User:RobSmith/History of U.S. Presidential nominating conventions

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Delegates selected in primary elections advance to county conventions (in caucus states, caucuses at the precinct level select delegates to the county convention). All these advanced levels use the caucus method[1]. A county convention then selects delegates to the district[note 1] convention. A district convention selects delegates to the state convention; the state convention or committee then selects delegates to a national convention.

Presidential nominating conventions can be either opened or closed. At a closed convention, which has been the norm in the television age, the issue has been decided before the delegates arrive, the nominee is assured a First Ballot victory, and the convention is staged as a pre-General Election pep rally. First Ballot wins have been considered crucial since 1952 and the television age as a display of party unity. The party which displays disunity, like the GOP in 1964, 1976, 1992 and Democrats in 1968, 1972, 1980, 1984, usually looses. Open conventions can be quite messy and divisive, evoking hard feelings and lingering resentments.

Some history[edit]

From Politics of the Gilded Age * The Emergence of the Political Machine * Municipal Graft and Scandal * Civil Service Replaces Patronage by Joshua Walsh.

The caucus method is as old as the Republic. In olden days, prior to the Civil Service Reform Act of 1883Wikipedia's W.svg, the spoils system was predominant[note 2]. The precinct captain[2] led precinct delegates who organized the local "ground game" and served as election judges to stuff the ballot box for their candidate. To the victor belong the spoilsWikipedia's W.svg[3] : the precinct captain was rewarded with a job as local Postmaster, and delegates got postal clerk positions[note 3]. In modern times, at the federal level, entry-level spots like Congressional intern or staffer can be handed out.

At the local level, a mayor could award a top delegate whip[note 4] or organizer with the job of Police Chief, and loyal delegates as beat cops to carry out the party platform or harass opponents. The spoils system was rife with corruption and cronyism. When voters rebelled and elected the opposition, everyone in the political machineWikipedia's W.svg lost their government job. Teddy Roosevelt's rise to national prominence as a progressive reformer began with implementing civil service reform and ending the patronageWikipedia's W.svg system in the New York City Police Department, and later as governor by implementing a state level civil service system.

1904 LaFollette kills the caucus[edit]

The movement toward primary elections began as a rage against the political machine. Fighting Bob LaFolletteWikipedia's W.svg, who introduced the first primary election laws in the country as Governor of Wisconsin wanted to abolish closed caucuses and conventions completely, which he said were "prostituted to the service of corrupt organization." Wisconsin’s form of primary, the direct and open primary, which allocated delegates according to a voter’s presidential preference choice and would not deny anyone access to the ballot box, became the model for the nation.

The smoke filled room continues[edit]

However outside of Wisconsin, the smoke-filled-room pretty much continued.

Warren Harding entered the 1920 GOP convention with 7% of the delegates in a field of 12 and accumulated the requisite number on the 10th ballot.

The Democrats eliminated the two-thirds nominating rule in 1936 because it produced seven multi-ballot conventions in the previous 100 years[4]. The unknown Wendell Wilkie in 1940 was anointed sacrificial lamb on the 10th ballot to run against the popular President Franklin Roosevelt, beating out several prominent GOP national figures such as Thomas Dewey, Robert Taft, Harold Stassen, Arthur Vandenberg and Herbert Hoover.

1924 Klanbake[edit]

The 1924 Democratic Convention still holds the record for stalemate and indecision with 103 ballots spawning Will Rogers oft repeated remark, "I'm not a member of any organized political party, I'm a Democrat". The Convention also failed to pass a plank in its platform condemning the Ku Klux Klan by a vote of 542.85 in favor to 546.15 opposed. Given the soaring hot temperatures during the 3 week convention and the prevalence of Klan delegates it is remembered as the Democratic "Klanbake" Convention.

Labor leader Sydney HillmanWikipedia's W.svg supported Bob La Follette on the Progressive party ticket.

United Mine Workers President John L. Lewis, Sydney Hillman, and Bob LaFollette Jr. Hilmann supported LaFollette's father, the patriarch of primary election laws, for president in 1924. Hillman's approval was paramount in nominating Truman as the president's health prohibited him from finishing another term. In 2016 Hillary Clinton vowed to destroy the jobs in the union John L. Lewis built.[5].

1944 Clear it with Sydney[edit]

At the 1944 Democratic convention, Sydney Hillman and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) supported Henry A. Wallace for renomination as Vice President. Roosevelt on his deathbed, however, had given up on Wallace and told the national chairman, "Go down there and nominate Truman before there's any more trouble. And clear everything with Sidney." [6] Republicans used the slogan "Clear it with Sidney" to hammer away at the allegation that the president was a pawn in union control.

The Democrats could win the if they carried the South in addition New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, Michigan and New Jersey. These states were strongholds of the CIO, which had 5 million members. Hillman's political action committee got ou the vote as Roosevelt narrowly won a fourth term[7]

1948 Democratic party 3 way split[edit]

In 1948 Hubert HumphreyWikipedia's W.svg gave a rousing speech at the 1948 conventionWikipedia's W.svg considered to be the beginning of the modern civil rights movement[8]. The speech caused the Mississippi delegation and portions of others to walk out and form the Dixiecrat party fielding Strom Thurmond as its Presidential candidate. It was the beginning of a long career making Humphrey the face of liberalism, rivaled only by John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.

The Progressives ran former Vice President Henry A. Wallace as their nominee after FDR dumped him from the ticket in favor of Truman in 1944[9].

The television age[edit]

The television age ushered in a string of "closed conventions" where the party's dirty linen is hidden behind the backstairs. No convention in either party has gone beyond the first ballot since 1952, although there have been some pre-balloting platform, rules, credential committee and floor fights. A First Ballot win has been considered crucial as a display of unity. The party with disunity such as the GOP in 1964, 1976 & 1992 or the Democrats in 1968, 1972, 1980 & 1984, usually looses.

In 1952, Dwight Eisenhower, whom Democrats claimed Jesus Christ couldn't beat[10], was nominated amidst accusations of "delegate stealing".

In the 1960 West Virginia primary Kennedy-Roosevelt machine accused Hubert Horatio Humphrey of being a draft dodger. The Kennedy's spent more than 60 times as much money in West Virginia than HHH. There were accusations the Kennedys paid bribes to county sheriffs and other local officials to give Kennedy the vote. Humphrey later wrote, "underneath the beautiful exterior, there was an element of ruthlessness and toughness that I had trouble either accepting or forgetting."

The turbulent '60s[edit]

Sen. Ribicoff at podium accuses convention host Mayor Daley of "gestapo tactics"; Daley (mouth cupped at upper center) shouts, "You faker!"[note 5]. Daley's son, Bill DaleyWikipedia's W.svg, was to serve as Al Gore's 2000 campaign manager and leader of Gore's Florida Recount effort, and later as President Barack Obama's Chief-of-Staff.

After the chaos of the 1968 Democratic National ConventionWikipedia's W.svg, where Hubert Humphrey did not appear on any primary ballot but took the nomination amid protests and riots[note 6], did the Democratic party attempt to reform its nomination process.

