Friday, May 1, 2020

2020 Democratic Delegate Allocation: KANSAS


Election type: primary (party-run)
Date: May 2
Number of delegates: 45 [9 at-large, 4 PLEOs, 26 congressional district, 6 automatic/superdelegates]
Allocation method: proportional statewide and at the congressional district level
Threshold to qualify for delegates: 15%
2016: proportional caucuses
Delegate selection plan

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.

Unlike some states where most of the changes from 2016 to 2020 occurred because of the coronavirus in 2020, Kansas Democrats saw changes to their delegate selection on both sides of the pandemic. The biggest pre-coronavirus changes instituted were in response to the Democratic National Committee rules changes encouraging increased participation in the delegate selection process. Kansas Democrats' original delegate selection plan called for a May 2 party-run primary that included both in-person and mail-in ranked choice voting. That May end point was eight weeks later than the weekend after Super Tuesday date on which the Kansas Democratic caucuses were in 2016.

Those are not changes without significance. Kansas Democrats, even days before May 2, was a success story for the DNC changes in Rule 2 calling for increased participation. Even then, turnout in the mail-in party-run primary was triple what it was in the 2016 caucuses.

After the coronavirus pandemic turned the 2020 presidential nomination process upside down, the Kansas Democratic Party's initial reaction was to continue as planned with the party's delegate selection plan. They planned to retain the in-person voting component but emphasize the vote-by-mail system the groundwork of which had been laid in the original plan. This emphasis included mailing ballots to all registered Democrats in the Sunflower state. Those registered by March 30 were to have been mailed ballot by the party by April 10. Additionally, Kansas Democrats could request ballots from the party until April 24. Less than two weeks later the party opted to nix in-person voting (just as Alaska, Hawaii and Wyoming have done in party-run contests).

All ballots are due to the state party by Saturday, May 2. That is received and not postmarked by May 2. 

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

Overall, the Democratic delegation changed by eight delegates from 2016 to 2020. The number of pledged delegates increased by six (four district delegates and two at-large delegates), and gained two superdelegates. The majority of the increase to the delegation was based on the decision of Kansas Democrats to switch to a later contest. That move from March in 2016 to May in 2020 qualified the state party for bonus delegates.

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)
Kansas's 26 congressional district delegates are split across 4 congressional districts and have a variation of three delegates across districts from the measure of Democratic strength Kansas Democrats are using based on the results of the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections in the state. That method apportions delegates as follows...
CD1 - 5 delegates*
CD2 - 7 delegates*
CD3 - 8 delegates
CD4 - 6 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.]

All 26 of the Kansas district delegates will be selected through online voting on May 29 and 30. Any registered Democrat can participate in the selection election by registering either with their congressional district chair or the state party by Monday, May 4. The PLEO and then at-large delegates will be selected on June 3-4 by the State Committee based on the statewide results in the primary. This selection will also take place virtually.

[The dates of selection have been modified for all pledged delegates because of the coronavirus. The district delegates were to have been selected in district conventions on May 16 while the PLEO and at-large delegates were to have been selected by the Kansas Democratic State Committee on June 6.]

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 early June when the Kansas statewide delegate selection takes place but Candidate Y is not, then any statewide delegates allocated to Candidate Y in the May party-run 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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