Myths And Facts About The Delegates

Myth: The Democratic primary process is supposed to be democratic.

Fact: With its mix of caucuses and primaries, proportional allocation and at-large bonus delegates, its racial and gender quotas, and its layer of superdelegates, the process is anything but democratic.

And that's the point of it, actually.

In cameral terms, the superdelegates are the Senate; the other delegates are the House. The supers exist to preserve the power of the party itself by taming the passions of the pledged delegates

Since the McGovern-Frasier reforms, the Democratic Party has cautiously backed away from the principle of deference to the majority and toward the countervailing principle of protecting the rights of the minority (who were, in many cases, ethnic minorities).

The nomination process is designed to ensure that the majority does not prevail without a fight in the event that the minority of the party objects. The downside risk is obvious: in the event that there is no consensus, there is no objective way to determine who the nominee should be.

Myth: The DNC never intended to disenfranchise Florida and Michigan.

Fact: The intent and spirit of the DNC's rules are clear: states that violated the party's calendar rules would be punished; that punishment entails a dimunution of their ability to influence the party's nominee.

If Michigan and Florida's delegations are seated as is, the party will lose whatever legitimacy it is has to set and enforce rules.

Myth: Superdelegates ought to reflect the preferences of the primary and caucus voters.

Fact: Usually, they do. This cycle, if one candidate has an appreciable delegate lead and a popular vote lead, the superdelegates will probably fall in line.

But it's hard to argue that they have a moral obligation to serve as an amplifier. Indeed, if superdelegates aren't supposed to take their own preferences into account, decisions, then what's their purpose? (The party could find other ways to make sure that important elected officials and activists have convention floor seats.)

Granted, as Obama adviser David Wilhelm told reporters this morning, it would be hard to concieve of a scenario wherein the superdelegates completely disregard the expressed will of the pledged delegates.

Myth: Pledged delegates should be immune from pressure by the candidates.

It depends.

They're pledged delegates, not promised delegates, for the same reason why the rules themselves are so convoluted: the party rules are designed to ensure that the nominee is arrived at by consensus among factions. Lobbying them is unseemly, but it is allowed. (The unnamed Clinton adviser who told the Politico that "the rules will be going out the window.” was not doing his or her campaign a favor. The Clinton campaign denies that they intend to lobby Obama's pledged delegates.


The person who accrues the most number of earned delegates deserves the nomination.

Not necessarily. Again -- superdelegates have a say because the rules are designed to give them a say. Not an echo -- a say. And in a scenario where one candidate recieves the majority of