Democracy Gone Astray

Democracy, being a human construct, needs to be thought of as directionality rather than an object. As such, to understand it requires not so much a description of existing structures and/or other related phenomena but a declaration of intentionality.
This blog aims at creating labeled lists of published infringements of such intentionality, of points in time where democracy strays from its intended directionality. In addition to outright infringements, this blog also collects important contemporary information and/or discussions that impact our socio-political landscape.

All the posts here were published in the electronic media – main-stream as well as fringe, and maintain links to the original texts.

[NOTE: Due to changes I haven't caught on time in the blogging software, all of the 'Original Article' links were nullified between September 11, 2012 and December 11, 2012. My apologies.]

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

How 107 Superdelegates Robbed 11 Million Democratic Voters

The Associated Press (AP) has prematurely called the Democratic primary for Hillary Clinton, despite some 11 million Democrats still waiting to vote in six states and one territory, based off the opinion of superdelegates who have yet to vote.

The dominant media narrative is that Sanders is asking superdelegates to thwart the will of the public in order to win the Democratic nomination. But the AP came to their conclusion by a phone survey of the 712 superdelegates, meaning Clinton was declared the winner due to private conversations between reporters and a relatively small handful of Democratic party bosses who won’t actually vote for a nominee until the end of July.

Clinton’s nomination depends on superdelegates defying their state’s voters

FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver criticized Sanders’ strategy of courting superdelegates at the convention, saying “[Sanders] can win only if a huge number of superdelegates who have committed to Clinton flip their vote against her, despite her having won a clear majority of votes and elected delegates, thereby overturning the popular will.”
Last week, the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler mocked Sanders’ battle to the finish as a “false hope,” insinuating that the Vermont senator’s Hail Mary pass to superdelegates is undemocratic by nature:
Sanders claims it would be “factually incorrect” for the media to declare Clinton the presumptive nominee once she crosses the 2,383 threshold. But he is ignoring the fact that Clinton will also win a majority of the pledged delegates. There’s not much of a case he can make to superdelegates to switch sides, especially since he has long insisted that superdelegates should follow the will of the voters.
Fusion’s Terrell Jermaine Starr pointed out that Obama was only able to persuade superdelegates backing Clinton to switch after he started racking up more primary wins than the former First Lady, and that Sen. Sanders is going against the wishes of Democratic voters by continuing his campaign for the Democratic nomination:
It’s a big stretch to believe that superdelegates will overrule the will of the people, who have overwhelmingly voted for the former New York senator… At one point during the 2008 primaries, prominent black politicians were backing Clinton. But after Obama began winning most of the black vote (especially black women) during the primaries, they were pressured to recommit to Obama. Rep. John Lewis was among the first to switch his allegiance. Why? Because the people said so. It would have been odd for Lewis to vote for Clinton, even though his constituents backed Obama. But that is what Sanders is asking superdelegates to do: overrule the people.
All of these arguments are right in that Bernie Sanders will need to rely on superdelegates to switch from Clinton’s side to his in order to become the Democratic nominee. But all three authors neglected to report that Hillary Clinton reached 2,383 delegates only with the help of 107 superdelegates from states Bernie Sanders won, who actively thwarted the will of millions of Democratic voters in their own states.
  • In Utah, where Sanders won by a 79-20 margin, two of the state’s four superdelegates are backing Clinton.
  • 11 of 16 superdelegates in Minnesota are supporting Clinton, even though Sanders won the state’s March 1 caucus by a 62-38 margin.
  • While Sanders blew Clinton out of the water by a 73-27 margin in Washington State, Clinton has 10 of 16 superdelegates. Sanders has zero.
  • Six of Wisconsin’s ten superdelegates are supporting Clinton, while only one is backing Sanders. The Vermont senator won the Badger State’s primary by 14 points.
  • All nine superdelegates in Rhode Island have committed to supporting Hillary Clinton, even though Bernie Sanders defeated the former Secretary of State by a12-point margin.
  • Sanders also has only one superdelegate in Alaska, same as Clinton, even after winning the state by an 82-18 margin. One Alaska superdelegate backing Clintonpatronized and belittled a Sanders supporter who asked her to cast her superdelegate vote with how her state’s residents voted.
Comparatively, only 14 of Sanders’ 49 superdelegates have come from states Hillary Clinton won. Two of those superdelegates came from Arizona, where the US Department of Justice is conducting an official investigation due to widespread complaints of election fraud and voter suppression.

