Democratic Part presidential candidate Bernie Sanders received 72 percent of the votes cast in the party’s Washington caucuses last weekend, sweeping every county in the state. That will earn him most of the state’s 101 regular delegates.
But that won’t be the final delegate count. Most of the state’s 17 super delegates are going to ignore the decision of their fellow Democrats and pledge an estimated 15 of their votes to loser Hillary Clinton.
In fact, super delegates give Clinton a commanding lead in the race for the party’s nomination. While Clinton has won 56 percent of the pledged delegates decided so far in party primaries and caucuses, she leads Sanders 63 percent to 37 percent is total delegates. That’s because she’s picking up super delegates by a margin of more than 9 to 1.
Super delegates are elected officials and Democratic Party bigwigs who can back any candidate they desire. Since they represent 15 percent of the total delegates, they wield a lot of clout. By contrast, super delegates represent just 7 percent of all delegates in the Republican Party, and have to follow the lead of the party’s voters.
The Democratic Party instituted super delegates in 1982 in part to make sure the party didn’t end up with any more presidential candidates like Sen. George McGovern, who captured the support of the most liberal faction of the party, only to be pounded by President Richard Nixon in the 1976 election.
As Debbie Wasserman Schultz, current chair of the Democratic National Committee explained it in a rare moment of truth-telling: “Unpledged delegates exist really to make sure the party leaders and elected officials don’t have to be in a position where they are running against grassroots activists.”
There’s a lesson here for the establishment wing of the Republican Party. It took George McGovern to get the Democratic establishment to wise up. If the GOP can survive Donald Trump, maybe its leaders will follow suit.