will rest on independents who in the primary and polls have turned out overhwhelmingly in favor of Obama. Have eight years of Bush made us forget the widespread cult hatred of the Clintons? Obama is the *only* Democrat with a realistic chance of beating McCain. No amount of Clinton spin will change that.

    March 10, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  3. Jim Wills

    I know the DNC awards delegates proportionately, but the Electorial College awards by state on a winner take all basis. If we apply winner take all math to the elected delegate count, which candidate would be declared the winner?

    March 10, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  4. Wilson

    The superdelegates should go with the candidates that have the most pledged delegates.

    Going with the candidate with the most popular votes is not the wise thing to do, for started the Presidency is not awarded based on popular votes, it is based on electoral votes just like the primaries.

    Also, the yardstick to pick a nominee either for the Democrates or the Republicans is Delegates and not popular votes; so it will be sucidal to change that yardstick much more because the popular vote yardstick will not tink the election come November.

    Stay with the Delegate yardstick just like the electoral college delegates.

    March 10, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  5. Jim in LA

    Don't be so certain that CA and NY will automatically go for the democrat nominated. I'm a democrat, I vote, and if Hillary is the nominee, I vote for somebody else. The dynastic aspect is highly disturbing to me and while I voted twice for Bill, I blame him for Bush becoming president. His escapades generated huge outrage among enough swing voters to make a difference IMHO.

    Flash news, Hillary and Bill: The nineties were NOT all peaches and cream, and your hubris and outright lies were a major problem for your party when you rode off into the sunset. I do not want to see another such performance, and on principle I dislike the concentration of the power of the presidency within the same two famiies for, potentially, 28 years!

    Oh, and you true believers posting slogans – please give us a break. Aren't we getting enough of that on the airwaves?

    March 10, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  6. k

    I believe maybe you should get your facts straight. Both candidates WERE on the ballot here in Florida. And BOTH candidates held "fundraisers" here.. And in all actuality the only commercials we saw here were from Senator Obama.

    March 10, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |


    March 10, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  8. Carrie Pa

    People want change. Obama 08!

    March 10, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  9. GREG

    DOES ANYONE AT ALL HAVE ANY DOUBT THAT OBAMA (or any Democrat) WILL CARRY NEW YORK, NEW JERSEY & CALIFORNIA? Talk to the contrary is simply rediculous. Further, I'm sick of the Hillary/media spin on Texas. With the current count, OBAMA WON TEXAS! And another thing, the delegate count is NOT close. With proportional splits, a 100 delegate lead is no easy task, and a big gulf to close this late in the game. Hillary had really lost as of Wisconsin. All the carrying on since, is just sad and sadder.

    March 10, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  10. Tyrone Brown, Seattle, WA

    What do I think? I think that many in the Democratic Party (like Congreesswoman Nancy Pelosi) are trying to make a case for the continued existence of so called "superdelegates." While I understand that we cannot change the rules of the game at this point, it would be prudent for Democratic leadership to recognize and understand what the "superdelegate" ooks like to the average American – that of an outdate and unfair process that only causes confusion and consternation. They need to begin to understand that "the 'superdelegate' process does not a democratic process make."

    March 10, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  11. Robert

    Well, the only candidate who has actually demonstrated coattails in this election has been Obama (recent special election for Hastert"s seat), and the one with definite appeal to independents (a critical voter group for McCain) is Obama. All Clinton will do is bring out all of the conservative republican voters who will otherwise sit out the election to vote against her. Who can prove they can win? Obama. If you look at the states Clinton has won, virtually all of them have been won by very few votes, while the virtually all of the states Obama has won have been by large margins.

    March 10, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  12. Steven Scott

    I agree, except for one thing, Barack Obama is likely to have enough delegates. As it stands people have been playing with the 2024 magic number, but this number only holds if Florida and Michigan's delegates are seated. If they are not, then the magic number is 2024 minus 366 (number of delegates not seated) divided by two, which comes to 1841 if my calculations are correct. This number may be still be difficult to achieve for Obama on pledged delegates alone, but if one counts the super delegates pledged to him, then he will easily achieve this magic number. Even if they do come into play, unless Clinton does really well in both states Obamw will only need to get a few more super delegates to clinch the nomination.

    March 10, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  13. Joanna

    I am one of many new Democrats who will be voting third-party in November if we see a brokered convention with an outcome different than that of the popular vote. Superdelegates need to have a long-term view of the health of the party.

