In party nominating contests, the only metric that really counts is delegates, and that has always been true — you get the most delegates, you win. These contests, run by political parties, have become more democratic over time, but "the nomination process exists as a sort of demi-democratic process in which elections were retrofit to work with the internal decision-making processes of each party," says Philip Bump at The Washington Post. "So there are still vestiges of weirdness: caucuses, unpledged delegates and superdelegates, and the conventions themselves."
This weirdness has led to Donald Trump saying "the system is rigged, it's crooked," on Fox News on Monday, after rival Ted Cruz took all 34 of Colorado's Republican delegates in party conventions last week. "There was no voting.... it's a crooked deal," Trump griped. And it has led to Bernie Sanders supporters aggressively going after Democratic superdelegates to switch their support from Hillary Clinton to Sanders, because Sanders has won eight of the last nine contests but gained no ground. The Sanders campaign is even suggesting the Democrats will have an open convention, because superdelegates don't count or might dump Clinton to match the will of the voters.
But Clinton has a wide lead over Sanders among pledged delegates, not just superdelegates, Bump noted. He elaborated:
In fact, by every possible democratic measure, Clinton is winning. She's winning in states (and territories) won, which isn't a meaningful margin of victory anyway. She's winning in the popular vote by 2.4 million votes — more than a third more than Sanders has in total. In part that's because Sanders is winning lower-turnout caucuses, but it's mostly because he's winning smaller states. And she's winning with both types of delegates. So why is this bewildering? Because it seems like Sanders should be gaining big ground against Clinton — and so "superdelegates" get blamed. [The Washington Post]
Bump adds that every campaign needs to project momentum and keep open a path to victory. But "the question that's worth asking is why supporters of trailing candidates think that democracy is being subverted and who benefits from their thinking that," he said. "We'll leave that to you to assess." He reports, you decide.