With the assassination of Robert Kennedy who was a leading critic of President Johnson's war policy, the new frontrunner Hubert Humphrey was regarded as a war hawkWikipedia's W.svg who would continue President Johnson's Vietnam War policy. Johnson dropped out of the race due to growing unpopularity of himself and the war, and McGovern made himself heir of Bobby Kennedy's dovishWikipedia's W.svg stance. Most states used closed caucuses and state conventions controlled by insiders and “party regulars” to select national delegates. Machine caucuses in several states accumulated enough delegates for Humphrey to win. In the aftermath of the loss to Nixon, Humphrey agreed to a reform commission and appointed one of his lieutenants, Donald Fraser, to co-chair the McGovern-Fraser CommissionWikipedia's W.svg.

Chairman Sen. George McGovern wanted to "open up" the process of delegate selection and strip figures like Chicago Mayor Richard J. DaleyWikipedia's W.svg[11] of their ability to select delegates for the upcoming 1972 convention. Daley felt particularly betrayed, having stuffed the ballot box for the Kennedy's and robbing Richard Nixon of the presidency in 1960[12], to then be accused of "gestapo tactics", beating up and arresting hippiesWikipedia's W.svg and war protesters. Besides the Mississippi delegation, the Credentials Committee machine replaced Daley's contingent of the Illinois delegation with a group sent by Jesse Jackson[13].

Insurgents and outsiders[edit]

As McGovern basically wrote the rules for 1972, he of course triumphed on the first ballot, but his victory was followed by a lopsided loss to Richard Nixon in the general election. Nixon's Silent majorityWikipedia's W.svg coalition of Republicans, George Wallace voters from 1968, patriotic Democrats who voted for Johnson in 1964, Humphrey in 1968 and supported American efforts in the War in Vietnam, played a significant role at the grassroots level through crossover voting in propelling McGovern to the Democratic nomination. The Mikulski and Winograd Commissions later sought to deal with crossover voting in Presidential primaries. Nixon's General Election popular vote margin remains the largest in U.S. history, surpassing the landslides of FDR, LBJ & Ike and only rivaled by George Washington's unanimous victory.

Television and media became more empowered in a shift away from party bosses toward activists and voters during the rapid expansion of primary contests McGovern-Fraser brought about. Before the commission only 15 states used the primary method; by 1992 nearly 40 did[14]. Dark horses such as McGovern and Jimmy Carter, who lacked the traditional connections to party bosses, took advantage of the new system.

The original "insurgent candidate" the Hunt Commission referred to in coded language was George McGovern whom after his massive Electoral loss in 1972 was seen as anti-patriotic for his longstanding opposition to President Johnson's War which had the effect of dividing the country, and the party, and permanently tarnished Johnson and Humphrey's[15] impressive civil rights records, painting these two true blue liberals for posterity as "war hawks".

George Wallace was considered a particularly unwelcome insurgent, considering he had won more states and Electors in 1968 than the party's own nominee in 1972. Wallace had sown disruption and division within the party in the 1964, 1972, and 1976 election cycles which had conflicted with the parties outreach aims culminating in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the affirmative action quotas of the McGovern-Fraser and Mikulski Commissions. Many Southern Democrats by this time already viewed themselves as persona non grata and moved to the Republicans, such as Texas Governor and presidential aspirant John ConnallyWikipedia's W.svg, and others.

Another “insurgent” was Mondale’s old boss, Jimmy Carter, who was first to recognize the new system of manipulating free television air time (and not Ronald Reagan as some believe) with early primary and caucus wins to pile up rapid delegate leads and soak up donor contributions to gain momentum. Carter had scarce contacts with old party bosses and soon buried competitors working under the old system.

It further should be noted, Lyndon LaRouche was considered by some as a viable candidate in 1980 & '84. While his ability to fundraise was impressive if not frightening to someWikipedia's W.svg, he never garnered more than 2% in any primary, won no delegates, nor had his name placed in nomination. LaRouche however would also fit the generic term "insurgent candidate" at that time, although his bluster never amounted to any real threat of hijacking the party.

Reform and counter-reform attempts[edit]

In 2009 the respected Brookings InstituteWikipedia's W.svg, a leftist think tank, published a book entitled, Reforming the Presidential Nomination Process, by Steven S. Smith & Melanie J. Springer, eds. (See link below). The editors made these salutary points:

In all of the recent presidential election cycles, the nomination process has generated controversy. Almost without exception, the controversy has been in the Democratic Party, which took the lead in reforming its nomination process in the 1970s. (p.1)

What reforms the Republicans have instituted have followed the pattern laid out by Democrats, but not always.

...the Republicans’ delegate selection processes evolved in tandem with reforms in the Democratic Party. Partly because many reform-minded Republicans also favored primaries...The Republicans, like the Democrats, also moved to processes that encouraged broader participation in those states that had closed party committee or caucus systems. The nationalization of candidate campaigns, movement to less politically seasoned delegates, and front-loading have also been similar for the two parties.
There are also important differences between the parties. Republican national party rules do not impose as many restrictions on state delegate selection processes as the Democrats’ post-1968 rules. Republicans never banned winner-take-all systems that facilitated the accumulation of delegates by early front-runners for the nomination; they never adopted a proportionality rule; they never adopted quotas for demographic groups; they never reserved seats for members of Congress; and they never imposed a national threshold for acquiring delegates in caucuses or primaries...(pp.8-9)

Democrats kill LaFollette's Progressive reforms[edit]

After the reform movement of the 1970s and counter-reform movement of the early 1980s, in some states a voter's choice became a “nonbinding advisory presidential preference” that “shall not be considered a step in the delegate selection process” (Rule 12D as drafted by the Winograd Commission). LaFollette claimed that with primary elections the "nominations of the party will not be the result of 'compromise' or impulse, or evil design--the 'barrel' (a reference to money in politics; see also here) and the machine--but the candidates of the majority, honestly and fairly nominated"[16]. The open primary of today, or cross-registration in a closed primary, "non-binding primaries", and the ability of office holders donating money to each other, defeats the basic reform ideas LaFollette instituted. Rather than bribing individual politicians, a corporation or individual can make large donations to an elected official at the top of the machine pyramid who then doles out the contributions to other elected officials and candidates to buy their loyalty.

A cynic would argue primaries only give a veneer of citizen involvement and participation. LaFollette addressed two problems: (1) overcoming immense voter cynicism and apathy in General Elections because of lousy choices between corrupt machine candidates, and (2) limiting the power of corrupt municipal and state party machines. The second objective had some success by "empowering the people" until elected machines found ways to disguise their activities; but LaFollette was successful enough in his first objective to the point where a naive public bought into the idea they had actually defeated corrupt local, state, and national party machines. In other words, a return to the closed caucus system after people expressed a "preference" in a non-binding “beauty contest”[note 7].

McGovern-Fraser Commission[edit]

McGovern was critical of the insider establishment’s way of choosing a nominee. Donald Fraser was a lieutenant in the Humphrey & Mondale Democratic Farmer-Labor (DFL) machine which dominated Minnesota, a caucus state. The general feeling was that party insiders such as Mayor Daley and Southern Democrat bosses controlled too much power and through state party caucuses and conventions were able to impose their candidates on a national convention.

