February 19th, 2008
03:21 PM ET
15 years ago

Blitzer: Some superdelegates may be shut out

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/02/19/iowacaucusnight2008.jpg caption="Florida and Michigan’s superdelegates have been penalized, too."] (CNN) - The superdelegates going to the Democratic convention in Denver at the end of the summer include all the elected Democratic governors, senators, and representatives. Right? Wrong.

Michigan’s Democratic governor, Jennifer Granholm, is not a superdelegate. Neither are Sen. Carl Levin or congressmen John Conyers and John Dingell. The same is the case for Florida’s Democratic senator, Bill Nelson. He won’t be a superdelegate. Neither will representatives Robert Wexler or Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

That’s because Michigan and Florida moved up their primaries into January, before the February 5 Super Tuesday schedule. That broke party rules, and as a result, the Democratic Party stripped them of their pledged and unpledged delegates. The superdelegates are unpledged - meaning they can support any candidate they want.

Thus, the 795 superdelegates at the Democratic convention do not include the 28 who would have come from Michigan and the 22 who would have come from Florida. That could change only if party leaders reconsider their decision.

There is talk of organizing caucuses in both states if the battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama remains deadlocked going into May and June. Organizing full-scale primaries is much more difficult and much more expensive. Hillary Clinton hasn’t done well in caucuses so far.

At the same time, however, she and her supporters believe they can still win those big states. They did “win” the most votes during the January primaries even though none of the candidates could campaign there and Obama’s name wasn’t even on the ballot in Michigan.

I suspect we will see caucuses in Michigan and Florida if this race remains unresolved. That is possible. The Democratic Party big shots would prefer that to a brokered convention on the floor in Denver.

–CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer

Filed under: superdelegates • Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (195 Responses)
  1. Brett

    I find it rather interesting that the super delegate system is just now being discussed when it has been around for decades. Some might say this points towards a media bias. I would say that I think you are correct, and Obama is their sweet heart.

    February 19, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  2. kathleen, illinois

    After all of the Clinton's nationalized unscrupulous attacks on Obama
    I do not think Hillary will win in caucauses should they run them for
    her sake in Fla. and Mich. Too much water under the bridge with Bill
    attacks and Hillary's attacks on Obama. I believe in the Fla. primaries
    there were thousands of absentee ballots counted. I do not believe
    those people would vote the same way after getting to know Obama 2008

    February 19, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  3. Ohio Val

    What would it take to send out mail-back ballots and let people vote again and mail in as absentee ballots? Then both candidates would have their names on the ballots. It would cost more, but not as much as doing the entire election process over. I don't know if it would be better for caucuses, as far as money goes.

    February 19, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  4. dominic digiovanni

    new orleans loves wolf, cnn too much obama,try give hillary some love.

    February 19, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  5. jp/michigan

    The problem is the DNC , they made the decision to take away our delegates. They took away our right to vote for whom we wanted, no one ask us what we wanted. This they call DEMOCRACY. If our delegates are not seated and our super delegates are not able to vote, there may be many democrats from Michigan who will become INDEPENDENTS or God forbid REPUBLICAN.

    February 19, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  6. Ann

    I am quoting your CNN site: "The Democratic Party big shots would prefer that [caucuses in Michigan and Florida] to a brokered convention on the floor in Denver." Finally a note of reason in the Democratic Party. I feared that Hillary was going to have it her way.

    February 19, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  7. Christy

    who cares? The election should be decided by the people not by these "superdelegates".

    February 19, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  8. Charlotte

    Why should the super delegates be shut out. Don't the others get to vote at home and at the convention?

    February 19, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  9. Sooo Happy

    The Republican party reduced the number of delegates for states holding primary elections too early as punishment, but they honored the vote of their party members who went to the polls and cast votes.

    The Democratic party disenfranchised the Democratic voters of Florida and Michigan by voiding their vote . The voters are innocents who had no choice but to go to the polls when they were open. If they showed upon November 5 they couldn't vote since the polls were shut in their states. I think it is an affront to democracy to disenfranchise any voter.

    The Democrats can reduce the number of delegates awarded to the two states but for the sake of democracy the Democratic party should honor the votes of citizens!

    February 19, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  10. Puddytat

    It's stupid to hear how EITHER party justifies the purpose of delegates ... like listening to a man who just got caught with another woman say ..." I wasn't cheating ... we're just friends."

    February 19, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  11. Sammy James


    I appreciate your reporting on this story. I suppose that, perhaps if the shoe were on the other foot, the Obama camp may be echoing the same drumbeat as Clinton's - "let the votes be counted." But I, as an Obama supporter (and a believer in laws) feel that if that were to happen, I would take issue with Obama as well.

    It is time for Americans to recognize that laws and rules matter. Words do matter, but especially those that have been written down. The problem with our government is not that people don't have good intentions - it is that they abuse and ignore the laws that supposedly govern us.

    Let's all take a step back and remember that rules are rules. If the Democratic party wants to rewrite their own rules, they may. But if that change in policy reflects an ignorance, or an outright defiance, of public will, then they will be the recipients of a nasty wake-up call. Let's hope that such a call doesn't result in the loss of the election to the Republicans.

    Sammy James
    Boston, MA

    February 19, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  12. SID


    February 19, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  13. A.Macaulay

    At one time or another I have given money to both McCain and Obama and as a Vietnam veteran I am proud of both candidates and am less worried than these dumb little flaps.

