Monday, August 25, 2008

Why the Superdelegates Matter

Until Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) reached 2,118 delegates on the night of June 3, he and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) were locked in battle for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

Primaries or caucuses have now been held in all 50 of 50 states. Obama won the popular vote, and won almost twice as many contests as Clinton. He also bested Clinton in pledged delegates, by a final margin of 1765.5-1639.5.

This website was created because after Super Tuesday, it became clear neither Obama nor Clinton could win enough pledged delegates to reach 2,118, the number needed to win (up from 2,025 since the May 31 compromise reached by the DNC to allow Florida and Michigan's disputed delegations to cast half-votes).

The 855 unpledged superdelegates to the Democratic National Convention in Denver (August 25-28) will tip the balance, casting a total of 824.5 votes. The rules say these Democratic elected officials and other party leaders can choose whomever they want, regardless of how their states or districts voted.

Until May 9, when various news organizations began reporting that Obama had overtaken her long-held advantage, Clinton was ahead of Obama in the superdelegate race. According to the Associated Press, 389 superdelegates had endorsed Obama versus 282 for Clinton as of June 4.

In 1984, Walter Mondale failed to win enough delegates to put him over the top in his campaign for the Democratic nomination, but still beat Gary Hart because the vast majority of superdelegates backed Mondale.

Twenty-four years later, times have changed. The internet has made it possible for ordinary citizens to share information and organize from coast-to-coast.

Working together, we made a difference in this race, helping voters from around the country generate an estimated several thousand e-mails and phone calls to superdelegates, plus gathering thousands more signatures on superdelegate petitions in seven states including North Carolina, where we first organized.

Thanks to everyone who visited our site, and used the tools here to e-mail, call, or sign a petition to superdelegates. We let our party leaders know how many of their constituents and neighbors wanted Barack Obama to be the Democratic presidential nominee in 2008, and they listened.

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