Author

Amee LaTour

Amee LaTour is a staff writer at Ballotpedia and can be reached at amee.latour@ballotpedia.org

Democratic and Republican delegate rules: Demystifying the presidential nominee selection process

The 2020 Democratic and Republican presidential nominees will be selected by delegates at each party’s national convention in the summer of 2020. Delegates are individuals chosen by various means to represent their state or territory at the conventions. Each party has a different number of delegates and different methods by which they are allocated to presidential primary candidates.
 
 
In 2020, the Democratic Party will have an estimated 4,532 delegates: 3,768 pledged delegates and 764 automatic delegates—more commonly known as superdelegates (who make up 16.9 percent of total delegates).
 
Pledged Democratic delegates are allocated proportionally based on the outcome of each state’s primary contest.
 
A rule change following the 2016 presidential election prohibits Democratic automatic delegates, who are not bound to vote based on states’ primary contests, from voting on the first ballot at the national convention, meaning they will only play a role in selecting the 2020 Democratic nominee if no candidate receives a majority of pledged delegates in the first round of voting.
 
The Republican Party will have an estimated 2,550 delegates: 2,440 pledged delegates and 110 unbound delegates (4.3 percent of total delegates). Republican pledged delegate allocation rules are largely set by state parties and state laws. States use a variety of methods to allocate Republican delegates, including winner-take-all, proportional, and hybrid methods.
 
A candidate from each party must win a majority of that party’s delegates to be named the nominee. Based on current estimates, a Democratic candidate must receive at least 1,885 delegates (or 2,267 if past the first convention ballot) and a Republican candidate must receive at least 1,276 delegates to become the parties’ presidential nominees.
 
For more information on delegate rules by party, including maps of delegate counts and allocation methods by state, charts showing percentages of pledged delegates awarded over time, and descriptions of different types of delegates, see our coverage below.
 


Former LAUSD board member Jackie Goldberg wins special election got District 5 LAUSD seat

Former Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) board member Jackie Goldberg defeated former vice president of the Board of Public Works Commissioners Heather Repenning in a runoff election for the District 5 seat on the LAUSD Board of Education in California Tuesday night. Goldberg received 72 percent of the vote to Repenning’s 28 percent, according to unofficial results.
 
The district’s elections in 2017 flipped the LAUSD board from a 4-3 majority of members supported by United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) to a 4-3 majority of members supported by the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA). Former District 5 member Ref Rodriguez, who resigned in 2018 and whose seat was up for election, was a member of the latter group. Goldberg’s election returns the board to a majority of UTLA-backed members.
 
LAUSD is the second-largest school district in the United States and had 224 independently operated charter schools in 2017, more than any other school district in the nation.
 
In 2019, UTLA endorsed Goldberg, and the CCSA did not endorse a candidate. Both Goldberg and Repenning said they support holding charter schools to the same standards as public schools, but they differed in the degree of emphasis they placed on charter school policy and other issues in their campaigns. Goldberg made charter school accountability a key plank of her campaign. Repenning described herself as a coalition builder and emphasized other issues.
 
In addition to UTLA, Goldberg’s endorsers included U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D) and the Los Angeles chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. Repenning received endorsements from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 99, Mayor Eric Garcetti (D), and the Los Angeles Times editorial board, among others.
 
 


LAUSD special runoff election is Tuesday

Former LAUSD board member Jackie Goldberg and former vice president of the Board of Public Works Commissioners Heather Repenning face each other in a runoff election for the District 5 seat on the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education in California next Tuesday.
 
In recent years, LAUSD elections have been characterized by divisions between union-backed candidates and charter school group-backed candidates. LAUSD (the second-largest district in the U.S.) had 224 independently operated charter schools in 2017, more than any other school district in the nation.
 
School board elections in 2017 flipped the LAUSD board from a 4-3 majority of members supported by United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) to a 4-3 majority of members supported by the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA). Former District 5 member Ref Rodriguez, who resigned in 2018, was a member of the latter group. His resignation left a 3-3 split.
 
In the 2019 special election, UTLA endorsed Jackie Goldberg, and the CCSA has not endorsed. Both Goldberg and Repenning say they support holding charter schools to the same standards as public schools. But they differ in the degree of emphasis they place on charter school policy and other issues in their campaigns. Goldberg has made charter school accountability a key plank of her campaign. Repenning has described herself as a coalition builder and has emphasized other issues.
 
Along with UTLA, Goldberg has been endorsed by U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D) and the Los Angeles chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. Repenning’s backers include the Service Employees International Union Local 99, Mayor Eric Garcetti (D), and the Los Angeles Times editorial board.
 
The special election has drawn $2.8 million in satellite spending. A teacher’s union-sponsored satellite group has spent $1.3 million in support of Goldberg and an SIEU Local 99 group has spent $875,000 supporting Repenning.
 


