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. New York expat in Santo Domingo

    A thinking SD will look at the handwriting on the wall... Hillary and Bill are too polarizing and devicive to bring unification, concensus or compromise to Washington. EVEN IFFFFFFFF she were to win, the mid-term elections would send Democrats spinning for the next 12 years. Obama offers a chance for reason, big ideas, and public good to be brought back into the arena of politics in Washington. If the SuperDelegates don't get this, they'll lose there own seats over the next few years. As creatures of political expediency, incumbants who are SuperDelegates must recognize that their own political lives depend on riding the shirt-tails of Obama. THAT is the political reality.

    March 10, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  2. Vince Los Angeles, CA

    Wolfe...If the Superdelegates overturn the will of the people (i.e. whoever is ahead in pledged delgates and popular vote) I will IMMEDIATELY register as an Independant, leave the Democratic party, and vote for John McCain in the general election. I will NOT support a party that caves in to the political shenanigans of the Clintons. This is PRECISELY the reason so many people are behind Barack get away from POLITICS AS USUAL!!

    March 10, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  3. Jeff

    If Hillary wins the nomination...I will vote for McCain, done deal. No ifs ands or buts. And I've been a lifelong democrat.

    March 10, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  4. jujub

    The candidate that should win is the one with the most popular votes overall, including the big states (Obama); the one with the most pledged delegates (Obama); and the won who has won the most states (Obama). If Obama continues to lead in these areas and the superdelegates elect Hillary, then they can kiss the Democratic Party goodbye.

    And, as far as elected judicial experience?...Barack Obama has 13 years elected judicial experience...Hillary has 8 years. Hillary voted for the war without reading the reports. Barack was against the war and said so while running for the U.S. Senate Office. Hillary agreed in writing that the delegates from Florida and Michigan should not be seated and has now reversed her position. Doesn't anyone get what's going on here...nothing but distortions from the Clinton camp.

    March 10, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  5. jujub

    And...Hillary just lost another endorsement and superdelegate...Eliot Spitzer.

    March 10, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  6. Chris

    I guess they should have went with the popular vote in 2000 so Al Gore would have been president...

    all of you obviously do not recall that the Electoral College elects the president... you need to call into question why Obama has not won the nomination by winning more states... the only reason Clinton is in this race is because she has won the "big" states... this is causing the super delegates to adopt a "wait and see" approach...

    the big problem is that it has not even been close in the big states... in a lot of the red and smaller states it has been very close... another issue is that the recent polls show that both of them will beat McCain... If this keeps going Obama may end up with more states and Clinton will end up with the popular vote... All of you keep saying you will not vote for the other candidate... what is that??? Whoever the democrat candidate is you should vote for them !!! They really do not differ very much when it comes down to the issues...

    I keep going back to the "unity and change" theme... Why is Obama not looking or wanting to talk about a joint ticket??? that calls into question his "unity" claim... it also looks like he is saying one thing and doing another... I am starting to wonder if this is about himself or getting a democrat in the White House...

    March 10, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  7. RedSea Foreign National

    First of all I do not agree with the entire Democratic system or having Super Delegates at all. I think the proportional distribution of delegates is OK, but I do not know how it is determined to split the delegates, but my sense is there is something outdated and disproportional in this system. The caucus system where they get a second vote if their candidate is not popular enough is a bunch of nonsense. Each person votes once, and no second round of voting. The fact that there are even Super Delegates is a bunch of crap! The winner should be a simply tally of popular vote. End of discussion. No Caucuses, no Super Delegates, just individual ballots, and the popular vote wins. Given the fact that this cannot be changed no, the Super Delegates should vote for who has the popular vote at their resprective level. If a Super Delegate is a Govenor, then the Govenor should vote for the candidate who one the popular vote for the State. If a Super Delegate represents a Congressional district, then he/she should vote for the candidate who won the popular vote of the district. This means that a govenor and a congress rep of the same state could vote for different candidates, but this is the vote that reflects the will of the people according to popular vote.

