Five of North Carolina’s 14 democratic superdelegates have spoken out about who they’d prefer for the democratic nominee, all in support of Hillary Clinton.
The Associated Press reached out to all 712 Democratic superdelegates in the nation and heard back from 80 percent when it released its information last week.
According to the organization's results, 359 super delegates supported former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton while presidential hopefuls Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-V.T., and former governor of Maryland Martin O’Malley trailed far behind with eight and two supporters, respectively.
Superdelegates are unpledged current or former party leaders or elected officials who are free to vote for any candidate at a presidential primary convention.
“What is happening on the democratic side is that everybody is pretty much falling in line with Hillary Clinton,” said Michael Bitzer, a political scientist at Catawba College.
This is unsurprising for Bitzer, who said Clinton is the likely frontrunner because of her recognition as former First Lady and established position in politics. He said super delegates feel they know who they are dealing with because of her previous experience and exposure.
But Niko House, president of Carolina Students For Bernie Sanders, said the results suggest politicians are voting for who they believe is a safe bet.
“Established politicians are going with what they are comfortable with and what they think will grant them the most security in the near future,” House said. “And by doing that, I’d say that they’re jumping the gun.”
Bitzer said the relative lack of name recognition for Sanders and O’Malley contributes to their lower results.
“I dare say that if you ask any average voter who Bernie Sanders was (before the elections), they wouldn’t know,” he said.
House said Sanders’ campaign strategy focuses on the public, the current digitized election sphere and separating himself from the established sphere of politics.
But Bitzer said political science research suggests candidates with the most endorsements — such as superdelegate votes — generally become the actual presidential nominee.
He said a challenge awaits the other hopefuls in the coming months.
“It’s going to be an uphill battle to really take out Hillary Clinton from being the nominee,” he said.
James Stimson, a political science professor at UNC and faculty adviser to the Carolina for Hillary group on campus, said the results demonstrate superdelegates are doing their job.
“The purpose of superdelegates is to have a group of mainly professional politicians who will calm the ideological excesses of the nomination campaign and bring more calculated judgments to the process,” Stimson said in an email.
He said the fact that nine of the superdelegates remain uncommitted early in the process and five support the candidate most likely to be successful against the Republican candidate means they are doing what they were intended to do.
But Bernie supporters like House remain hopeful.
He said average Americans are disenchanted by establishment politicians, and he believes such politicians to be disconnected from a changed society.
"Right now, we don't even have enough data to measure how much the political arena has changed."
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