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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Democratic Superdelegates

Q: Who are the superdelegates and can they change their votes once they are "committed"?

A: Democratic "superdelegates" may vote as they see fit.


Actually, the Democratic Party’s 2008 Delegate Selection Rules don’t mention "superdelegates." It’s a term used by the news media to refer to the hundreds of elected officials and "party leaders" who are automatically seated as delegates to the Democratic convention. Rule 9A specifies that "unpledged party leader and elected official delegates" shall include:

  • Democratic House and Senate members
  • Democratic governors
  • Former Democratic presidents and vice presidents
  • Former Democratic leaders of the U.S. Senate
  • Former Democratic speakers of the House and Democratic minority leaders
  • Former chairs of the Democratic National Committee

Also included would be the president and vice president, when they happen to be Democrats. Specifically not included are any who have endorsed or publicly supported a presidential candidate of another party.

The New York TimesWashington Post and CNN all put the current count of superdelegates at 796. The final number won’t be set officially until March 1, when state parties must certify the names.

Many of these delegates have publicly endorsed one candidate or another. An unofficial, though well-documented list of the superdelegates who have publicly committed to a candidate may be found at Democratic Convention Watch. Whatever public or private promises they have made, however, these delegates are "unpledged" under party rules and thus free to vote as they judge best.

Brooks Jackson


Democratic National Committee. "Delegate Selection Rules for the 2008 Democratic National Convention," 19 Aug. 2006.

Mosk, Matthew and Paul Kane. "796 Insiders May Hold Democrats’ Key." Washington Post, 10 Feb. 2008.

Nagourney, Adam and Carl Hulse. "Neck and Neck, Democrats Woo Superdelegates." New York Times, 10 Feb. 2008.