Monday, June 1, 2020

2020 Democratic Delegate Allocation: NEW YORK


Election type: primary
Date: June 23
    [April 28 originally]
Number of delegates: 324 [61 at-large, 29 PLEOs, 184 congressional district, 50 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.

New York Democrats saw a number of changes both before and after the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on the Empire state. In the time since 2016 and before the calendar flipped to 2020, the New York state legislature in 2019 shifted the primary back a week from the mid-April position it held alone in 2016 to the final Tuesday in April alongside a group of five other neighboring states.

But after the coronavirus hit in earnest in March 2020 and hit especially hard in New York state, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) first pushed the primary back to June 23 and then issued an executive order requiring county elections officials to mail absentee ballot applications (with postage-paid return) to all eligible New York voters. However, days later, acting on the new powers granted it under a new provision in a budget bill signed into law, the New York State Board of Elections opted to cancel the June 23 presidential primary. [For more on the further empowerment of the Board of Elections in this scenario, see this post on the maneuvering after the cancelation.] That move was challenged in federal court. And first the district court reversed the cancelation and then the court of appeals upheld that decision, ushering back in the June 23 presidential primary.

The state did not appeal that court of appeals decision, cementing the presidential primary on June 23. Voters will now have until June 16 -- a week before the the primary -- to have their ballot requests in to county elections offices in order to receive their ballot in time for the election.

All ballots are then due to county elections offices postmarked on or before Monday, June 22, or delivered in person by election day on June 23. 

Overall, the Democratic delegation in New York changed by 29 delegates from 2016 to 2020. Since the last Democratic nomination four years ago, Democrats in the Empire state added 21 district delegates, seven at-large delegates and two superdelegates. The only category of delegates to shrink since 2016 was the group of PLEO delegates that decreased by one delegate. Most of the gains came from New York having rejoined the Acela primary group of states -- originally in late April -- and tacking on a 15 percent clustering bonus from the DNC. New York was a part of the group in 2012, but went a week earlier than the rest in 2016.

[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)
New York's 184 congressional district delegates are split across 27 congressional districts and have a variation of just two delegates across districts from the measure of Democratic strength Empire state Democrats are using based on the results of the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections in the state. That method apportions delegates as follows...
CD1 - 6 delegates
CD2 - 6 delegates
CD3 - 7 delegates*
CD4 - 7 delegates*
CD5 - 8 delegates
CD6 - 6 delegates
CD7 - 7 delegates*
CD8 - 8 delegates
CD9 - 8 delegates
CD10 - 7 delegates*
CD11 - 6 delegates
CD12 - 8 delegates
CD13 - 8 delegates
CD14 - 6 delegates
CD15 - 7 delegates*
CD16 - 8 delegates
CD17 - 7 delegates*
CD18 - 6 delegates
CD19 - 6 delegates
CD20 - 7 delegates*
CD21 - 6 delegates
CD22 - 6 delegates
CD23 - 6 delegates
CD24 - 7 delegates*
CD25 - 7 delegates*
CD26 - 7 delegates*
CD27 - 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 184 district delegates will still be directly elected on the New York Democratic presidential primary ballot, but now that primary will take place on June 23. Similarly, the state convention -- some time in July -- will continue to be the body that selects both the PLEO and then at-large delegates. But it is noteworthy that the New York Democratic Party state convention is a state convention in name only, at least as compared to how most other states conduct state conventions. The typical state convention is comprised of a group of delegates who are selected at more local caucuses or conventions during primary season. The New York Democratic state convention is alternatively just the state central committee. In essence, then, it is a meeting of the committee rather than a convention of delegates. However, each campaign will have at least one member representing them on the nominating committee at the convention.

[Under the originally approved and compliant delegate selection plan, New York Democrats would still have directly elected their district delegates on the primary ballot. That remains the case, but that would have taken place on April 28, before the primary moved back to June. Likewise, the PLEO and at-large delegates would have been chosen at the state convention that was planned for May 12.]

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 July when the New York statewide delegate selection takes place but Candidate Y is not, then any statewide delegates allocated to Candidate Y in the late 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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