What's up with Edwards' delegates

With Edwards dropping out, one question is, what happens to his delegates? Let's take a look:

First, according to 2008 Democratic Convention Watch, Edwards had 27 public superdelegate endorsements. CNN had (actually, still has) it at 36. Doesn't matter. They're all now available. A superdelegate endorsement can change at any time anyway, so Edwards superdelegates are free to support anyone.

Now, on to his pledged delegates. Edwards won 4 delegates in New Hampshire, 14 in Iowa, and 8 in South Carolina. The New Hampshire delegates have been already chosen, so he "keeps" them. Who they end up voting for at the convention is another matter.

In Iowa, Edwards received 14 delegates, but they were split. 5 were state-level delegates, and 9 were Congressional District (CD)-level delegates. The CD-level delegates are basically history. First, there are county conventions, and then CD conventions. Since Edwards won't meet the 15% threshold at the county conventions, he won't have any representation at the CD conventions, and won't get any CD-level delegates. Where they go at this point is impossible to say. But he will "keep" his 5 state-level delegates. By keep, what I mean is that his campaign gets to choose the 5 delegates. As noted in the comments, the state-level delegates are chosen in the state convention, and as Edwards won't meet the 15% threshold, he won't get any state-level delegates either.

South Carolina is more complicated. But reading the South Carolina Delegate Selection Plan, they essentially have a convention system similar to Iowa's, except the final number of delegates selected for each candidate has to match the numbers out of the primary. There's no mention of a candidate "releasing" his delegates, so for now, I'll assume Edwards gets to name his 8 delegates, but, I think we need a South Carolina expert to weigh in on this. (Again, who they end up voting for at the convention is another matter).

Remember a couple of things. There is no first-ballot "vote for your candidate" rule at the Democratic Convention. Technically, any delegate is free to vote for any candidate on any ballot. (There may be state rules mandating a vote - we're still looking into that). Therefore, there is no such thing as a "legal" release of delegates. There is a political "release" - almost all delegates will vote for their candidate unless their candidate tells them they don't have to. But from a Rules point of view, a "release" of delegates mean nothing.

And therefore, it doesn't matter whether Edwards "ended" his campaign or "suspended" it as far as his delegates go. My guess is he will tell any delegates he has left that they can vote for who they want, or he could endorse someone and tell his delegates to vote for that person. But it doesn't matter from a rules point of view. They can vote for anybody at any time anyway, regardless of what Edwards did or say today or does in the future. - Matt

Tags: delegates, John Edwards (all tags)



Re: What's up with Edwards' delegates

Edwards suspended his campaign. He did not drop out. So he still controls his delegates.

by kristoph 2008-01-30 07:11PM | 0 recs
Re: What's up with Edwards' delegates

No, he never controlled them in the first place. They are free to do what they want. Always have been, always will be. If you disagree, show me the convention rules that say his delegates "are required" to vote for him.

by msn1 2008-01-30 07:15PM | 0 recs
Re: What's up with Edwards' delegates

thanks for the kind words, but I'll say it again. Show me the rule that says the delegates have to vote for their candidate. Unless you do, I'll continue to state my point of view based on my research.

by msn1 2008-01-31 04:46PM | 0 recs
It seems unlikely

that that few pledged delegates could be decisive.  Anything is possible, of course.

Thanks very much for the post, and very interesting information.

by John DE 2008-01-30 07:21PM | 0 recs
Edwards' delegates

Over at 'Americablog,' John Aravosis ran a poll today after Edwards bowed out of the race to see who his readers would give their votes to now that it's a two-person race.   The Americablog crowd is fairly progressive / left, so it represents that slice of the Democratic electorate.  For what it's worth...

Obama  -  2682

Clinton  -  890


by global yokel 2008-01-30 07:31PM | 0 recs

Are you saying the netroots in any way resembles the entire dem voting public?

by del 2008-01-31 12:45PM | 0 recs
Dial testing on CNN
FWIW Romney dominated on the dial testing overall and especially during the "timetable" lie exchange.
by danielbank 2008-01-30 07:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Dial testing on CNN

Good news. It was the first gop debate that I watched any part of and I was sad to think we won't get to run against Romney. But if the republicans could just see fit to nominate him, it would seem to me a bit of karmic justice for the fact that we had to support Dukakis and Kerry in the past.

by desmoulins 2008-01-30 08:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Dial testing on CNN

Good point, pretty good analogy.

by del 2008-01-31 12:47PM | 0 recs
Re: What's up with Edwards' delegates

None of the delegates out of Iowa are pledged to Edwards.  All the pledged delegates elected at district and state are done through another round of preference groups, where Edwards is unlikely to be viable.

by Simon Stevenson 2008-01-30 07:42PM | 0 recs
Re: What's up with Edwards' delegates

you're right, I misread the fine print. I will update the post.

by msn1 2008-01-30 07:49PM | 0 recs
Re: What's up with Edwards' delegates

I suggest you read the Iowa Delegate Selection Rules  before making claims.

by msn1 2008-01-31 04:50PM | 0 recs
Re: What's up with Edwards' delegates

I've got a slightly different read on the Edwards Iowa situation.

