DNC's new rules: cutting superdelegates from 715 to 315, making their votes reflect the wishes of their states

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/12/10/anti-establishment.html


Finally some good news from the dysfunctional duopoly party of the “left.” I’m glad that the Sanders people are helping to move the party establishment kicking and screaming into the future. If they can do this they might yet work to ban corporate lobbyists from becoming superdelegates, and eventually eliminate that category of delegate entirely.


Seriously. I mean it’s only one step in the right direction and the DNC has a lot more work to do, but I’m still pleasantly surprised.


Agreed. But, I can’t help but be skeptical. We need to see the full text, including footnotes.


Yup, the DNC has earned our skepticism.


This committee chosen by Sanders and Clinton has no actual power, as DNC rules must be decided by rank-and-file DNC members. The committee is completely outside of the DNC governance structure, and this publicity just reinforces the fallacy that the most visible Democrats – former candidates and other politicians – control the party. What changes – if any – eventually emerge will come from below, and likely look very different. In particular, there will be DNC members who will vigorously oppose the idea that state supers will need to follow the state electorate’s will. Most of these will be holders of state-level party offices.

On the other hand, the DNC has changed its rules quite often over the years. Usually it is an attempt to correct something that went wrong, and usually the correction causes something else to go wrong. Getting election process right is tricky (and by “tricky” I mean provably impossible).


Hard to tell how useful this is - how many delegates are there total?


Okay. What’s impossible about states’ popular primary vote counts deciding candidate nominations? Do you mean reform of the DNC is impossible, or that letting primary voters decide is impossible?


I never understood why people freaked out so much over superdelegates. They have never gone against the will of the elected delegates. In 2008 they were initially aligned with Clinton but after Obama won the primaries they voted for him. In 2004 they were lined up behind Dead until Kerry pulled ahead. Superdelegates did not stop Sanders from winning the nomination, him winning less delegates in the primaries did. A system like superdelegates can be used to give the nominee a much cleaner looking win after a contested primary. Or they can stop a wildly unqualified demagogue from getting the nomination. The RNC might of had a chance to stop Trump if they had a similar system.

But also they don’t do a whole lot so it’s probably fine to get rid of them. I support Sanders and voted for him but a lot of his supporters are desperately searching for something besides his clear loss in the primaries to explain why he didn’t get the nomination.


I mean that no method of aggregating the preferences of voters can simultaneously satisfy various desirable/reasonable criteria.


From the article:

The Democratic Party’s Unity Reform Commission on Saturday voted nearly unanimously on a series of proposals aimed at reforming the presidential nominating process, …

Here’s hoping that the actual deciders in the DNC follow these proposals (assuming they’re as stated).


Ah, in that case I agree, naturally. Which is why I advocate proportional democratic choice.


@d_r is referring to this:

wherein we find that if we make some very reasonable decisions about what qualities our ranked-choice* voting system should have, then we can’t make our system satisfy all of these criteria.
From the wikipedia page, this seems a good summary:

In short, the theorem states that no rank-order electoral system can be designed that always satisfies these three “fairness” criteria:

  • If every voter prefers alternative X over alternative Y, then the group prefers X over Y.
  • If every voter’s preference between X and Y remains unchanged, then the group’s preference between X and Y will also remain unchanged (even if voters’ preferences between other pairs like X and Z, Y and Z, or Z and W change).
  • There is no “dictator”: no single voter possesses the power to always determine the group’s preference.

* Or more generally when there are three or more choices in an election and voters have a preference among those they didn’t vote for.


Sounds like a positive move, but when do we know that officially the process as been changed?

Here is my test - if we tallied the 2016 primary results under these new rules, what would it look like?


"‘Democracy’ is coming, to the democratic party’’ - Leonard Cohen


They should eliminate caucuses too, while they’re at it.


Disagree. In my opinion, superdelegates played a tremendous role in shifting public perception of Democratic voters to support Clinton in the primaries, away from Sanders. Mainstream news outlets were prominently featuring the superdelegate votes throughout the primaries, from the very beginning. Also from the very beginning, the superdelegates were heavily stacked in Clinton’s favor. This supported the public perception of Clinton being the party’s “preferred” candidate, which I think tremendously (and subtly) impacted public perception of Sanders’ viability as a candidate. Never mind speculating about what would have happened if all of those superdelegates had stacked on Sanders’ side from the beginning. I wonder what would have happened if they just didn’t exist, and it had been a “fair” race in that sense.

IMO, the superdelegates thing was just one of many reasons why Clinton was perceived as “more of the same” and an “establishment candidate”. I think this significantly contributed to Trump’s win, because he was clearly not an establishment candidate, and he embraced that image throughout the primaries and his national election campaign. To see the DNC “reduce” the superdelegates just seems to me like an admission that superdelegates are a manipulative way for the party to hedge against voters’ interests, one that they aren’t willing to give up. I don’t think reducing the superdelegates is anything but a show. They can and will still have a very similar effect on public perception, when used like they have been using them. 300 or 700, it won’t matter. More of the same.


My guess is that Clinton would win, considering that she got the most votes in most states.

While there were some shenanigans during the 2016 primaries, the big one was the media polling the Super delegates and punlicising the results so early. My guess is that if Sanders had won the primaries by a good margin he would have been given the nomination, because the Super delegates would have fallen in line. If they were virtually tied… then they may have broken.

And my god, did anyone not guess what the questions for the debate were going to be? It wasn’t like it was a surprise quiz.

As someone who has studied history for quite some time, let me tell you I am shocked - SHOCKED- to hear about slightly less than ethical electorial behavior from a major US political party. (Note: this is heavy sarcasm. Even if every accusation is true, it would be a cleaner election than basically any election in American history until… probably now.)


The superdelegate count was also reported in previous primaries. In 2008 they were for Clinton and in 2004 for Dean. Neither of them won in the end. And while that might have swung some support to Clinton it does not explain a ten point lead with three million more votes and four hundred more delegates. Fivethirtyeight does a good job of summarizing the size of Clinton’s win. Frankly the fact that this is an issue shows that the left can be just a vulnerable to the same nonsense the right is. Sanders did not lose because of superdelegates but because so many people said the word “superdelegates” over and over we think it’s an issue.


Superdelegates are a handy-dandy thing to blame for Sanders failing to win over most of the Democratic primary voters, thus throwing into doubt the idea that the American people in general would have voted for him in droves.