Tuesday, March 10, 2020

2020 Democratic Delegate Allocation: NORTH DAKOTA


Election type: party-run primary ['firehouse caucus']
Date: March 10
Number of delegates: 18 [3 at-large, 2 PLEOs, 9 congressional district, 4 automatic/superdelegates]
Allocation method: proportional statewide and at the congressional district level
Threshold to qualify for delegates: 15%
2016: proportional caucuses
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.

North Dakota Democrats not only shook up their mode of delegate allocation and selection, but also moves the contest up twelve weeks from early June in 2016 to mid-March for 2020. And while that was among the biggest calendar moves from last cycle to this one, it was a nod to the new encouragements in DNC delegate selection rules that carries perhaps greater weight. In their draft delegate selection plan, North Dakota Democrats shift from a straight caucus format to a "firehouse" caucus format that allows for North Dakota Democrats to participate at caucus locations but to also weigh in via a "robust" vote-by-mail system that is in effect between January 20 and March 5. The intent there was to increase participation in the caucuses in line with the new Rule 2 encouragements the DNC has put in place for the 2020 cycle.

North Dakota Democrats saw their delegation shrink relative to 2016. The 2020 delegation contracted by three district delegates, one at-large delegate and one superdelegate. PLEO delegates stayed at 2016 levels for 2020.

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)
North Dakota's 9 congressional district delegates are split across one congressional district. Since North Dakota is a one congressional district state, district level delegates are allocated based on the statewide results. That pool of delegates operates as a third pool of statewide delegates in addition to the PLEO and at-large delegates.

CD-AL - 9 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.]

The 9 district delegates in North Dakota are chosen at the state convention on April 4. Campaign-approved slates of delegate candidates will appear on the ballot at the state convention and the number allocated to a particular candidate will be selected from those slates. PLEO delegates and then at-large delegates will be selected at the Democratic state convention on April 4 as well.

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 early April when the North Dakota 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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