MoveOn Launches Campaign Targeting Superdelegates


MoveOn just announced that they’ll run a petition ad in USA Today with the following text:

“The Democratic Party must be democratic. The superdelegates should let the voters decide between Clinton and Obama, then support the people’s choice.”

I was disappointed and surprised that no one was doing anything like this. I’m glad MoveOn is stepping up to the plate.
— Scott Paul
Update: Important detail originally omitted from this post: MoveOn has endorsed Obama. Two readers suggest that MoveOn’s political goals influenced their decision to run this campaign. They are probably right, but this is still the right message directed at the right people.


22 comments on “MoveOn Launches Campaign Targeting Superdelegates

  1. luko says:

    Why have superdelegates at all? They were never intended to be a rubber stamp for the popular vote.
    I guess they will be gone from future contests. Or will they?


  2. Alla says:

    I’m a MoveOn member (since Impeachment “Let’s move on” days) and now a Clinton supporter. I’m very disapointed with them.
    I don’t like their endorsement of ANY 2008 Democratic candidate, and find this super-delegate campaign to be selectively tactical. If the fact pattern was different — and the advantage with Obama? I don’t buy the argument, but their self-righteous, bullying tone is becoming downright unbearable.


  3. Jane says:

    The elected officials who are superdelegates have been voted for by more voters than have the presidential candidates. They have had the support of the voters over time. They are re-elected because the voters have come to trust their judgement. They are in the thick of politics and in a good position to track what the candidates have actually done.
    I would much rather rely on the judgement of an offical relected by millions of my fellow voters than on the ability of one candidate to fire up a few thousand college students.
    I am told that the MoveOn vote represented some 6% of their members. What I don’t know is the comparative length of time with MoveOn of those who voted for Obama versus those who voted for Clinton. Nice coup for him if he sent his supporters to vote but not necessarily a true indication of MoveOn members feelings.


  4. bmc says:

    Does your support for a more DEMOCRATIC Democratic Party process inclued counting Delegates from Michigan and Florida? Because if it doesn’t, you’re just another hypocrite about all of it.
    The Super-Delegates are just unpledged (supposedly) delegates appointed by the party. They are supposed to remain unpledged until the Convention. They are supposed to vote their consciences, not vote according to popular will; in fact they are there to balance popular will, that is what they were, in fact, established to do!
    These arguments are not only hypocritical, they are counter-productive, placing MORE PRESSURE on the Super-Delegates that is already being placed on them. Jesse Jackson, Jr.–Obama’s Kneecapper– is THREATENING Super-Delegates to vote for Obama or they’ll face an opponent in their Districts next election cycle!
    It is astonishing and sickening to see Democrats so enamored of their candidate that they’ll go to any lengths to twist the system that Super-Delegates are supposed to uphold. I agree with James Clyburn: These Super-Delegates are supposed to vote their conscience and are supposed to remain UNPLEDGED until the Convention.


  5. ben says:

    just more ridiculous stuff being done by move on! to support these pathethic DEMOCRAPS! None of the candidates or the pathethic congress or senate have spoken about torture, the numerous war crimes, the blind looting of the folks’ money by bush’s croonies! the list in endless. and move on! helps makes this all possible by constantly blindly supporting the democraps!


  6. Scott says:

    What’s the point of super-delegates if they’re bound to follow the popular vote? You could just eliminate them. But, party pooh-bahs decided there might be a point, and thus gave some added independent voice in the process to party regulars. The GOP, now saddled with a geriatric warmonger, should be so lucky.


  7. Mr.Murder says:

    “I’m Barack Obama, and I support this message.”
    No disclaimer?


  8. Carroll says:

    There should be no super delegates.
    And this:
    “the Obama endorsement and fund-raising for him have been entirely inappropriate).
    Posted by bob h at February 15, 2008 08:30 AM ” totally dumb. Inappropiate compared to what?
    If you want to get upset over endorsements and money I suggest you do it over something more worthwhile. Like endorsements from non citizen special interest groups and fundraising by industry lobbys for candidates.


