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If superdelegates pick nominee, Democrats face backlash

The idea that party insiders would decide contest strikes many as 'undemocratic.'

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If Barack Obama or Hillary Rodham Clinton manages to emerge victorious from the primary season, the 796 "superdelegates" to the Democratic National Convention won't be needed to break a deadlock.

To many, that would be a relief. Although some superdelegates said just a few weeks ago they'd welcome a deciding role, a backlash has been building to the notion that party insiders could tip the outcome. Superdelegates, known in the party rules as unpledged delegates, clearly are feeling the heat.

"There is an anger among a substantial element of the party who feel these unpledged delegates are somehow undemocratic, and if the primary result is overturned, the results are somehow illegitimate," says Stuart Rothenberg, an independent political analyst in Washington. "This is a major problem for the Democrats."

Early on, Senator Clinton amassed a big lead among superdelegates – a group that includes Democratic members of Congress and governors, Democratic National Committee officials, and 76 at-large delegates yet to be selected. In all, the superdelegates account for about one-fifth of delegates at the Democratic National Convention in August.

But a string of primary and caucus wins by Senator Obama shifted the momentum of the race – and left many congressional lawmakers and governors who had made early endorsements looking out of sync with their constituents.

Out of sync with voters at home


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