It was a stunning loss by a razor-thin margin, but it wasn’t really a loss at all. Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton was expected to win the Michigan primary, but came up 1.5 percent short, losing to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders Tuesday night 49.8 percent to 48.3 percent.
That victory gave Sanders a 65 to 58 advantage in pledged delegates from Election Day. But that’s not the whole story.
The Democratic Party has “superdelegates” in each state, party elites and elected officials whose votes count the same as pledged delegates, but are unbound by primary results. These superdelegates are free to vote for whomever they wish, free to ignore the will of voters in their state.
Michigan has 17 such superdelegates, and of those who have publicly stated their intentions, Hillary Clinton has the support of 10 of them. The remaining 7 have not yet made their decision.
This means that even after losing the popular vote, Clinton currently has 68 delegates from Michigan to 65 for Sanders.
Michigan superdelegates include both of the state’s senators and every Democrat elected to the House of Representatives. The uncommitted superdelegates are members of the Democratic National Committee from Michigan, who generally, but not always, remain neutral before a primary vote.
The current Democratic Party delegate count stands at 1,221 for Clinton and 571 for Sanders. Much of Clinton’s lead, 458 of it, comes from superdelegates.