Archive | 4:03 PM

Learned How DNC Nomination Works (kind of)

3 Mar

Kind of learned, and it kind of works-both. 

I used to steer clear of politics.  They were boring, I didn’t know any of the names, it is complex.  And mostly I didn’t follow it, because I figured any candidate who made it that far had to be corrupt (true).  But, now I watch the news so some of the names and positions are familiar which helps a lot.  I learned a lot about the political nominee process today via podcasts.

I still don’t understand who the delegates are.

But party leaders (or insiders?) elect them at the level of congressional district.  I don’t know what that means, but I gather the general public is not elected, nor part of that process at all.  Also, it was unclear to me how the number per state is arranged.  I got the impression that the more active your district, the more delegates you are allowed.  Also, probably the more money you give to that party the more delegates?  And California, I think, has the most delegates of any state by FAR.  Oh, and U.S. territories such as Guam and Puerto Rico also get delegates.

The goal of all the presidential nominees–the ONE goal, is to collect the most delegates.  That’s it.  

Each party makes their own rules.  Republicans have a winner takes all system.  If the candidate wins the majority of the votes in a state (even if it’s a small majority) they get every delegate from that state. 

The democrats do it proportionally:  So if candidate A gets 30% of the votes and candidate B gets 16% of the votes, Candidate A gets around 30% of the delegates and Candidate B gets half as many or close to 16% of the delegates.  

Also, in order to get any proportion of the delegates at all, the Candidate must at least meet a minimum threshold of 15% of the votes in that state.  If they get 13% of the votes, they don’t get a single delegate.  Now, every state seems to have it’s own number of delegates, so in the example above 30% of the delegates may be just 2 delegates gained for the winner, and half as many delegates equals 1 delegate for candidate B.  So you can see even winning a lot of votes, may not accumulate a large number of delegates, or more importantly a large lead over competitors.

The 3 things that are important in this process are:  Money, momentum (and controlling the media’s narrative), and strategy for allocation of resources (money, time, and staff).

Also, of note is the difference between a caucus and a primary.  A caucus is like a town meeting, all in a small time frame (vs 8 hr or 2 weeks) and are held maybe in a school gym, or if bunches of people show up even outside.  Caucuses are not private, everyone knows your vote.  And you mostly have to attend in person, so you must be free at that exact time they’re held.  So mostly people really into politics attend.  It’s kind of old school. 

A primary is similar in most respects to a regular election:  The polls are in the same (multiple) locations, they happen over a span of time, and they attract a broader audience.  Primaries also sometimes allow mail in ballots.  Most states are moving to primary form, because the absentee ballots are easier to deal with in this format (and they’re more current of a situation than the old school caucus).

Another thing that’s important is each state decides when to vote in their caucus/primary.  Only 4 go in February:  Iowa (which always has to be first, according to its own state laws), New Hampshire (technically the first primary since Iowa is a caucus), Nevada, and South Carolina.  And I don’t think any of those states represent the demographics or character of the overall U.S. very well.

Super Tuesday is so called because many states vote as soon a they are allowed (the 1st Tues of March).  And usually, there will be a candidate after this vote that is going to be a clear winner of the nomination.  BUT  when there are more than 2 candidates running the delegates are split between them and it can take longer to show a clear winner.

March 10 there is Super Tues Part 2 with Michigan, Missouri, Washington state (with 89 delegates), and North Dakota voting.  A week later, 6 more states vote.  This March voting accounts for half of the number of delegates in the U.S. so it can be a game changer still.

There are still more primaries even as late as April 30.  And it’s states in the Atlantic like PA, NY, CT, DE, MD–you know big, and politically active states.  And they might decide to all vote the same in a block.  Or not.  Depends on the year and the candidates.

I should mention, that in order to be considered the nominee at the end, you can’t just get the highest number of delegates out of all the candidates.  The nominee must have a minimum of 51% support.  So when there are more than 2 candidates, and things are pretty close, it’s possible that nobody gets that number.  If after all this time, there is no clear front runner, all the politicking ramps up.

To make a ticket more enticing, the democratic party may try to pair 2 candidates like Prez/VP.  Or pull a desirable candidate in to balance a ticket.

If there are several candidates in a “lane” the party might try to consolidate them.  [I’m pretty sure money or promises were made to two moderates in 2020 if they would fall behind Biden.]

At this point also, a committee is formed of delegates that will write the rules for the democratic convention.  [I think this needs to happen before the contest ever starts, and with impartial people].  And the candidates and their people are allowed to “woo” these rule-maker delegates.  Rides on Airforce 1, expensive dinners, paid travel, gifts–they’re all allowed.  What’s not allowed is promising a federal job to anyone.  But it seems a little too permissive to me.  This rules committee will specify how a candidate can establish dominance:  A majority or just by number of delegates.  And depending on all the wooing, it can favor one candidate over another.  They make every rule at this point for the Democratic Convention which will ultimately declare the nominee.

Then there is a vote.  And if there is still no clear front-runner, at least an hour (but probably way more time) must elapse.  Deals are made, the attributes of candidates are discussed, promises and compromises…  Then, a different set of 700-something automatic delegates (IDK who picks these people, what their qualifications are, or how often they’ve been used) votes a 2nd time.  And whamo-that’s the democratic nominee.

But it’s in the party’s interest to pick as soon as possible, because this whole time the incumbent candidate in the other party has been campaigning for the big election.  


So clear as mud, huh?  I think the system has been made purposefully complex to allow special interests, establishment, and money to have loop holes and windows.  My original assumption that anyone who makes it this far is corrupt–is probably correct.  But at least we know a little more about the process.