Skip to content

 Should we abolish Superdelegates entirely?

  • by

Of course not. Why are you even asking that question? This was a big problem that we solved and it doesn’t need to be fought over all over again.

Frankly there are people, including some running for the DNC, who don’t seem to understand who super delegates are. They are (1) Democratic Governors, Senators, and Members of Congress, (2) a handful of Distinguished Party Leaders, e.g. former Presidents and DNC chairs, and (3) DNC members all of whom are automatically delegates to the Democratic National Convention. Until this year’s rules, they had the same voting power as National Delegates delegates elected from the Congressional District or Statewide level.

For the 2020 rules, we had a day Rules Committee meeting and a convention resolution setting up the Unity Reform Commission in 2016, Unity Reform Commission meetings around the country in 2017, over 100 hours of DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee meetings in 2018, and a vote of the Democratic National Committee to change the rules for 2020 so that automatic delegates do not vote on the first ballot (unless a candidate has a super majority and their votes can’t affect the result). There is no need to go further.

First, the principal concern about automatic delegates is they that could override the popular vote as expressed in primaries and caucuses (mostly primaries, thanks to other 2020 rules changes). Another concern was automatic delegates could endorse early, giving one candidate a several hundred delegate vote lead before the first primary vote was cast, and this appeared to be unfair. These problems were solved by taking away the automatic delegate’s first ballot vote and did not appear this year.

Second, the DNC added automatic delegates in 1984 to increase the participation of elected officials and party leaders in the process. Eliminating automatic delegates gives these leaders two options – don’t participate or run against your constituents. We want the people who know how to win to be part of the process, but not displace grassroots activists. We have the right balance now.

Third, you want a DNC that is working all day every day over four years to elect Democrats up and down the ballot. You don’t want to exclude the people who do that work from the National Convention, which is the main Democratic Party event. What you’ll get is people motivated by a presidential candidate who may come and go – you want those people, especially newcomers, but you also want people who do the work of party building year in and year out.

Fourth, there is an argument that elected officials and party leaders should have a role in selecting the nominee, and now that role is limited to a situation where there is no first ballot nominee and thus no clear choice of the voters. A deadlocked convention (which we did not have this year, again, despite the predictions), is the appropriate time for those leaders to weigh in.

Finally, it has taken years and tremendous effort to achieve the compromise we now have. That agreement should be respected, although I am sure there are some who want to roll it back and give automatic delegates the first ballot vote again. We’ve come to a good place. Just stop.