Wednesday, June 3, 2020

2020 Democratic Delegate Allocation: DELAWARE


Election type: primary
Date: July 7
    [April 28 originally and then June 2]
Number of delegates: 32 [5 at-large, 2 PLEOs, 14 congressional district, 11 automatic/superdelegates]
Allocation method: proportional statewide and at the subdivision level
Threshold to qualify for delegates: 15%
2016: proportional primary
Delegate selection plan (mid-coronavirus)
    [Updated plan after primary move to July 7]

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.

Little changed in the delegate selection process for Delaware Democrats from 2016 until the beginning of 2020. There was an effort to consolidate all of the primaries in a presidential election year for the last Tuesday in April slot that the Delaware presidential primary has occupied since the 2012 cycle. But the non-presidential primary stayed in September and the presidential primary remained in April.

And that was the case until the coronavirus pandemic and its attendant impact on the electoral process happened. That triggered not one, but two presidential primary moves. First, Delaware Governor John Carney (D) in late March pushed the primary back to June 2. However, that date proved difficult not only because the virus and its potential for spread during in-person voting even in June, but because of the tiny window to jumpstart no-excuse absentee voting in a state that did not have that infrastructure in place.

That led to a subsequent change in the Delaware election calendar in early May. Governor Carney moved the Delaware presidential primary back to July 7 (a move for which Delaware Democrats received a DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee waiver because the date falls after June 9), and also called for all eligible Delaware voters to be mailed an absentee ballot application. These changes conform with what a number of other states -- both Democratic and Republican-controlled -- that have had to make changes in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak have done.

All absentee ballots are due to county elections offices on before Tuesday, July 7. That is received and not postmarked by 8pm on June 7. 

Overall, the Democratic delegation from Delaware changed by just two delegates from 2016 to 2020. All of the pledged delegate categories remained the same and First state Democrats added two superdelegates in that time.

[Please see below for more on the post-coronavirus changes specifically to the 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)
Delaware's 14 congressional district delegates are split across four subdivision districts -- Wilmington city and three counties -- carved out of the one congressional district state. Those districts have a variation of just two delegates across them from the measure of Democratic strength First state Democrats are using based on the results of the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections in the state. That method apportions delegates as follows...
Wilmington city - 2 delegates
New Castle County - 8 delegates
Kent County - 2 delegates
Sussex County - 2 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 selection of Delaware's 21 pledged delegates go through a multi-tiered process starting with "representative district-level" caucuses (RDLC). Those events were planned throughout March (and before April 28), but were interrupted by the spread of the coronavirus and subsequent lockdowns. That meant that some of those caucuses were completed in-person while alternate plans had to be made for the remaining caucuses. All Democrats registered by January 1, 2020 were eligible to participate in the RDLCs and ballots were made available for download on April 15. Participants could mail those ballots postmarked by May 15 or email them (or take advantage of the drive-up option if given the okay) by May 18.

Those RDLCs elect delegates to the post-primary Delaware Delegate Selection Caucus (DDSC), the voting window of which is tentatively scheduled fall on July 9-13. Delegates to the DDSC will elect the 14 subdivision (district) delegates in an online vote. Finally, the national convention district delegates will then meet in the Delaware Democratic Delegate Selection Convention proposed for July 16. A quorum of those 14 delegates will select the 2 PLEO and then 5 at-large delegates to the national convention.

[The originally approved Delaware delegate selection plan called for the RDLCs to occur before April 28 as mentioned above, and for the district and statewide delegate selections to both occur on May 9 after the April 28 primary. Those in-person May 9 DDSCs would have chosen the district delegates, a quorum of which would thereafter have picked the PLEO and then at-large delegates to the national convention.]

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 mid-July when the Delaware statewide delegate selection takes place but Candidate Y is not, then any statewide delegates allocated to Candidate Y in the early July 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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