    March 10, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  8. Smart

    If the Democrats thinks they "re going to retain the multitude Obama has brought to the fold if they ditch him, then they in for a rude shock. The only way Dems can win the election come Nov. is to present Obama. Most Clinton supporters are traditional Democrats that will vote any Democrat"s candidate. That can"t be said of majority of Obama"s supporter. Most will vote republican if obama is shortchange even if it is in protest. And it is evident that only shortchanging can remove Obama. The World is watching! It is funny to listen to the Clintons suggest that Obama should come along with them. As a 2nd or third VP or what? One thing we re not getting clear about this election is that Hillary is already a VP candidate to Bill and do not forget Chelsea who is practising for the future. That"s why she keep on stressing on experience – Bill"s experience ofcourse. It will be regrettable to let these spin masters into the whitehouse oncemore. They campained in Florida and called it Fund-Raising. Who is fooled?

    March 10, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  9. Haley Rodman Clemson

    Superdelegates are supposed to vote for the person who has the best chance of winning the general election. They are SUPPOSED to vote in opposition to the popular vote and delegate count if necessary. Brokered elections are never popular but the Democratic party wants to make sure that it never puts another McGovern or Ted Kennedy on the ticket.

    When you look at who is more likely to beat McCain, you have to be leaning toward Obama at this point but the more the general public gets to know him, the less majestic he seems and the more tainted his dealings appear to be. Obama's considerable lack of experence when compared to McCain and his "Most Liberal Senator" status will be hard to overcome in the general election.

    Hillary on the other hand is doing very well considering how shady her past is and how negative she is while campaigning. Her biggest weakness lies in her insistence on her experience (which is blown way out of proportion) and her health care plan. McCain has actual applicable experience and can show how expensive Hill-care will be.

    Superdelegates have a lot to think about for sure. One wonders if any of them are trying to get Gore to get into the race before it is too late...

    March 10, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  10. Pat M Canada

    Well Wolf then I'd have to say, if the Super Delegates are educated folk. They will vote for Hillary Clinton. As no way will Obama win over McCain. And I pray whatever the outcome may be, it won't be a McCain win. The world does not need another Bush in mind, body and spirit. And that in my opinion, is who McCain is. Under his reign the Iraq War and maybe as well an Iran War will go on for years if not decades.

    March 10, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  11. Barb

    i live in a very small town in texas, this caucus stuff in my opinion is
    stupid! and not a fair way of voting. we had approx. 280 vote in the
    primary and only 46 i believe returned for the cuacus that evening!
    mostly due to their jobs. a lot of people here work shifts!
    at first i believed that fl. and mi. should have a redoo until i heard
    today on cnn that al sharpton is in florida sturing the pot and getting
    everyone all worked up so now i think they should leave it up to
    the superdelegates if needed. especially when all of obama's suport
    was generated by someone in his campaine coming up with the idea
    to use internet to get all these young people involved and working
    the streets for him.

    March 10, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  12. Andrew

    So with Gov. Spitzer gone, I guess Hillary can kiss another Superdelegate goodbye.

    March 10, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  13. Benjamin

    Shirley: "What are you idiots thinking!!!! Obama can not beat McCain….."

    Except he can and does beat John McCain in every poll, which cannot be said for Clinton. Even the polls where she does beat McCain, Obama beats him by twice as many points. Who's the idiot now, Shirley?

    March 10, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  14. Independent-voter, Salt Lake City, UT

    Its obvious that superdelegates should vote according to the WILL OF THE PEOPLE. And YES, by all means look at how the candidate will do against McCain, which in case people have forgotten, the latest polls show Sen. Obama beating McCain by MARGIN OF 12%.

    If the superdelegates do not do what is right, they will guarantee a win in November for the Republicans, and you can blame the Clintons & their vicious ads for that.

    March 10, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  15. Maryland

    1. Clinton as the Democratic candidate will crystallize support for McCain among conservative and independents who right now are wavering – some of them in support of Obama. – but who can't stand Hillary. Sad, but true.

    2. During the emotional aftermath of 9/11, only a few voices in Congress had the moral courage to stand up to Bush – and Clinton wasn't one of them. Even now she refuses to admit she made a mistake, verging on outright lying when she says she didn't vote to invade.

    3. When Sixty Minutes asked Hillary to confirm that Obama is Christian (not that it matters to me), she again verged on lying, saying "as far as I know, he is," which implies he may not be.

