Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is under fire for her ineffective leadership of the party, struggled to explain why the party’s presidential nominating process isn’t rigged against the insurgent campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
Wasserman Schultz appeared on CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper on Thursday, and was asked to explain how Hillary Clinton, who lost to Sanders in New Hampshire by 22 points, could receive as many delegates as the winner:
Tapper: Hillary Clinton lost to Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire by 22 percentage points, the biggest victory in a contested Democratic primary there since John F. Kennedy. But it looks as though Clinton and Sanders are leaving the Granite State with the same number of delegates in their pockets because Clinton has the support of New Hampshire’s superdelegates, these party insiders.
What do you tell voters who are new to the process, who says this makes them feel like it’s all rigged?”
Wasserman Schultz: Well, let me just make sure that I can clarify exactly what was available during the primaries in Iowa and in New Hampshire. The unpledged delegates are a separate category. The only thing available on the ballot in a primary and a caucus is the pledged delegates. Those that are tied to the candidates that they are pledged to support and they receive a proportional number of delegates going into, going into our convention.
Unpledged delegates exist really to make sure that party leaders and elected officials don’t have to be in a position where they are running against grassroots activists. We are as a Democratic Party really highlight and emphasize inclusiveness and diversity at our convention and so we want to give every opportunity to grass roots activists and diverse, committed Democrats to be able to participate, attend, and be a delegate at the convention. And so we separate out those, those unpledged delegates to make sure that there isn’t competition between them.
Tapper: I’m not sure that, that answer would satisfy an anxious young voter but let’s move on.
Sanders won 15 delegates and Clinton nine based on the New Hampshire primary results, but Clinton picked up six superdelegates to tie Sanders, despite being blown out by the voters.
The Associated Press calculates that Clinton currently has 361 superdelegates—elected Democrats and other party pooh-bahs committed to her as of Jan. 30—and Sanders has eight. There are 712 superdelegates in total, but unless Sanders wins the remaining primaries by a substantial margin—which isn’t very likely—they will undoubtedly play a crucial role in giving the nomination to Clinton, even if Democratic voters felt otherwise.