Sunday, March 30, 2008

Clinton vs. Obama: Buying Superdelegates?

It seems that both Hillary and Barack have been using money to influence superdelegates to vote for them, at least according to CapitalEye.org. This seems very despicable to me. Here are a few quotes:
And while it would be unseemly for the candidates to hand out thousands of dollars to primary voters, or to the delegates pledged to represent the will of those voters, elected officials who are superdelegates have received at least $904,200 from Obama and Clinton in the form of campaign contributions over the last three years, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. ...

Obama, who narrowly leads in the count of pledged, "non-super" delegates, has doled out more than $698,200 to superdelegates from his political action committee, Hope Fund, or campaign committee since 2005. Of the 82 elected officials who had announced as of Feb. 12 that their superdelegate votes would go to the Illinois senator, 35, or 43 percent of this group, have received campaign contributions from him in the 2006 or 2008 election cycles, totaling $232,200. In addition, Obama has been endorsed by 52 superdelegates who haven't held elected office recently and, therefore, didn't receive campaign contributions from him.

Clinton does not appear to have been as openhanded. Her PAC, HILLPAC, and campaign committee appear to have distributed $205,500 to superdelegates. Only 12 percent of her elected superdelegates, or 13 of 109 who have said they will back her, have received campaign contributions, totaling about $95,000 since 2005. An additional 128 unelected superdelegates support Clinton, according to a blog tracking superdelegates and their endorsements, 2008 Democratic Convention Watch. ...

The money that Clinton and Obama have contributed to the superdelegates who may now determine their fate has come from three sources: the candidates' campaign accounts for president and, before that, Senate, and from their leadership PACs. These PACs exist precisely to support other politicians in their elections—and, thus, to make friends and collect chits. Leadership PACs are supposed to go dormant after a presidential candidate officially enters the race.

An update two weeks later said:
Two weeks ago, Capital Eye reported a connection that superdelegates have to the candidates that voters and pledged delegates don't—nearly $1 million in campaign contributions. As the uncommitted superdelegates have been deciding which candidate to support at this summer's nominating convention, the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics has identified an additional $42,800 that flowed in the last three years from Clinton or Obama's coffers into the hands of superdelegates with campaign accounts, bringing the total to $947,000.

Clinton's updated total to superdelegates, who include Democratic members of Congress, Democratic National Committee members, former party leaders and state governors, is $236,100 for 2005-2008, compared to Obama's $710,900. Looking back before the 2006 election cycle, though, the two are on more even ground. ...

For those elected officials who had endorsed a candidate as of Feb. 25, the presidential candidate who gave more money to the superdelegate received the endorsement 82 percent of the time.
A correlation does not necessarily indicate causation. Candidates may help other friends out when their campaigns need money so it would be likely that the friends would support each other when it comes to pledging. However, my gut tells me that this situation is just not right.

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