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So, Are We Going to Have to Deal With [email protected]&%Ing Super Delegates This Primary Cycle?


Female voter fills out a ballot on election day.

Super Tuesday is over and the results are indecisive. While Joe Biden won a majority of delegates in the contests, Bernie Sanders won a large swath of delegates as well. The count is still competitive and so we have to ask – with horror and trepidation: are we going to have to deal with superdelegates again this year?

In case you’re are lucky enough not to remember or have willingly suppressed the memory (understandable), the last two Democratic presidential primaries were almost decided not by the delegates that represented actual votes by people, but by “super delegates” who weren’t bound by anything other than who they wanted to be the party nominee.

These “party insiders” as they are often called can be elected officials or just people deeply involved with the party. They are part of a state delegation but can vote however they like at the convention. Early superdelegate support for Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders was seen to be a blow to his campaign, and a factor in him ultimately losing the nomination in 2016.

So, are we gonna have to deal with this nonsense again in 2020? The answer is … maybe.

After the 2016 kerfuffle, the DNC did actually change the rules regarding super delegates and they won’t vote for the presidential nomination—on the first ballot.

To get the nomination on the first ballot a candidate will need 1991 pledged delegates out of the 3,979 up for grabs in the primary nominating contests. If that’s not achieved, then the 771 super delegates vote and to get the nomination, a candidate will need a majority of the full 4,750 delegates (that’s 2,376) to get a nomination.

Is this scenario likely? Again, maybe. The current count, as of the publication of this article (and which has changed in the time I’ve been writing it) has Biden with 506 delegates and Sanders has 455, with other candidates holding a few delegates that could be “released” before the convention.

Whether or not the super delegates will make a difference at the convention or be needed isn’t something we will know until more states have had their primaries. For now, just know, that things are still up in the air. Sorry.

(via 270 to Win)

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Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.