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Wide White: Hope for a Democratic splinter

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Hope for a Democratic splinter

This looks to be the Democrats' year. They have two candidates with enthusiastic support while Republicans struggle to rally around anyone.

However, the two Democratic candidates' success may be their demise.
Democrats fear superdelegates could overrule voters

(CNN) -- Some Democrats say they fear their party's method of picking a nominee might turn undemocratic as neither presidential candidate is likely to gather the delegates needed for the nomination.

Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are running neck and neck toward the party's August convention in Denver, Colorado. Most projections show neither getting the necessary 2,025 delegates in the remaining nominating contests before then.

Party rules call for the votes of superdelegates -- 800 or so party officers, elected officials and activists -- to tip the balance. The party instituted the system to avoid the turmoil that a deadlocked race would create at a convention.
While pledged delegates are allocated with the understanding they'll vote the way their state went in its primary or caucus, superdelegates are free to vote however they want. And even if they pledge their support to a candidate, they're free to change at any time.
If the superdelegates were to tip the balance against the popular vote, the turmoil would last long beyond the convention, longtime Democratic Party strategist Tad Devine said.

"If a perception develops that somehow this decision has been made not by voters participating in primaries or caucuses, but by politicians in some mythical backroom, I think that the public could react strongly against that," Devine said.

"The problem is [if] people perceive that voters have not made the decision -- instead, insiders have made the decision -- then all of these new people who are being attracted to the process, particularly the young people who are voting for the first time, will feel disenfranchised or in some way alienated," he said.
Whether those superdelegates stay committed to their candidates, even if it means tipping the outcome of the race against the pledged delegate lead or the popular vote, could split the party.

"It's in a total contradiction of the way the Democrats have set up their primary process, with all this proportional representation," said CNN political analyst Amy Holmes. "The whole point of it was that no one could walk away with the elites. And if this is decided by superdelegates, I think the Democratic Party morally is going to be looking at each other and say, 'What did we just do?' "

Devine said it could hurt the party in the general election.

"I think it will hurt us particularly because so many of the policies that we're saying we will pursue in government as Democrats are based on fairness, whether it's the tax policies that we advocate or the social programs we want to advance, there's a fairness component in all of that," he said. "People need to believe, I think, that our process is fair as well, if they want to believe that our policies will be fair."
If the Democrats have a drawn-out primary all the way to their national convention in Denver this August and then cap it off by choosing the candidate who failed to amass the popular vote, they're in a world of hurt. After the flack they've given Republicans over George W. Bush's victory over Al Gore in which Gore won the popular vote but failed to assemble enough electoral votes to win the electoral college, I have trouble seeing their party recover very well from that kind of division.


Blogger Kara Jo declared,

What a mess we're in.

2/14/2008 2:51 PM  
Blogger Joey declared,

Well put!

2/14/2008 2:54 PM  
Blogger Keithslady declared,

Soon enough it'll all be water under the bridge.

2/15/2008 9:34 AM  
Blogger Carla Stream declared,

God is in control. His ways are not our ways.

2/17/2008 11:58 AM  
Blogger Leo Pusateri declared,

Oh, the delicious irony of it all...

2/18/2008 6:59 PM  

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