The commission recommended bringing more youth, women, and minorities into the delegate selection process and the party apparatus which then stacked the deck in favor of McGovern with New Left activists in 1972. It also recommended parties use their influence in State Legislatures to push for a more open process, which in many states meant abandoning the local caucus and using direct primary ballot elections.

The McGovern-Fraser Commission (known as the "reform movement") required state parties to develop written rules and post uniform statewide notification of the date, time, and locations of precinct caucus meetings or party primary elections. There was a common practice in some Southern states, Mississippi for example, all-white local party bosses held meetings in obscure locations so that black majorities in a county or district were unaware of the time and place of a vital party election event. Although many provisions brought about by the commission were undone in the early 1980s, several key provisions have remained, and impacted the Republican party’s rules as well. Prior to McGovern-Fraser, several states had no written guidelines governing party conventions, caucuses, and the delegate selection process at each level, and were based mostly on local tradition, which often meant cronyism and the boss’s rule.

Another issue the commission dealt with was so-called “front-loading” the process in the newly expanded primary election schedule. Traditionally a candidate mapped a strategy as to which primaries they would enter, not so much to win delegates, rather an important test to prove viability to party bosses controlling large delegations in other states. John Kennedy’s West Virginia win was intended to prove Kennedy’s Catholicism was not an impediment in a predominantly Protestant state. Under the new system, a candidate needed to start early and compete in all primaries and garner free media attention.

Under McGovern-Fraser, new blood could ride the fast-track to party power. Among them were Gary HartWikipedia's W.svg, Bill Clinton, and Hillary Clinton. This group later rejected New Left activism in favor of a more corporatist money chasing model, calling themselves "New DemocratsWikipedia's W.svg[17].

Despite McGovern’s colossal electoral defeat in 1972 and ostracism from the party establishment, McGovern’s legacy as a reformer in the selection and nominating process is secure with an enduring affect on both parties.

Mikulski Commission[edit]

After the 1972 election, Congresswoman Barbara MikulskiWikipedia's W.svg was asked to chair a commission to review and make recommendations on how effective the new rules were. A Gallup Poll at the time revealed a staggering 33% of Democrats and 57% of blue-collar workers voted for Nixon[18]. According to CNN, the commission

Jesse Jackson and George Wallace. Two insurgent outsiders with a half dozen presidential primary efforts between them both struggled to find a home in the Democratic party. In 1987 Jackson asked for Wallace's support in the 1988 primaries[19].

replaced the demographic quotas of 1972 with affirmative action requirements to increase participation by women, blacks and other minorities. (However, this specific plan had the OPPOSITE effect, decreasing the proportion of women from 38% in 1972 to 36% in 1976. The proportion of blacks declined from 15% in 1972 to 7% in 1976. After 1976, quotas for women delegates were reimposed.) PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION, the distribution of delegates among candidates to reflect their share of the primary or caucus vote, was mandated by party rules[20].

The Mikulski Commission went further than McGovern-Fraser, proposing to bind rules on state parties which would restrict delegate selection in primaries or caucuses to "Democratic voters only who publicly declare their party preference and have that preference publicly recorded" (Rule 2A). This required a party registration process before being able to vote in a Democratic primary. The new rule put pressure on parties to close their primaries to outside participation and brought about "same-day registration"[21] in states with open primaries mandated by state law. The DNC incorporated these recommendations into the Delegate Selection Rules for the 1976 Convention. A temporary exemption where state legislatures had no party identification requirement to participate in a primary election was included. Opponents and dissenters felt this new rule violated the integrity of the secret ballot at public polling stations.

Wikipedia summarizes the imposition the Mikulski Commission placed upon non-partisanWikipedia's W.svg voters and the destruction of the American tradition of the secret ballot thusly:

a public declaration in front of the election judges is made and a party-specific ballot given to the voter to cast.[1]

In other words, a voter who wished to vote for a Democrat for President and a Republican for Senate, would be denied that right.

Winograd Commission[edit]

In 1975 the Democratic party asked Morley Winograd of the Michigan Democratic party to chair yet another commission that was particularly concerned about crossover voting. The commission focused on Wisconsin's unique direct open primary which had a considerable body of law behind it since inception in 1905, and was the model the McGovern-Fraser reforms used to expand primaries to 25 states. The commission sought to limit participation in the candidate selection process by outlawing open primaries it felt interfered with the national party’s associational rights[note 8].

As a result of the commission, the Democratic National Party sued the State of Wisconsin over a 1949 law which required that party delegates pledge to vote at their conventions in accord with open primary results[23]. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned a ruling Wisconsin Democrats won over the National Democratic party in the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Wisconsin Democrats were forced to abandon their 80 year old direct primary election because it conflicted with the national party's 14th Amendment associational rights – the requirement participants in a primary make a public declaration of affiliation as revised by the Mikulski and Winograd Commissions. State party bosses had to amend the rules for the 1984 primary to make the people’s vote a non-binding "beauty contest". A “presidential primary election” became a “presidential preference primary”, and a “voter” became a “participant” who expressed a non-binding “presidential preference” rather than a vote. National delegates were again selected in closed caucuses, the same system that existed before the LaFollette reforms.

Hunt Commission[edit]

From left to right: Hart, Mondale, John Glenn, McGovern, Jesse Jackson, unknown. Sen. Hart has complained over the years of being robbed, but has been comfortable with his role as Superdelegate.

After Ted Kennedy's challenge and President Carter's loss, Democrats met again for the fourth time in twelve years to re-write nominating and convention procedures[24]. Anticipating a two-way contest in 1984 between Sen. Kennedy and former Vice President Mondale[note 9], the original point of contention was over bound delegates which Sen. Kennedy wanted to loosen, while the Mondale machine wanted a candidate to be able to go so far as to replace a "disloyal delegate"[25].

The Mondale machine, supported by Chairman Jim Hunt and labor leaders, more importantly wanted to do something about outsiders and New Left “extremists”[note 10][29] they felt had taken over the party. They wanted to do away with portions of the McGovern-Fraser compromise that had frozen elected government office holders out of the nomination process[30] and paved the way for an "insurgent candidate". The new rules the Democratic National Committee (DNC) adopted didn't just allow or encourage incumbents to return, it guaranteed elected officials seats outside the regular delegate selection process. The Kennedy faction wanted to pare down the number of reserved seats from 30% (roughly 800) of all delegates to 14%[31]. Susan EstrichWikipedia's W.svg, who was to manage Michael Dukakis' 1988 presidential campaign[note 11] strenuously objected to the plan, and derisively coined the term "super-delegate", whom she claimed would disproportionately be white males based upon the formula[32]. Nevertheless, the idea became rule, and from its initial inception has only been expanded upon since[33]. The "Old Democrats" had retaken power with a vengeance.

The Hunt Commission (also known as the "counter-reform movement") scrapped the proportional allocation rules from the 1970s[note 12] in favor of winner-take-all which had the unintended affect in 1984 of allowing Gary Hart, a challenger for whom the rules were not written, to rack up big delegate wins in late primary states[34].