At the county conventions the delegates from the precincts who were chosen in January will vote for Presidential preference to determine delegates to Congressional District and state conventions.

Those delegates have a lot of choices about what to do. Since Edwards is only officially "suspended" they could still decide to vote for him and get delegates pledged for him, they could vote for Clinton or Obama, or they could just decide not to show up since their candidate is out. (Don't forget that Richardson, Biden, Dodd and Kucinich delegates are up for grabs too). So I think you're basically right that Edwards won't meet the threshold in county and district selection -- but it wouldn't be impossible if his supporters decide to stick it out.

However, I think you're wrong about the idea that he automatically "keeps" his Iowa statewide delegates. Those delegates are chosen at the state convention, when the delegates from the county convention will, once more, vote presidential preference to determine how the state's at large delegates will go. Edwards would have to get 15% at the state convention to get any delegates, and his percentage would determine how many he got. Again, his supporters (if they made it through the county conventions) would have the same choices about what to do. In all likelihood, they'll divide up between Obama and Clinton and impact the final # of delegates they each get.


The SC delegate selection plan says that:

" If a presidential candidate is no longer a candidate at the time of selection of the At- large delegates, then those At-large slots that would have been allocated to the candidate will be proportionally divided among the remaining preferences entitled to an allocation."

There is no such reference for district level delegates (an interesting internal contradiction)

If Edwards campaign remains "suspended" then presumably his supporters would still get to elect delegates pledged to him. If he withdraws, it is unclear what happens to the CD level delegates, but his at large delegates would be divided 2-1 Obama/ Clinton (based on the % of the primary vote)


And you're definitely right about NH -- those delegates have already been selected, so they are up for grabs.

by lifelongdem 2008-01-30 07:52PM | 0 recs
Re: What's up with Edwards' delegates

The commenters are 2 for 2. I've already updated the post about the Iowa state-wide delegates.

The number of district level delegates is so small (Edwards got 1 delegate in 5 of 6 districts) it might be hard to divide them up fairly. So maybe he keeps his district level, and loses his state-level, if "he is no longer a candidate", whatever that legally means.

by msn1 2008-01-30 08:04PM | 0 recs
Re: What's up with Edwards' delegates

In SC if they decided for some reason that Edwards didn't get any district level delegates in SC, they would recalculate the overall delegate division in the districts by ignoring the Edwards votes and instead base it on the remaining Obama/Clinton vote ratio -- the math could be rather complicated.

by lifelongdem 2008-01-30 08:15PM | 0 recs
Re: What's up with Edwards' delegates

In Nevada there are at least 350 county convention delegates who were elected by Edwards supporters, plus an undetermined # of Edwards supporters who were (like me) elected by preference groups of other candidates at the precinct level. I've been trying to figure out if we could form a viable group at the Clark County convention next month to send some Edwards delegates to the state convention.

Obviously those delegates won't impact the nomination but could matter in the platform votes and more importantly in the intra-party score settling that is sure to be a result of the Jan 19 mishigas.

by desmoulins 2008-01-30 07:58PM | 0 recs
Re: What's up with Edwards' delegates

I don't think you could do that unless you meet the 15% threshold at the county convention.

A better bet would probably be going to the county convention and joining either Obama or Clinton candidate preferences and trying to get elected as state convention delegates -- you could then have a say on platform and party business at the state convention

by lifelongdem 2008-01-30 08:07PM | 0 recs
Re: What's up with Edwards' delegates

I see your point. I think you're right and thats likely what will happen.

But what I'm expecting is that a lot of the county convention delegates elected on 1/19 won't bother to show up at the county convention. If a core group of Edwards supporters did show, it could well amount to >15% of eligible attendees.

by desmoulins 2008-01-30 08:10PM | 0 recs
Re: What's up with Edwards' delegates

One last time, read the Iowa Delegate Selection Rules. There are thresholds at every level.

by msn1 2008-01-31 04:53PM | 0 recs
I know one NH Edwards

delegate who has already said he is with Obama.  The others in NH have not decided.  

by fladem 2008-01-31 03:40AM | 0 recs


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