Nominations & Conventions

Past Practices

Post-1980 Reform: The Hunt Commission and Super Delegates
related video
Joan Menard on superdelegates.
Susan Brophy on the emergence of Superdelegates.

In the wake of Carter’s defeat, Democrats created a new category of delegates officially known as “party leader and elected official delegates,” more commonly known as “super delegates.”

Super delegates automatically attended conventions based on their status in the party, avoiding the awkward prospect of running against their constituents to attend the convention.   Party leaders also wanted to ensure that party elites could pick a nominee if a clear one did not emerge from the primaries.  This helped Walter Mondale in 1984, when super delegates rallied behind him against Gary Hart, ensuring him the Democratic Party nomination.