Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez is in a tough position. He’s in charge of debate rules to try and whittle down the party’s massive number of candidates seeking the presidency in 2020, while trying to alleviate concerns about how fair the nomination process is this year compared to 2016.
One of the chief complaints against him is his decision to dilute the power of the superdelegates, who in 2016 overwhelmingly chose Hillary Clinton over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and comprised 30% of the party’s total delegate score. Democrats in Congress, who normally count as superdelegates, are upset that their power has been somewhat changed. Now, superdelegates are barred from voting in the first ballot at the Democrat National Convention if their vote would decide who gets the nomination. If no candidate gets a majority of the votes in the first round, superdelegates will then be able to vote in subsequent rounds.
It’s a small change that might not make any difference, but Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) told Politico this amounts to him and his fellow superdelegates being treated like “second-class citizens in our convention.”
Second-class citizens — in other words, treated more like the party base. Talk about an elitist way of thinking.
“As a result, I don’t think he has a reservoir of goodwill here among my colleagues in the Congress. And I think he’s lost a lot of stature,” Connolly continued. “If you don’t have a reservoir of goodwill, no one’s going to back you up when you have disputes. … That puts him in a very exposed position that is one problem away from being terminal.”
Politico reported that “a significant bloc of Democrats” in Congress feel the same as Connolly.
Back in March 2016, Sanders trailed Hillary Clinton by about 300 delegates, 1,132 to 818. A candidate needed 2,383 total delegates (super or otherwise) to secure the nomination. Thanks to superdelegates, who broke strongly for Clinton, the former secretary of state at that time had an additional 467 superdelegates to Sanders’ 26. This meant Clinton’s total delegates was 1,599 to Sanders’ 844, putting her nearly 800 delegates ahead of Sanders.
By May 2016, Sanders trailed Clinton by 327 pledged delegates and 481 superdelegates.
While Clinton may have won enough delegates to beat Sanders without the help of superdelegates, the lead may have had an effect on depressing Sanders’ chances. This also made it appear as though the Democratic Party selected its nominee, instead of Democratic voters (we later found out that this was largely true thanks to some primary rigging by the DNC). Had Democratic voters had more of a say, Sanders may have been the nominee. Conventional wisdom suggested Sanders had less of a chance of winning the presidency against a conventional Republican candidate — but Republicans nominated Donald Trump.
Obviously, the conventional Democrat nominee lost to the unconventional Republican nominee. We’ll never know if an unconventional Democrat nominee (Sanders) could have beat the unconventional Republican nominee.
Even if Sanders wins the nomination this time around, Trump will have been president for four years, meaning he will be viewed differently (based on policies actually implemented) than he was in 2016 (based on promises).