The Superdelegate Situation in Minnesota

So in Minnesota, politics is getting stupid. No longer are we talking about getting out the vote, or trying to connect people with the candidates, no – we’re talking about Superdelegates. Something I’d never heard of until two weeks ago, or something like that.

According to Wikipedia, the concept of superdelegates was introduced in 1980, because in 1968, the “party leaders” were stripped of some of their back-room powers. Voters were instead empowered to select their nominee. So in 1980, a special class of delegates was created, the superdelegates, to give “active politicians” a louder voice.

But I just can’t believe how much more these people’s voices matter. Here’s some quick math, Harper’s Index style:

Total MN voters for Clinton and Obama: 209,801

Total MN delegates tied to the feb 5 results: 72

Number of MN Superdelegates: 16

Number of times more a superdelegate’s vote is worth, as compared with an MN voter: 2914

Bill Gates’ salary in 2006: $966,667

Yearly amount a MN worker would earn at 6.15 minimum wage: $12,300

Number of times more Bill Gates earns in a year, as compared with a MN minimum wage earner: 78

That ought to give us some kind of perspective on how ridiculously over-weighted the superdelegates’ votes are. Bill Gates earns 78 times more than your average burger-flipper – but Amy Klobuchar, US senator from Minnesota, and a superdelegate to the Democratic National Convention, her vote is worth 2914 times your average burger-flipper’s vote.

That’s why I wrote this:

Dear Senator Klobuchar,

The super delegate system that our party is using to nominate a presidential candidate seems to me to be arcane, archaic, and anti-democratic. That your personal voice carries more weight in this matter than that of every other Minnesotan betrays the principle of our democratic process.

You were elected to the Senate because we as Minnesotans trust your judgment on the many affairs of state that as normal citizens, we cannot reasonably keep abreast of.

But on the issue of the Democratic nomination for President of the United States, you do not have to substitute your judgment for the judgment of Minnesotans. You have direct knowledge of how the people you represent feel.

I would ask that you would respect Minnesota’s choice for president. On February 5th, the people of Minnesota voted overwhelmingly for your colleague in the Senate, Barack Obama. Please endorse him at the national convention and please announce that you will do so.



If there’s anyone else that wants to get in touch with her, here’s a link to the email form:

5 Responses to “The Superdelegate Situation in Minnesota”

  1. 1 Sebastion Bach February 8, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    Great letter. Looks like Obama’s starting to address the issue of superdelegates. He said this to the press in Seattle today:

    “The question for those not yet committed and the superdelegates that are still out there ‚Ķ trying to make up their minds — my strong belief is that if we end up with the most states and the most pledged delegates from the most voters in the county that it would be problematic for the political insiders to overturn the judgment of the voters. And you know, I think that should be the guiding approach to determine who would be the nominee. I think it’s also important for the superdelegates to think about who will be in the strongest to beat John McCain in November and who will be the strongest to make sure that we are broadening the base, bring people who historically have not involved in politics into the fold.” (how do I do block quotes in this shit?)

    It’s not exactly an appeal to the superdelegates, but it seems like that’s where he’ll be heading in the coming weeks. It would probably be wise for him to build that case after monday and before texas and ohio go to the polls next month, considering that after that it’ll be less likely that he’ll be able to claim the advantage in pledged delegates. We shall see.

  2. 2 jeje February 8, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    Gates has a lot more than 78x the income and power of a burger flipper. He also has a lot more power than a super delegate. Are we being a bit idealistic to even bitch about the inequality? The superdelegates usually go with the popular vote except in some rare occasions. Trust me, that is not a representative example of the extent of corruption, inefficiency and injustice of the government. What I am most curious about Obama is the extent to which he can morally reform us and washington. I would guess its negligible, but then again, “hope”.

  3. 3 ishum February 8, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    I’m not necessarily saying that I have, with some snarky numbers, demonstrated some enormous outrage against democracy, or even that the outrage of Superdelegates begins to rival that of the other injustices and inequalities in this life. Hell, superdelegates ain’t half as stupid as the electoral college.

    And I know that Bill Gates has more than 78X the power of a burger-flipper. It’s just that a superdelegate having 2914 times the influence of a normal voter doesn’t quite pack a punch on its own. Bill Gates earns WAY WAY WAY fuckin more than anybody else, but the amount more that he earns isn’t as big as the amount more a superdelegate and her opinion counts.

    And it ain’t at all clear that the superdelegates are going to do to the right thing – if it were the case that they just OBVIOUSLY would respect the popular vote, then we wouldn’t have superdelegates at all. The system was put in place to give MORE power to party officials – power that ain’t bound by any popular vote, that’s the point.

  4. 4 Sebastion Bach February 9, 2008 at 12:58 am

    whoa, whoa, whoa: what’s this talk of superdelegates usually voting with the pledged votes? I haven’t seen or heard anything that supports that; quite the opposite, actually. That’s right, Ishum, the whole point of these fuckers is to siphon electoral power from voters, and to put it back in the hands of a few.

    And while we’re on it, lemme just mention one thing about these ridiculous delegate tallies that are being kept by various news agencies: What the fuck is up with them including the superdelegates in these tallies? It’d be one thing if they included all 796 (or 795, now that Lieberman’s been stripped of his), but as it is they’re just tagging on about 300 supers, which probably isn’t that accurate to begin with.

  1. 1 Klobuchar Makes Good! « ishum Trackback on March 31, 2008 at 9:35 am

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