    Are these the traits we want in a President?

    March 10, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  16. skc

    "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." Hey Wolf, Where's the Obama spin on this issue - or does only Clinton's message on this issue merit reporting? Since Clinton's position is ludicrous (there's no chance that the Democrats won't take NY and CA, no matter which is the nominee), and Obama could have a serious response (like, I am winning WAY more independents and Republicans despite efforts by Rush Limbaugh to turn the vote out for Hillary), you have a responsibility to report BOTH sides.

    March 10, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  17. Debra

    The rules are clear. The super delegates have it if it is a close race. We must abide by their decision. If any one candidate were that clear, they would have managed enough delegates to be a clear winner. We must trust in the process. We all want a Democratic president- that's what is important. They will need to decide who can win without disinfrancising half of the Democratic party.

    March 10, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  18. Brandon

    Should the Clinton campaign lose the elected delegates and win by promising kickbacks to all superdelegates without a soul, the democratic party is over as we know it. Please someone tell me how Clinton (or any democrat nationally) can win in the general election without the black vote (and to a lesser degree the youth vote)? This 15% of the electorate is the most reliable member of the democratic coalition. If this block is disillusioned by an unfair result the democrats will never recover. Please superdelegates, step in to stop this from happening or we can look forward to decades of conservative rule. Clinton supporters, stop being so selfish and myopic.

    March 10, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  19. Drinda McCourt

    Make it REAL SIMPLE: Since it will come down to super delegates deciding the democratic nomination, I say we seat the super delegates from both Fla and Mich and forget about any kind of redo. We will save much money and still get the same result.

    March 10, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  20. the108

    New York and California are blue states and will vote Democratic in the General Election no matter who it That's a funny argument. Obama has a much better chance in the red states than she does.

    March 10, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  21. franklahai

    Here are the numbers:

    Pledged Delegates: Hillary = 1,200; Obama = 1,347 (+147 for Obama)
    SperDel: Hillary = 238 (down from 250; Obama = 206 (up from 50)

    (Note Obama is waiting for Texas Caucaus; he is ahead here: 2,3918 (vs. Hillary = 18,620; deficit of "5,298)

    Totals: Obama = 1,553; Hillary = 1438
    Deficit for Hillary = 115

    With all the BIG states Hillary has WON, how would she overcome these deficits? She would be luck to come in 3rd place!

    March 10, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  22. the108

    New York and California are blue states and will vote Democratic in the General Election no matter who it is…lol. That's a funny argument. Obama has a much better chance in the red states than she does.

    March 10, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  23. IAMWMD

    If the superdelages don't vote with the people of their district they will most likely be sitting on the outside looking in next time they're up for election. John Lewis was definitely gonna be out of here if he hadn't went with his district and other politicians should be voted out also if they don't follow the will of the people int their districts. If they want to save their political careers they better ask Billary for an IOU.

    March 10, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  24. Raphael

    Clinton seems to be moving the goal posts almost every day that she looses. Florida and Michigan came in play after she lost in South Carolina, and the Super Tuesday. After loosing Texas and Ohio (failing to gain in delgates) and loosing in Wyoming, she now thinks that th pledged delgates do not belong to a particular candidate. What is the purpose of this primaries anyway! The solution: DNC declares Hillary winner, Obama goes back to the Senate and waits for 8 years. Mcain's term will be over and then it wil be Obama's time. Hillary then will have lost her senate seat and back to Arkansa.


    March 10, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  25. jj

    Obama is consistent in his speaches because he only says I didn't want to go into Iraq, he DID NOT HAVE A VOTE. He says he has good judgement, that's the only thing he judged right and if he had been privy to Bush's lies, he may have voted for it if he HAD HAD THE EXPERIENCE to be allowed a vote. How many votes has he had in the senate?? How many misses and how many presents with no vote so he doesn't have a record. He & Clinton are alike on a lot of issues, when you get to issues, but she has had these issues all along, he's just come up with them after listenign to her. Follow the leader isn't it. He doesn't know how to get it done, she does, our country is in too much of a mess right now to put someone in to learn how to get things done. They need doing in Nov. not started a few years later, if so, then we loose in 2012.

    March 10, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
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