Hawaii's delegate count for Sanders unlikely to mirror popular vote

Hawaii's delegate count for Sanders unlikely to mirror popular vote
Published: Mar. 28, 2016 at 8:26 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 28, 2016 at 10:31 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders won 70 percent of votes in Saturday's Democratic presidential poll in Hawaii. But chances are, he won't get 70 percent of the delegates.

The reason? Superdelegates.

Hawaii has 35 delegates, 10 of whom are superdelegates.

The results of Hawaii's Saturday vote means that 17 of Hawaii Democratic party delegates will go to Sanders, while eight will go to Clinton.

But the superdelegates, who are party leader or elected officials, have an unbound vote in the process. That means superdelegates can assign their votes to whichever candidate they prefer, regardless of the outcome of the popular vote.

"We should be clear, the superdelegate system is not designed to be completely democratic," said Hawaii News Now Political Analyst Colin Moore. "It's designed to give the party elite more influence over the average voter."

In Hawaii, each member of the Congressional delegation is a superdelegate. There are four that come from the party itself, and the governor and lieutenant governor make up the last two.

It's likely that most of Hawaii's superdelegates will support Clinton.

Throughout this election season, the race for the Democratic presidential nominee has been competitive. So far, Clinton has won 18 primaries or caucuses (amassing 8.9 million votes) while Sanders has won 14 (and gotten 6.4 million votes).

However, Clinton has far more superdelegates in her corner than Sanders: 469 to 29 as of March 28.

"It looked like she was going to win the nomination early on and so a lot of the superdelegates who've known her for a long time backed her," Moore said.

Superdelegates are unbound until the party's national convention at the end of July, so it's possible their support could change.

"I think there will be some changes, but as long as it looks like Hillary Clinton will still get the nomination -- and that will be clear in the days to come when some of the larger states vote -- the superdelegates should stay put," he said.

Fair or not, the system was created by the party in the 1980s to ensure that the more electable candidate clinched the nomination.

So far, Clinton has gotten more popular votes than any candidate in the race, Democrat or Republican.

Republicans have superdelegates as well, but they're bound to vote based on election results.

Mobile users: See a slideshow of the turnout in Hawaii's Democratic caucuses here.

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