    I see a spirited debate between both fine men.

    I listened to Michelle Obama's speech last night and did not find it offensive regarding her love not only of this nation but more importantly found her words inspired about the kind of country we can become.

    We are ready and most are willing to see some dramatic ways thing should change otherwise it will be the same divided nation that politicians have feed on to hold on to power.

    February 19, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  14. Walker

    As you point out, Michigan and Florida "broke the rules", now they have to accept the consequences. It doesn't take an advanced degree to figure out this concept.

    February 19, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  15. Ann, MI

    I would like my vote to count, whether it be in a caucus or just a show of hands. I didn't get the option the first time on that farce of a Democratic ballot in January.

    My candidate, Bill Richardson wasn't on the ballot. My husband's candidate, John Edwards, wasn't on the ballot. My mother's candidate, Barack Obama, wasn't on the ballot. The Michigan Democratic ballot contained Clinton, Dodd (who had dropped out), Gravel, Kucinich and UNCOMMITTED. The only reason I even went to vote was a road millage and to renew 911 funding. Many Democrats I know stayed home because there weren't any important local issues on their ballots.

    February 19, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  16. Grif

    You read my mind again! Brokerage. Just like Cuba also requires a "new deal". If they mader mistakes, it's up to where they made these mistake's. It's no good saying, "Well He/She's right. Midstream changes and your in the; 'Drink' Someone knows, why! The Twist...

    Why isn't good enough.... History. As they in a "Court of Law". Saves another "Trial"

    February 19, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  17. Donna in ID

    I would like know just why Michigan and Florida's elections board did that stupid election when they know they would be penalized.? Who made that stupid call.
    I don't believe in the caucus system because if you aren't for the favorite and don't like being brain washed you might as well stayed home. I would love to see them done away with and let EVERY citizen vote and be counted. That is the only fair way and there would be a lot better turn out,

    February 19, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  18. Tom Roberts

    Does this mean if Obama wins the nomination that we'll get to hear for years afterward in Gore-like fashion how Hillary was "cheated" out of her win? Party-wide karmic payback!

    February 19, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  19. Amanda

    I am a Michigander and boy have I been upset over the way my state has played out this election. First I begged my legislators not to move up our Primary, then I tried to educate fellow voters around Michigan that write in votes won't count, and now I am torn over the aftermath of our botched Primary.
    You are missing some information that I feel is important. In the state of Michigan, there is a write in line on your ballot, however, we have a state law that says that any written in names are not counted. What a system, right? And our Secretary of State doesn't bother to educate anyone in the state about this fact!
    Our Primary was completely unfair in our state. NO candidates campaigned here and the only names on the ballot were Clinton and Kucinich, as well as an Uncommitted box and the dreaded write in line. The voters of Michigan were done a real disservice with this Primary. Our legislators made a decision for us stripping us of our rights and power in this election. They, as Superdelegates, do not deserve to have their voices heard if the voters weren't heard.
    And I am tired of everyone saying that Clinton WON Michigan...she didn't. There wasn't a real election.
    There are two choices, I believe, for Michigan. 1-offer up a re-do and see how the chips fall or 2-the DNC needs to stick to their rules and NOT let any of the delegates or superdelegates from MI at the convention.

    February 19, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  20. Darla from PA

    IF the DNC really wants to ensure the candidate of the people makes it to the general election, they should count the votes of MI and FL. Even if you give Barack Obama ALL non-Hillary votes for Michigan (which would give him more delegates than actually earned since Edwards votes also got counted in the same manner), she would still be leading in the current delegate count. Does anybody think we can win the general election without Michigan and Florida support, or with a brokered deal? The DNC is setting up this primary to be a "foul" either way–and risking a large number of registered voters who are threatening to vote Republican in November if their candidate does not win the primary. (Don't forget that Barack even ran commercials in Florida prior to their primary–this almost always gets overlooked, even though many are quick to bash Hillary for flying in after the primary in FL.) To determine the most supported candidate, the DNC must hear the people's votes–not of the U.S. MINUS two critical states. And caucuses are not a fair way to retake a count in states which hold primaries. Seat the delegates based on the actual primary results of these two states–it is the only fair way of getting a valid count and not having the superdelegates have to decide, or at least of ensuring the superdelegate votes are more representative of the peoples' vote.

    February 19, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  21. Greg Lanting

    Why would Obama's name not be on the ballot in Michigan??

    February 19, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  22. David B


    This whole superdelegate diatribe is coming down to lazy journalism. Give it a break and get creative. The democrats are too smart to destroy their party like they did in 1968. It will not come down to any superdelegate/backroom decision. Start digging for something new as you`ve worn this scenario out.

    February 19, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  23. bob

    wolf, how come cnn. is not reporting about the controversy in new york about votes not being counted in the super tuesday primaries.

    February 19, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  24. Daniel

    Great points ... it's sad that it has become SO close ... that these state are basically being ignored! Why vote if it's not going to count. I would rather these votes count (Obama on the ballot or not) then have superdelegates decide who our next president will be!

    February 19, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  25. dominic digiovanni

    some smarties asked, how do we get delegates, pay them. in louisiana, muscatel wine,and popeye chicken for votes. for black reverands and soul,,,, 25 thou. each. illinois much more now.

    February 19, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
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