Friday, May 29, 2020

2020 Democratic Delegate Allocation: GEORGIA


Election type: primary
Date: June 9
    [March 24 originally and then May 19]
Number of delegates: 119 [23 at-large, 14 PLEOs, 68 congressional district, 14 automatic/superdelegates]
Allocation method: proportional statewide and at the congressional district level
Threshold to qualify for delegates: 15%
2016: proportional primary
Delegate selection plan (post-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.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) nudged the presidential primary in the Peach state away from Super Tuesday for the first time since 1992 and the first time later than the first couple of weeks of March since 1976. The impetus behind the move to March 24 in 2019 was to accommodate Georgia Republicans in their delegate selection process. It allowed the GA GOP to allocate delegates in a more winner-take-all manner.

But those changes happened before 2020 and before the coronavirus pandemic intervened. That disrupted the plans for a March 24 primary since that fell at a point on the calendar when statewide lockdowns were beginning. That initially led Secretary Raffensperger to postpone the presidential primary, consolidating it with the primaries for state and local offices on May 19. Toward the end of March, Raffensperger then announced that all eligible Georgia voters would be mailed an absentee vote-by-mail request form for the May 19 primary.

However, Republicans less than happy about the mailed absentee applications and the lack of legislative input on the plan began calling for an even later primary date. Around that same time, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (R) extended the state of emergency in the Peach state to May 13, cutting into the early voting period for the May 19 primary. That led Raffensperger to move the primary back another three weeks to June 9. Absentee ballots requested before the second primary date change -- those with the May 19 date on them -- will still be accepted, and voters can still request absentee ballots up until election day on June 9.

All ballots are due to county elections offices on or before Tuesday, June 9. 

Overall, the Democratic delegation in Georgia changed by four delegates from 2016 to 2020. Each of the categories of delegates -- district, at-large, PLEO and superdelegate -- increased by one over the last four years.

[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)
Georgia's 68 congressional district delegates are split across 14 congressional districts and have a variation of four delegates across districts from the measure of Democratic strength Georgia 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 - 5 delegates*
CD3 - 4 delegates
CD4 - 7 delegates*
CD5 - 7 delegates*
CD6 - 5 delegates*
CD7 - 5 delegates*
CD8 - 4 delegates
CD9 - 4 delegates
CD10 - 4 delegates
CD11 - 5 delegates*
CD12 - 4 delegates
CD13 - 6 delegates
CD14 - 3 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 68 district delegates in Georgia occurred remotely in a pre-primary vote on May 23 via Google Forms Ballots and call-in voting. As the vote happened before the primary, slates for active candidates were selected and delegate slots will be filled according to the results within each of the thirteen congressional districts. The credentialling for that vote took place from April 13-May 8.

PLEO delegates will be remotely selected on June 20 -- also via Google Forms Ballot -- by the district delegates selected on May 23.

Finally, the at-large delegates will also be selected on June 20 by the state central committee. That selection process will happen virtually via Google Forms Ballot.

[Initially, before the coronavirus pandemic hit and when there was going to be a March 24 primary, Georgia Democrats had planned to hold post-primary congressional district caucuses on April 11 to select district delegates. Those district-level delegates to the national convention were to then have selected PLEO on April 25. Finally, the at-large delegates were to have been selected by the Georgia Democratic state central committee on May 16. All of those dates would have fallen before the May 19 primary much less the new date of the contest, June 9.]

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 Georgia statewide delegate selection takes place but Candidate Y is not, then any statewide delegates allocated to Candidate Y in the mid-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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