  9. bob h says:

    I think it is entirely proper for superdelegates to decide the nomination when the elected delegate race is fairly close. In the case of Obama, we could well have a candidate who could not win any really big states outside his home. That would indicate a potentially fatal weakness in his coalition in November.
    (I de-listed myself from MoveOn’s mailing lists, and will not contribute to them again; the Obama endorsement and fund-raising for him have been entirely inappropriate).


  10. John Robert BEHRMAN says:

    Vote ’em out!
    Here in Texas we have both a primary, of sorts, and a caucus/convention system. The conventions elect some actual delegates but most are “selected” by campaigns and by a largely self-perpetuating party establishment.
    Still, delegates to the state convention are mostly elected on March 29 from precinct delegations selected on March 6. They and will likely reflect popular sentiment and can, for instance, replace DNC members. Actually, they can do just about anything at the state convention.
    The national “delegate selection plan” is actually just bullshit. The highest authority in parties are the state conventions. They are not just “beauty pageants” staged by state executive committees, they have plenary power over the state parties. Moreover, the national convention has plenary power over the DNC and, actually, can seat superdelegates, or MI/FL, or not.
    Moreover, state parties are not local chapters of the DNC.
    In the era of Washington-centric media and “permanent” campaigns run by rival White House and Congressional PACs, people have lost sight of (a) where parties come from, — eighteenth-century militia — (b) how the are constituted, and (c) how they are supposed to function as orderly, deliberative bodies.
    A “transformative” political agenda would restore the sort of functionality that the old white-male only parties had. To be sure the race-gender exclusions of the past were bad. But, “inclusiveness” is actually a euphemism for pandering and patronage by white-male (lawyers, mostly) that is actually much more debilitating and discriminatory than anything in the past.
    Say what you will about the self-annointed “superdelegates”, they are no sort of republican democracy.


  11. Evan Hutchison says:

    Yes, the caucus process is less than democratic- why pile it on by allowing super delegates with vested interests in political appointments and future support for their own campaigns abrogate the votes of primary AND caucus participants? Its a hell of a lot easier to participate in a caucus than it is to be appointed a super delegate, so by that measure, it is a slightly more democratic institution. I wish MoveOn wasn’t taking the lead on this because of their endorsement, and I hope others step up to the plate and put pressure on the super delegates. MoveOn certainly does not represent me, nor many other Democrats, but I do agree with them on this point regardless of their motivation- it is the right thing to do. I am an Obama supporter, and I would expect his campaign to accept the delegate count over the super delegate count if it became the deciding margin in order to maintain unity and minimize cronyism. The primary system is deeply flawed and needs to be revised, those flaws should not deny the nomination to the candidate who gets the most votes at this crucial juncture- especially with the shadow of 2000 still looming.


  12. gqmartinez says:

    I gave you a reason why this MoveOn drive is dubious. It is distinctly Rovian to claim an argument is Rovian without addressing the issue raised. MoveOn should be explicit in what they consider the “will of the people”. Popular vote? Pledged delegates? Most states won? Its a sham if you merely say “will of the people” and define it to suit your desired outcome AFTER the fact.
    Regarding caucuses being so democratic and the whole “town hall meetings” being the roots of American democracy is absurd. The population was small and commerce was not essentially 24/7. If you think caucuses are so democratic, I suggest you drive down any street on a Saturday at 1pm (when the Washington caucuses were held) and look at all the stores that are open and where people are working and tell them its their own damn fault for working. If that’s your idea of a well functioning democracy, that’s fine. I think that is a deliberate disenfranchisement. I witnessed it first hand in Nevada. Even in the caucus location I was at there were workers who could not caucus because they were working to help a *different caucus*. The irony of that was not lost on me.
    BTW, JohnH, I’m not saying the caucus votes shouldn’t count, but if you are trying to make a point about caucuses vs primaries when considering total votes, you might want to consider only primary states in your tally. The whole anti-caucus argument is based on the fact that caucuses aren’t accurate reflections of popular sentiment. This is a good discussion on that topic and rather striking:


  13. Idratherberight says:

    Any delegate not bound by law to vote for a particular candidate should be free to vote for the candidate of his or her choice; even if the candidate has not announced!
    This is the election that may save our great nation from the dark lords.


