So, Sanders Supporters; Superdelegates are Undemocratic, but Caucuses Are Just Fine?

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So Bill Press, a Bernie Sanders supporter, just said on CNN that superdelegates are undemocratic and should be done away with. And maybe he has a point.

After all, these are party higher ups who can change their support whenever they choose and if they want, can overrule the will of rank and file voters in the party nomination process. And it just so happens that Sanders’ opponent, Hillary Clinton, has a commanding lead among these superdelegates.

For just a second, let’s discount the fact that Clinton has more votes than Sanders and has a large lead in pledged delegates. Let’s also forget for a moment that superdelegates have never actually overruled the voters and crowned their preferred nominee. For the sake of Press’ narrative, let’s just concede the point to him.

My follow up question to this particular argument would be; if superdelegates are a problem because they are so undemocratic, how come I rarely hear Sanders supporters rail against the caucus system of voting?

Caucuses are held during very specific times, often within a two or three hour window. If that isn’t bad enough, unlike in a primary where someone can show up, cast their vote and leave; a caucus requires people to stay at the caucus site for at least a couple of hours.

Sometimes these caucuses are held on a weekday; think Iowa. And some are held on the weekends. Either way, for people who have to work, or for people who have plans with their family, a caucus is awfully inconvenient.

If caucuses are not undemocratic, they are certainly disenfranchising, are they not? Day long primaries make it easier for people to vote and they promote increased turnout. Caucuses certainly do not do that. They eliminate a large segment of the voting population and as a result, are usually not well attended.

Which brings me to my overall point. Bernie Sanders has won 14 states. I am counting Washington and Hawaii in these totals since he is likely to win both of these states today. Of his 14 victories, 10 have been in caucus states.

So 71% of Bernie’s wins, and a large percentage of his total delegates, have come from caucuses that depress turnout and leave people out of the process.

If Sanders supporters want to hate the superdelegates in the primary process, fine. There is certainly an argument to be made against them.

But unless I hear more of them complain about how awful caucuses are, and that they too should be done away with, it’ll be hard for me to believe they are actually fed up with an undemocratic process. I’ll just assume their complaints are more centered around the fact that they are just mad their candidate is losing.

4 thoughts on “So, Sanders Supporters; Superdelegates are Undemocratic, but Caucuses Are Just Fine?

  1. Jimmy Tarlau

    I believe Obama won 13 out of 14 of the caucus states in 2008. Primaries are definitely better than caucuses but I don’t see how you can compare the two. At least in caucuses people come out to vote. Right now there are 469 super delegates for Clinton and 29 delegates for Sanders. That’s close to 95%. Does that in any way reflect the will of the Democratic electorate?

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  2. David Asche Post author

    Well I did say caucuses are disenfranchising more than undemocratic. Which is true.

    Sanders has won 14 total states so far. I counted primaries and caucuses in that number. Yes, Obama did very well in caucus states in 2008. However, in his first 14 victories, it was an even seven to seven split among wins in primary states and caucus states.

    The short answer to your superdelegate question is no. Sanders has obviously received more than 95% of the vote. But to me, superdelegates are basically endorsements.

    People shouldn’t worry about superdelegates. Like I said, they have never once overruled the will of the Democratic electorate. If by some miracle, Sanders overtakes Clinton and winds up with a lead in pledged delegates and in total votes, I cannot imagine the superdelegates taking it away from him.

    It’s important to remember that in 2008, Hillary had the majority of the superdelegate support over Obama. Then Obama starting winning more contests and the majority of them switched over.

    Reply
    1. Jimmy Tarlau

      Unfortunately in this situations super delegate endorsements = delegates votes. They may or may not switch. It’s still completely undemocratic. In n the states that Sanders won, over 90% of the committed delegates say they are for Clinton. In NH which Sanders won in a primary by 35% there is not one Sanders super delegate (6 for Clinton and 4 uncommitted). In WA in which Sanders won by over 45% there is not one Sanders super delegate (10 for Clinton and 6 uncommitted). As Bernie himself says if he closes the gap with Clinton, he expects many of the super delegates will switch their positions. I hope that will be the case but still you would think that given the majorities in some of these states the super delegates would have already switched their positions so as to be more in line with the will of the voters.

      Reply
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