When Sen. Kennedy decided not to run in 1984, two insurgent candidates appeared, McGovern's 1972 "New Democrat" campaign manager Sen. Gary Hart, and Jesse Jackson who was to be the first African-American to win states in a major party primary election for president[note 13]. But the rules were written for a two-way contest between establishment insiders, not the three-way slugfest between uppity baby boomers, blacks, and the party Old Guard it came to be.

Post-Nixon era[edit]

So powerful was the leadership vacuum left by the assassination of President John Kennedy and disappointment with Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey and George McGovern, in 1976 Jimmy Carter ran second to "Uncommitted” in the Iowa caucuses. From the moment Johnson dropped out in March of 1968 until Jimmy Carter's second place finish in the Iowa Caucus - a year after the Vietnam War ended, two years after Nixon's resignation, 4 years after McGovern's colossal defeat, and six years after Nixon put together the Silent Majority coalition, "uncommitted's" still ruled the Democratic party who were not happy with any of the party's leadership. A follow-up finish of 29% to 23% in New Hampshire gave Carter a huge rush of free television about the “victor” in early caucuses and primaries under the expanded schedule and Carter rode the free media attention all the way to the White House.

1976 Ford vs Reagan[edit]

Ronald Reagan, star of the 1976 contested GOP convention. At right: VP Nelson Rockefeller before found lying in a compromising position; Gerald Ford the first American president 'not elected to loose a war'; founder of the Betty Ford Clinic and its first patient First Lady Betty FordWikipedia's W.svg; and erectile dysfunction pitchman Bob Dole.

The last challenges to the "primaries decide the nominee; the Convention is only a rubber stamp" paradigm came in 1976, 1980, and 1984 convention cycles.

Reagan challenged the incumbent Gerald Ford[note 14] in 1976 over discredited New Deal-era economic theories, like wage and price controls which Nixon used and Ford supported[note 15]. Already holding the key California and Texas delegations, Reagan openly courted the unbound Pennsylvania delegation promising to put liberal RINO Sen. Richard Schweiker on the ticket. Reagan avoided the taint of the ‘smoke filled room’. Reagan and Schweicker met personally with the entire Pennsylvania delegation to lay out the request for their support, but the idea failed. It was a unique proposal in the television age: a candidate publicly proposed a VP pick as part of a deal before any balloting. John Kasich, Phyllis Schlafly, Mark Levin, Jesse Helms, and Haley Barbour served as Reagan delegates.

1980 Carter vs Ted Kennedy[edit]

In 1980 Sen. Ted Kennedy, whose brother was murdered just 6 weeks before the 1968 conventionWikipedia's W.svg argued that events can change between the primary and the convention, and that delegates should not be bound. The lingering Iran Hostage Crisis and an ailing economy were dragging down Carter's approval ratings. Kennedy wanted an open convention and to unbind delegates pledged to Carter. Kennedy was able to push an unresolved Rules Committee fight to a floor vote, but the motion failed.

1984 Superdelegates steal the show[edit]

In 1984 longtime party mechanic Walter MondaleWikipedia's W.svg entered the convention 40 delegates shy but secured the nomination with Superdelegates, a contingent of unelected party insiders he helped write into the rules two years earlier. Superdelegates include sitting and former elected officials who can bypass regular rules governing delegate selection to avoid a grassroots backlash and still enjoy a position of power, prestige, and privilege[35].

In 1984 Gary Hart won 26 states and 1164 delegatesWikipedia's W.svg at the convention. In a General Election, 26 states would be enough to win the Presidency under the 12th Amendment in the event of an Electoral deadlock. Walter Mondale won 17 states and is said to have amassed about 1600 delegates. Jesse Jackson, the first African-American to win states in a major party primary, questioned the disparity between his vote total and delegate count, but even the New Left turned New Democrat, Gary Hart, echoed the DNC in poo-poo'ing Jackson's complaint[36].

Michael Dukakis and Susan Estrich. Estrich is credited with coining the term, "Superdelegate", originally meant as a pejorative. After 1988 putative frontrunner Gary Hart’s self-immolation, the team of Estrich and Dukakis marked the New Deal coalition in the throes of death. A new generation of New Democrat elitists took over but refused to reform a corrupt and un-democratic nominating and convention process.

By convention time Hart was beating President Reagan by 10 points in national polls, but Mondale won nomination by capturing virtually all the Superdelegates[note 16]. Even at this late date more than 30 years later it is hard to ascertain just exactly how many Superdelegate votes there were at this crooked convention[note 17]. Multiple original sources put the figure between 550 and 800; The Nation magazine says "roughly 700" [37] and Salon says 550 [38]. Wikipedia is silent on the matter. Whatever the result, it is patently clear the Democratic establishment was not going to let anyone other than Walter Mondale win the nomination after Sen. Kennedy forfeited[39].

One state, Wisconsin[note 18] according to the "official" surviving record, voted twice in primaries and caucuses under the shameful antics Mondale's DNC machine perpetrated. Wisconsin had experience with primary elections for 80 years[40], but more than half the states in the nation had only 12 years after the McGovern-Fraser reforms to learn about the closed door shananigans that can occur in a primary election -- such as the ever changing nature of rules year to year, or being misled by state party officials, and not informed you were voting in a non-binding primary[41][42]. Voter’s franchise has been effectively usurped by party insiders and Superdelegates.

Under the rules then, Superdelegates were not supposed to "commit" to a candidate until the convention. Hart says he and his wife personally spoke with all of them to ask for their support, but virtually all were committed to Mondale for 2 years already[43].

After the Mondale-Hart debacle, another player who ran McGovern's Texas campaign, Bill Clinton, helped organize the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC). By 1992 the DLC had taken over the Democratic National Committee, but it failed to reform Mondale's rules of special privileges for party insiders. The DLC, made up originally of New Leftists, as "New Democrats" followed the view of old guard Democrats that the party had been hijacked by extremists, and the new Superdelegate structure could be used by a new generation of insiders to keep control. But the New Democrats went a step further: they sold out their leftist idealism for corporate greed.

Modern era[edit]

Hillary Clinton reminisced over the changes television wrought, "Looking back on our McGovern experience, Bill and I realized we still had much to learn about the art of political campaigning.”
By the 1996 closed convention, floor action was limited to dancing the Macarena[44] while issues like Bin Laden's Declaration of War on America, using the surplus to fix Social Security, or sexual harassment in the workplace take a backseat.

Talk of an open or "brokered" convention emerged again in the 2016 cycle, this time on both sides, the "Stop Trump" movement among conservatives on the GOP side and the stacked deck of Superdelegates for Clinton in states Bernie Sanders won on the Democratic side[45].

Conventions are less about issues and ideas and more about people and career paths[note 19]. Issues are treated as marketing strategies which need a consensus for use in local races. National conventions in the television age have become entertainment venues and a display of party unity where internal differences are closed for debate[note 20]. Open or "contested" conventions hold to Bismarck's axiom about politicking, "making law is like making sausage, if you don't like how it's done, don't watch."

