With three presidential nominating contests behind us, where does the Democratic race for delegates stand?

Bernie Sanders leads the Democratic delegate race with an estimated 45 pledged delegates. Pete Buttigieg is in second with an estimated 25 delegates, followed by Joe Biden with 15 delegates, Elizabeth Warren with eight, and Amy Klobuchar with seven. These estimated totals reflect projections as of February 25, 2020, following the Nevada caucuses.

To win the nomination, a candidate needs the support of at least 1,991 pledged delegates on the first ballot at the Democratic National Convention, scheduled for July 13-16 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

There will be 4,750 delegates in attendance: 3,979 pledged delegates and 771 automatic delegates (often referred to as super-delegates). Automatic delegates will not be permitted to vote on the first ballot.

If no candidate wins a majority of pledged delegates on the first ballot, a second vote will take place. At this point, automatic delegates will be able to vote. A candidate must then win a majority all delegates in order to win the nomination. Because some automatic delegates can cast only half-votes, which are not rounded up, the majority figure required for the second and any subsequent ballots is 2,375.5.

Pledged delegates are allocated proportionally based on the outcome of each state’s nominating contest. A candidate is typically only eligible to receive a share of the pledged delegates at stake if he or she wins at least 15% of votes cast in a primary or caucus. Party rules require that pledged delegates “shall in all good conscience reflect the sentiments of those who elected them.” Pledged delegates are selected in several ways: direct election in primaries or caucuses, local or district party conventions, and state party conventions.

Automatic delegates are not obligated to pledge their support to any candidate. Automatic delegates include Democratic members of Congress, governors, and other party leaders, including former presidents and vice-presidents.

In the three states that have conducted nominating contests so far, 101 total pledged delegates have been at stake, or 2.5% of all pledged delegates.

In the South Carolina primary on Feb. 29, 54 pledged delegates will be at stake, bringing the cumulative total to 155 (3.9%). On March 3, or Super Tuesday, 14 states and one territory will conduct nominating contests to allocate 1,344 pledged delegates. That will bring the cumulative total to 1,499 (37.7%). By month’s end, 2,603 delegates will have been allocated, 65.4% of the cumulative total.

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About the author

Jerrick Adams

Jerrick Adams is a staff writer at Ballotpedia and can be reached at jerrick.adams@ballotpedia.org

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