Will the Democrat Party establishment rig the nomination process in Clinton’s favour?

17 February 2016 4:38 pm

We don’t know the answer to that question yet. But the bottom line is they can.

Nate Silver explains how it can happen.

"If you look at a Democratic delegate tracker… you’ll find that Hillary Clinton has a massive 394-44 delegate lead over Bernie Sanders so far, despite having been walloped by Sanders in New Hampshire and only essentially having tied him in Iowa. While Sanders does have a modest 36-32 lead among elected delegates — those that are bound to the candidates based on the results of voting in primaries and caucuses — Clinton leads 362-8 among superdelegates, who are Democratic elected officials and other party insiders allowed to support whichever candidate they like. If you’re a Sanders supporter, you might think this seems profoundly unfair. And you’d be right: It’s profoundly unfair. Superdelegates were created in part to give Democratic party elites the opportunity to put their finger on the scale and prevent nominations like those of George McGovern in 1972 or Jimmy Carter in 1976, which displeased party insiders."

The Democratic nomination will be determined by 4763 total delegates — 4051 chosen by the voters and 712 superdelegates. Who are they? The superdelegates include all of the party's governors. They also include the president and vice president, all of its members in Congress. Add to that all members of the Democratic National Committee. That includes elected representatives, like mayors and county executives, as well as presidents of various Democratic organizations.

Let’s look at how that works. Sanders beat Clinton by a 15-to-9 margin in the New Hampshire primary this month. But six of New Hampshire’s eight superdelegates support Clinton, pushing her total from New Hampshire up to at least 15. The other two superdelegates remain uncommitted. So Clinton could theoretically get more delegates from a state that she lost by a wide margin of the popular vote. In fact, Clinton had a large national lead over Sanders before the race even started, because at least 360 of the 712 Democratic superdelegates had already pledged their support to her.

With the Democrats, the nominee is chosen by delegates who go to the party convention. Generally speaking, they’ll vote the will of the primary voters. There are 4051 delegates who are supposed to operate that way. But the superdelegates can vote however they choose. According to the Cook Political Report, Hillary Clinton had already amassed support from half of the superdelegates before the first primary vote was even cast. Do the maths and you’ll find that puts Bernie Sanders at an eight percentage point deficit in the delegate count. Because of the superdelegates, it is likely that Hillary Clinton collected as many delegate votes in New Hampshire as Sanders did, despite losing by 22 percentage points in the popular vote.

Evan Horowitz at the Boston Globe explains that it’s a system designed for political parties, not the people. “Voters have no constitutional right to decide the winner,” he says.

Jonathan Tasini, author of “The Essential Bernie Sanders and His Vision for America” and a surrogate for the Sanders campaign, warns that if Sanders wins the majority of delegates in the democratic voting process and is screwed over by the superdelegates, the Democratic Party will implode for a generation.

“A wave of voters, especially young people, will walk out of the party, perhaps never to return — but certainly they will stay at home on Election Day unwilling to cast a vote for a nominee they will view as illegitimate,’’ Tasini writes.

“By their action, superdelegates will either turn the energy of the robust contest underway into victory in November — or find that energy pulsating from thousands of people protesting outside the convention’s halls.”