Bound vs unbound delegates[edit]

Bound delegates elected in a Presidential nominating contest are committed by party rules to reflect the will of the voters in the snapshot poll conducted during primaries and caucuses. Unbound delegates are empowered to use their own judgment as a representative of the people who voted in a party election -- with the exception of the “unpledged” Superdelegate who can vote anyway they please based upon what they feel is in the best interests of the party, or to a candidate they personally are bound after accepting campaign contributions from the candidate.

In the Democrat's current proportional allocation system, all elected delegates (84% of the total) are "pledged" (note, not "bound") to the candidate they are allocated to. The unelected Superdelegates, who constitute 16% of the total, are not bound.

In a three-way contest, such as the Democrats experienced in 1984 it would be possible no candidate would have a majority (50% + 1) on the first round. Unbound delegates are the only ones who can break the deadlock. In an open convention if we were ever to see one again, the rules would allow bound delegates to be unbound on successive ballots. Machine politics again come into play with great pressure put upon delegations to present the entire slate for maximum leverage to one or other candidate whom party bosses favor. There is more at stake than just delivering a delegation to a candidate. In certain key "toss up" or "in play" states, an enthused and united party organization hopes to deliver the entire state in the General Election, where the perks and incentives get higher. The General Election is a winner-take-all scenario.

At-large and Superdelegates[edit]

Republican party rules allow for 3 unelected At-Large voting delegates from all the states and territories, 168 in number. These are high ranking state party apparatchiks. They do not represent a district, they represent the state party as a whole[note 21].

The Democratic party likewise has 719 [note 22] unelected Superdelegates, current and former office holders, donors, and big shots. The issue is controversial. There are pros and cons to this system.

Superdelegates mingle with the plebeians at the 2008 Democratic Convention.
  • Reward for high office seekers to have influence and impact at the national level.
  • Assist high level office holders in fundraising to maintain incumbency.
  • Disallows outsiders and "insurgent candidates" from hijacking the presidential nominating process.
  • A built in “stabilizer” against mob rule and the emotional excesses of the people.
  • Elitist, non-democratic, and undemocratic in nature on the face of it.
  • Makes a rebellion by grassroots activists who feel neglected or betrayed difficult.
  • Insures the survival and control of an establishment political class.
  • Potential path for overt corruption to influence the political process

Republican At-Large party chairpersons function as a whip to carry the message from state party donors and bigwigs whom the state party favors. Democratic Superdelegates perform this same function for themselves, their donors, and as party trustees[46]. Both have the ability to use persuasion, incentives, and perks to influence unbound (or "unpledged" among Democrats, if any) delegates. As the saying goes, "Buying a government official is illegal, buying a party delegate is not."

On balance, it's not likely the Democrats will repeal the system given its success. No Democrat was elected to two terms since Franklin Roosevelt before the new rule. Since the Superdelegates, Democrats have twice elected 2 term presidents. What's more likely are minor tweaks for PR purposes given the negative publicity. Meanwhile, the Republicans again will be contemplating their own system as it looks at how the Democrats found a way to hold in check and defeat an "insurgent candidate" from hijacking the nomination, such as Donald Trump, who defies the party establishment and the traditional ideological principles the party stands for, which is the justification and model used to create Superdelegates[47].

2008 primaries and convention[edit]

Superdelegates meet for a chat. President Obama invites Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy to the Oval Office for coffee to be served by an unknown peon.

Hillary Clinton who touted her role as a hands-on operator during the White House years, was at his side when Clinton raised mandatory sentencing guidelines which disproportionately sent Blacks to prison, giving the United States the highest incarceration rate in the world[48]. In 2008, the "inevitable" Hillary Clinton found herself facing an African-American challenger who parlayed every dime he made as a top Democratic fundraiser since his ascent as keynote speaker in 2004, to outbid Hillary's donations to Superdelegate's for their support[49].

President Bill Clinton made a special visit to the ailing Sen. Ted Kennedy to ask his blessing on his wife's candidacy. Kennedy's endorsement, as heir to the New Deal and Kennedy legacies, leader of the civil rights and liberal tradition as well as access to the New England Democratic donor base, was vital. Clinton said Obama would have been "carrying our bags and getting us coffee" a few years earlier[50]. Kennedy was so offended by Clinton's racist remark, he backed off and endorsed Obama[51][52].

Hillary Clinton's campaign team began spreading Islamophobic rumors that Obama was a Muslim schooled in a madrassa as a child in Indonesia[53][54].

While it looked like an open convention might have happened again, ultimately Hillary Clinton conceded even though she had won more popular votesWikipedia's W.svg than Obama at the primary ballot boxes[note 23]. Progressives were onto the DLC's bait-and-switch tactics, advertising liberalism to voters while feeding at the trough of its Wall Street donors.

2016 primaries and convention[edit]

In Bernie Sanders' 25 years in Washington caucusing with the Democrats, he never once served as a Superdelegate -- not until he registered as a Democrat to seek the party's presidential nomination a few months earlier. Although he had voted for party leaders and was awarded preferential committee assignments, his absence as a Superdelegate earned him very little, if anything, from his Congressional colleagues for decades of loyalty on votes and bills. Their support overwhelmingly went to a one-term Senator, multi-millionaire, and effective fundraiser who swamped the delegates with cash donations for their own campaigns[55][56].

In New York, state law dictated a closed primary where voters had to publicly declare party affiliation. 5.3 million registered Democrats could vote for Sanders or Hillary Clinton and 2.6 million Republicans could vote for Donald Trump, John Kasich or Ted Cruz. But nearly 3 million non-affiliated independents and other party members were denied access and shut out of the process[57].

Regional coalitions[edit]

The choice of a Vice Presidential candidate historically has been based upon coalitions of state parties using a regional strategy for "balance", although in recent decades there have been instances of a movement away from this approach in place of using more widespread demographic or other factors. We will focus on the more illuminating regional party coalition approach first.

North - South coalitions[edit]

The first and more obvious regional coalition is the historical New England liberals with Southern Democrats replicated many times in many ways (winners in green, losers in brown):

FDR with Vice President John Nance Garner. For all the hoopla surrounding the choice of a Vice President, Garner, who served two terms said the job "ain't worth a bucket of warm piss".
  • 1932 - Franklin Roosevelt (New York)/John Nance Garner (Texas)
  • 1936 - Franklin Roosevelt (New York)/John Nance Garner (Texas)
  • 1960 - John Kennedy (Massachusetts)/Lyndon Johnson (Texas)
  • 1988 - Michael Dukakis (Massachusetts)/Lloyd Bentsen (Texas)
  • 2000 - Al Gore (Tennessee)/Joe Lieberman (Connecticut)
  • 2004 - John Kerry (Massachusetts)/John Edwards (North Carolina)

Variations of this pattern are Midwestern liberals with Southern Democrats:

  • 1952 - Adlai Stevenson (Illinois)/John Sparkman (Alabama)
  • 1956 - Adlai Stevenson (Illinois)/Estes Kefauver (Tennessee)
  • 1964 - Lyndon Johnson (Texas)/Hubert Humphrey (Minnesota)
  • 1976 - Jimmy Carter (Georgia)/Walter Mondale (Minnesota)
  • 1980 - Jimmy Carter (Georgia)/Walter Mondale (Minnesota)

East - West coalitions[edit]

