I'm passionately in support of Bernie Sanders and strongly oppose a Hilary Clinton nomination but it appears that both the party and the media are pushing Clinton. I'm fuzzy on how the nominee is actually selected. Is it by popular vote among the delegates? By popular vote within the caucus(es)? Does Weisserman-Schulz dictate her choice to the delegates? I'm interested in both the "supposed to happen" and the "this is how it actually happens" side of things. Note that what I hope to do is harness this information to best "lobby" (with my voice and piddly financial resources) to see that Bernie Sanders wins the candidacy. Thanks!

  • As of today's new cycle, Hillary Clinton sewed up enough superdelegate support to be assured nomination at the convention. So, in your specific practical situation, there doesn't appear much that you can do at this point short of working to torpedo Hillary's candidacy (superdelegates might change their tune if she gets into enough trouble to seem unelectable in general election - that's pretty much their official job)
    – user4012
    Nov 13, 2015 at 23:12
  • @user4012 History does not agree with you.
    – Ruminator
    Nov 15, 2015 at 2:49
  • Elaborate please?
    – user4012
    Nov 15, 2015 at 2:50
  • @user4012 Sure: npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=18914920
    – Ruminator
    Nov 15, 2015 at 4:03

1 Answer 1


The nominee is selected by a vote at Democratic Party's nominating convention.

The voters are elected delegates (pledged to varying degree to follow the results of their states' primaries or caucuses, depending on individual states' rules. There are 3 kinds of binding/pledging covered in Wikipedia); as well as unpledged so-called "Superdelegates", who can vote for whoever they want.

Nominally, Superdelegate's job is to ensure that a radical, unelectable-in-general-election candidate with broad partisan support would be rejected even if they win primaries/caucuses. Wikipedia goes into broad detail over the history.

Who controls superdelegates? It's politics as usual. Some are influenced by more important party bigwigs. Some are influenced by other alliances/allegiances/interests/favors owed. Some have strong opinions and vote who they want.

Most of them are entrenched mainstream politicians and therefore in this case (sad for Sanders and you) don't like emergent "outside" candidacies (OK, it sounds idiotic to call a forever-senator Sanders "outside" but whatevz), both because their less mainstream views are a harder sell in general election; and because establishment never likes insurgents, even - or especially - on their own side.

  • Thanks @user4012 however my understanding is that "superdelegates" vote for what the party wants rather than what they want or the people want. However, I do notice that among the DNC superdelegates there is one that is not going with the Wasserman-Shulz choice (Hillary) but is instead going with Bernie.
    – Ruminator
    Nov 15, 2015 at 1:05
  • @WoundedEgo - it's ... complicated. There's no "Party" - there's a bunch of loose alliances and personalities and fractions. Most of them have influences or allegiances, but they aren't necessarily always a uniform block, even if in this case they all seem to have arrived at the same conclusion. I suspect that if a more "suitable" - to some of them - candidate ran, they'd be all over that. But Biden bowed out, and nobody like Obama is around.
    – user4012
    Nov 15, 2015 at 1:38
  • am I correct that the actual structure of the nomination process varies by State?
    – Ruminator
    Nov 15, 2015 at 7:00
  • Okay, I think I have a better picture of the Democratic caucuses. Apparently "Superdelegates" is a rather new feature of the DNC and to my mind a very bad thing. They are free to ignore what the people want and vote for whom they will. In the current case, the Superdelegates are almost unanimously committed to Hillary while the people are swarming to Bernie. But if they were to overtly undermine the popular vote it would be a coup and recognized as such so if Bernie sweeps Iowa and New Hampshire (which he certainly will do) they will be hard pressed to justify voting for Hillary.
    – Ruminator
    Jan 25, 2016 at 12:23
  • Please, elaborate your answer. It doesn't explain the process by which a candidate is selected.
    – drake
    Jan 26, 2016 at 20:10

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