As the 2016 Democratic Party Convention approaches, political observers around the nation have already begun tallying up delegate votes in advance of the completion of the primary season. They hope to determine the identity of the next Party nominee. Both Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Clinton hope to claim that honor.
Some voters don’t realize that the number of delegates for each candidate won’t relate solely to caucus and poll votes during the primaries. In fact, an astonishing 712 delegates at the Democratic Party’s convention hold Superdelegate status. These individuals, usually Party leaders, such as Senators, Governors, famous state legislators, and other influential politicians, will enjoy the ability to vote for whomever they choose, regardless of the primary results in their states.
For example, Vermont’s senior Senator Patrick Leahy has already committed to vote for Hillary Clinton at the convention- not his colleague, fellow Senator Bernie Sanders. His voting decision places him in a statistical minority among Vermont voters, according to recent opinion polls.
Half of the Democratic superdelegates have already indicated they will vote for Hillary Clinton. Heading into the Nevada and South Carolina contests, this gives her an approximately 350-vote lead over Bernie Sanders. The eventual Democratic Party nominee will require 2,382 votes to clinch the nomination at the Convention. So while superdelegate votes may help a contender gain the nomination, the votes of the Democratic Party elite superdelegates alone won’t determine the outcome of the contest.