How Many Superdelegates Does Ohio Have? They're Not Mighty In Number — But They're Big On One Candidate

With all eyes on Florida and Ohio this Tuesday, the whims of the voters seem more important than ever. And yes, they will elect the majority of the delegates going to the Republican and Democratic national conventions this summer — ultimately deciding who will be the parties' respective nominees. But in the Democratic nominating contest, there are some delegates who have already voiced support for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. They too play an important role, and they're not subject to the will of voters. Those are the superdelegates, and Ohio alone has 17.

After Florida, Ohio awards the most delegates in both parties this Tuesday. The Democrats in the state will lock in the votes of 143 — the vast majority. But the superdelegates will get a vote nonetheless, and in Ohio they are mostly "with her," so to speak. As early as November, 12 of the 17 had pledged support for Clinton, according to an Associated Press survey. That number hasn't budged since then, although Bernie Sanders has picked up one vote, leaving four up for grabs. Of course, these superdelegates' pledges of support are non-binding; they're free to switch sides. Many did just that in 2008 after Obama consolidated his lead in the primaries.

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The Ohio superdelegates are largely a mixture of U.S. representatives and members of the Democratic party. One is a "distinguished party leader" named David Wilhelm. He served as President Bill Clinton's campaign manager in 1992. The other famous name among the bunch is Sen. Sherrod Brown. The senior senator from Ohio is farther to the left than many in the Democratic party. He has advocated for the restoration of the Glass-Steagall Act, which would break up the big banks, and has been critical of free trade. Both Wilhelm and Brown are among those supporting Clinton.

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Sander's one pledge of support among the Ohio superdelegates is the longest-serving woman in the House, Rep. Marcy Kaptur. She spoke to the Boston Globe in February, before endorsing Sanders, about the importance of his ideas about limiting free trade and improving the economic health of the middle class. Meanwhile, Clinton's superdelegates have stressed that she's the most qualified person for the job.

Ohio's normal, pledged delegates will be awarded proportionally; 93 will be based on the votes in the state's congressional districts, and the remaining 50 will be given out based on the statewide vote total. Currently, Clinton is leading in the polls by about eight points. As we saw in Michigan, that doesn't necessarily translate into a win.

The Republicans don't have superdelegates. They do have three "unbound" delegates who traditionally could vote as they wished, but the GOP changed that this year. These three are still party leaders, but they must vote in accordance with the outcome of the state's popular vote. Ohio's 66 delegates — including the three VIPs — will be awarded in a winner-takes-all fashion, making the state very important for those trying to force a brokered convention and keep Donald Trump out of the White House.