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Quite some time ago I mentioned I would be posting some info for Colorado once the rules and delegate selection information was more or less finalized and posted.
OK, so here's a quick primer.
Colorado now has a hybrid Primary/Caucus system. This is because Colorado voters approved 2 ballot initiatives in 2016. First, was to switch to from using caucuses for Presidential nominating contests, to a primary. The second, was to makes those primaries OPEN! Colorado will now use a primary to determine allocation of delegates to the Democratic National Convention. We will then take the results of that primary to caucus the following Saturday, and choose delegates based on the results of the primary.
Primary Date: Tuesday March 3rd 2020
Caucus Date: Saturday March 7th 2020 (@1300 aka 1PM)
THERE WILL BE NO PRESIDENTIAL PREFERENCE POLL AT CAUCUS!
At caucus, delegates will be chosen for County/State/Congressional District/etc ASSEMBLIES, AS WELL AS CONVENTIONS. This distinction is important! The Presidential delegates are going to CONVENTIONS. Delegates for non-Presidential races are going to ASSEMBLIES.
Hopefully you're still with me. Basically, the one we REALLY care about are the CONVENTION delegates. You CAN be a delegate to both the assembly AND convention, but you don't have to be a delegate for both. I would generally recommend that you choose to be a delegate for both (might help in getting support from other caucus goers to be elected as a delegate). Expect the caucuses to be absolutely bonkers, and with a TON of confusion! There are going to be a LOT of people who have no idea what's going on because this will be a radically different process from 2016!
Now, for quick easy math, let's say your precinct caucus will elect 100 delegates to your county convention. Let us also assume the results of the primary were as follows (these numbers are not based on anything, literally just to demonstrate how this works):
- Bernie 35%
- Warren 30%
- Buttigieg 20%
- Biden 15%
That means from your precinct caucus Bernie will get 35 delegates, Warren will get 30 delegates, Buttigieg will get 20 delegates, and Biden will get 15 (quick maffs!).
Now, here's where I think we need to REALLY organize and plan, because it feeds into how we prevent/beat any Superdelegate shenanigans.
We need as MANY of our people as possible elected as delegates. Obviously we need to make sure our people get all the Bernie delegate slots, but we should ALSO grab as MANY of the other candidates' slots as we can. IMPORTANT: THIS DOES NOT MEAN WE SUDDENLY TAKE DELEGATES AWAY FROM THAT CANDIDATE! You are bound to that candidate. Of course this also means that you have to campaign your ass off at the Congressional District/State Convention to secure enough support among the other delegates to be selected as a delegate to the National Convention. Then you have to be approved by the candidate themselves (so be careful with the shitposting if you elect to go this route, which we should really do anyway given we might need to secure support from delegates for other candidates, but I digress).
Now below is how this helps us.
I won't rehash what happened in 2016. We all remember. We took over enough of the party that we were able to force a rule change. It wasn't what we wanted, but it is still WAY better than it was in 2016. The rule change that went through FORBIDS Superdelegates from voting ON THE FIRST BALLOT ONLY!
HOWEVER, ALL DELEGATES ARE UNBOUND FOLLOWING THE FIRST BALLOT!
What this means is that let's say we're walking into the convention, and NO ONE has 50%+1 of the delegates. That means we don't have a nominee after the first ballot, and it's brokered convention time, and more rounds of balloting. At this point, ALL delegates become unbound. That means on that 2nd ballot (which is the soonest Superdelegates can participate), delegates that were previously pledged, can now switch to other candidates.
Here's what that looks like. Colorado will have 80 delegates and 6 Alternates to the National Convention. Of those 80, from the best information I can find, there will be 58 total PLEDGED Delegates (plus 6 Alternates), which means 22 Superdelegates. Now, I'm reasonably confident that we can count on at LEAST a handful of those Superdelegates given how completely we took over the state party. However, for purposes of this, let's assume we won't get ANY of them. Of the 58 total PLEDGED delegates, here's what the breakdown looks like:
- Bernie 20
- Warren 17
- Buttigieg 12
- Biden 9
In order for Bernie to snag a majority (over 50%) of delegates from Colorado (INCLUDING the Superdelegates), we basically need to double our delegate count, so we need to pick up 21 delegates. It's a bit of a tall order, but if we have several of our people among delegates for other candidates, and we can successfully pull a few more delegates, it's completely doable.
