How Many Superdelegates Does Florida Have? The Primary Race Gears Up For One Of Its Biggest Prizes
As March brings one primary after another for the Republican and Democratic presidential races, we've been hearing an awful lot about delegates, and for good reason. These people report to the Democratic and Republican National Conventions in July to determine who wins each party's presidential nominations. Most of the delegates in each party are bound to vote according to the results of their states' primaries or caucuses, but not all. On the Democratic side, those whose votes aren't bound by any voting results are called "superdelegates." The most delegate-rich state to vote on March 15 is Florida. So how many superdelegates does Florida have?
The Tampa Bay Times reports that Florida has 32 superdelegates. Most of them are members of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), but their ranks also include a former DNC chairman (Ken Curtis), one U.S. senator (Bill Nelson), and several members of the House of Representatives. Technically, these folks can show up to the convention and vote for whomever they wish, with no regard to how the people vote on Tuesday. Interestingly, Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida is eschewing his VIP voting status; he released an online poll in February, promising to vote in July in accordance with the results (respondents chose Sen. Bernie Sanders).
It's very important to note when counting superdelegates that they can change their minds at any point up until they cast their votes at the convention. Twenty-one of the Florida superdelegates are currently on Hillary Clinton's Florida Leadership Council, which has been working to get her a win in the state on Tuesday. Though this obviously expresses support for Clinton, it doesn't necessarily mean that they are guaranteed to vote for her in July (Grayson, for example, was a member of the council).
The delegates who matter most at this point are those who are bound to the popular vote. Florida has 214 bound delegates. They are awarded proportionally, meaning that candidates will be awarded a number of delegates reflecting the percentage of the vote they receive. Of them, 140 will be awarded proportionally based on the results within congressional districts, while the remaining 74 will be awarded proportionally based on the results statewide.
Unlike Democrats, Republicans don't have superdelegates (they do have a smaller number of unbound delegates due to some wonky state rules, but not in Florida). The GOP candidates will be competing for 99 delegates in Florida, but much more is arguably at stake for them. In Florida, the GOP doesn't allocate its delegates proportionally, but uses a winner-take-all system, meaning that whomever wins the statewide election gets all 99 of the state's Republican delegates.
Florida's a big state for candidates in both parties. Superdelegates are worth paying attention to on the Democratic side, but the pledged delegates are the only reliable ones at this early point in the race.