Thursday, May 28, 2020

2020 Democratic Delegate Allocation: US VIRGIN ISLANDS


Election type: territorial caucuses
Date: June 6
Number of delegates: 13 [7 at-large delegates, 6 automatic/superdelegates]
Allocation method: proportional territory-wide
Threshold to qualify for delegates: 15%
2016: territorial caucuses
Delegate selection plan (pre-coronavirus)
    [Post-Coronavirus Addendum]

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.

Democrats in the US Virgin Islands kept their first Saturday in June position on the 2020 primary calendar, keeping the territory's contest there on the calendar for the third consecutive cycle. The delegation also remained the same size as it was in 2016.

And while much of the delegate selection plan remained the same -- the bulk of it carrying over from 2016 -- the intervention of the coronavirus affected the original plans the Democratic Party in the territory made. The caucuses will go on as planned on June 6, but the party will scale back a couple of facets of their approved delegate selection plan. Although the island does not have same day registration, the party had planned to work toward that end during the caucuses in 2020. But that has been scrapped. Early voting was also to have taken place from May 26-29, but that four day window has been cut to just two days and pushed back to just before the caucuses on June 4-5.

Yet, not all of the coronavirus changes were negative in terms of their potential impact on caucus turnout. The territorial party introduced drive-thru voting as a means of ameliorating some of the concerns caused by the coronavirus. Drive-thru voting will be available at all three caucus locations -- one on each of the three islands -- during the early voting period through caucus day on June 6. The drive-through option is just that, an option. It is included alongside the other in-person, electronic and postal options already available to Democrats in the Virgin Islands.

The standard 15 percent qualifying threshold applies territory-wide for the allocation of the seven at-large delegates.

Delegate allocation (at-large)
To win any at-large delegates a candidate must win 15 percent of the vote in the caucuses in one or both of two subdivisions into which the Democratic Party in the US Virgin Islands has divided the territory. The caucuses in St. Croix will have four (4) delegates to allocate while St. John/St. Thomas will together have three (3) delegates to allocate. Under DNC rules these seven (7) delegates are at-large, but are treated (allocated) as district delegates. Their allocation hinges not on the territory-wide vote, but on the votes within the two subdivisions.

Only the votes of those candidates above the threshold will count for the purposes of the allocation of those 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)
There are no congressional districts within the US Virgin Islands and as such there are no technically district delegates to allocate in the June 6 caucuses. However, see the above description of the the at-large delegate allocation process.

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 seven at-large delegates to the national convention from US Virgin Islands will be selected at the June 6 territory-wide caucuses. Delegate candidates were to have filed by May 17 and will be selected in proportion to the vote of qualifying candidates in the caucuses.

Importantly, if a candidate drops out of the race before the selection of territory-wide delegates, then any territory-wide delegates allocated to that candidate will be reallocated to the remaining candidates. However, given the simultaneity of the allocation and selection on June 6 in the Virgin Islands, that means that there is no real potential for reallocation of those territory-wide delegates. This reallocation would only apply 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 territory-wide delegates by finishing with more than 15 percent territory-wide. Under a new deal struck between the Biden and Sanders camps, Biden will be allocated (or reallocated) all of the territory-wide 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 territory-wide vote.

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