Tuesday, June 9, 2020

One of Biden's Magic Numbers is Now a Little Different

No, not among pledged delegates.

Former Vice President Joe Biden clinched the Democratic presidential nomination over the weekend, surpassing the 1991 pledged delegates necessary to reach a majority. But with nearly one-fifth of all delegates yet to be allocated in the remaining contests, it remains to be seen whether Biden will earn enough pledged delegates and open the door to superdelegate participation in the presidential nomination roll call vote during the national convention.

To do that the presumptive Democratic nominee would have to be allocated a majority of all delegates (in pledged delegates). That way superdelegates would be unable to overturn a tight pledged delegate majority -- one that does not exist in 2020 -- if the group voted as a bloc. But again, that will not be necessary in 2020. Biden has a wide enough pledged delegate lead to have clinched the nomination by the pledged delegate method. The only question left outstanding is whether he will win enough delegates to allow superdelegate participation on the first ballot.

Biden is on pace to do that, but that number -- the majority of all delegates -- has changed during primary season. Appendix B to the Call for the Convention had the number of superdelegates at 771 at the end of 2019. For the 2020 cycle, however, the secretary of the Democratic National Committee had to certify the number of superdelegates to each state party by March 6, 2020 under Rule 9 of the 2020 delegate selection rules.

That subsequent certification adjusted the number of superdelegates in 23 states and territories. And those changes ranged from an addition of four (4) superdelegates in New York to a loss of two (2) superdelegates in three jurisdictions (District of Columbia, Illinois and Oregon).

Although, in the aggregate, the changes across all 23 states and territories largely cancelled each other out. There ended up being three more delegates added from states than subtracted. And that increases not only the number of superdelegates to 774, but slightly raises the magic number of all delegates Biden would have to win in order to allow superdelegates into the roll call voting at the convention.

So, instead of that number being 2376 delegates, Biden will have to get to 2378 pledged delegates to trigger the superdelegate voting privileges. No, that is unlikely to be too high a bar for the former vice president to clear. But it is a change.

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