Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk Myself to Death: What's a Superdelegate to Do?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

What's a Superdelegate to Do?

I found this story in today's New York Times awfully disappointing. A couple of days ago, I theorized, half in jest, I'll admit, that the real problem the superdelegates were having is that no one wanted to tell Hillary that her campaign was essentially over. The Times pretty much validates this. Various uncommitted superdelegates are "growing increasingly concerned about the risks of a prolonged fight between Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, and perplexed about how to resolve the conflict." I've got an idea for how to resolve the conflict: Make a decision! They've got the votes, it's their decision, so make it, already!

What are the dynamics of the decision? At this point, Obama has an overpowering lead. I hadn't realized quite how overpowering until kos put together the numbers (although note that this was before the shifting delegates of the last couple of days). Despite Clinton's insistence to the contrary, she's got a very tall mountain to climb to come out on top. Based on a Times summary of campaign tallies, roughly two-thirds of the superdelegates have committed (although it's always worth noting that superdelegates can change their minds at any time). So why haven't the other one-third staked out a position? It seems to me that there are three reasons. First off, there may be superdelegates who want to support Obama but don't want to turn their back on the Clintons. As we all know, the Clintons are still extremely powerful in Democratic circles, and lining up against Hillary could easily be seen as bridge-burning. Who wants to do that until they have to? Secondly, there may be those who want to support Hillary but don't want to betray the likely winning Obama camp. And finally, there are those who just want to be on the winning side, no matter which it is. Until the race has been decided, they won't go for either candidate.

Don't be surprised if you hear the drumbeat going more and more toward the idea that a superdelegate should follow his or her constituents. Nancy Pelosi offered it in this article, and it will provide a way for the superdelegates to give their support to Obama without spurning the Clinton campaign. They can pledge their undying loyalty to Bill and Hillary, but, well . . . ah . . . um, the people have spoken. As Obama's lead becomes more and more insurmountable, the uncommitted superdelegates will start to head his way--after all, what else can they do? If that's what the people want, who are they to stand in the way?

And that's when we can finally start focusing on John McCain.


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