    March 10, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  14. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    I'd love to hear one courageous superpimp stand up and say "I will not vote because this entire primary system of unelected insiders like me is profoundly undemocratic and disenfranchises voters in a country where the rule should be one-person one-vote." OK, I'm waiting.

    March 10, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  15. Angela

    Obama has not won. Obama has a slight lead in delegates. Can either win the nomination with pledged delegates? NO.

    Are they virtually tied in popular vote. YES. Obama is ahead without Florida and Michigan. Clinton is ahead with FL and MI.

    (Obama was not on the ballot in MI – but he had ads running in Florida and she did not)

    Obama has won more states. How many of the states that he won are going to vote democrat in the general? Very Few.
    Clinton has won more big states that do vote democrat.

    Obama will beat McCain in the general? Many 'respected polls' have 14% of Clinton voters moving to McCain if Obama is the nominee.

    All of you Obama supporters are saying Clinton will steal the election because of back room deals with superdelegates.

    You don't think Obama is doing the same backroom deals??

    March 10, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  16. Neal

    I agree with New York Expat. Most if not all Clinton voters would vote for Obama in November over McCain but I don't believe the opposite is true that most Obama voters would vote for Clinton. Obama brings new voters to the Democratic party and especially would help those further down on the ticket where as Clinton would rally the Republican base to come out and vote in greater numbers because they hate her so much.
    So the argument that Obama wouldn't carry the big states that normally go Democratic is false and irrelevant. The Super Delegates by definition are free to vote their preferences but they better be sure their constituencies back home support that decision or they face a big backlash of support in their next election.

    March 10, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  17. L. Samuel

    The superdelegates should vote for who they think can and will beat McCain. We cannot allow another rep. to take office.

    March 10, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  18. Steve

    All superdelegates need to know is this: If you overturn the elected delegate count, then I will vote Republican.

    March 10, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    I would say that Superdelegates should follow the will of their individual districts. If your district voted for Obama, you should support Obama, and visa Versa for Clinton. While the rules do say they can vote for whomever they wish, I think this only makes Logical sense for elected officials who WANT to get re-elected. Officials who go AGAINST the wills of their respective districts might find themsleves looking for employment come the next election cycle...

    March 10, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  20. Helen

    Superdelegates should have their independent opinion. That is what they are set up for.

    Go Hillary, our next commander in chief.

    March 10, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  21. Ron

    SUPER DELEGATES....I am hoping they are smart enough to realize that IF they really want to change the atmosphere of Washington D.C. that they don't need someone who always talks about FIGHTING!! This FIGHTING has been going on for 12 solid years, and the country is more screwed up that it has been in a VERY LONG time. What we (America) needs is a leader that knows there may be fights ahead but would rather discuss and looking for common ground before launching into things like a bull in a china shop. There are a lot of Republicans with an extremely bad taste in their mouth for the Clintons...we don't need to relive that crap!!!

    I am hopeful these Super Delegates will do the RIGHT THING..IF Obama is ahead in Pledged Delegates and popular votes, regardless if they come from small or large states, you should reward his effort with your support. Otherwise you will be opening a can of worms so LARGE that the current discussion about Floridas and Michigans delegates will appear insignificant.

    March 10, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  22. Elsie

    The super delegates will either be picking Senator Obama or Clinton.
    If they pick Clinton, they'll have endorsed deception and a willingness
    to do anything to win. In sport that's known as cheating. So merit isn't good enough? No government employee gets to lie on their application.

    March 10, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  23. Caleb

    I would think they would go with popular vote. By June, that will be Hillary Clinton, but I don't think they would risk a lawsuit by Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson so they will go with Obama.

    March 10, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  24. Isaac

    Regarding Michigan and Floriday... I'm a Clinton supporter that will support the re-vote only because there will be upheaval if we don't do it. I do think Florida was as fair as it gets back when they voted and would say they should just seat the delegates other than that sticking point. Any other way and it obviously favors Obama. A re-vote takes out the fact that others were on the ballot back in January so his percentage will likely be larger now than it was back then, making it more difficult for Hillary to make up the overall delegate count. Not sure how this is fair, but it does seem like the only option. Just don't say Hillary is complaining - she is doing what is for the best of the country, still knowing that the rules have really played against her.

    March 10, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  25. Wiselectorate

    Simple Wolf:

    Who ever wins the popular vote should get the nomination otherwise the dems shouls be prepared for the political fall out

    March 10, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
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