Now that South Carolina is over, we can turn our attention to Super Tuesday and its immediate aftermath. When compared to the Republican Party, the Democratic math is both simpler and more complex. The simpler side is that the thresholds for qualifying for delegates is the same in every state and district — 15%. Similarly, the only way for the winner to take all of the delegates is to keep the opponent beneath 15%. There are two complexities on the Democratic side. First, even in the same state, the number of delegates elected from each district is different. Second, rather than pooling all state-wide delegates together, the Democrats have two pools (except in the territories) — 1) pledged party leaders and 2) at-large delegates.
There will be eleven states and one territory voting on Tuesday, followed by three states on Saturday, and one state on Sunday. Democrats Abroad begin voting on Tuesday, but do not finish up until next week. The easy way to gain delegates on an opponent is simply to win districts in which there are an odd-number of delegates. A one-vote margin in those districts gives you that extra delegate (whether a 2-1, 3-3, 4-3, or 5-4 or larger split). Beyond that original margin, getting an even larger split or avoiding an even split in delegates in the districts with even margins requires a somewhat large margin (with how large depending on the number of delegates at issue. It can be done, as shown by the last three states, but it is not easy. This part of the delegate math is what makes it difficult for candidates who fall behind early to catch-up later. Now onto the state-by-state splits:
Alabama — March 1 primary — Alabama has seven districts, ranging from three to nine delegates each (35 delegates total), along with seven party leader delegates and eleven at-large delegates.
Arkansas — March 1 primary — Arkansas has four districts, ranging from four to six delegates each (21 delegates total), along with four party-leader delegates and seven at-large delegates.
American Samoa — March 1 territorial convention — American Samoa has six at-large delegates.
Colorado — March 1 caucus (preference vote only goes to selecting delegates to next level) — Colorado has seven districts, ranging from five to eight delegates each (43 delegates total), along with nine party leader delegates and fourteen at-large delegates.
Georgia — March 1 primary — Georgia has fourteen districts, ranging four to seven delegates each (67 delegates total), along thirteen party leader delegates, and twenty-two at-large delegates.
Massachusetts — March 1 primary — Massachusetts has nine districts, ranging from six to seven delegates each (59 delegates total) with twelve party leader delegates and twenty-at large delegates.
Minnesota — March 1 caucus (preference vote at local caucuses used to allocate national convention delegates) — Minnesota has eight districts, ranging from five to nine delegates each (50 delegates total) with ten party leader delegates and seventeen at-large delegates.
Oklahoma — March 1 primary — Oklahoma has five districts, ranging from four to six delegates each (25 delegates total) with five party leader delegates and eight at-large delegates.
Tennessee — March 1 primary — Tennessee has nine districts, ranging from four to seven delegates each (44 delegates total) with nine party leader delegates and fourteen at-large delegates.
Texas — March 1 primary — Unlike most states, Texas allocates district level delegates by state senate districts. Texas has thirty-one state senate districts, ranging from two to ten delegates each (145 delegates total) with twenty-nine party leader delegates and forty-eight at-large delegates.
Virginia — March 1 primary — Virginia has eleven districts, ranging from four to eight delegates each (62 total), with twelve party leader delegates and twenty-one at-large delegates.
Vermont — March 1 primary — Even though it has only one district, Vermont still has a district delegate pool, electing ten district delegates, two party leader delegates and three at-large delegates (according to DNC Call for the National Convention, Green Papers has it as 11-2-3, Delegate Selection plan, in different places, has it as either 10-3-3 or 10-2-3).
Kansas — March 5 caucus (preference vote at local caucuses used to allocate national convention delegates) — Kansas has four districts, ranging from four to seven delegates each (22 delegates total) with four party leader delegates and seven at-large delegates.
Louisiana — March 5 primary — Louisiana has six districts, ranging from four to eight delegates each (33 delegates total) with seven party leader delegates and eleven at-large delegates.
Nebraska — March 5 caucus (local preference only goes to selecting delegates to the next level) — Nebraska has three districts, ranging from five to six delegates each (17 delegates total) with three party leader delegates and five at-large delegates.
Maine — March 6 caucus (local preference only goes to selecting delegates to the next level) — Maine has two districts, ranging from seven to ten delegates (17 delegates total) with three party leader delegates and five at-large delegates.
By number of delegates at issue:
2 delegates — Texas 28th SD, Texas 31st SD, Vermont party leader delegates — Rule are ambiguous as to whether get 2-0 split at 75.1% or only if second-placed candidate fails to meet threshold.
3 delegates — Alabama 6th CD, Texas 1st SD, Texas 3rd SD, Texas 24th SD, Texas 30th SD, Virginia 9th CD, Vermont at-large delegates, Nebraska party leader delegates, Maine party leader delegates. Winner gets 2-1 split. Takes 85.1% to get 3-0 split.
4 delegates — Alabama 4th CD, Alabama 5th CD, Arkansas 3rd CD, Arkansas party leader delegates, Georgia 3rd CD, Georgia 8th CD, Georgia 9th CD, Georgia 10th CD, Georgia 11th CD, Georgia 14th CD, Oklahoma 3rd CD, Tennessee1st CD, Tennessee 2nd CD, Tennessee 4th CD, Tennessee 6th CD, Texas 2nd SD, Texas 4th SD, Texas 6th SD, Texas 7th SD, Texas 9th SD, Texas 11th SD, Texas 12th SD, Texas 18th SD, Texas 22nd SD, Texas 27th SD, Texas 29th SD, Virginia 6th CD, Kansas 1st CD, Kansas party leader delegates, Louisiana 1st CD. Takes 62.51% to get 3-1 split (25% margin), 85.1% to get 4-0.
