DNC likely to do away with superdelegates

A key feature of the 2008 presidential primaries may be on its way out

Published December 30, 2009 11:45PM (EST)

During the race for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, a previously-unknown group was suddenly all anyone in politics could talk about. The superdelegates -- a group of elected Democrats and Democratic National Committee officials -- held the votes that would decide the party's nominee. Though practically no one even knew they existed before the race began, by the end, the undeclared superdelegates' every cough was carefully studied.

Next time around, though, things are likely to be different. The Democratic Change Commission,  a group created by the DNC to study the primary process, said Wednesday that it was recommending what amounts to the elimination of superdelegates.

If the commission's recommendation is approved by the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee, superdelegates would still have a vote; they just wouldn't have a choice about whom it went to. They'd be bound to go along with the state they represent.

Something like this has been coming for a while -- really, since around the time that Barack Obama officially became his party's nominee. Just before the Democratic convention, the campaign announced that it would ask the DNC to form the commission, and a reduction in the number of superdelegates was to be its primary focus. As is traditional, now that he's president, Obama and his people control the DNC, so it's no surprise the outcome of the commission's study would be something like this.

That said, though, it's unlikely that this change will have any impact for Obama himself. It's very rare for a sitting president to face real opposition in a party primary. But 2016 is going to be a whole different ballgame.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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