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Today’s DNC Rule & Bylaws Committee Meeting – UPDATE #2 – Superdelegates

Josh Putnam from Frontloading HQ is tweeting the meeting.


Rule 7 – Inclusion Programs – This provision was added in 2008 and sets forth provisions for outreach to groups not included in the affirmative action programs, including people with disabilities and members of the LGBT community.  Tabled for future discussion.

Rule 8 – National Convention Delegate Apportionment – apportionment of delegates within states, 75% at district level, 25% at large.  Rule adopted.

Rule 9 – Unpledged and Pledged Party Leaders and Elected Official Delegates – addresses unpledged (“Superdelegates”) and pledged PLEOs. 

Patrice reviewed the evolution of unpledged delegates from 1984 to 2008 (as discussed in prior posts re the Change Commission).
2012 numbers would be – DNC – 442; Pres and VP – 2; Gov – 24; Cong -279; Distinguished Party leaders -23; add-on delegates 86.

Change Commission recommendations:  eliminate add-ons, convert unpledged to national pledged (NPLEO) status.  Allocation to candidates would be based on state caucus and primary votes.  If a NPLEO does not want to pledge to candidate, he or she can be a nonvoting national convention delegate.
RBC – to determine whether to adopt recommendations; if so, determine procedures for NPLEO to apply for support, timing of NPLEO allocations, filling vacancies.

Delegate Selection Rules – does not incorporate proposals.

Discussion followed – some RBC members clearly expressed views on the Change Commission recommendations, with Jeff Berman supporting the proposal and Donna Brazile and Mame Reilly opposing it.  There clearly will be continued discussion on this very controversial issue.  Some of the points made:

  • Issue of how to allocate NPLEOs into pledged slots needs to be addressed.
  • If a NPLEO was allocated a delegate position and chose to go non-voting, there would be a vacancy.  You could have pledged PLEO fill the position.
    Not all RBC members are ready to accept the recommendations on superdelegates.  It was argued that the DNC members are elected (by the party) and that party leaders should lead, not follow the voter preferences.
  • This proposal was a compromise – another approach would be to make supedelegates non-voting delegates.
  • Re number of delegates – proposal eliminates 86 add on delegates, so we can add some alternates.
  • If a NPLEO decides to not commit, he or she would be nonvoting on all issues, but have all other delegate rights.
    Convention resolution called for “significantly reducing” the number of superdelegates.  Concern that the proposal goes beyond  the resolution, but “one person’s significant is another person’s elimination.” 
  • Hunt Commission Change was intended to encourage participation by elected officials.  We want to continue to encourage such participation.  What if elected official pledges early, but candidate does poorly in his state?  The elected official may not be able to be a delegate.
  • Timing was a problem in 2008 – too much wooing of superdelegates by candidates; maybe change so SDs need to pledge sooner.
  • Driving issue behind convention resolution was that voters felt it was improper for a privileged group to have disproportionate impact and influence.
  • The National Convention directed the DNC to make significant reductions.  We don’t want a select number of individuals to overwhelm voter preferences of millions of voters.  Candidates should be reaching out to voters, not repeatedly trying to get superdelegates.  Proposal still recognizes special role for party leaders.  A system with 850 unpledged delegates who can vote as they please without reference to results could determine nomination.  We should pursue procedures that would allow them to pledge according to personal preference.
  • What would be the effect on diversity of the rules change? 
  • Eliminating unpledged delegates would be a cleaner approach.  As would be taking away the vote from certain categories [e.g. DNC not elected officials].
    The 2008 process worked – the Superdelegates put Obama over the top.  The Superdelegates were able to smooth and sooth the convention to feel comfortable with our nominee.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
  • If eliminate 86 ad-ons, move back to the states – this would be a significant change.
  • In 2000, people learned that the popular vote didn’t elect a president.  In 2008, they realized that the Democratic Party had superdelegates – the controversy was stoked by the campaigns.  The close campaign created excitement that helped the election.  Party leaders are voters too.
  • Ultimately, all pledged delegates are free to vote their consciences.
  • Addition of DNC members and elected officials – do not represent the Democratic party – it dilutes the voters choices, reduced diversity.
    This will be revisted in four years anyway.
  • The Convention specifically called for reduction in the number of unpledged delegates – the RBC needs to implement the resolution in some way.
    Reducing the number of unpledged is good – but the square peg into round hole won’t work. In 2008, the Superdelegates helped move the Edwards and Clinton delegates to Obama.  The experienced superdelegates can facilitate the process.
  • Unpledged delegates constitute nearly 20% of the convention – that’s too many.
  • Need to work out the problems with the pledged proposal.
  • Purpose of resolution was to increase the influence of primary and caucus voters.  One approach would be to turn alternates into pledged delegates – that would add 650-700 additional delegates to reduce the influence of the superdelegates.

No vote was taken – it will be considered in July.

[Here’s my take – there is a good deal of work to do in convincing the RBC as well as DNC members to accept the Change Commission proposal]

Rule 10 – Selection of At-large Delegates – adopted