Sunday, May 31, 2020

2020 Democratic Delegate Allocation: KENTUCKY


Election type: primary
Date: June 23
    [May 19 originally]
Number of delegates: 60 [12 at-large, 6 PLEOs, 36 congressional district, 6 automatic/superdelegates]
Allocation method: proportional statewide and at the congressional district level
Threshold to qualify for delegates: 15%
2016: proportional primary
Delegate selection plan (pre-coronavirus)
    [Summary of changes, post-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.

It was a quiet time in Kentucky after 2016, at least so far as the presidential primary and other delegate selection changes (especially on the Democratic side) were concerned. There was no effort to move or break up the consolidated primary scheduled for mid-May during the period from late 2016 through 2019.

But once the coronavirus pandemic came on the scene, Kentucky, like other states, changed the plans that had been laid out well in advance. On the state government level, Secretary of State Michael Adams (R) moved the primary from the May position it has been in since the 1992 cycle to June 23. And in a deal struck with Governor Andy Beshear (D), Adams also extended absentee voting to all registered Kentuckians. Postcards indicating the new voting option were mailed to all voters and an online application was created to allow all voters to request an absentee ballot. This is similar to the changes made in neighboring Ohio. Information about the change in voting was distributed, but not either absentee voting applications nor ballots were mailed directly to voters.

All ballots are due to county elections offices on or before 6pm on Tuesday, June 23. 

Overall, the Democratic delegation in Kentucky changed by just one delegate from 2016 to 2020. Over the last four years, only the district delegates decreased by one while the remaining two categories of pledged delegates and superdelegates stayed the same.

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

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)
Kentucky's 36 congressional district delegates are split across 6 congressional districts and have a fairly wide variation of seven delegates across districts based on the measure of Democratic strength the state party is using determined by the results of the 2016 presidential and 2019 gubernatorial elections in the state. That method apportions delegates as follows...
CD1 - 4 delegates
CD2 - 5 delegates*
CD3 - 10 delegates
CD4 - 6 delegates
CD5 - 3 delegates*
CD6 - 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.]

As it has elsewhere, the outbreak of the coronavirus has disrupted the delegate selection process in Kentucky. County/legislative district caucuses have been eliminated under the new plan and all registered Kentucky Democrats can remotely participate in the selection of district delegates. Any Kentucky Democrat can apply with the state party by June 6 to participate via Google Forms ballot in the pre-primary selection of district delegates that takes place from June 7-13. As this is a pre-primary election, delegate slates will be selected for participating candidates and delegate slots allocated on primary election day will be filled from those slates.

Both PLEO and then at-large delegates will be selected by the State Executive Committee on June 27 (if the results of the June 23 primary have been certified by that time).

[Initially, before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Kentucky Democrats had planned to hold post-primary county/legislative district caucuses on May 30 to select delegates to the state convention on June 6. State convention delegates broken into congressional districts were to have chosen district delegates there and the full convention would have selected the PLEO delegates. Following the conclusion of the June 6 state convention, the Kentucky Democratic Party State Executive Committee was to have selected the at-large delegates to go to the national convention from the commonwealth.]

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 June when the Georgia statewide delegate selection takes place but Candidate Y is not, then any statewide delegates allocated to Candidate Y in the late June 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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