Dems edge one step closer to curbing superdelegates

Earlier this week I was suggesting that it was time for Democrats to either fish or cut bait in terms of their superdelegates for the next presidential election cycle. While I highly doubt they were sitting around waiting for my input, it seems that some sort of consensus has been reached, at least inside the committee evaluating potential rules changes. The previously discussed proposal to keep the superdelegates out of the voting on the first ballot has been tentatively approved and is expected to receive full committee endorsement next month. (Washington Times)

The Democratic National Committee took a major step toward limiting the power of “superdelegates” at their presidential nominating convention, a move long sought by the party’s ascendant progressive wing.

According to Politico, the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee approved in concept a proposal to bar superdelegates — mostly the party’s elected officials — from the first round of voting on a presidential nominee.

The panel is expected to fully ratify the proposal in July, Politico said. The full DNC would then take up the measure in August.

Two important things to note about this decision. First, this doesn’t mean that the change is going to go through. The Rules and Bylaws Committee was fairly heavily stacked with Berniecrats after the debacle of the 2016 primary and general election, so they were probably exerting an outsized influence in committee. Even if the plan gets the official go-ahead next month, the full membership will have to vote on it in August. And among the rank and file there remain a lot of influential members, many of whom are in Congress, who do not want to see this happen. So just as they’re gearing up for the final push to the midterms, the Democrats could be looking at yet another front to fight in their ongoing civil war and the superdelegates may still carry the day.

But let’s say the change goes through. The Dems are caught in something of a Devil and the Deep Blue Sea scenario here. Giving the voters unfettered power in selecting a nominee is clearly the fair and democratic (small “d”) thing to do. But some observers are also wringing their hands and pointing out that there will no doubt be a crowded field of candidates in play. Without the superdelegates to tip the scales toward one of them, guess what happens?

Nate Silver and Kyle Kondik were discussing it on Twitter and pointing out the obvious.

It’s pretty early to be discussing such a fringe possibility, but the idea of a brokered convention is already being raised. If the party splits too evenly between a couple of establishment candidates and one of the new breed from the ranks of the Berniecrats, they may not have a clear winner. Of course, people were saying that about the GOP convention two years ago also and we somehow sorted it all out.

But that’s where the second ballot caveat in the rules change might come in. They could be stuck without anything close to a majority after the first ballot, but then the floodgates of the superdelegates would open and they could put an establishment candidate over the top. Of course, then they’ll just tick off the progressive wing of the base yet again, just when they’ll need every voter to show up if they hope to hold Trump to one term.

Stock up on popcorn. This could be fascinating to watch.