In Iowa, Bernie Sanders got 49.6 percent of the vote — but only 42 percent of the delegates.
In New Hampshire, Sanders won 60.4 percent of the vote — but only 50 percent of the delegates.
These results are either the just deserts of a man who favors redistributing what one has earned to others who are “less fortunate,” or proof that Sanders is right when he says the system is rigged (just not in the way he says it is).
Which answer will Democratic officials choose? Will they even be asked?
The discrepancy between the vote totals and delegate totals owes to superdelegates, Democrats who can back whichever candidate they like regardless of the results of their state’s primary or caucus. Despite their self-proclaimed status as the party of the little guy, Democrats reserve 15 percent of their delegates to these free agents who by and large represent the party establishment. (In the GOP, by contrast, only 7 percent of delegates are similarly “unbound.”)
So Sanders does have a problem with the people at the top. They’re just a bit larger group than “the 1 percent.”
If the primary season were to continue unfolding as it has so far, the superdelegates could actually push the election to Clinton from Sanders. Consider that in the first two states, Sanders led the bound-delegate count 36-32, but trailed 44-36 when superdelegates were added. How can that not nurse the sense of grievance Sanders supporters have about “the system” being “rigged” by “the establishment”?
If this all sounds familiar, it should. Back in 2008, Clinton initially led Barack Obama in the superdelegate count — albeit by a far smaller margin than she holds over Sanders today — but he eventually chipped away at that lead and overtook her in the superdelegate count. And of course superdelegates are allowed to change their minds and can switch to Sanders when Clinton goes to jail, or for any other reason.
The question is whether Sanders can repeat that trick given that, as of now, he trails the superdelegate count by a whopping 362-8. Look at this chart by Bloomberg Politics to see how Clinton’s strength is being built outside the voting booth (click to view larger):
Sanders’ economic theories may be dangerous and his foreign-policy notions pitifully shallow, but he has a point about the man — or in this case, the woman — trying to keep him down.