Republicans have used more East - West coalitions (Note: The General Election success of the GOP in Ike, Nixon & Reagan's two terms, and Papa Bush's first term were all predicated on carrying California & Texas - 1/3 of all electoral votes; when Clinton won California in 1992, that was the end of a 40 year strategy. In 2016, Texas Senator Ted Cruz took the unusual step of naming Carly Fiorina of California as his VP choice 6 weeks ahead of the California primary in an attempt to re-build the CA-TX alliance)

  • 1948 - Thomas Dewey (New York)/Earl Warren (California)
  • 1952 - Dwight Eisenhower (Pennsylvania)/Richard Nixon (California)
  • 1956 - Dwight Eisenhower (Pennsylvania)/Richard Nixon (California)
  • 1960 - Richard Nixon (California)/Henry Cabot Lodge (Massachusetts)
  • 1964 - Barry Goldwater (Arizona)/Bill Miller (New York)
  • 1968 - Richard Nixon (California)/Spiro Agnew (Maryland)
  • 1972 - Richard Nixon (California)/Spiro Agnew (Maryland)
  • 1980 - Ronald Reagan (California)/George H.W. Bush (Connecticut)[note 24]
  • 1984 - Ronald Reagan (California)/George H.W. Bush (Connecticut)

Northern tier Yankee states[edit]

Unbalanced regional coalitions (basically Northern tier Yankee states) have a poor record:

  • 1968 - Hubert Humphrey (Midwest)/Ed Muskie (East)
  • 1972 - George McGovern (Northern plains)/Sargent Shriver (East)
  • 1976 - Gerald Ford (Midwest)/Bob Dole (Central plains)
  • 1992 - Papa Bush (East)/Dan Quayle (Midwest)
  • 1996 - Bob Dole (Central plains)/Jack Kemp (East)
  • 2012 - Mitt Romney (East)/Paul Ryan (Midwest)

Demographics and other[edit]

It is still a matter of debate how much impact a Vice Presidential nominee has a national ticket.

A recent trend has been to ignore regional balance and focus on a wider demographic popular vote, or balance a ticket with a foreign policy guru, regardless of how many Electoral votes a running mate brings to the table. Ferraro and Palin were the first women from each party to run on a national ticket. Dan Quayle, Bill Clinton, and Al Gore represented "generational change", the first candidates born in the post-1945 World War II era. Obama was something of a novelty candidate representative of a demographic group that superficially is a fraction of women and baby boomers[note 25] and won anyway on an unbalanced regional ticket. Cheney and Biden were intended to make up for their bosses foreign policy inexperience.

  • 1984 - Walter Mondale (Midwest)/Geraldine Ferraro (East)
  • 1988 - Papa Bush (East)/Dan Quayle (Midwest)
  • 1992 - Bill Clinton (South)/Al Gore (South)
  • 1996 - Bill Clinton (South)/Al Gore (South)[note 26]
  • 2000 - George W. Bush (Southwest)/Dick Cheney (Mountain west)
  • 2004 - George W. Bush (Southwest)/Dick Cheney (Mountain west)
  • 2008 - John McCain (West)/Sarah Palin (Far Northwest)
  • 2008 - Barack Obama (Midwest)/Joe Biden (East)
  • 2012 - Barack Obama (Midwest)/Joe Biden (East)

One more aside on the choice of a VP. It has become increasingly the custom to defer to a party's nominee to have first choice, however no hard and fast rule mandates this. In the case of an outsider, the choice can be dictated to the nominee. Richard Nixon was imposed on Dwight Eisenhower by party bosses and brokers. Eisenhower was an outsider who made no party affiliation known til after his retirement from the military. Like Donald Trump, Eisenhower never held elective office nor had familiarity with internal party mechanics, and was only too happy to defer the decision to others.

Backstair deals[edit]

Backstair deal cutting happens all the time at all levels, both leading up to a convention and at a convention itself. A popular insurgent challenger against an establishment choice can be bought off or urged to stand-down and wait their turn til next time in exchange for certain advantages. At the presidential level we've seen this in the cases of McGovern in 1968 & '72; Reagan in 1976 & '80; the Ted Kennedy & Mondale contest from 1980 to 1982 which never fully materialized; Gary Hart from 1984 to 1987 until he had a "misstep through a personal indiscretion"[58] . The nomination rotated back from the Minnesota machine to the other half of the Northern tier New Deal coalition, the Massachusetts machine. Susan Estrich, a dissenter on the DNC panel opposed to Superdelegates on the grounds they amounted to sex discrimination, was thrown a bone with the honorary distinction of being the first woman to manage a major party presidential candidate machine in 1988. Other deals were John McCain in 2000 & '08; Mitt Romney after 2008 wrote the rule in 2012 raising the requirement from winning 5 states to 8, derailing Ron Paul's name placed in nomination; and when in 2008 Hillary Clinton traded her delegates to add foreign policy experience to her resumé, a decided weakness of the two previous presidents.

Campaign machines and warchests[edit]

The majority of delegates at a national convention typically are active in a candidate's campaign machine, specifically "down ballot" candidates. Money is the mother's milk of politics[note 27]. All candidates must attract donors and build a warchest for the continuing election cycle. Some candidates are lucky, mostly incumbents in so-called "safe seats" who attract big donors more than they need. These "unspent funds" can be used to build a machine - donated to other candidate's campaign organizations to bind loyalty.

For example, a popular candidate for Governor may need $5 million to run a statewide election. He/she raises $8 million in a campaign warchest. The candidate can then make significant contributions of the unspent balance to State House and Senate candidates, essentially buying the legislature he needs to pass his program[59][60].

In the case of unelected Superdelegates who hold public office, records show they tend to be recipients of large donations from Presidential candidates seeking nomination[61][62].

See also[edit]


