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Caucuses and Our Superdelegates

· Posted Monday February 11, 2008 by jamie

Washington went 2-to-1 for Barack Obama at Saturday’s caucuses, with near uniformity of voting throughout the state. But I think many of you are aware that Senators Cantwell and Murray have both endorsed Hillary Clinton. And for those in the 6th Congressional District, Norm Dicks has done the same. As superdelegates, they each hold a vote at the national convention that could swing the nomination to Hillary Clinton even if Obama has been favored by the majority of Democrats in the primaries and caucuses. Now, I will grant that it is totally their right to vote as they feel appropriate, but as representatives of our state and our area, I would like to consider they will look closely at how their constituents voted and think long and hard about how they vote at the national level. An overly contentious national convention could create some damaging divisiveness within the party, especially if the grass-roots gets the snub.

I’m attaching below a copy of the letter I sent to Sen. Cantwell, Sen. Murray, and Rep. Norm Dicks, and encourage you to contact them as well. has some great tools for contacting your state and federal representatives, so you might consider using that. I sent a differently-edited version to the TNT as a letter to the editor.

Dear (insert appropriate dignitary name here),

The Democrats of our state spoke resoundingly at their precinct caucuses on Saturday in support of Barack Obama for the presidential nomination by a ratio of nearly 2-to-1. This margin essentially transcended geography, and with a few exceptions held in nearly every county throughout the states.

I am aware that you, as my elected representative, have a superdelegate vote at the national level that is not beholden to any vote of the people, and that you have stated that they are endorsing Hillary Clinton. I respect your decision, and feel that Senator Clinton would be an excellent president.

There is a significant chance that at the national convention that the delegates elected by and representing the people of our country, via the primaries and caucuses, will pledge their votes in favor of Senator Obama, only to have the nomination decided for Senator Clinton on the shoulders of the nearly-800 superdelegates whose votes represent only themselves. This would essentially snub the grassroots of the Democratic party, and unnecessarily create division and frustration within the rank-and-file in a time when people are genuinely excited about participating in the political process.

I respect the right of the Democratic party to control their nominating process, and your right as a part of that process. I would hope, however, that if there is a chance your vote could swing the tally away from the nominee favored by the electorate, you would carefully consider the will of your constituents against your own preference.

Jamie Don’t-like-to-broadcast-my-last-name-all-over-the-web

These people represent us in Congress, so it is our right to ask them to represent us now.

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  1. Dear Jamie DLTBMLNAOTW,

    I suspect that some superdelegates are going to have to really think about this as we get closer to the convention if the numbers stay roughly equal. If Obama starts to pull substantially away, however, I think you’ll see a lot of them change their minds.

    I’d recommend the recent op-ed in the NYT for a look at superdelegates and what they do.

    Erik Hanberg    Feb 11, 11:19 AM    #
  2. Great article link, Erik.

    Also, I will cop to being briefly confused by “DLTBMLNAOTW”. Duh.

    jamie    Feb 11, 11:35 AM    #
  3. Great issue.

    It would make the entire caucus seem like a cruel joke if Washington’s superdelegates overruled the votes of the people.

    Just because they can, does not mean they should. I cannot think of a faster way to disenfranchise and frustrate Washington voters who have been told that their participation could actually make a difference.

    However, Washington superdelates can still save face by having the remainder of them who have not committed align themselves so that the net result is a pro-rata superdelate voting ratio to Washington caucus voters. That way, no one has to change their vote.

    Right now, the pattern is very troubling. The caucus went 2 to 1 for Obama but the superdelagates are heavy for Hillary. Elected officials better re-think this issue fast.

    Erik    Feb 11, 12:17 PM    #
  4. Here’s a great pages that discusses all of this with a great article “superdelegates back off”

    Erik    Feb 12, 11:10 AM    #
  5. Good job on the article and making getting information into the TNT.

    — Chris    Feb 12, 04:31 PM    #