Since its launch, a specter has haunted Bernie Sanders’ run for the Democratic nomination. It’s not his age, though at 74 he would be the oldest president in American history. And it’s not that he’s an avowed socialist, the label that a mere eight years ago was used to smear Barack Obama as a sinister, alien threat to the American way of life. Rather, it has been the so-called superdelegates—the 712 Democratic Party insiders who are free to vote at the nominating convention for the candidate of their choosing.
The corporate media’s early inclusion of the superdelegates in the delegate count created the impression of an inevitable Clinton nomination. Seventy-three percent of superdelegates—520 of the 712—have pledged their support to the former secretary of state, but superdelegates are free to change their minds any time before the Democratic National Convention in July.
By February 20, when only three states had held nominating contests, such reporting had conferred on the Clinton campaign an aura of insurmountability, leading some voters to question whether their votes truly mattered. Even as Sanders won a string of contests at the end of March to narrow Clinton’s lead, superdelegates in those states stubbornly clung to Clinton.