Tuesday, February 11, 2020

2020 Democratic Delegate Allocation: NEW HAMPSHIRE


Election type: primary
Date: February 11
Number of delegates: 33 [5 at-large, 3 PLEOs, 16 congressional district, 9 automatic/superdelegates]
Allocation method: proportional statewide and at the congressional district level
Threshold to qualify for delegates: 15%
2016: proportional primary
Delegate selection plan

Changes since 2016
If one followed the 2016 series on the Republican process here at FHQ, then you may end up somewhat disappointed. The two national parties manage the presidential nomination process differently. The Republican National Committee is much less hands-on in regulating state and state party activity in the delegate selection process than the Democratic National Committee is. That leads to a lot of variation from state to state and from cycle to cycle on the Republican side. Meanwhile, the DNC is much more top down in its approach. Thresholds stay the same. It is a 15 percent barrier that candidates must cross in order to qualify for delegates. That is standard across all states. The allocation of delegates is roughly proportional. Again, that is applied to every state.

That does not mean there are no changes. The calendar has changed as have other facets of the process such as whether a state has a primary or a caucus.

New Hampshire retained its protected position on the 2020 primary calendar as the first-in-the-nation primary and the second contest on the second Tuesday in February. The one difference over 2016 is that New Hampshire has an additional superdelegate, raising the number of automatic delegates from eight to nine. All the other delegate subgroupings are just the same as they were in 2016.

The standard 15 percent qualifying threshold applies in New Hampshire both statewide and on the congressional district level.

Delegate allocation (at-large and PLEO delegates)
To win any at-large or PLEO (pledged Party Leader and Elected Officials) delegates a candidate must win 15 percent of the statewide vote. Only the votes of those candidates above the threshold will count for the purposes of the separate allocation of these two pools of delegates.

If Candidate X receives 25 percent of the vote statewide and Candidate Y is the only other candidate above 15 percent with a 20 percent share of support then only that 45 percent total will apply to the allocation of the at-large and PLEO delegates. Those two candidates' total votes will be the denominator in the allocation formula. Candidate X would end up with 56 percent of the statewide delegates while Candidate Y would take the remaining 44 percent.

In New Hampshire under this scenario:
At-large (5 delegates)
Candidate X would be allocated 2.778 delegates [= 5 at-large delegates * .556] -- rounds to 3 delegates
Candidate Y would be allocated 2.222 delegates [= 5 at-large delegates * .444] -- rounds to 2 delegates

PLEO (3 delegates)
Candidate X would be allocated 1.667 delegates [= 3 PLEO delegates * .556] -- rounds to 2 delegates
Candidate Y would be allocated 1.333 delegates [= 5 PLEO delegates * .444] -- rounds to 1 delegate

Candidate X would be allocated 5 statewide delegates and Candidate Y would earn the remaining 3.

It is worth pointing out that this is uniform across the primary states. At-large and PLEO delegates are separate pools and allocated separately not together. However, both are based on the statewide vote. But because they are separated the rounding work out differently. That is especially true in smaller sized states. In the New Hampshire example above, had all of the statewide delegates been pooled and allocated together, then both candidates in the above scenario would have received four delegates each. The separated allocation led to Candidate X gaining an extra delegate. Yes, just one delegate, but depending on how close the delegate counts remain over time, then that difference multiplied across 57 contests may matter.

Delegate allocation (congressional district delegates)
New Hampshire has just two congressional districts and each of them has eight delegates that are allocated based on the results within the congressional district. Using the above scenario, one can assume that Candidate X won 27 percent in the first congressional district while Candidate Y took just 18 percent. Additionally, we can add a Candidate Z who finished statewide with 14 percent of the vote but 15 percent in the first congressional district.

CD1 (8 delegates)
Candidate X would be allocated 3.600 delegates [= 8 district delegates * .450] -- rounds to 4 delegates
Candidate Y would be allocated 2.400 delegates [= 8 district delegates * .300] -- rounds to 2 delegates
Candidate Z would be allocated 2.000 delegates [= 8 district delegates * .250] -- rounds to 2 delegates

In the event that too many delegates are allocated due to rounding, then candidate with the smallest remainder would lose a delegate. Should all of the delegates not be allocated, then the candidate with the largest remainder would receive any unallocated delegate.

In the second congressional district, one can assume (for simplicity) a tie between Candidate X and Candidate Y at 22.5 percent each.

CD2 (8 delegates)
Candidate X would be allocated 4.000 delegates [= 8 district delegates * .500] -- rounds to 4 delegates
Candidate Y would be allocated 4.000 delegates [= 8 district delegates * .500] -- rounds to 4 delegates

The point here across these two congressional district examples is to explore the different ways the allocation can go depending on how many candidates are above the threshold.

Delegate allocation (automatic delegates/superdelegates)
Superdelegates are free to align with a candidate of their choice at a time of their choosing. While their support may be a signal to voters in their state (if an endorsement is made before voting in that state), superdelegates will only vote on the first ballot at the national convention if half of the total number of delegates -- pledged plus superdelegates -- have been pledged to one candidate. Otherwise, superdelegates are locked out of the voting unless 1) the convention adopts rules that allow them to vote or 2) the voting process extends to a second ballot. But then all delegates, not just superdelegates will be free to vote for any candidate.

[NOTE: All Democratic delegates are pledged and not bound to their candidates. They are to vote in good conscience for the candidate to whom they have been pledged, but technically do not have to. But they tend to because the candidates and their campaigns are involved in vetting and selecting their delegates through the various selection processes on the state level. Well, the good campaigns are anyway.]

New Hampshire district delegates were slated and selected in a January 25, 2020 pre-primary caucus. Who fills those slots will be determined by the results in the congressional districts during the primary.

PLEO and then at-large delegates in that order will be selected at an April 25, 2020 post-primary caucus by the district delegates filled from the slates chosen in the pre-primary caucus. Those district delegates will be divided into groups based on presidential preference and those subgroups will choose any at-large and PLEO delegates allocated to the candidate to whom they are pledged. The district delegates for Candidate X would select the two PLEO and then 3 at-large delegates allocated to Candidate X based on the statewide result.

Importantly, if a candidate drops out of the race before the selection of statewide delegates, then any statewide delegates allocated to that candidate will be reallocated to the remaining candidates. If Candidate X is in the race in late April when the New Hampshire statewide delegate selection takes place but Candidate Y is not, then the three statewide delegates Candidate Y won would be reallocated to Candidate X. [This same feature is not something that applies to district delegates.] This reallocation only applies if a candidate has fully dropped out. Candidates with suspended campaigns are still candidates and can fill those slots allocated them.

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