Thursday, May 21, 2020

2020 Democratic Delegate Allocation: MARYLAND


Election type: primary
Date: June 2
    [April 28 originally]
Number of delegates: 119 [21 at-large, 10 PLEOs, 65 congressional district, 23 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)
    [Addendum to 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 the past couple of cycles, Maryland lawmakers made no effort to uproot the presidential primary in the Old Line state from its position on the primary calendar. The late April spot alongside neighboring states Delaware and Pennsylvania survived into the 2020 cycle. As the nomination process formally began and the coronavirus pandemic became a more serious threat to the normal administration of the election, changes were made. In mid-March, Governor Larry Hogan (R) initially shifted the April 28 primary back five weeks to June 2. But then later in March, the Maryland State Board of Elections signaled an all-mail primary before retreating from that stance a bit in April. The Board voted then to hold a predominantly mail-in primary while still allowing for a reduced number of election day voting sites for those unable to vote by mail. Each county will have at least one election day voting location but no more than four.

All eligible Maryland voters will receive a ballot -- not an application for an absentee ballot as in most other states that have made similar changes -- with prepaid postage. Those ballots can then be mailed back to county elections offices or dropped off in person there.

All ballots are due to county elections offices' drop off locations or postmarked on or before Tuesday, June 2. 

Overall, the Democratic delegation in Maryland changed by just one delegate from 2016 to 2020. The number of district delegates increased by one and the other two categories of pledged delegates stayed exactly the same as did the number of superdelegates in the Old Line 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)
Maryland's 65 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 Maryland Democrats are using based on the results of the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections in the state. That method apportions delegates as follows...
CD1 - 7 delegates*
CD2 - 8 delegates
CD3 - 8 delegates
CD4 - 9 delegates*
CD5 - 9 delegates*
CD6 - 7 delegates*
CD7 - 9 delegates*
CD8 - 8 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 65 district delegates in Maryland will occur on the June 2 presidential primary ballot. That process has not changed although the date of the contest has. PLEO and then at-large delegates will be selected on June 20 by the state central committee. It is unclear as of this writing whether that meeting will be in-person or virtual.

[Initially, before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Maryland Democrats had planned to hold a post-primary state central committee meeting on May 30 to select PLEO and then at-large delegates. District delegates will continue to be elected on the primary ballot, but on June 2 instead of April 28.]

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 late-June when the Maryland 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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