Tuesday, March 17, 2020

2020 Democratic Delegate Allocation: ILLINOIS


Election type: primary
Date: March 17
Number of delegates: 182 [34 at-large, 20 PLEOs, 101 congressional district, 27 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.

The Illinois primary for the third consecutive cycle -- and for the eleventh out of 12 post-reform cycles -- will fall on the third Tuesday in March, a couple of weeks after Super Tuesday. But in 2020, Illinois will be joined on the middle Tuesday in March by a different group of states (Arizona and Florida) in the Democratic process. Regardless of the calendar changes around the Land of Lincoln, Illinois Democrats will have the second most delegates at stake on March 17.

While the date of delegate allocation did not change, the Illinois Democratic delegation only marginally changed from 2016 to 2020. However, the number of pledged delegates decreased by one district delegate, but gained three superdelegates. On the whole, though, there were little to no changes in Illinois since 2016.

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)
Illinois's 101 congressional district delegates are split across 18 congressional districts and have a variation of five delegates across districts from the measure of Democratic strength Illinois Democrats are using. The formula for apportioning delegates to congressional district in the Land of Lincoln is based on three equally weighted measures of Democratic support:

That method apportions delegates as follows...
CD1 - 8 delegates
CD2 - 7 delegates*
CD3 - 6 delegates
CD4 - 5 delegates*
CD5 - 7 delegates*
CD6 - 6 delegates
CD7 - 8 delegates
CD8 - 5 delegates*
CD9 - 8 delegates
CD10 - 5 delegates*
CD11 - 5 delegates*
CD12 - 5 delegates*
CD13 - 5 delegates*
CD14 - 5 delegates*
CD15 - 3 delegates*
CD16 - 4 delegates
CD17 - 5 delegates*
CD18 - 4 delegates

*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 101 of the district delegates in Illinois will be elected on the March 17 primary ballot. Filing for ballot access closed on January 3, 2020. While a campaign's inability to file a full slate by then is often a signal of lack of organization, those same campaigns are not shut out of delegate positions if they are allocated them in the primary but do not have a full slate to fill them. In that case, the campaign would have an opportunity to fill those empty allocated slots at post-primary meetings to be scheduled within 30 days of the primary by the state committeeman and committeewoman from the congressional district. The PLEO and then at-large delegates will be selected on April 27 by quorum of national convention district delegates based on the statewide results in the primary.

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 Illinois 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. This is unlikely to be a factor with just two viable candidates in the race.

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