Party Members Fear Dem. Race Could Come Down To Superdelegates

This story was written by Josh Harrell, Technician
With the race for the Democratic presidential nomination still in a virtual dead heat a week after Super Tuesday, some party members fear the race could come down to superdelegates.

Superdelegates are Democratic party members -- those belonging to the National Committee, members of Congress, former leaders and other elected officials -- who hold 19.6 pecent of the available delegates for the Democratic nomination.

The delegate pool is split into these Superdelegates and pledged delegates, which come from candidates winning a certain amount of votes from each state election.

And with the nearly tied delegate margin -- Barack Obama has 1,253 to Hillary Clinton's 1,211 according to CNN's most recent count -- the race might be decided by superdelegates as late as the party's national convention on Aug. 25.

"Many feel, because the race is so close right now, that the superdelegates could be the tiebreaker," Andrew Bates, a junior in political science and communication director for the College Democrats, said.

Bates, along with a large number of young Democrats, said he supports Obama, who is behind in the superdelegate count. Some Obama supporters are afraid that although the senator from Illinois may win the popular vote, he may lose the delegate count and thus the nomination.

But despite the problems Obama may face due to superdelegates, Bates said he acknowledges the positive aspects of such a system.

"There should be an amount of influence given to the revered individuals in the party who may have a broader and unbiased perspective on the race," Bates said. "But at the same time, there may be an inordinate amount of party officials who have the tendency to vote on personal taste."

Doug Massengill, a sophomore in political science and the vice president of the N.C. Federation of College Democrats, said he also supports the superdelegate system, noting that he trusts those who are influencing the election.

"I've been able to get to know some delegates from a multitude of states and I know they have the party's best interests in mind," Massengill said. "They probably didn't envision this close of an election, but they're still wise beyond their years."

Obama leads most polls in Wisconsin, which will hold its primary next week. He has won the majority of states in February, and Massengill said he thinks if Obama can steal either Ohio or Texas from Clinton, he could seal up the nomination.

"He could get the nomination before the superdelegates all weigh in if [Clinton] doesn't win either Texas or Ohio," Massengill said. "Or it could be a stalemate all the way to the Convention."

Both Massengill and Bates note that, on the superdelegate system, it's difficult to gauge the feelings of most young voters at this point. But since most support Obama, Massengill said he can assume they're against it for now.

"The overarching opinion seems to be the race should be decided by the voters," he said.

Superdelegates are allowed to change their minds about whom they support. So, conceivably, those who have already "committed" could change if the will of the electorate is different than their choices.

"They're free to change at their own discretion," Bates said. "For example, John Edwards' delegates were pursued by other candidates after he dropped out. It just shows how close this race is."
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