Tuesday, April 28, 2020

2020 Democratic Delegate Allocation: OHIO


Election type: primary
Date: April 28
    [March 17 originally]
Number of delegates: 153 [29 at-large, 18 PLEOs, 89 congressional district, 17 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 Ohio primary was moved back a week to third Tuesday in March by Republicans in the state legislature to preserve the winner-take-all allocation method the party used in 2016. That affected the Democratic contest as well. Once the coronavirus pandemic hit, however, Ohio became one of the first states to delay its primary. When the primary was postponed on primary day -- March 17 -- the governor and secretary of state both signaled a June 2 date. However, that was never a decision definitively handed down in any executive action. Instead, when the legislature got involved later in March 2020, the primary was not only set for April 28, but was made a vote-by-mail election. Those already in possession of an absentee ballot from the original March 17 primary could still submit those ballots. Every eligible voter was mailed a postcard in mid-April informing them of how they could participate in the primary.

[For more of the particulars on how the primary will work, see this earlier post about the bill the changed the election to vote-by-mail.]

Overall, the Democratic delegation changed by six delegates from 2016 to 2020. The number of pledged delegates decreased by seven (four district delegates, two at-large delegates and one PLEO delegate), but gained one superdelegate. On the whole, though, there were changes for Ohio Democrats since 2016 but most of them occurred in response to the coronavirus in 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)
Ohio's 89 congressional district delegates are split across 16 congressional districts and have a variation of six delegates across districts from the measure of Democratic strength Ohio Democrats are using based on the results of the 2016 presidential election and 2018 gubernatorial election in the state. That method apportions delegates as follows...
CD1 - 6 delegates
CD2 - 5 delegates*
CD3 - 7 delegates*
CD4 - 4 delegates
CD5 - 5 delegates*
CD6 - 3 delegates*
CD7 - 4 delegates
CD8 - 4 delegates
CD9 - 6 delegates
CD10 - 6 delegates
CD11 - 9 delegates*
CD12 - 6 delegates
CD13 - 6 delegates
CD14 - 6 delegates
CD15 - 6 delegates
CD16 - 6 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 89 of the district delegates were slated for each candidate on January 7 and how many of each candidate's delegate candidates are selected from those slates is based on the results of the April 28 primary. Filing for district delegate candidates closed on December 31, 2019. 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 caucuses that were scheduled to be held on April 16 under the original delegate selection plan. However, the new plan, updated on April 8, 2020 (the day that Sanders suspended his campaign), indicates that the post-primary meetings are moot. The PLEO and then at-large delegates will be selected on June 6 by the State Executive Committee based on the statewide results in the primary. [Under the initial, pre-coronavirus plan, those statewide delegates were to have been selected on May 9.]

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 June when the Ohio statewide delegate selection takes place but Candidate Y is not, then any statewide delegates allocated to Candidate Y in the April 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.  This is less likely to be a factor with just Biden left as the only viable candidate in the race, but Sanders could still gain statewide delegates by finishing with more than 15 percent statewide.

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