Superdelegates.org reveals information on most Democratic superdelegates
Though it seems like everyone has a web site today, few, like Rick Klau ’93, can say CNN, NPR, and Wired Magazine featured theirs. Klau’s site, Superdelegates.org, tracks what has been an obscure function of the Democratic Party’s presidential nominating process. Just three weeks after launching, the media attention and public curiosity about superdelegates brought nearly 60,000 visitors to the site.
The Democratic National Committee created the 800 superdelegates—composed of party officials and elected politicians—to clarify the frontrunner in the event of a tight race. Comprising an additional 20 percent of all delegates, these insiders ideally ensure the best candidate receives the nomination.
“This is an alien concept to a lot of voters,” Klau says. “Unless you’ve paid close attention in past conventions, you wouldn’t have run across this artifact of the early Eighties created in the wake of Jimmy Carter’s nomination.”
When Super Tuesday’s result showed no clear Democratic frontrunner, Klau saw a need. He notes, “People were saying, ‘Who are these superdelegates who are going to decide who the nominee is? I thought that’s what the primaries and caucuses are for.’”
As a strategic partner development manager at Google, Klau used his familiarity with his company’s software to help the public understand the process. Combining a collaborative knowledge site (a wiki) with Google Earth and Google Maps, the Superdelegates.org site reveals the names, locations, and candidate preferences of the majority of superdelegates.
Klau believes Superdelegates.org helps the public understand “how the process works.”
“The process is opaque, at best, or has been,” he says. According to Klau, the site can illuminate how superdelegates choose which candidates to support, allowing more public scrutiny. “In the past the fear was that this would be more of a backroom, behind-closed-doors process,” he notes.
The collaborative nature of the site also underscores the growing Internet trend of the public taking charge of knowledge. “When a wiki works,” he says, “you get a community of users who feel a sense of ownership of the content.” The wiki function of the site allows anyone to input additional information about each superdelegate as it becomes available.
“The community has really taken over,” says Klau, who ran Barack Obama’s 2004 Senate campaign blog and also served as one of Howard Dean’s tech advisers that same year. Through that community, the depth of data at the site increases and improves daily. “I’ve gotten some terrific emails from people who have thanked me for making this information available,” he says.
Klau, an international affairs and French major, continues to meld his tech skills with a love for politics. Through his superdelegates site and work at Google, he continues to create new methods of applying technology in meaningful ways. As he says, “Think bigger. Think about changing the world.”