Who will win the Democratic presidential nomination in July? Both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are in need of victories in the primaries between May 17 and June 14, 2016 when Washington D.C. holds the last Democratic primary. Even though Clinton currently holds a greater number of delegates, with enough votes it is possible for Sanders to secure enough delegates to force a contested Democratic Convention in July. “The Huffington Post” indicates that given the current statistics it is almost a certainty. Thereby indicating the nomination is up for grabs.
Remaining Democratic Primaries
The Democratic primaries and caucuses between May 17 and June 14, and the number of delegates available are:
- Kentucky (55)
- Oregon (61)
- The Virgin Islands – Caucus (12)
- Puerto Rico – Caucus (67)
- California (548)
- Montana (27)
- New Jersey (142)
- New Mexico (43)
- South Dakota (25)
- North Dakota – Caucus (23)
- District of Columbia (Washington D.C.) (46)
The totals above include all delegates for each state or territory whether they are hard or soft-pledged as listed on TheGreenPapers website. In total, there are 1049 up for grabs. The various delegate definitions are explained below.
Democratic Delegate Counts As of May 16, 2016
Clinton’s numbers are as follows:
- Standard Delegates: 1716
- Superdelegates: 523
- Total: 2239
Sanders’ numbers are as follows:
- Standard Delegates: 1433
- Superdelegates: 39
- Total: 1472
Election Central 2016 indicates that superdelegates are “Democratic Party leaders who are free to support any candidate at any time up to the convention.” Therefore, the total number of actual delegates for each candidate are Clinton with 1716 and Sanders holds 1433.
Delegate Terminology Defined
The terminology about delegates can cause confusion. Where do the superdelegates originate? A simple explanation is they are elected officials who have expressed interest in the support of a candidate. These officials can be senators, congresspersons, the president and vice president including former presidents or vice presidents. According to Refinery29, “in many cases, [a superdelegate is] literally elder statesmen and women who can be expected to represent their party’s core values when pledging their votes.”
A hard or a hard-pledged delegate is committed to casting their vote at the convention, as they were designated during the primaries and caucuses, according to the votes of the citizenry. For example, in West Virginia, Sanders received 18 hard delegates and Clinton secured 11. The state has a total of 37 delegates. Therefore, eight remain uncommitted. Those that fall under the uncommitted category, sometimes referred to as soft-pledged, will be determined by superdelegates in July.
Based on the numbers of existing pledged Democratic delegates and those from upcoming primaries and caucuses the nomination at the 2016 Democratic Convention is not a given. Clinton and Sanders might be equally able to grab the nomination.
Contested Democratic Convention?
The statistics indicate there is likely to be a contested convention. As explained by “Huffington Post,” Sanders would have had to drop out of the competition before the New York primary, which took place on April 19.
In order to secure the nomination in 2016, a Democratic candidate must have 2,383 hard-pledged delegates. Since Sanders did not drop out before April 19, the “Huffington Post” asserts “it is virtually impossible for Clinton to hit that mark.”
The Ipsos/Reuters poll completed between May 7-11, 819 registered Democrats indicated that 56 percent support Clinton as opposed to 41 percent who are Sanders supporters.
Hypothetically, if Clinton secures 56 percent of the 1049 available delegates, she would add 587 to her existing total. She then would have at total of 2,303 pledged votes. Therefore, she would fall short by 80 delegates. These numbers are hypothetical since some states have a winner-take-all delegates policy and others divvy them up proportionally.
Nonetheless, the numbers will be close and Sanders has made it clear he will not drop out of the race until the last votes are counted in the primaries and caucuses. It is likely Sanders will still be in the race and will compete with Clinton for the Democratic Party leaders’ votes.
Since superdelegates do not cast their votes until the convention, each candidate will have the opportunity to urge the Democratic Party leaders to vote for them. The remaining states will assign their delegates as dictated by their individual State Democratic Party, thereby, giving cause to presume the nomination is still up for grabs.
By Cathy Milne
Huffington Post: A Contested Democratic Convention Is Now a Near Statistical Certainty
TheGreenPapers.com: 2016 Presidential Primaries, Caucuses, and Conventions
Election Central 2016: 2016 Primary Delegate Count
Refinery29: What Are Delegates & Superdelegates?
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