Okay.... So What IS a Super Delegate?
For starters, Super delegates are current and former leaders in the Democratic Party with voting power, existing only in the Democratic Party. They are not to be confused with the regular delegate count, referred to as pledged delegates, delegates which are apportioned by statewide votes acquired by a candidate, with approximately 25% of the delegates awarded in this manner. The rest are meted out by sub divisions, mostly through congressional districts.
This year, after the tally, there are 796 Super delegates that will be involved in the process at the 2008 Democratic Convention. Their votes will become crucial if there isn't a clear indicator of a Democratic nominee after all of the Presidential primaries.
Super delegates will represent roughly 20% of the total number of delegates, including the pledged delegates, that will be casting their votes for their candidate.
Normally, being the hard head that I am, all anyone has to do to set me off on a 'I'll show you' tear is to tell me it's too complicated to understand. I usually take on that challenge because, it's been my experience that a good deal of the time, the 'you (meaning me) can't/won't understand' declaration is used as cover for two possible shortcomings to be attributed to the presenter of the information, number one, THEY don't really understand it or number two, they are at a loss to fashion a coherent explanation.
I've decided, in this case, the author of this USAToday.com article is correct about the confusion, mainly due to the unknown variables involved in this process, the most significant being that the Super delegates are not required to announce their choices and they can change their minds, lending their support to a different candidate other than their previous choice.
This system was instituted within the Democratic Party in 1982, after Senator George McGovern, in 1972, became the nominee, winning only one state and 37.5% of the popular vote.
I'm undecided on how I feel about this custom. In discussions with friends and in commentary, I have pointed out that the United States of America is a republic and as such, that means, local and state ballot issues aside, the voter is selecting representatives to wield power on their behalf on the city, state and federal levels.
It would seem possible that former elected official that may be a Super delegate, whomever he/she may be, their views, since leaving office, may no longer reflect those of the constituency that previously elected them. But, I guess their experience and influence in the Party is supposed to give authority to their participation as a Super delegate.
So, based on that reality, a body of current and former elected officials in the persons of presidents, vice presidents, governors, senators and representatives, and some other guys and gals picked by the Democratic National Committee folks, such as former Democratic campaign managers, advisors and supporters, known as Super delegates, are charged with voting/acting in the best interests of the Democratic Party.
Still, in the case of former elected officials from past elections and the rest, they may not reflect the opinions and values of the folks that voted, in the here and now, now!
Please click here for a related article.
As of May 9, 2008, for the first time during this campaign, it is being reported Senator Barack Obama has surpassed Senator Hillary Clinton in a tally of Super delegates supporting his nomination for presidency in the Democratic Party.