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- The Founders, in their never-stop wisdom (Except, of course for the 23 amendments to the Constitution) determined that candidates for US President and Presidents themselves should not be chosen directly by the people but by representatives of the people—called delegates/electors.
- Accordingly, we devised a system in which we have two types of primary delegates who vote in presidential elections: Pledged and unpledged. Each political party handles this in a slightly different way.
Focus on the Primary—Pledged Delegates
- Pledged delegates are selected or elected at the state or local level and promise to support a particular candidate at the party convention. They might defect however and vote for some other candidate.
- In order to be named the Democratic party choice, a candidate must have 2,383 pledged delegates at the convention; The Republicans require 1,237 pledged delegates.
Why do Democrats require more pledged delegates than Republicans?
- Each party decides for itself how many electoral votes each contender for President must earn (1 delegate = 1 vote). In other words, each party decides for itself how many people each delegate will represent.
What are superdelegates?
- Superdelegates are unpledged delegates who are free to vote for whomever they please.
- Both parties have unpledged delegates, but the Democratic Party’s unpledged delegates (called superdelegates) differ in two ways:
- 1. They are selected on the basis of current and past service as a Democrat,
- 2. The Democrats have more unpledged delegates (719), approximately 15% of their overall count compared to 5% unpledged for Republicans.
The 719 Democratic superdelegates include the following:
- 438 elected members from the Democratic National Committee (including the chairs and vice-chairs of each state’s Democratic Party),
- 20 distinguished party leaders—current and former US Presidents and US Vice-Presidents, former congressional leaders, and former DNC chairs,
- 193 Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives (including non-voting delegates)
- 47 current Democrats in the United States Senate (including Washington, DC shadow senators)
- 21 Democratic Governors (including territorial governors and the Mayor of the District of Columbia).
Where are we now? (May 24, 2016)
- Clinton has 2,305 of the 2,383 needed to clinch the nomination; Sanders has 1,539.
- Democrats have 921 pledged delegates left out of a total of 4,765 convention delegates. At present 117 unpledged delegates are uncommitted
- Trump has 1,169 delegates of the 1,237 pledged needed. Pledged delegates left: 392 . The GOP has a total of 2,472 convention delegates. At present 943 are committed to other candidates
Just thought you should know. ®
SOURCES: “2016 Delegates Count Tracker,” politico.com, 5/24/16. John Sides, “Everything You Need to Know about Delegate Math in the Presidential Primary,” washingtonpost.com, 2/16/16. Josh Clark, “What are Superdelegates?” howstuffworks.com, 5/10/16. “List of Democratic Party Superdelegates, 2016,” wikipedia.com, 5/5/16. Rebecca Kaplan, “What is a Superdelegate,” cbsnews.com, 2/25/16. “What’s the Difference Between Delegates & Superdelegates?” bustle.com, 2/10/16. “Why Are There More Democratic Nomination Delegates Than Republican at Conventions?” quora.com, 5/7/16.