Washington Secrets

Study: Obama bought ‘08 super-delegates

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

 

She had the biggest donors and Bill Clinton’s organization behind her, but Hillary Clinton lost to Barack Obama four years ago in the fight for the huge block of party ‘super-delegates’ in part because he contributed to more of their campaigns than she did.

A new study of the 2008 super-delegate fight found that Obama gave $640,926 to 100 superdelegates, while Clinton gave $247,500 to 47. In the end, the spending helped to give Obama twice as many of the 840 party elders, House and Senate members and governors, which made up 20 percent of the Democratic delegate total.

Obama’s focus and spending on them also helped him win more super-delegates than Clinton in states where she won the popular vote. For example, she won 71 percent of the Arkansas Democratic primary vote, but he took eight of 11 super-delegates there, a pattern that played out elsewhere when then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on super-delegates to ignore the popular vote and side with the delegate leader which was Obama at the time.

“Either Clinton did not spend enough or she gave to too few superdelegates,” said University of Oregon political science professor Priscilla Southwell in the prestigious journal “Party Politics.”

It’s a money-talks lesson that Democrats will follow in 2016, unless the party heeds Southwell’s call to bar candidate donations to superdelegates.
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