When we reported earlier this year that the DNC had finally voted to rein in their superdelegates (at least during the first round of voting) there seemed to be a general sense of relief among their voters. The superdelegate system has been an albatross around the necks of the Democrats (and to a lesser extent the Republicans as well) for a long time. It warps the will of the voters and allows for too many hijinks by the entrenched gatekeepers.
Thank the Lord that’s over, right? Well… not so fast. The way the current field is shaping up, some of their own analysts are starting to suspect that they’ll have the same problem again next summer. The only difference is that it may be held off until the second round of voting. (Politico)
After months of consolidation, there are signs the top tier of the Democratic presidential primary may be expanding, leaving Democrats to confront the prospect of a lasting, multi-candidate contest that could drag on long into next year.
“I think it will be a brokered convention,” said former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who said he came to that view within the past month, after seeing “Warren’s rise, and Sanders staying where he’s always been … and, I think, Biden’s steadiness.”
Richardson’s outlook remains a minority view. But it highlights the implications of a field still stacked with a handful of highly organized, well-funded candidates — and a race that remains unsettled in ways that could prevent any one candidate from seizing insurmountable momentum from the first four nominating states.
First of all, I’m not convinced that the field is going to break that way at all. What’s more remarkable is the fact that a scenario where one candidate doesn’t “seize insurmountable momentum” from just the four early states is being portrayed as a bad thing. It’s bad enough that we have the same few states (including two really tiny ones) determining the magical “momentum” trope and sucking all of the oxygen out of the race cycle after cycle. If they’re the only ones who count toward determining the final nominee, why bother having the rest of the states show up and vote?
Let’s just say for a moment that at least three candidates (currently Biden, Warren and Sanders) continue to hold on to their current shares of support for several months into the primaries. If that’s the case, then there’s a good chance that none of them will get 51%. But it also provides an incentive for them to fight all the harder for the later states. How is that a problem?
And even if they make it all the way to the convention without anyone having 50% support, all that demonstrates is that the DNC didn’t do a good enough job fixing their superdelegate problem. Pushing it off to the second round just means that a divided base will once again have their voices stolen by a couple of hundred party insiders. Keep in mind what happened to the Democrats in 2016. Clinton’s superdelegates from New Hampshire each wiped out the votes of more than 10,000 Sanders voters. That’s not to say that Sanders would have won the nomination without that imbalance, but it was enough to divide their base and generate bad feelings among Sanders voters that have lingered to this day.
If one candidate can’t get out there and make the case that they have the clear support of Democrats nationally and are the best choice for the party, then so be it. Keep voting until you come to the best (or least awful) consensus. If you let the superdelegates steal the show again you will fracture your base in two elections in a row. And you’ll deserve the subsequent fallout.