This AFP article gives a good overview on “super-delegates,” who will likely play a key role in the Democratic primary, currently in a deadlock between Clinton and Obama. An excerpt:
With no clear winner after months of wooing voters, the tight race for the Democratic White House nomination may leave the choice between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to "super-delegates."Does anyone find this sordid process undemocratic? What is the point of even holding primaries if the the end result is solely left to these "super-delegates"? After all, no one elects them; and they are not answerable to anyone, making the whole system suspect in my eyes.
The super-delegates are party leaders and lawmakers, including all Democratic members of Congress and former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, as well as ex-vice president Al Gore.
If no candidate has a lock on the 2,025 delegates needed to secure the nomination before the party's convention in August, the 796 "super-delegates" would be decisive.
Unlike "pledged" delegates chosen through primaries and caucuses, super-delegates are free to vote for whomever they choose. Many have already promised to back one candidate or another, "and most of the others will at some point before the convention," said Michael Tanner, a political analyst with the Cato Institute.
Nevertheless, if I had to bet money on who can make the system work, it would have to be the Clintons, who are more adept at working the backrooms than Obama, who is both inexperienced and more than naïve about such matters.