Former vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine benefitted from superdelegates during the 2016 Democratic primaries. His running-mate Hillary Clinton received the lion’s share of superdelegates, which all but buried candidate Bernie Sanders’ chances.
It doesn’t matter now, but Kaine — a superdelegate himself — is arguing in favor of ending the concept entirely. In a letter to DNC Chairman Tom Perez obtained by Politico, Kaine writes:
I have long believed there should be no superdelegates. These positions are given undue influence in the popular nominating contest and make the process less democratic.
Clinton’s win over Bernie Sanders without superdelegates would have been narrow: 2205 to 1846. Yet when you add in the superdelegates that overwhelmingly went to Clinton, Hillary won 2807 delegates to Sanders’ 1894.
A strong case can be made that superdelegates from the earlier states created the image of an insurmountable lead for Clinton, affecting later turnout from Sanders’ supporters.
The superdelegates are an odd affectation for a party that calls itself “Democratic” — they completely circumvent the democratic process, as Kaine noted in his letter. Currently, the DNC is supposedly looking into ways to reform their primary process, which is probably smart. After all, while Bernie is unlikely to have won the general election, it’s a bad look when a party that’s done little but issue charges of “collusion” throughout 2017 utilizes a “rigged” primary process.
Kaine is challenging his superdelegate colleagues to step up:
I encourage any other superdelegate who feels the same way to take the same pledge. I believe the task of the Unity Commission will be made easier if its members know that there are many superdelegates, appointed automatically pursuant to party rules, who don’t mind changes to the current system to make our rules more democratic.
The whole concept needs to die. Will it? Democrats definitely have no problem picking winners and losers in the marketplace; the party stands for little else but centralized government power. So it seems unlikely that the DNC will have trashed the superdelegate system by 2020.