Saturday, May 23, 2020

2020 Democratic Delegate Allocation: NEW MEXICO


Election type: primary
Date: June 2
Number of delegates: 46 [7 at-large, 4 PLEOs, 23 congressional district, 12 automatic/superdelegates]
Allocation method: proportional statewide and at the congressional district level
Threshold to qualify for delegates: 15%
2016: proportional primary
Delegate selection plan [includes post-coronavirus plans]

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.

For the third straight cycle, New Mexico Democrats will occupy what has historically been the typical spot for the consolidated primary in the Land of Enchantment: the first Tuesday after the first Monday in June. There was no change to the date of the contest nor any effort to push the primary to an earlier date.

There also was very little movement with respect to the state party's delegate selection plan for 2020. And that was true at least until the coronavirus pandemic hit. After that, there were some fairly significant tweaks to the process if not the plan. County clerks and the New Mexico secretary of state petitioned the state courts to allow an all-mail primary on June 2. But that request was denied based on state law that requires voters to formally apply fo an absentee ballot. However, the judge did allow absentee ballot applications to be sent to every New Mexico voter registered with a major party, a process that began in late April.

May 28 is the last day for voters to request an absentee ballot. In-person early and in-person election day voting will continue to be offered under the court ruling but will occur under the conditions set forth in the public health proclamations issued by the governor according to the court decision.

All ballots are due to county elections offices locations on or before 7pm on Tuesday, June 2. 

Overall, the Democratic delegation in New Mexico changed by just two delegates from 2016 to 2020. The number of pledged delegates stayed the same in all three categories but the number of superdelegates rose by two.

[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)
New Mexico's 23 congressional district delegates are split across eight congressional districts and have a variation of just two delegates across districts from the measure of Democratic strength New Mexico Democrats are using based on the results of the 2016 presidential and 2018 gubernatorial elections in the state. That method apportions delegates as follows...
CD1 - 9 delegates*
CD2 - 5 delegates*
CD3 - 9 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 the 23 district delegates in New Mexico will occur on June 13 in virtual post-primary district conventions. Democrats registered by May 5 and who reside in a congressional district can register with the state party to participate as "qualified post-primary electors" in those district conventions. The state party staff will then verify the credentials of those who register to be "electors."

Those same "qualified post-primary electors" will vote again on June 19 in the first part of a virtual state convention to select the four PLEO delegates. The second part of that virtual state convention will take place a day later on June 20 to select the seven at-large delegates.

[The coronavirus pandemic forced New Mexico Democrats to significantly truncate their delegate selection process. Initially, the party planned on a four step caucus/convention process. That was to have started with in-person ward/precinct meetings on June 3-6 where county convention delegates would be selected. The county conventions on June 6 were to have elected delegates to both the in-person district and state conventions on June 13 and June 20, respectively. Only those who had been elected to the county conventions could participate in the votes to send delegates to the district and state conventions. Only those who had been elected to the district and state conventions could vote on national convention delegates. Now that the coronavirus has intervened, the some of those steps have been removed and conceivably the pool of participants in electing national convention delegates has expanded. The gatekeeping of the ward/precinct and county meetings has been replaced by the state party verifying who can participate in the votes on national convention delegates based on who applies.]

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