Johnson, Griggs head to Dallas mayoral runoff election

On May 4, State Rep. Eric Johnson (D) and Dallas City Councilman Scott Griggs advanced to a June 8 mayoral runoff election in Dallas, Texas. Johnson received 20.3 percent of the vote to Griggs’ 18.5 percent. A runoff will be held as no candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote.
 
Johnson and Griggs were among nine candidates on the general election ballot for Dallas mayor. The seat is open, as incumbent Mike Rawlings (D) is prevented by term limits from seeking re-election. He was first elected in 2011.
 
The next highest vote-getters on Saturday were nonprofit CEO Lynn McBee and real estate developer Mike Ablon with 14 and 13.5 percent, respectively.
 
Griggs has been on the city council since 2011, and Johnson has been in the state House since 2010. They were among four candidates in the race who have served elected office.
 
Dallas is the ninth-largest city in the U.S. by population. It uses a council-manager system, in which the mayor serves on the city council. The council and mayor appoint a city manager to oversee day-to-day municipal operations and implement the council’s policy and legislative initiatives. The mayor of Dallas does not have veto power but appoints city council committee members and chairs, determines what policy-related agenda items will be considered by the council, and makes policy and budget recommendations.
 
Dallas also held elections for all 14 city council seats Saturday.


Five of nation’s 100 largest cities, all in Texas, holding mayoral elections Saturday

Voters in five of the nation’s 100 largest cities will head to the polls Saturday to vote for mayors. The cities of Arlington, Dallas, Fort Worth, Garland, and San Antonio—all in Texas— are holding mayoral elections. Thirty-one of the nation’s 100 largest cities have mayoral elections in 2019.
 
Incumbents in Arlington, Fort Worth, and San Antonio face challengers, while races in Dallas and Garland are open. Each election is nonpartisan, but partisan information for each incumbent is provided below where known.
  • Arlington: Incumbent Jeff Williams (R) faces three challengers.
  • Dallas: Nine candidates seek the open seat. Mayor Mike Rawlings (D) is prevented by term limits from seeking re-election.
  • Fort Worth: Incumbent Betsy Price (R) faces three challengers.
  • Garland: Scott LeMay (affiliation unknown) is the only candidate running for the open seat. The incumbent, Lori Barnett Dodson (affiliation unknown), did not file for re-election.
  • San Antonio: Incumbent Ron Nirenberg (Independent) faces eight challengers.
Runoff elections are possible in all but the Garland race. If no candidate receives at least 50 percent of the vote in the other four races on Saturday, runoff elections will be held June 8.
 
Use the links below to see coverage of each race, including candidate lists, past election results, and, once they are available, Saturday’s election results:


In presidential elections since 1900, one state voted for the winning candidate more than 90 percent of the time

In presidential elections between 1900 and 2016, one state voted for the winning candidate more than 90 percent of the time. And one state did so less than 50 percent of the time.
 
Ohio’s electoral votes have gone to the winning president 93 percent of the time—in 28 out of 30 general elections—since 1900. Ohio has voted in every election cycle for the winning presidential candidate since 1964. It is followed by New Mexico, which voted for the winning president 89 percent of the time, in 24 out of 27 elections (New Mexico became a state in 1912).
 
Mississippi’s electoral vote went to the winning president 47 percent of the time, in 14 of 30 elections. It is joined at the bottom of the list by Washington, D.C., which supported the winning president 43 percent of the time. D.C. began participating in presidential elections in 1964 and has voted Democratic in every presidential election. The candidate who won Washington, D.C., won the presidency in six of 14 elections since 1964.
 
Below are the five most and least accurate states (and D.C.) in presidential elections from 1900 to 2016.
 
Most accurate:
  • Ohio, 93.33% (28 out of 30 elections)
  • New Mexico, 88.89% (24 out of 27 elections)
  • Nevada, 86.67% (26 out of 30 elections)
  • Missouri, 86.67% (26 out of 30 elections)
  • Illinois, 83.33% (25 out of 30 elections)
Least accurate:
  • Washington, D.C., 42.86% (6 out of 14 elections)
  • Mississippi, 46.67% (14 out of 30 elections)
  • Alabama, 51.72% (15 out of 29 elections)
  • Georgia, 53.33% (16 out of 30 elections)
  • South Carolina, 53.33% (16 out of 30 elections)
Ballotpedia used data from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration to show which states’ electoral votes went to the victorious presidential candidates between 1900 and 2016.
 


How many of the largest cities’ mayors are affiliated with a political party?

In most of the nation’s largest cities, mayoral elections are officially nonpartisan, though many officeholders and candidates are affiliated with political parties.
 
The mayors of 62 of the nation’s 100 largest cities are Democrats. There are 29 Republican mayors, four independents, four nonpartisan mayors, and one of unknown affiliation.
 