  1. A district convention refers to a U.S. Congressional District; State governments do not have a "district" that corresponds to party or congressional districts. Democrats used to call these “loophole” conventions. Illinois still has "loophole" primaries. Some delegates are allocated by a voter’s presidential preference choice, other delegates are listed separately on the ballot and allocated for that Congressional district. It is theoretically possible for a voter to elect delegates backing two different candidates.
  2. The immediate impetus for ending patronage and introducing civil service reform was the assassination of President James Garfield by a disgruntled low level campaign worker who was by-passed and felt Garfield owed him a job.
  3. Vestiges of this system existed as late as the Truman administration in the "5 Percenter" investigations where the Mississippi Democratic Party was investigated for the sale of Postal jobs for a 5% commission.
  4. A Whip's job is to "whip" the delegates into line before the vote.
  5. A common tactic used by Mayor Daley in Chicago City Council meetings and echoed throughout the city in precinct caucuses and labor halls to shout down an opponent. Profanity of coarse is out of order, but in a raucous session, when an opponent with the floor said something critical, Daley would shout "He's a faker!" and the entire room would erupt with machine operatives shouting, "you faker!", or other derisive labels. In the interim between the 1968 and 1972 conventions, hippies and New Left war protesters were invited into the party by the McGovern-Fraser Commission and formed McGovern's core constituents four years later. The commission gave sitting incumbents like Daley the boot.
  6. Tom Hayden, convicted on federal charges of crossing state lines to incite riotWikipedia's W.svg, served as a delegate to the 1992 convention.
  7. with delegates selected by demographic quotas and not by actual votes cast.
  8. The Winograd Commission found that in 1968, crossovers were 28% of voters in the Wisconsin Democratic primary. 48% of those who said they were Democrats voted for Sen. Eugene McCarthyWikipedia's W.svg, while 39% voted for President Johnson. A vote for Johnson, who dropped out just days before, was an expression of the "Uncommitted" stance which became increasingly popular among Democrats for the next decade.
    Of the crossovers, 70% voted for McCarthy while only 14% voted for Johnson. Participation of crossovers increased McCarthy's margin over Johnson by two and one-half times.
    In 1972, crossovers amounted to 34% of voters. 51% of self-identified Democrats voted for McGovern, while only 7% voted for George Wallace. Of the crossovers, however, 33% voted for McGovern while 29% voted for Wallace. The study figures the Winograd Commission used indicated 2/3 of Wallace's support came from crossover voters and concluded with proportional allocation, "crossover voters will . . . alter the composition of national convention delegations." [22]
  9. Bad blood existed between the Humphrey-Mondale and Kennedy machines going back to Humphrey's 1960 Presidential primary campaignWikipedia's W.svg. Humphrey later wrote of the Kennedy machine, "underneath the beautiful exterior there was an element of ruthlessness and toughness I had trouble either accepting or forgetting."
  10. hippies and peaceniks of the 1960s. Jane FondaWikipedia's W.svg and Tom HaydenWikipedia's W.svg are interesting case studies; by 1980 Fonda was calling herself a "small 'd' democrat"[26] advocating “industrial policy” and “economic democracy”[27] while Hayden was entering the ranks of the “establishment” electoral process through the California Democratic machine. Fonda’s terminology remarkably resembles views espoused by Bernie Sanders who also began a career in electoral politics outside the Establishment Democratic Party in the early 1980s. Fonda and Hayden became involved in the ‘save the whales’ and Greenpeace movement. By 1979 the Cambodian holocaustWikipedia's W.svg and refugee crisis was well under way, and a popular reaction against the “anti-establishment”Wikipedia's W.svg[28] New Left peace movement of the 1960s took hold in the United States. Bumper stickers with slogans such as “nuke the whales” became fashionable.
  11. Estrich and Dukakis are ranking members in the Massachusetts Kennedy machine which tried to resurrect the 1960 alliance and victory with Texas Democrats on the Dukakis/Bentsen ticket.
  12. Prior to proportional representation there was the “unit rule”, a delegation had to vote as a unit, now known as “winner-take-all”. McGovern-Fraser scraped the unit rule for affirmative action, or “proportional allocation”. Today’s supposed “unpledged” Superdelegates function as the local bosses whose cronies, that is, “pledged delegates”, earned their status working to elect Superdelegates to public office in previous elections. Together they function as a unit wherein the boss’s favorite carries the majority of delegates from a state.
  13. Susan Estrich's words were prophetic: the good old white boy network shot him down. See DISPARITY BETWEEN JACKSON'S VOTE AND DELEGATE COUNT VEXES PARTY, by DAVID E. ROSENBAUM, New York Times, May 20, 1984, below. Serious Black contenders just had to wait their turn a few more decades.
  14. Donald Rumsfeld, Karl Rove and David Gergen served as Ford delegates; Dick Cheney and James Baker IIIWikipedia's W.svg rounded up the unbound delegates for Ford.
  15. President Ford’s WIN campaign to fight inflation was largely the AARP in embryo, which tangled with Reagan later; while young people couldn’t find jobs as the cost of living skyrocketed, Ford mobilized an older generation sitting on their asses collecting Social Security to sing Irving BerlinWikipedia's W.svg songs and tough it out. It was generational warfareWikipedia's W.svg long before Gary Hart, Dan Quayle, Bill Clinton or Al Gore – the best and the brightestWikipedia's W.svg of baby boomerWikipedia's W.svgs – ever emerged on the national stage.
  16. and the odd thing is, most analysts and historians agree Mondale lost the General Election right there in his Acceptance Speech by vowing to raise American’s taxes.
  17. As of April 2016 Wikipedia's 1984 Democratic Primaries page does not even mention the term "Superdelegate" anywhere.
  18. The official record shows Hart winning a plurality, 44% to Mondale's 41%; three days later in a highly unusual move, the "Wisconsin caucus" delivered a 54% to 29% majority (see results by stateWikipedia's W.svg) to Mondale in a winner-take-all closed caucus. The DNC won a lawsuit against the state so the "official results" of Wisconsin "voters" still had to be included in the national party's record as the state legislature had not acted to revise the term yet. Despite the fact Mondale won zero delegates under state law, Mondale took all the delegates anyway. This scenario was likely repeated in multiple states without blue sky election laws. Bob LaFollette is turning over in his grave.
  19. 2016 GOP hopeful John Kasich for example, boasted of attending 10 Presidential nominating conventions, beginning as a Reagan delegate at the 1976 contested convention. From there he got himself elected to the State Senate, U.S. House, later Ohio party boss and Governor, and eventually Republican Presidential candidate and power broker.
  20. The 1992 Democratic Convention for example, is more remembered for its primetime Broadway musical and dance choreography than any speech given.
  21. The Republican National Committee (RNC) is basically modeled after the U.S. Senate. It consists of 100 Committeemen 2 each elected by State party conventions, similar to the way State Legislatures used to elect U.S. Senators prior to the 17th Amendment; At-Large delegates are the two RNC Committeemen and the State party Chairperson, all elected at the state convention.
  22. The number varies cycle to cycle based upon the number of Congressional seats, Governorships, and other offices the NomenklaturaWikipedia's W.svg Democratic party controls, and when vacancies occur during the 90 day window for selection or at the time the Credentials Committee convenes.
  23. Veteran campaign consultant Rich Galen notes it is illegal to promise a federal job in exchange for doing something or not doing something; but in a closed door negotiation it might be legal for the Obama team to ask the Clinton team, "What would it take for you to release your delegates to us?"
  24. Papa Bush is an anomaly also claiming Texas, Pennsylvania, and Maine as home states. Hillary Clinton can claim New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Arkansas as home states as well. Papa Bush also initially served as a foreign policy guru.
  25. There are approximately 46 million voting age females after subtracting out those counted as boomers; no evidence women vote as a bloc (average participation rate about 50%); about 68 million baby boomers of all sexes and races with a high participation rate (about 75%+ based on age) and currently no evidence they vote as a bloc (although boomers exist in large numbers, their political leanings were shaped and divided by the Vietnam War. About half are traditional patriots supportive of their country, the other half New Left anti-war pacifists and pansies. As they age most are likely to become supportive of big government spending, healthcare, and high payroll taxes which won’t affect them); and there are about 15 million African-Americans of voting age under the age of 50 with above average participation rate (60%) and vote as a bloc (90%). In conclusion, the net impact for a winner from any of these three groups would be as follows: Women under 50, 11+ million votes; Boomers of all sexes and races, 25+ million votes; African-Americans under 50, 8+ million votes. An ancillary conclusion would mean Obama garnered approximately 21 million and 16 million votes from all non-Black voters between the ages of 18 and 50 in his two elections.
  26. It is noteworthy to observe since leaving their home states for the District of Columbia, the opposition Republicans have dominated these two states.
  27. Saying attributed to Jesse Unruh, Gov. Ronald Reagan's California foil.


