“The original intention was that the super delegates would do what they thought was right, that they would exercise independent judgment”
In most election years, it’s easy to forget that political parties make up their own rules. But your students can construct valuable political insights by exploring the Democratic presidential nominating process in 2008. Consider the dispute over counting delegates from rogue early primaries in Florida and Michigan. Who are the winners and losers? Even more unusual, consider the real possibility that Democratic “super delegates,” could hand a contested presidential nomination to either Clinton or Obama, separate from primary and caucus delegate counts.
Find out more about the formerly obscure super delegate system in this video interview. Who are super delegates, and how are they elected (trick question)? If you were a super delegate whom would you vote for and why? Why did the Democratic Party invent super delegates — one-fifth of the total Democratic delegates — in the early 1980s? Do your students think they can invent a better way to nominate presidential candidates?
Compare the Democrats process with the Republicans whose “all or nothing” primaries led to an earlier conclusion.
Below are some more resources and related lesson plans.
HURRY! Students can still submit questions about super delegates or any election topic for our upcoming Insider Forum with Judy Woodruff. Questions and our guest experts’ answers will be published online April 25, 2008. Share this opportunity with your students and colleagues and be sure to check out the results on or after April 25th
Transcript: Super Delegates’ Role Thrust into Public Eye
NewsHour Extra Story and Activities Democratic Super Delegates Face Pressure Over Presidential Pick
In-Depth Coverage: 2008 Campaign in Full Swing
Lesson Plan Vote 2008 - the Primaries
NewsHour Exclusive Interactive Super Delegate Tracker A nifty tool by Adnaan Wasey lets you count or list names of all super delegates and their current endorsements, or just super delegates from your state, etc. Try it out!