Sour Grapes
Of course we're Fair and Balanced!



Lately there has been a lot of discussion about how Democratic superdelegates ought to determine which candidate they will support to become their nominee for President. To me it seems quite obvious and simple: they should use their best judgement based on whatever criteria they deem important. Personally I hope such criteria will be in for what is in the best interests of the party and the nation—candidates' positions, abilities and character; probability of success in the general election—rather than what is in their own personal interest—which candidate will offer them a position in their administration, should they be elected. The Democratic party purposely does not prescribe how superdelegates should make this decision. There are no rules; there are not even guidelines.

Partly because this is what I think superdelegates will do, but also because superdelegates have tended in the past to support establishment candidates, I have been predicting since early January (after the New Hampshire primary) that Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic nominee [full disclosure: using similar logic I predicted at the same time that Mitt Romney would be the Republican nominee, although one could say there were no establishment candidates among the Republicans). I still think this outcome is somewhat likely. I hope I am wrong, because of the three remaining candidates for President, Obama is the only one I would vote for in the general election. My vote will not go to Clinton, if she's nominated.

I remain optimistic however, since the odds makers—who back their predictions up with their own real money—are currently favoring Obama. Here are the odds as of today from

  • Democratic nominee: Obama–1.36 to 1, Clinton–3.5 to 1, Evan Bayh–101 to 1
  • President, by party: Democrats–1.54 to 1, Republicans–2.75 to 1, Independents–101 to 1
  • President, by candidate: Obama–2.2 to 1, McCain–2.75 to 1, Clinton–5.5 to 1

Finally, for anyone interested in learning more about superdelegates, I recommend A Brief History of Superdelegates, a post by poblano1 (whoever he or she is) over at Daily Kos. Only partly a history, it's also an analysis and concludes with an argument for why Democratic superdelegates in 2008 should support the winner of "the popular will of Democratic voters and caucus goers," who will presumably be Barack Obama. Even if you don't agree with the argument, it's worth reading for the history. It summary, it gives the four rationales espoused at the time the concept of superdelegates was created (1982) [parenthetical comments are mine]:

  1. to increase the sense of order and avert a crisis at the Convention (this was in the wake of the disastrous—for the Democrats—1972 and 1980 general elections);
  2. to get party officials more involved with the eventual nominee (which, ironically, undid the reforms made for the 1972 election cycle, which took power away from party officials who were deemed responsible for the 1968 Convention fiasco, and thus beginning the era of the modern primary election);
  3. to nominate a candidate who can win; and
  4. to check against a plurality, factional candidate who does not reflect the prevailing sentiment of the electorate (having in mind a non-mainstream candidate who only wins a plurality of pledged delegates while multiple mainstream candidates divide up the majority of such delegates).

1 poblano has a rather interesting website of his or her own:, a "new, semi-continually updated blog on polling and electoral math for the 2008 general election," 538 being the number of electors in the Electoral College.

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