Wednesday, May 20, 2020

2020 Democratic Delegate Allocation: INDIANA


Election type: primary
Date: June 2
    [May 5 originally]
Number of delegates: 89 [18 at-large, 9 PLEOs, 55 congressional district, 7 automatic/superdelegates]
Allocation method: proportional statewide and at the congressional district level
Threshold to qualify for delegates: 15%
2016: proportional primary
Delegate selection plan (pre-coronavirus)

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.

Very little changed for Indiana Democrats before the coronavirus pandemic reared its head in the 2020 presidential nomination process. There was no effort to shift the presidential primary from its traditional early May position; a position the state has occupied throughout the post-reform era.

But the pandemic did affect the nature of the state-level process mid-primary season in 2020. On March 20, Indiana Governor Holcomb (R) pushed the May 5 primary back to June 2 via executive order. Less than a week later, the State Elections Commission voted to waive the excuse requirement to vote absentee (by mail), and on May 11 voted again to move to a primarily vote-by-mail election. In-person early voting will be opened to voters from May 26-June 1, but at fewer locations than during a normal election. Additionally, Indiana voters will have until May 21 to request an absentee ballot. Unlike other states, Indiana is not mailing out absentee applications or ballots. The onus is on the voter to request the application, fill it out, return that and have it approved before receiving a ballot that will also have to be mailed back in.

All ballots are due to county elections offices by noon on Tuesday, June 2. That is received and not postmarked by June 2. 

Overall, the Democratic delegation in Indiana changed by just three delegates from 2016 to 2020. The number of district delegates decreased by one and the other two categories of pledged delegates stayed exactly the same. And the number of superdelegates shrunk by two in the Hoosier state.

[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)
Indiana's 55 congressional district delegates are split across nine congressional districts and have a variation of three delegates across districts from the measure of Democratic strength Indiana Democrats are using based on the results of the 2016 presidential and gubernatorial elections in the state. That method apportions delegates as follows...
CD1 - 8 delegates
CD2 - 5 delegates*
CD3 - 5 delegates*
CD4 - 5 delegates*
CD5 - 8 delegates
CD6 - 5 delegates*
CD7 - 8 delegates
CD8 - 5 delegates*
CD9 - 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.]

The 55 district delegates in Indiana will now be virtually selected by state convention delegates elected on the June 2 primary ballot. Online voting will take place from June 13-17. Ballots will be sorted based on both congressional district and presidential preference. Only Joe Biden-aligned state convention delegates from a particular district, for example, will select the district delegates allocated to Biden in the June 2 primary.

Those district delegate votes will be tabulated on June 18 and then all of the district delegates will convene on June 19 and select the PLEO and then at-large delegates to the national convention.

It is not specified in the May 2 addendum to the Indiana Democratic Party delegate selection plan whether that national convention delegation meeting -- the one where statewide delegates are selected -- will be held virtually or in person. 

It should additionally be noted that the Indiana Democratic Party has also filed a waiver request with the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee to delay the selection process by about a month. Under that proposed revision, ballots to elect district delegates would be mailed to state convention delegates on June 22. Those state convention delegates would then have until July 10 to return those ballots. Results would then be tabulated from July 13-15 and a national convention delegation meeting would then occur on July 16 where a quorum of district delegates would select PLEO and then at-large delegates. Under the waiver, Indiana Democrats would have a bit more time to conduct and finalize the delegate selection process.

[Initially, before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Indiana Democrats had planned to hold post-primary state convention on June 13 at which district delegates would have been selected. A quorum of those district delegates to the national convention would then have selected PLEO and at-large delegates.]

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-June when the Indiana 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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