Tuesday, February 25, 2020

2020 Democratic Delegate Allocation: ARKANSAS


Election type: primary
Date: March 3
Number of delegates: 36 [7 at-large, 4 PLEOs, 20 congressional district, 5 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.

While Arkansas retained its Super Tuesday position on the 2020 primary calendar, the Natural state took a circuitous route getting [back] there. Following the 2016 cycle, the law passed in 2015 to shift the Arkansas presidential primary from May to March expired. That reverted the primary to the late May date on which it has been scheduled throughout much of the post-reform era. But in 2019, the Arkansas legislature once again moved to reposition the Arkansas presidential primary for the 2020 cycle and beyond. The difference was that the legislation was passed and signed into law with no sunset clause, and the primary is scheduled for the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March until the state legislature acts to change that.

One additional difference over 2016 is also that Arkansas lost one district delegate as the other categories' totals remained constant. But outside of that, much remains the same in 2020 as it was in 2016 in the Natural state.

The standard 15 percent qualifying threshold applies 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.

See New Hampshire synopsis for an example of how the delegate allocation math works for all categories of delegates.

Delegate allocation (congressional district delegates)
Arkansas's 20 congressional district delegates are split across four congressional districts and have some muted variation across districts from the measure of Democratic strength Arkansas Democrats are using based on the results of the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections in the state. That method apportions delegates as follows...
CD1 - 4 delegates [Jonesboro]
CD2 - 6 delegates [Little Rock]
CD3 - 5 delegates* [Hot Springs]
CD4 - 5 delegates* [Fayetteville]

*Bear in mind that districts with odd numbers of national convention delegates are potentially important to winners (and those above the qualifying threshold) within those districts. Rounding up for an extra delegate initially requires less in those districts than in districts with even numbers of delegates.

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.]

All 31 pledged delegates in Arkansas will be selected at the state convention on May 30. District delegates will be chosen in district caucuses at the convention based on district results to the March primary while the full body will select both PLEO and then at-large delegates based on the statewide results.

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 May when the Arkansas statewide delegate selection takes place but Candidate Y is not, then any statewide delegates allocated to Candidate Y in the March primary 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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