Superdelegate superprimary

There is no reason for Democratic Superdelegates to wait until the convention.

By this point in the Democratic race, it is clear that neither Sen. Hillary Clinton nor Sen. Barack Obama will have enough pledged delegates to reach the required 2,024 needed to capture their party’s nomination. There are two choices. First, they can continue to slog through an ugly nomination battle, spending enormous amounts of money – that could otherwise go to House and Senate races throughout the country- to tear each other down until the August convention in Denver.

Or, as first proposed by Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, they can hold a superdelegate primary. While we believe the whole concept of Superdelegates to be inherently undemocratic, there is no changing the fact that they will be deciding the nomination this year. There are 795 superdelegates, about 300 of which have not announced who they will be supporting. The final states of the primary season, Montana and South Dakota, will both be voting on June 3. By then, superdelegates should have all the information they need, whether it is the election returns of their home states or their own preferences, to make their decision. The primary doesn’t even need to be held in one spot; it could simply be a deadline that superdelegates are asked to announce their decision by.

In 1968, an ugly convention fight between supporters of Eugene McCarthy and Hubert Humphrey torpedoed the Democrats’ chances of retaining the White House. Also, in 1976, a protracted battle between President Gerald Ford and his challenger, Ronald Reagan, did much the same thing for Republicans.

While the endless primary season and inevitable three months of sniping between the candidates before the convention would be bad for the Democratic Party, it may be worse for voters. During the primary campaign, much news coverage is focused solely on parsing every word from the candidates, searching for coded slights and trying to read the tea leaves of the latest poll, instead of doing substantive stories of how these candidates would actually govern if elected. Once a decision is made on the nominee, coverage will shift to a more thorough vetting and superdelegates can do their part by making a decision before the convention.