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Debating the Democratic Party's superdelegates and their role in 2016




Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (L) and Hillary Clinton participate in the PBS NewsHour Democratic presidential candidate debate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (L) and Hillary Clinton participate in the PBS NewsHour Democratic presidential candidate debate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

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"Rigged!" shouts MSNBC's Joe Scarborough. "Rigged," declares a New York Post headline. "Disenfranchised," blasts Donald Trump.

Some folks on the left and right are heaping scorn on the presidential primary systems.

For Democrats, Saturday's results from the Wyoming caucus offer a muddy illustration of how the system is structured to work. Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders each won 7 pledged delegates  - based on proportional winnings by county.

However, Clinton will take a total of 11 Wyoming delegates to the convention because the state's four superdelegates from Wyoming announced their support for her in January. (When they formally announced their support for Clinton, Wyoming Democratic Party's executive director, Aimee Van Cleave, gave a prescient comment, “The four of them do not by any means represent a majority, nor do they reflect the official stance of the Wyoming Democratic party.")

This despite the fact that Sanders won Saturday's popular vote in Wyoming by a convincing 12-point spread, 56 percent to 44 percent.

The Democratic Party’s superdelegate system was created in 1982 to reckon with the losses suffered by President Jimmy Carter and candidate George McGovern - seen by some as “insurgent” candidates who evidently had no chance to secure the Oval Office.

In 2016, is the superdelegate system still working as it’s intended?

If superdelegates were the decider of a nominee, would that change Democrats’ opinion of the role?

Guests:

Todd Donovan, Professor of Political Science, Western Washington University; Donovan specializes in the democratic process and electoral reform

Neil Sroka, Communications Director, Democracy for America - a political action committee described as focused on progressive grassroots movements