Let's say roughly half of Warren delegates are our people. That's 8 delegates getting us almost halfway there. If we have 3 each among Buttigieg and Biden delegates, that puts us at 14, meaning we only need to pick up another 7 delegates. 14 delegates shifting right after the first ballot to Bernie should do a pretty decent job of getting other delegates to seriously consider dropping their candidate. Biden will have 6 delegates left, Buttigieg would have 9 left, and Warren would have 9 left as well. Of those 24 delegates, we only need 7 to come our way. Warren is obviously the closest ideologically so many of her delegates will be sympathetic to our (meaning Progressives) cause. Biden's support is pretty soft in general, which means we have a decent chance of shaking a few of those loose as well. If we pull 4 more from Warren, and 3 from Biden, that's it, we're set. Or we could pull 3 from Warren, 2 from Biden, and 2 from Buttigieg. That's not much at all.
Consider as well that all of these delegates will be spending a lot of time with each other chatting, discussing the state of things, etc. If no candidate has a majority going into the convention, you better believe ALL the campaigns will be working delegates trying to secure support on the 2nd ballot. There will be lots of talk of where people might go. Just hearing how many people plan to go over to Bernie if there is a 2nd ballot will plant the seed, so when they see it happen it will have something of a mini bandwagon effect. And this assumes 0 Superdelegate support, which as I said I'm reasonably confident we would get at least a handful. What this shows, however, is that even with absolutely no support from Superdelegates at all, we can still overcome their influence on subsequent ballots.
This is a process that we can repeat in numerous states. I just happen to know Colorado's rules because I live here, and because I followed VERY closely as these rules were being talked about, debated, voted on, etc. If we repeat this process across enough states, we can pretty well lock up the nomination regardless of what Superdelegates want to do with their vote.
If it is a contested convention, I doubt we'll have enough delegates by ourselves to actually lock it up. What we WILL have though is a YUUUUUUGE chunk of the delegates, and we should be able to convince enough delegates from Warren to join with us, and potentially even Buttigieg or Biden delegates (though I consider many of those a tougher sell given the ideological gap) which would put us over the edge.
Basically, if we walk into the convention and Bernie has, let's say 35% of the delegates locked up and Warren has 30%, and the rest are scattered between Biden/Buttigieg, we're going to a contested convention. If IMMEDIATELY after the first ballot Bernie has 45% of the delegates and no one else has really gained many, we should be able to convince another 6% to join us, assuming they don't see the writing on the wall and just come over on their own (and some almost certainly will, especially if we have momentum going into the convention like we currently seem to be building heading into the Iowa caucuses). It would also be a pretty tough proposition for Superdelegates to justify going against someone with a plurality of delegates on the first ballot who immediately gains support following that ballot.
This will effectively neuter the Superdelegates.
But it relies on an absolutely incredible amount of organization, as well as recruiting people who are Bernie supporters, but who are willing to be a delegate for other candidates, AND who will faithfully cast their delegate vote ON THE FIRST BALLOT for those other candidates.
It's a tall order, but it's doable.
Quick note about the delegate counts. Before March 16th delegate selection will be based on the numbers available for the election results from the Secretary of State's office. After March 16th delegate selection will be based on the certified/final results. So depending exactly when your county conventions take place, delegate numbers might shift slightly from caucus, or they may shift slightly between your county convention and the congressional district/state convention. I don't really expect the numbers to really shift at all, but just be aware there is that possibility.
I've already talked about this with several Berners that I know, and some are looking at being delegates for other candidates. They're waiting to see how our primary goes and what the caucuses look like.
If you're in Colorado, or if your state has a similar process for picking delegates, I would highly encourage you to give this serious thought, and communicate this to your fellow Berners.
Of course, we could just keep making phone calls, sending texts, knocking on doors, registering voters, etc. and just win outright! That's Plan A. But it never hurts to have a Plan B.
Happy to answer any questions.
Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.
Thanks for putting up with this giant wall of text.
I offer this image of a kitten as a gesture of goodwill. What follows is information concerning all time sensitive & registration deadlines that I am aware of.
Primary Date: Tuesday March 3rd 2020
Caucus Date: Saturday March 7th 2020 at 1300 aka 1PM
Link to apply to be a delegate to the National Convention | FILL THIS OUT AND SUBMIT IT NOW!!! IT DOES NOT OBLIGATE YOU TO ANYTHING BUT IF IT IS NOT SUBMITTED IN TIME YOU CANNOT BE A DELEGATE TO THE NATIONAL CONVENTION! DUE DATE IS MARCH 23RD!
Registration Requirements for Caucus: MUST BE A REGISTERED DEMOCRAT NO LATER THAN FEBRUARY 14 2020!
Key Primary Dates/Deadlines:
- January 18: Deadline for Primary Ballots to be sent to military and overseas voters.
- February 3: Last day for voters who are affiliated with a party to change or withdraw their affiliation in order to vote in a different party’s Presidential Primary. Also, last day for unaffiliated voters to select a party preference in order to be sent that party’s ballot.
- February 10: First day Primary Ballots can be mailed to voters.
- February 24-March 3: Voter Services and Polling Centers must be open for Primary Election.
- March 3: Colorado Presidential Primary.