As part of Ballotpedia’s coverage of the 100 largest U.S. cities, we are tracking the 2019 mayoral elections in those cities and noting partisan changes that may occur. Thirty-one mayoral elections in those cities are being held in 2019. In 20 of those cities, the incumbent was Democratic at the start of 2019. Seven incumbents were Republican, three were independent, and the affiliation of one was unknown.
 
In the 10 largest U.S. cities, eight mayors are Democrats, one is Republican, and one is independent.
 
2019 is a mayoral election year in six of those cities: Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, and Dallas, Texas. Five of those cities began the year with a Democratic mayor and one (San Antonio), with an independent mayor.
 
One partisan change has taken place in 2019. Voters in Phoenix elected Kate Gallego (D) in a nonpartisan mayoral runoff election on March 12, 2019. Gallego succeeded Thelda Williams, a Republican. The general election was held on November 6, 2018.
 
Democratic mayors oversaw 67 of the 100 largest cities at the beginning of 2016, 64 at the beginning of 2017, 63 at the start of 2018, and 61 at the start of 2019.
 
Additional reading:


Chicago City Council runoffs: At least 3 more incumbents defeated

On Tuesday, Chicago voters cast ballots for 15 city council runoff elections, in addition to runoffs for mayor and treasurer. Four of the 15 council runoffs were for open seats, and 11 featured incumbents seeking re-election.
 
At least three incumbent aldermen lost their re-election bids on Tuesday, adding to the three who lost outright in the general election on February 26. As of 10:45 a.m. CT, the races for the 5th, 33rd, and 46th wards were too close to call.
 
One incumbent who lost Tuesday night was 40th Ward Ald. Pat O’Connor, the second longest-serving member on the Chicago City Council. He was first elected in 1983. O’Connor lost to André Vasquez, who challenged O’Connor from the left. O’Connor campaigned as a progressive as well.
 
Ald. Toni Foulkes (16th) lost to Stephanie Coleman and Ald. Milagros Santiago (31st) was defeated by Felix Cardona Jr.
 
Forty-five of 50 city council members sought re-election in 2019. In 2015, 44 incumbents sought re-election and seven were defeated—an 84 percent re-election rate.


Justus and Lucas advance in Kansas City mayoral primary

City council members Jolie Justus and Quinton Lucas advanced from the mayoral primary election in Kansas City, Missouri, on Tuesday. They each received about 25 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results. They were among a field of 11 candidates seeking to succeed term-limited Mayor Sly James. The general election is June 18.
 
Justus and Lucas have both been on the city council since 2015. Justus also served as a Democratic state senator from 2007 to 2015 and works as the director of pro bono services for a law firm. Lucas is an attorney and teaches law at the University of Kansas.
 
Kansas City uses a council-manager system. In this form of municipal government, an elected city council—which includes the mayor and serves as the city’s primary legislative body—appoints a chief executive called a city manager to oversee day-to-day municipal operations and implement the council’s policy and legislative initiatives.
 
The mayor’s primary responsibilities are to preside over city council meetings and official city ceremonies, and to represent the city on the state, national, and international levels.
 
Kansas City voters will also elect all 12 members of the city council on June 18.
 
Additional reading:


Lori Lightfoot will be the next mayor of Chicago, the nation’s third-largest city

Former Chicago Police Board President Lori Lightfoot defeated Cook County Board of Commissioners President Toni Preckwinkle in Chicago’s mayoral runoff election Tuesday. With 66 percent of precincts reporting, Lightfoot received 74 percent of the vote to Preckwinkle’s 26 percent.
 
Lightfoot was president of the Chicago Police Board from 2015 to 2018. She also chaired the Police Accountability Task Force and was a senior equity partner at the law firm Mayer Brown. Lightfoot held several positions in city government under former Mayor Richard M. Daley.
 
Both Lightfoot and Preckwinkle described themselves as the progressive in the race and called each other’s progressive credentials into question based on their political and professional histories.
 
Lightfoot presented herself as the reform candidate who is independent of corrupt machine-style politics. She noted her background as a senior equity partner and her past roles in city government, saying she had requisite experience managing teams and budgets. Lightfoot referred to Preckwinkle as a party boss due to her roles as Cook County Democratic Party chair and former party committeewoman.
 
Preckwinkle highlighted her experience as an alderman and Cook County Board of Commissioners president, saying she had the experience to run the city and a progressive record. She contrasted her experience in elected office with Lightfoot’s previous appointments to positions by mayors, saying the latter connected Lightfoot to the political elite, and criticized elements of Lightfoot’s legal career.
 
The 2019 race was Chicago’s fourth open-seat mayoral race in 100 years and the second mayoral runoff election in the city’s history. Lightfoot will be the city’s first female African-American mayor and its first openly gay mayor.
 
Chicago also held runoff elections for 15 city council seats and for city treasurer Tuesday.
 
Additional reading:


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