The Superdelegate Smokescreen

By | 3/27/2016 Leave a Comment
superdelegates democracy cnn

As the results from yesterday’s caucus races in Alaska, Washington and Hawaii were coming in, CNN, for extended periods of time during their televised coverage of the contests, kept a banner at the base of the screen showing the current number of delegates held by the two candidates, as well as the number needed to win the nomination.

The only problem, however, was that the numbers for Hillary Clinton included the so-called “superdelegates” – party grandees and establishment insiders – which artificially bloated her narrowing lead over Sanders. This might have been more forgivable had they actually indicated this in their on-screen banner – but they did not. Therefore, to the casual observer, it could very well seem as though Clinton’s lead over Sanders was so great that the results from Saturday’s races would be fairly inconsequential.

But they certainly were not. Sanders’ lopsided victories in all three states (three of five lopsided victories in a row) rewarded him with a healthy delegate haul and an all-important burst of momentum as the campaigns moves forward.

But in a leading article on on Sunday, one of its national political reporters, Maeve Reston, noted that while the results had “shaved” Clinton’s lead, the former secretary still had 1,711 of the 2,383 delegates needed to win, compared to Sanders’ 952. “That means,” Reston continued, “he would need to win 75% of the remaining pledged delegates to defeat her.” Not true. And again, no mention of the fact that Clinton’s numbers were inflated by the party’s superdelegates – people who are free to change their minds and allegiances, as they have done in the past – most notably to Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in the 2008 nomination race.

Consequently, if you extract the 469 superdelegates that Clinton currently holds from the equation, the percentage of pledged delegates Sanders would need to win going forward would change significantly.

Quite why there exists this pervasive effort among sections of the media to couch Clinton’s lead in such a disingenuous way is a matter for debate, but it certainly doesn’t constitute fair and balanced reporting.
Newer Post Older Post Home