  1. Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States, Edited by: Lalor, John J., 1899.
  2. How to Take Over the Local Party Precinct (U.S.A.), WikiHOW.
  3. To the victor belong the spoils, Posted by Smokey Stover on June 18, 2004,
  4. Democratic party convention rule changes, , below.
  6. "Clear everything with Sidney", Time, Sep. 25, 1944.
  7. See "The New Force", Time, Jul. 24, 1944.
  9. after he "cleared it with Sydney"
  10. Meet Newton Minow, Adlai Aide and Obama Mentor, by Todd Purdum, Vanity Fair, October 29, 2008.
  11. Ribicoff vs Daley at the Democratic Convention 1968
  12. Did Daley rob Nixon of the Presidency in 1960?
  13. See U.S. Supreme Court Cousins v. Wigoda, 419 U.S. 477 (1975)
  14. See below, Reforming the Presidential Nomination Process, Chapter 1 Choosing Presidential Candidates, Steven S. Smith & Melanie J. Springer, eds., Brookings Institute, 2009, p.3.
  16. Robert La Follette's Autobiography, pp. 195-200.
  17. Where the New Democrats went wrong, Fred Branfman, Salon, Aug 15 2000.
  18. An Interpretation of the 1972 Presidential Election Landslide, by CRAIG W. COOPER, 1975.
  20. All Politics, CNN Time, Facts. Sources: ‘’The National Journal’’, August 23, 1980; ‘’Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections’’; also quoted in ‘’Democratic party convention rule changes’’, , below.
  21. See for example Kansas rules. Voting Rules for Primary Elections.
  22. Cross-Over Voting and the Democratic Party's Reform Rules, David Adamany, American Political Science Review, 1976.
  23. Geyh, Charles G., "It's My Party and I'll Cry If I Want To": State Intrusions upon the Associational Freedoms of Political Parties -- Democratic Party of the United States v. Wisconsin ex rel. La Follette" (1983). Articles by Maurer Faculty. Paper 877, p. 5 pdf.
  24. See Broder, below.
  25. Democratic party convention rule changes. . Delegates must march in lockstep.
  27. Jane Fonda Campaign For Economic Democracy.
  28. Reforming the Presidential Nomination Process, Steven S. Smith & Melanie J. Springer, p.7, below.
  29. See also Russia Iran Disco Suck for a summary of the popular mood in the late 1970s.
  30. Democratic party rule makers, ARNOLD SAWISLAK, UPI, Jan. 15, 1982.
  31. Democrats and Unintended Consequences, By David S. Broder, Washington Post, January 17, 1982.
  32. A History of 'Super-Delegates' in the Democratic Party, Elaine Kamarck, Harvard Kennedy School of Government, 2016.
  33. Democratic party convention rule changes, , above.
  34. Reforming the Presidential Nomination Process, Chapter 1 Choosing Presidential Candidates, Steven S. Smith & Melanie J. Springer, eds., Brookings Institute, 2009, pp. 4-8. . An excellent and timely synopsis.
  35. DNC Chair Says Superdelegates Ensure Elites Don’t Have To Run “Against Grassroots Activists”, Ben Norton - Salon, Saturday, Feb 13, 2016.
  37. Not So Superdelegates, By Ari Berman Editorial, The Nation, January 31, 2008.
  38. America’s last great convention: Mondale, Jackson & Hart dish to Salon about wild 1984 DNC, Phil Hirschkorn, Salon, Feb 15, 2015.
  39. Beating Reform:The Resurgence of Parties in Presidential Nominations, 1980-2000, Marty Cohen , David Karol, Hans Noel, Daniel Zaller, University of California Los Angelas, 9/17/01, p. 14 pdf.
  40. See Democratic Party of U.S. v. Wisconsin ex rel. La Follette, . Under this U.S. Supreme Court ruling after the McGovern-Fraser movement ‘’away’’ from the caucus system and the encouragement of half the states in the nation to adopt Wisconsin's model of the primary election, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin was forced to abandon 80 years of direct primary election of delegates and adopt a closed caucus method of delegate selection. Voters were disenfranchised, and only allowed to express a non-binding "presidential preference.” The ruling did not apply to Republicans which were in compliance with an 80 year old state law and the national party's rules of delegate selection.
  41. What Is A Binding Primary Or Caucus?, MORGAN BRINLEE, February 29 2016.
  42. As of 2016 Wisconsin is the only state with a non-partisan election administration authority. See America’s Top Model: The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, Daniel P. Tokaji et al,
  43. Gary Hart: How Superdelegates Did Me In in '84, Interview with Jennifer Parker, ABC News, Feb. 13 2008.
  44. MacarenaWikipedia's W.svg
  45. Damn voters, getting in the way of democracy. Discussion group,, 13 April 2016.
  46. As Campaigns Seek Delegates, Ordinary Voters Feel Sidelined, By JEREMY W. PETERS, New York Times, APRIL 9, 2016.
  47. The Not So Super Delegates, Emma Roller, New York Times, April 12 2016
  48. The Clintons’ War on Drugs: When Black Lives Didn’t Matter, By Donna Murch, The New Republic, February 9, 2016
  49. Obama leads Clinton in giving money to superdelegates, Rob Hotakainen - McClatchy Newspapers, March 28, 2008.
  50. Did You Know Bill Clinton Made Racist Comments About Barack Obama When He First Ran For President, F. Taylor, Urban Intellectuals, July 17 2015.
  51. Hillary has cynically turned to the one argument she has left: race, Gary Younge, Guardian UK, 2008.
  52. America's New Racial Reality: White Minority Status, While Obama raises the bar for racial understanding, the Democratic Leadership Council leverages white voter fear. By Roberto Lovato / New America Media, March 21, 2008.
  53. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama: an alliance long and slow in the making, Gary Younge, Guardian UK.
  54. Who is BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA? Mission Statement,
  55. 41 Years. $3 Billion. Inside the Clinton Donor Network, By Matea Gold, Tom Hamburger and Anu Narayanswamy, Washington Post, 19 November 2015.
  56. How Hillary Clinton Bought the Loyalty of 33 State Democratic Parties, by MARGOT KIDDER, April 1 2016, .
  57. Independent voters could make polling sites a nightmare, By Marisa Schultz, New York Post, April 13, 2016.
  58. How Gary Hart’s Downfall Forever Changed American Politics, ‘’New York Times’’, 9/21/2014
  59. Follow the Money, by Todd M. Freimuth, in Highlights • Politics — 26 Feb, 2015.
  60. Leftover Campaign Funds, By Jess Henig, Posted on February 15, 2008.
  61. Superdelegate Update, By Lindsay Renick Mayer, Center For Responsive Politics, February 28, 2008.
  62. How Hillary Clinton Bought the Loyalty of 33 State Democratic Parties, by MARGOT KIDDER, April 1 2016, .