  14. rdeaver says:

    Responding to some other commenters:
    Citing MoveOn’s endorsement of Obama is an ad hominem argument, the most basic of all fallacies. And it is a signature Rovian tactic for avoiding any discussion of the merits.
    Either the principle of the superdelegates hewing to the voting outcome is valid or it isn’t. Who is making the argument, or what motivations they have, is irrelevant. Argue the merits, or sit down and let the adults talk.


  15. JohnH says:

    Both MoveOn and the caucus process harken back to American democracy’s roots–the Town Hall Meeting. Many people consider this to be democracy at its finest. Having lived in a New England town that practiced town hall democracy, I never had any complaints. If I didn’t care enough about an issue to show up, I could only blame myself for a result that displeased me.
    MoveOn’s vote, like the caucus votes, included anyone who was motivated enough to show up, so people should cut the crap about its being a fraud.
    Those who say the “Obama wins caucuses while Hillary wins elections” need to check their facts. As of now, including Florida and Michigan, the total vote stands: Obama, 9,942,375; Clinton, 9,860,138. If party hacks known as Superdelegates override the elected delegates, there should be a mutiny by the elected delegates at the convention, particularly if the popular vote is consistent with the elected delegate results.


  16. gqmartinez says:

    Much like Obama’s caucus wins, a very small percentage of MoveOn members voted in their “primary”. Only about 300,000 out of allegedly 3 million.
    What is the “will of the people” exactly? My guess is that MoveOn will support Obama no matter what: If he wins pledged delegates but loses pop. voter I’m sure they would support him; if the loses in pledged delegates but wins popular vote, I’m sure they will support him. I’d like them to state exactly what they mean by “will of the people” means. Otherwise it’s merely an extension of the Obama campaign.
    Sandly progressivism has revealed itself as a fraud to me during this primary so I’m not expecting consistency from MoveOn. I could be wrong and would like to be proven thusly. They should state for the record what they mean and not justify their position post outcome. Until they do, this is a pretty meaningless petition.


  17. NC Dem says:

    I’m sorry but all this concern over super delegates is silly – that’s the system in place. If neither candidate manages to secure enough delegates from primary/caucus voters, then the super delegates get their say.
    And I find it funny how Obama’s supporters will talk about the undemocratic nature of super delegates having a say but won’t say the same about caucuses which are pretty much the same thing – party activists coming together to pick their candidate. They won’t say that because why? Right – because Obama ruled the caucuses, while Hillary ruled the primaries.


  18. JohnH says:

    MoveOn held its own on-line primary, and Obama won 70% of the vote, hence the endorsement. It is a much more democratic organization than the Democratic National Committee. It’s call for the Democratic Party to behave democratically is entirely consistent with its values.


  19. Scott Paul says:

    You are right. At this point in the game, this probably works to Obama’s benefit. I would have preferred this be taken on by someone not in the Obama camp.
    But I still think the message is right. Whether or not we want to credit MoveOn with the right motives, this is the right ask directed at the right people.


  20. Ben Katcher says:

    Given that Obama is most likely to benefit if MoveOn’s proposal is adopted, I think your readers should know that MoveOn endorsed Obama on February 1 of this year.
    I also think that it is disingenuous of MoveOn to omit this pertinent fact from its advertisement.


  21. the718 says: is endorsing Obama…they are biased.


  22. Chris Brown says:

    I think your fear that automatic delegates are going to dance in at the end of this and anoint a candidate with fewer pledged delegates and/or fewer popular votes is unfounded.
    Half of the super/automatic delegates (I voted Obama but think automatic is more accurate)are members of the DNC, another thirty are governors.
    The members of the DNC are elected by state democrats and have a real interest in seeing the down ticket democrats in their state elected, particularly those in traditionally red states. Likewise the automatics from red states.
    Automatics are free to vote for whom they wish. Those already “committed” are free to change their allegiance.
    At the end of the primary season I think you will see the automatics going with the candidate with most pledged delegates, and hopefully the most popular votes so things are even more clear.
    I can’t imagine that Mark Penn’s recent comment about “significant states” will go down well with automatics and candidates in the 44, or so, insignificant states.


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