Flipping The Script On The Conventional Wisdom About Democratic Super Delegates

One of the things that you hear constantly from Obama supporters is that the super delegates absolutely have to hand Obama the Democratic nomination or his supporters, particularly his black supporters, will defect and cost the Democrats the general election.

For example, here’s Jim Vandehei & Mike Allen from the Politico

Unless Clinton is able to at least win the primary popular vote — which also would take nothing less than an electoral miracle — and use that achievement to pressure superdelegates, she has only one scenario for victory. An African-American opponent and his backers would be told that, even though he won the contest with voters, the prize is going to someone else.

People who think that scenario is even remotely likely are living on another planet.

That brings up two interesting points.

#1) Obama portrays himself as a post-racial candidate and his campaign pretended to be horribly offended when Geraldine Ferraro pointed out the obvious: that he only has a chance to capture the nomination because he’s black.

But, if Obama is a post-racial candidate and his race isn’t the key factor in his presidential run, then how can that be squared with the fact that the super delegates are being told that if he doesn’t win, black voters, who’ll be offended that a black man lost, won’t vote for the Democrats in retaliation?

Pretty clearly, the fact that black voters are supporting Barack because he’s black is viewed by many people as his ace in the hole in the Democratic primary.

#2) That being said, according to Gallup,

The data suggest that the continuing and sometimes fractious Democratic nomination fight could have a negative impact for the Democratic Party in next November’s election. A not insignificant percentage of both Obama and Clinton supporters currently say they would vote for McCain if he ends up running against the candidate they do not support.

Clinton supporters appear to be somewhat more reactive than Obama supporters. Twenty-eight percent of the former indicate that if Clinton is not the nominee — and Obama is — they would support McCain. That compares to 19% of Obama supporters who would support McCain if Obama is not the nominee — and Clinton is.

This turns the argument mentioned in #1 on its head. What we’ve been hearing is that the super delegates should vote for Barack because if they don’t, his supporters will revolt in the general election and will throw the election to the GOP. However, according to Gallup, Hillary Clinton’s supporters are much more likely to pull the lever for McCain than Obama’s supporters. That would seem to be a strong argument in favor of the super delegates supporting Hillary, not Barack.

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