Thursday, June 4, 2020

2020 Democratic Delegate Allocation: LOUISIANA


Election type: primary
Date: July 11
    [April 4 originally and then June 20]
Number of delegates: 60 [12 at-large, 7 PLEOs, 35 congressional district, 6 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, post-coronavirus: March | April]

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.

2019 was a mostly quiet year for primary movement compared to some recent cycles, but Louisiana was one of the few states that shifted to a different date for 2020. The change to a later date in 2020 -- the first Saturday in April -- was less about the presidential primary and more about the timing of local elections. But it did have the added benefit to Pelican state Democrats of adding bonus delegates to their total.

However, that was all before the coronavirus. After the pandemic began to spread, Louisiana became the first state to make a change, shifting the April 4 primary back to June 20. Louisiana was the first was not the last state to move, and in Louisiana's case, move again. The mid-March decision to push the primary to June did not hold very long as the coronavirus extended its reach and peak well into April. It was then -- in mid-April when the coronavirus was at its worst in New Orleans -- that the decision came down from Governor John Bel Edwards (D), moving the primary back another three weeks to July 11.

But while the change bought election administrators some additional time to get out of the shadow of the pandemic, only a slight change was made to absentee vote-by-mail in the  Pelican state. Typically, an excuse is required in order to receive an absentee ballot and that did not change in 2020. However, several coronavirus-related excuses were added to the list gradually expanding who and how many Louisianans will qualify for a vote-by-mail ballot. That diverges from how most later primary states that have moved (and even those who have not) have reacted in the wake of the coronavirus. Most states have mailed either absentee applications or ballots to voters, but Louisiana has opted not to. But then again, most states did not move to dates as late as the July date on which the Louisiana primary settled.

All absentee ballots are due to county elections offices on or before 4:30pm on Friday, July 10 for most voters. Military and overseas officials have until 8pm on Saturday, July 11 to have their absentee ballots into county registrars.

Overall, the Democratic delegation from Louisiana changed by three delegates from 2016 to 2020. The number of district delegates rose by two and one additional at-large delegate was tacked on as well. Those increases were a direct result of the timing bonus the state party gained from the primary moving to April from early March. PLEO delegates and superdelegates remain the same in 2020 as they did in 2016.

[Please see below for more on the post-coronavirus changes specific 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)
Louisiana's 35 congressional district delegates are split across six congressional districts and have a variation of five delegates across districts from the measure of Democratic strength Pelican state Democrats are using based on the results of the 2016 presidential and 2019 gubernatorial elections in the state. That method apportions delegates as follows...
CD1 - 4 delegates
CD2 - 9 delegates*
CD3 - 5 delegates*
CD4 - 6 delegates
CD5 - 6 delegates
CD6 - 5 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.]

Under the originally approved Louisiana Democratic Party delegate selection plan, the 35 district delegates were to have been selected in a vote-by-mail system throughout April open to all registered Democrats who wanted to apply with the party. That system was unique among states before the coronavirus, but is less so after it. That system remains and was pushed back, but will now be a pre-primary exercise to slate district delegate candidates to be chosen from to fill delegate slots allocated in the July 11 primary. District delegate ballots were mailed out by the state party on April 29 and due back, postmarked by May 18.

Statewide delegates were to have been selected by the State Central Committee at a May 9 meeting, but that, too, became a casualty of the coronavirus. Louisiana Democrats opted to lean on a vote-by-mail system for selecting PLEO and then at-large delegates will continue to be chosen by the State Central Committee, but members will do so via a vote-by-mail system in which ballots were sent out on May 22 and will be due to the party, postmarked by June 8. Again, as with the district delegate selection process, the selection of statewide delegates will take place before the primary, slating delegate candidates to be chosen from after the primary.

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. Under a 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. Louisiana Democrats will select slates of delegate candidates in pre-primary votes-by-mail. Delegates slots allocated to the candidates will be filled from those slates once the results are in from the July 11 primary, negating much of the normal reallocation rules.

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