Howard Dean, former Vermont governor and former DNC chair, has committed his superdelegate vote to Hillary Clinton, despite U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders winning Vermont 86.1 percent to Hillary Clinton’s 13.6 percent.
Dean was confronted about this on Twitter:
— Howard Dean (@GovHowardDean) March 5, 2016
Governor Dean is right. Superdelegates are not tethered to the votes in their state or the will of the people. They are not elected to be superdelegates. Superdelegates are chosen from among Democratic leaders at the state and national level.
The conventional wisdom argument states that superdelegates will end up being faithful to the popular vote as it becomes clear who the majority of Democratic voters want going into the convention, but the 2016 presidential election has been anything but conventional.
According to CNN, Hillary Clinton has 678 pledged delegates (delegates that are allocated based on caucus / primary results) while Bernie Sanders has 477 pledged delegates. It is a fairly large gap, but one that could be made up as both Clinton and Sanders continue to win states.
Yet, the media reports that Clinton actually has 1,150 total delegates because of the 472 superdelegates that have committed to vote for her at the Democratic National Convention, many of whom had already decided to vote for her before the nation’s first presidential contest in Iowa.
This means, as of right now, Clinton goes from just over a quarter of the way to the nomination to nearly halfway there — because of party elites (including lobbyists) who are doing what is “right for the country (read: party).”
Unfortunately for Bernie, Dean is not the only superdelegate from Vermont who doesn’t think he is right for the country. U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy reportedly is still committed to Clinton despite Sanders’ overwhelming victory.
In February, Current DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz responded to the growing controversy of superdelegates, saying that these delegates exist to protect party leaders from grassroots challenges — to protect them from an insurgent candidate that has popular support among party voters, but the party doesn’t want to get behind.
“Unpledged delegates exist really to make sure that party leaders and elected officials don’t have to be in a position where they are running against grassroots activists. We are as a Democratic Party really highlight and emphasize inclusiveness and diversity at our convention, and so we want to give every opportunity to grassroots activists and diverse, committed Democrats to be able to participate, attend, and be a delegate at the convention. And so we separate out those unpledged delegates to make sure that there isn’t competition between them.” – DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Along with being confusing, CNN host Jake Tapper responded, “I’m not sure that that answer would satisfy an anxious young voter.”
So how committed is the Democratic Party to living up to its name?