Could it actually happen? Could the Democratic nomination come down to the decision of the so-called superdelegates, those unpledged party officials and politicians who get to weigh in at the last minute? If Obama doesn’t keep nudging ahead in his knuckle-whitening race against Clinton, the call could come down not the 80% of the total voting delegates who’ve been voting so far, but the remaining 20% of superdelegates. Crikey takes a look at the Democratic legislators, governors, former presidents and vice-presidents, and other party officials who could possibly get to pick the Democratic candidate.

Tale of a young, gay, superdelegate: As a junior at Marquette University in Wisconsin, Rae is now the youngest superdelegate nationwide and has become a political superstar, appearing on CNN with Anderson Cooper, MSNBC with Dan Abrams, Good Morning America, and The Early Show on CBS, to name a few…Journalists are mostly interested in how someone so young ended up in his position. “They have this traditional image that superdelegates are people who have been around this process forever and are out of touch with voters,” he said. “I’m able to show them that’s not true — that superdelegates are regular party activists.” But the surprises don’t stop there. Rae is also openly gay — well, mostly. — Advocate.com

Trust them, they’re up to the task: The specter of Democratic bosses, the so-called superdelegates, trying to thwart the will of the American voters is an alluring narrative being spun by some of Barack Obama’s supporters. It’s a canard. Superdelegates are Democratic office-holders and party officials who have an interest in backing the strongest general-election candidate. This is peer review. It’s how a corporate chief executive officer or a basketball coach or the head of surgery at a hospital are chosen. Those with expertise and experience play a role in the selection. It is no less important in politics. — Albert R Hunt, Bloomberg

How committed are they to democracy?: Since the beginning of January, the Democratic party in the US has held elections that have provided great excitement and held the attention of much of the world. We are about to see if its commitment to democracy is equally impressive. Having started this election season with scenes of rural folk gathering in frontrooms and schoolhalls to stand up and be counted, the final decision is now likely to be made by party apparatchiks accountable only to themselves. Or worse still, the courts.Gary Younge, The Guardian

An angry letter to the editor: My message to the Clinton campaign is this: If your campaign meddles with the nomination process, and somehow manages to assign the delegates from Michigan and Florida to Hillary Rodham Clinton, I, a lifelong Democrat, will vote for John McCain in the general election. I have had enough of stolen elections. It was bad enough when the Supreme Court awarded the 2000 election to George W. Bush, even though a recount in the entire state of Florida was clearly called for. – A letter to the ed from Alexandra Olins
Winooski, Vt, The New York Times

Will they listen to the youth? It got me thinking—are the young Superdelegates following the trends of young voters and how much has the youth vote increased this year?* I decided to take a look at all the primary and caucus states that have voted so far in order to get a good sense as to the young voter trends—increase in turnout, preference of candidate, preference of Party—and then compare that to the Superdelegates under 36 that have come out as “pledged” to a certain candidate. – Think, MTV

How superdelegates were born: At 5 a.m. on June 25, 1988, after five days of tense negotiations, officials from the presidential campaigns of Michael Dukakis and Jesse Jackson emerged from the library of a Washington law firm with an agreement. The team had reworked the rules for picking a Democratic Party nominee, creating an elaborate ramework for selecting delegates based on proportion of votes in states and congressional districts, with an additional role played by party elders. – Alan Wirzbicki, The Boston Globe

Peter Fray

Save 50% on a year of Crikey and The Atlantic.

The US election is in a little over a month. It seems that there’s a ridiculous twist in the story, almost every day.

Luckily for new Crikey subscribers, we’ve teamed up with one of America’s best publications, The Atlantic for the election race. Subscribe now to make sense of it all, and you’ll get a year of Crikey (usually $199) and a year’s digital subscription to The Atlantic (usually $70AUD), BOTH for just $129.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW