Comparing the views of superdelegates and Democratic voters in the 2008 Democratic nomination campaign

Kim Fridkin, Patrick Kenney, Sarah Gershon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The struggle for the power to nominate candidates for office between party elites and rank-and-file partisans surfaced in the late 1700s. The battle endures today and superdelegates in the Democratic Party represent the contemporary political elites in the nomination process. Indeed, superdelegates played a decisive role in determining the outcome of the 2008 Democratic nomination campaign. In this paper, we examine the attitudes and decisions of superdelegates towards the candidates and their own role in the nomination process. We also examine the attitudes of rank-and-file Democrats towards the delegates and the nomination process. To study these two groups, we rely on survey data collected immediately following the 2008 primary season. Results from the surveys indicate that voters and superdelegates differ greatly in their perceptions of superdelegates, their roles and decisions, as well as the legitimacy of the nomination process in the Democratic Party. We conclude by discussing the implications of our findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)749-770
Number of pages22
JournalParty Politics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • US
  • nomination campaigns
  • superdelegates
  • testing a set of hypotheses
  • voters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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