The votes or endorsements of 2,025 out of a total of 4,049 primary delegates are required to secure the Democratic party nomination, as of January 4th, 2008, these delegates are currently allocated:
- Clinton 169
- Obama 66
- Edwards 47
The numbers above, counterintuitive as they are, are not in error. Due to something called superdelegates, who are not bound to vote based on the popular vote in each state, third place Clinton now has more than twice the number of delegates of the first place candidate Obama.
In point of fact, as of January 2, 2008 – even before the the Iowa Caucus – the delegate totals were:
- Clinton 77
- Obama 31
- Edwards 16
Enacted in the 1970s, after control of the nomination process in the Democratic Party effectively moved out of the hands of party officials into the primary and caucus process, 852 superdelegates were created to offer some measure of overriding control to the leaders and key players in the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and to standing Democratic politicians and their supporters. This means that 21% of the total 4,049 delegates are not elected into their position nor are bound to vote in accordance with the will of the American people!
Currently these 852 power brokers are:
- 482 DNC members
- 235 Democratic House members
- 49 Senators
- 2 District of Columbia’s shadow congresspeople
- 28 Governors
- 56 Other Democratic power brokers
As if having 21% of the delegates outside the purview of the voters wasn’t bad enough in and of itself, the very rules that govern the Democratic primaries and caucuses lend extra weight and power to the 852 unpledged delegates. Under the Democratic Party’s Delegate Selection Rules, delegates are awarded by proportional representation, with a minimum 15% threshold required in order to receive delegates.
This means that in a close or sharply contested popular race – as 2008 looks like it’s going to be – there is a greatly increased chance that these 852 superdelegates will be the ones actually mandating who will be the Democratic Nominee for President.