Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Come Denver, Superdelegates Could Change Their Minds

Photo credits: courtesy of cdn.channel.aol.com

Craig Crawford’s post yesterday, July 14, at Trail Mix (CQ Politics) summarizes how the importance of the role of the Democratic Party’s superdelegates in choosing the nominee has shifted along with the fortunes of Barack Obama since day one of the primary.

Crawford writes:

“There was a time months ago -- when Hillary Rodham Clinton led the Democratic nomination race -- that party superdelegates were the bad guys according to the rhetoric coming out of Barack Obama's camp.

“Obama supporters trashed the unelected, automatic and unpledged delegates as undemocratic autocrats when it looked as though they might put Clinton over the top. Not anymore.
“With the dust settled on the primary season, one thing is clear: Obama is the presumed nominee thanks only to superdelegates. He never did win enough pledged delegates to reach the winning number, falling about 350 votes short. His expected victory stems from beating Clinton among superdelegates 463-257, according to a tally on Real Clear Politics.

“All the more reason for Obama to make sure that there is no roll call including Clinton's name on the ballot at the national convention -- which a few die hard fans of the former First Lady are still clamoring for.

“Why highlight just how close the Democratic contest really was? And there is certainly no gain for Obama in dwelling on how he had to depend on superdelegates to win the nomination.”

Crawford links to an earlier post at CQ by staff member, Shawn Zeller that reports a conversation with Heidi Li Feldman, a Georgetown University law professor.

Feldman contends: "‘…there’s still ‘no way of predicting’ the outcome should there be a fair vote. That’s because Obama has not secured enough pledged delegates to ensure the magic number of 2,118 needed to claim victory; the Illinois senator has gone past that benchmark only with the pledges of about 390 superdelegates — and they can change their minds at any time up to the moment they cast their ballots.

‘“If they had a meaningful vote, I have no idea who would win. But I know that if Sen. Obama were sure he would win, there wouldn’t be a negotiation about Clinton’s role at the convention.’

“So Feldman, who says she has raised about $100,000 for Clinton, has turned her prowess to raising money for advertising demanding a convention vote, and she has teamed with a fellow pro-Clinton blogger, Marc Rubin, to form the Denver Group to lobby the Democratic National Committee, much of the staff of which has already moved from Washington to Chicago to work for Obama.

“Feldman says she won’t vote for Obama if Clinton doesn’t get a convention vote. Rubin says he might not. Both say they aren’t worried that their efforts will continue to divide Democrats at a time when they should be uniting to take on Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona. In fact, they argue, many Democrats might stay home if they feel Clinton gets short shrift.

‘“What they have to do is make it possible for people to say to themselves that there was a fair and correct process,’ Feldman says.”’

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