DemDaily: The Delegate Math

November 25, 2019

Over 4,500 delegates will attend the Democratic National Convention July 13-16, 2020 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The locally elected representatives, public and party leaders will vote to decide our Democratic nominee for the presidential election on November 3rd.

The candidate who secures a simple majority of the delegate votes in the presidential primaries wins the nomination.

How it Works
The Democratic National Committee allocates the number of delegates for each state based on the state's electoral votes, the average of the vote for the Democratic candidates in the two most recent presidential elections, and the timing of the state primary or caucus.

Each state has its own method for selecting delegates that may occur at the county, district, and/or state level.

Beginning in January of the "off-year" prior to the convention, each individual state party drafts and adopts, following a 30-day public comment period, a delegate selection process. Plans must include affirmative action and diversity goals, and are subject to review by the DNC's Rules and ByLaws Committee before states start implementing them in September.

Delegates Per State (Ballotpedia)

Pledged Delegates (3768)
Pledged Delegates, who cast the vote for the nomination, are elected during primaries, caucuses, or party conventions, and must express either a presidential candidate preference or an uncommitted preference as a condition of their election. They fall into three categories:

District Level (2437): In primary states, which are the majority, they are distributed and elected at the congressional district level. In caucus states, they are elected in tiers, from precinct or county to congressional districts.

PLEO (490): Pledged Party Leaders & Elected Officials, including big city mayors and statewide elected officials, state legislative leaders, state legislators and other state county and local elected officials and party leaders.

At Large (841): Nominated and elected at the state level, allocated based on statewide percentage presidential candidates receive in the primary or caucus.

Alternate Delegates are also elected at the District and PLEO/At Large level.

Filing deadlines for presidential candidates to run in each state start in October and run through January of the on-election year. Candidates intensify their courtship of voters and delegates in each state leading up to the state primaries and caucuses, which are held from February 3rd to June 6, 2020.

Delegates are allocated proportionally to presidential candidates based on the percentage of the vote they win in a state primary or caucus. A candidate is only eligible to receive a share of the pledged delegates at stake if they win at least 15% of the vote.

A second category, automatic delegates, also participate in the convention process and have a vote on all party matters, except for the first ballot of the nomination vote.

Automatic Delegates (771)
Automatic, or unpledged, Delegates are elected or allocated based on public or party office, and represent longer-term institutional members of the Party.

DNC Members (445): Elected at the local level as Committeemen and Committeewomen, for four-year terms. They represent their local and state Democratic party members and engage and vote in national party business, policy and the platform. Membership is equally divided between men and women.

Included are 75 At-Large members, appointed by the DNC Chair and approved by the full DNC, comprised of local party leaders, officeholders, prominent supporters, labor and constituency representatives.

Other automatic delegates include Democratic Members of the US Senate and House (280), Democratic Governors (24), and Distinguished Party Leaders (22) like former Presidents, Vice Presidents and Party Chairs.

Under the new rules adopted at the 2018 Summer Meeting, Automatic Delegates are convention delegates, but do not have a vote on the first ballot in the Democratic presidential nominating process -- unless a presidential candidate had already secured enough pledged delegates in the primary process to secure the nomination.

However, if the nomination fight goes to a second ballot, known as a "brokered convention," then they may cast a potentially decisive vote for the candidate of their choosing at that time.

A candidate becomes the nominee when he or she secures a majority (50%+1) of their party's potential delegates.

DemList will keep you informed on all aspects of the presidential election and convention, and will once again be the key source and calendar for the Democratic National Convention!

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Kimberly Scott

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*Delegate Numbers as of November, 2019

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