Dems Face Superdelegate Hell

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Feb 13, 2008 1:55 PM
Gary Hart tells his superdelegate tale of woe:

ABC: That affected you personally at one point, right?

GH: In 1984 I was roughly the equivalent of the Obama candidate, I was the new figure, the new face and it ended up, after elimination of a number of candidates and  contests from the beginning in Iowa and New Hampshire, all the way to the convention, between myself and former Vice President Mondale, and the superdelegates in that contest did make the difference. I wanted their support and I didn't get it.

ABC: Did you question their role at that time?

GH: They were all there according to party rules, so there was very little to question.

I did speak to all 700 of them, my wife and I did, individually between the end of the primaries and the convention, and ask for their support. But many of them had pledged to Vice-President Mondale even before the primaries began and they felt that they were morally obligated to support him even though they felt I might be the stronger candidate...

ABC: Why didn't they do that for you?

GH: Vice-President Mondale was being acclaimed by the press and the pollsters as the inevitable nominee -- that no one could stop him. And I defeated him in the first primary and then we battled it out through all of the other primaries and caucuses and basically divided the country. I think we each won 25 states, primaries and caucuses, but the difference was the superdelegates. I think what the cautionary lesson from that to superdelegate is to wait and see.

I imagine the superdelegates will be smart enough to go with the pledged delegate vote if it ends up going strongly for Obama, but the fighting needed to get to that decision oughtta be choice.

Ben Smith notes that the fact that we even know what superdelegates are at this point, and are making a distinction, is a spin win for Obama. Hillary, who has double the support among superdelegates, would rather not make such distinctions.