The Superdelegate Primary
As the Clinton-Obama duel grinds on, Democratic eyes are turning to those previously underappreciated people known as "superdelegates."
Superdelegates are the elected officials and party leaders who are guaranteed a vote at the Democratic convention. They constitute about 20 percent of the delegates who will gather in Denver in August. They differ from delegates chosen by a primary or caucus in that they are "unpledged"–they don’t have to vote for any particular candidate. If Clinton and Obama continued to split primary votes (and therefore "pledged" delegates) fairly evenly, each will have to win votes from superdelegates to achieve the majority needed to capture the nomination
In other words, the preferences of the superdelegates is emerging as a kind of elite primary-the results of which could decide who wins the nomination.
Clinton is ahead in this contest, according to the various counts compiled by Democratic Convention Watch, CNN, CBS and AP. But everyone has different numbers that are constantly changing as superdelegates proclaim their choices.
Earlier this week, Minnesota Monitor reported that Rep. Tim Walz, a superdelegate, had endorsed Obama. On Wednesday, another superdelegate Sen. Tom Harkin hinted broadly to Iowa Independent that he is skeptical about Clinton. "There are some real dark clouds" around her campaign, Harkin said while professing neutrality. Meanwhile, Associated Press reports that two Michigan congressmen have endorsed Clinton.
The polls in the superdelegate primary will remain open for the next six months.