ABC News Rick Klein Reports: They're by far the most influential 796 Democratic voters in the country, and they're being . . . showered with cash by the two remaining Democratic candidates?
It's not quite as unseemly as it sounds. But an eyebrow-raising study from the Center for Responsive Politics shows that "superdelegates" have received at least $890,000 in political contributions from Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton -- going back to 2005 -- with Obama sending a larger share of cash to the influential party insiders.
The study found that Obama has sent more than $694,000 from either his campaign account or his political action committee to superdelegates -- the members of Congress, governors, and other party leaders who receive automatic votes at the Democratic National Convention.
About 40 percent of the elected officials who have endorsed Obama have received campaign contributions from him, the center reports. Those superdelegates have received a total of $228,000 from him.
By contrast, Clinton sent out only $195,500 to superdelegates, and only 12 percent of her superdelegates received money from her for their campaigns, according to the report.
And quantities may count.
"In cases where superdelegates had received contributions from both Clinton and Obama, all seven elected officials who received more money from Clinton have committed to her," the report states. "Thirty-four of the 43 superdelegates who received more money from Obama, or 79 percent, are backing him."
While such contributions are perfectly legal, they shine a light on another element of the little-understood process by which the Democratic Party chooses a nominee: Superdelegates could determine the nomination, and many of them are politicians themselves, with their own reelection campaigns to worry about when they make their choices.