Superdelegates Jumping to Obama

Barack Obama has won eleven straight primaries and now the superdelegates are moving his way, too.

Superdelegates Jumping to Obama Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., makes remarks during a rally on the campus of University of Texas-Pan American, Friday, Feb. 22, 2008, in Edinburg, Texas. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)The Democratic superdelegates are starting to follow the voters — straight to Barack Obama. In just the past two weeks, more than two dozen of them have climbed aboard his presidential campaign, according to a survey by The Associated Press. At the same time, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s are beginning to jump ship, abandoning her for Obama or deciding they now are undecided.

The result: He’s narrowing her once-commanding lead among these “superdelegates,” the Democratic office holders and party officials who automatically attend the national convention and can vote for whomever they choose.

As Obama has reeled off 11 straight primary victories, some of the superdelegates are having second — or third — thoughts about their public commitments.

Take John Perez, a Californian who first endorsed John Edwards and then backed Clinton. Now, he says, he is undecided. “Given where the race is at right now, I think it’s very important for us to play a role around bringing the party together around the candidate that people have chosen, as opposed to advocating for our own choice,” he said in an interview.

Clinton still leads among superdelegates — 241 to 181, according to the AP survey. But her total is down two in the past two weeks, while Obama’s is up 25. Since the primaries started, at least three Clinton superdelegates have switched to Obama, including Rep. David Scott of Georgia, who changed his endorsement after Obama won 80 percent of the primary vote in Scott’s district. At least two other Clinton backers have switched to undecided.

Alex Knapp has been warning that this scenario could happen for some time (see Kryptoniting Superdelegates and Should Superdelegates be Counted Yet?). It’s not unreasonable, really, that elected politicians are going to start paying attention to what the voters want and hedge their bets.

The irony, though, is that Perez is precisely wrong. The whole point of superdelegates was to give party bigwigs some control over the process in case the regular Joes don’t get it right.

FILED UNDER: General, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Edd says:

    Expect to see the floodgates open now that the NY times formally stabbed Hillary in the back! Superdelegates will be jumping ship like rats in a port!

  2. Tad says:

    The irony, though, is that Perez is precisely wrong. The whole point of superdelegates was to give party bigwigs some control over the process in case the regular Joes don’t get it right.

    I agree that was the ‘main’ point of superdelegates, but also I think the super delegates have a responsibility to keep the moral of the troops up. They didn’t get to be supers by just being an arrogant better than Joe guy, they had to display some democratic party accomplishment/loyalty (accomplishment being a relative term.) Though there might be something to the better than Joe argument…

    I think many delegates are simply concluding that a Hillary vote would do more damage than good to the party. Not to mention keeping in mind the Obama and Hillary vs. McCain polls. I’m sure being in the winner camp has nothing do with it, this being politics and all.

  3. Triumph says:

    Superdelegates Jumping to Obama

    There’s plenty of room to jump into his empty suit.

  4. mary says:

    I think clinton is a sinking ship.

  5. Munk says:

    Then why even vote? If the super-delegates are akin to the House of Lords, why bother with going through the charade of popular voting? Have them select the nominee directly, saving us the trouble.

  6. bornonthefourth says:

    Did anyone see CSPAN friday morning? The DNC explained the differences between the two campaigns citing BO. has been running a local and HC has run a national campaign. BO. has not won a big state and has taken every caucus while HC has taken all the big states. All eyes on Texas and Ohio. National electability will be proven on this day and the Supers will follow. Good luck to both for thier courage and we hope everyone stays mobile for the fall.