Monday, May 18, 2020

2020 Democratic Delegate Allocation: HAWAII


Election type: primary
Date: May 22
    [April 4 originally]
Number of delegates: 33 [6 at-large, 3 PLEOs, 15 congressional district, 9 automatic/superdelegates]
Allocation method: proportional statewide and at the congressional district level
Threshold to qualify for delegates: 15%
2016: proportional caucuses
Delegate selection plan (pre-coronavirus)

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.

Hawaii Democrats pretty substantially altered their delegate selection process for 2020. Although the state legislature failed in 2018 to create a state government-run presidential primary, the state party in 2019 made the move toward a party-run primary in the wake of new DNC encouragements for increased participation in the presidential nomination process. That party-run primary was to combine both in-person and mail-in voting and a ranked choice ballot.

However, the coronavirus, as in other states, disrupted the state party's initial plans. First, Hawaii Democrats chose to eliminate in-person voting in the originally scheduled April 4 primary. Then, days later, the party moved the date on which mail-in ballots were due to May 22 to allow a bit more time for additional voters to register and for a third round of ballot mailing to occur in early May.

All ballots are due to state party offices by Friday, May 22. That is received and not postmarked by May 22. Since the state party offices are closed due to the coronavirus, there is no option to drop off completed ballots. They must be mailed and received by May 22. No specific deadline time is given.

[Please see below for more on the post-coronavirus changes specifically to the delegate selection process.]

Overall, there were significant changes to the way in which Hawaii Democrats planned to run their delegate selection process for the 2020 cycle. Yet, the Democratic delegation in Hawaii changed by just one delegate from 2016 to 2020. The number of district delegates decreased by one and the other two two categories of pledged delegates stayed exactly the same. So, too, did the number of superdelegates in the Aloha state. The nature of the bonus Hawaii Democrats qualified for in 2020 changed. A 15 percent clustering bonus from 2016 was replaced by a 20 percent timing bonus in 2020. The increased bonus masks some small changes to the base delegation in Hawaii for 2020 from 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)
Hawaii's 15 congressional district delegates are split across two congressional districts and have a variation of just one delegate across districts from the measure of Democratic strength Hawaii Democrats are using based on the results of the 2016 presidential election and the 2018 gubernatorial election in the state. That method apportions delegates as follows...
CD1 - 7 delegates*
CD2 - 8 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 15 Hawaii district delegates will be selected by state convention delegates selected in March 4 precinct meetings. However, those state convention delegates will not make those selections at the state convention as planned. Instead, an online voting system will help facilitate a voting window from June 5-8. The state party will distribute voting instructions to delegates on June 5 and provide a deadline of June for their return. The Hawaii Democratic Party State Central Committee meeting at which PLEO and at-large delegates were to have been selected had been pushed to a video/teleconference call that will fall on June 13. In neither case has the group of selectors changed, but the date and meeting format have.

[Initially, before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Hawaii Democrats had planned to hold post-primary state convention on May 23 at which district delegates would have been selected. Likewise, a May 24 state central committee meeting was to have selected PLEO and at-large delegates. Both of those in-person gatherings were eliminated in a revised delegate selection plan that received approval from the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee on April 1.]

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 June when the Hawaii statewide delegate selection takes place but Candidate Y is not, then any statewide delegates allocated to Candidate Y in the May party-run 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. Under a new deal struck between the Biden and Sanders camps, Biden will be allocated (or reallocated) all of the statewide delegates in a given state. However, during the selection process, the state party will select Sanders-aligned delegate candidates in proportion to the share of the qualified statewide vote.

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