11 million Democrats still haven’t voted

It’s important to note that in 2008, media networks didn’t call the nomination for Barack Obama until after every state and territory had voted. On June 3, after Obama won the final two primaries in Montana and South Dakota, media networks declared him the presumptive nominee, after having enough pledged delegates and unpledged superdelegates to cross the threshold of 2,118 total delegates necessary to clinch the nomination. 241 of Obama’s 478 superdelegates came from the 21 states and 2 territories Hillary Clinton won.
Map of 2008 Democratic primary wins for each candidate. Purple denotes an Obama win, gold denotes a Clinton win.
This year, the key difference is that the AP declared Clinton the presumptive nomineeon June 6, a full day before six more states voted. This effectively discourages nearly 11 million registered Democrats from voting (7.43 million in California, 1.79 million in New Jersey, 1.29 million in New Mexico, approximately 320,000 in Washington, DC).
To accept the AP’s declaration of Clinton’s victory as undisputed fact, it would have to be assumed that zero superdelegates will change their minds before the convention. This is highly unlikely, as 99 superdelegates changed their minds in 2008 (98 flipped from Clinton to Obama, one flipped from Obama to Clinton).
However, perhaps the most important detail the AP overlooked when crowning Clinton as the nominee was that this year, Luis Miranda, the Democratic National Committee’s own communications director explicitly told CNN’s Jake Tapper that it’s incorrect for the media to count superdelegates before they vote in July:
LUIS MIRANDA: “On superdelegates, one of the problems is the way the media reports it. Any night you have a primary or a caucus, the media lumps in superdelegates that they basically polled, because they call them up and say, ‘Who are you supporting?’ They don’t actually vote until the convention, so they shouldn’t be included in any count on a primary or caucus night, because the only thing you’re picking on primary or caucus nights are the pledged delegates based on the vote.”
JAKE TAPPER: “When we do our totals, do you think it’s okay to include them?”
LUIS MIRANDA: “Not yet, because they’re not actually voting, and they’re likely to change their minds. You look at 2008, and what happened then was there was all this assumption about what superdelegates were going to do, and many of them did change their mind before the convention, and it shifted the results in the end.”

Clinton could have lost every state and still won the nomination with superdelegates

In addition to the media’s preemptive declaration of a Clinton win, the superdelegate system itself begs the question of whether or not Bernie Sanders was ever given a fair chance at winning the nomination.
In August of 2015, for example, Bloomberg reported that Hillary Clinton had secured the commitments of some 440 superdelegates — or 61.7 percent of all total superdelegates — nearly six months before New Hampshire voters had a chance to cast a ballot in the nation’s first primary. This is inherently undemocratic, as Bloomberg also pointed out that Clinton had such a huge early advantage with party insiders that she could win the nomination outright without even winning a single state:
It’s technically possible for Clinton to win the nomination by dominating the superdelegate count even if she (narrowly) loses every state: Thanks to strict proportional allocation on the Democratic side, a candidate only gains a small delegate advantage for a small edge in primary votes.
Despite the valid concerns Sanders supporters have about the media calling the race too early or superdelegates unfairly tipping the scales in Clinton’s favor, it would take nothing short of a miracle for Sen. Sanders overcome his opponent’s lead in delegates and overall votes and win the nomination. According to the delegate calculator, Sanders would need to garner percent of the vote in California and at least 50 percent of the vote in every other primary and caucus to overcome his opponent’s pledged delegate lead.
Sanders would also need the votes of more than 7 million of the 11 million registered Democrats in the six states and one territory that have yet to vote in order to have the popular vote advantage. Finally, he would need to convince the majority of Clinton’s superdelegates to change their minds and back him at the national convention. While credible journalists have reported that an undisclosed number of Clinton’s superdelegates are contemplating switching to Sanders should he win the California primary, it’s highly unlikely that would be enough to put the Vermont senator over the 2,383 delegate threshold.
Regardless of how the final primaries and caucuses turn out, Sanders has earned the right to stay in the race until the end of the national convention, and his supporters have every right to question and contribute to the party’s nominating procedures and official platform.
Original Article
Author: Tom Cahill

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