5 delegates — Alabama 1st CD, Alabama 2nd CD, Alabama 3rd CD, Arkansas 1st CD, Colorado 4th CD, Colorado 5th CD, Georgia 1st CD, Georgia 2nd CD, Georgia 12th CD, Minnesota 1st CD, Minnesota 6th CD, Minnesota 7th CD, Minnesota 8th CD, Oklahoma 1st CD, Oklahoma 2nd CD, Oklahoma 4th CD, Oklahoma party leader delegates, Tennessee 3rd CD, Tennessee 7th CD, Tennessee 8th CD, Texas 5th SD, Texas 8th SD, Texas 16th SD, Texas 17th SD, Texas 19th SD, Texas 20th SD, Texas 21st SD, Virginia 1st CD, Texas 2nd CD, Texas 5th CD, Virginia 1st CD, Virginia 2nd CD, Virginia 5th CD, Virginia 7th CD, Kansas 4th CD, Lousiana 3rd CD, Louisiana 4th CD, Louisiana 6th CD, Nebraska 3rd CD, Nebraska at-large delegates, Maine at-large delegates. Winner gets 3-2 split, takes 70.1% (40% margin) to get 4-1 split, 85.1% to get 5-0 split. (In South Carolina, two of the 5 delegate districts were split 3-2 and the other was split 4-1.)
6 delegates — Arkansas 2nd CD, Arkansas 4th CD, American Samoa at-large delegates, Colorado 3rd CD, Colorado 6th CD, Colorado 7th CD, Georgia 4th CD, Georgia 13th CD, Massachusetts 1st CD, Massachusetts 2nd CD, Massachusetts 3rd CD, Massachusetts 4th CD, Minnesota 2nd CD, Oklahoma 5th CD, Tennessee 5th CD, Texas 10th SD, Texas 15th SD, Texas 25h SD, Texas 26th SD, Virginia 4th CD, Virginia 10th CD, Kansas 3rd CD, Louisiana 5th CD, Nebraska 1st CD, Nebraska 2nd CD. Takes 58.34% to get 4-2 split (16.67% margin), then 16.67% for each additional delegate.
7 delegates — Alabama party leader delegates, Arkansas at-large delegates, Colorado 2nd CD, Georgia 5th CD, Massachusetts 5th CD, Massachusetts 6th CD, Massachusetts 7th CD, Massachusetts 8th CD, Massachusetts 9th CD, Minnesota 3rd CD, Minnesota 4th CD, Tennessee 9th CD, Virginia 11th CD, Kansas 2nd CD, Kansas at-large delegates, Louisiana party leader delegates, Maine 2nd CD. Winner takes 4-3 split, takes 64.3% (28.6% margin) to get 5-2 split, then 14.3% more for each additional delegate.
8 delegates — Colorado 1st, Oklahoma at-large delegates, Texas 13th SD, Texas 23rd SD, Virginia 3rd CD, Virginia 8th CD, Louisiana 2nd CD. Takes 56.26% (12.51% margin) to get 5-3 split, then 12.5% for each additional delegate.
9 delegates — Alabama 7th CD. Colorado party leader delegates, Minnesota 5th CD, Tennessee party leader delegates. Winner gets 5-4 split, to get 6-3 split takes 61.12% (32% margin), then 11.1% for each additional delegate.
10 delegates — Minnesota party leader delegates, Texas 14 CD, Vermont district delegates, Maine 1st CD. Takes 55.01% (10.1% margin) to get 6-4 split then 10.0% for each additional delegates.
11 delegates — Alabama at-large delegates, Louisiana at-large delegates. Winner gets 6-5 split, takes 59.1% (18.2% margin) to get 7-4, then 9.1% for each additional delegate.
Up to this point, the easiest way to build up an edge in delegates is to win the contests with an odd-number of delegates. Picking up additional delegates requires rather large margins. Candidates have picked up extra delegates in some areas (mostly in the two states that were landslides like New Hampshire and South Carolina). However as the number of delegates at stake increases, the numbers become slightly more likely. The problem is that only a handful of states (and almost no congressional district) are this large.
12 delegates — Massachusetts party leader delegates, Virginia party leader delegates. Takes 54.26% (8.51% margin) to get 7-5 split, then 8.5% for each additional delegate.
13 delegates — Georgia party leader delegates. Winner gets 7-6 split. Takes 57.7% (15.4% margin) to get 8-5 split, then 7.7% for each additional delegate.
14 delegates — Colorado at-large delegates, Tennessee at-large delegates. Takes 53.58% (7.15% margin) to get to 8-6 split, then 7.15% for each additional delegate.
17 delegates — Minnesota at-large delegates. Winner gets 9-8 split. Takes 55.9% (11.8% margin) to get 10-7 split, then 5.9% for each additional delegate.
20 delegates — Massachusetts at-large delegates. Takes 52.51% (5.01% margin) to get 11-9 split then 5% for each additional delegate.
21 delegates — Virginia at-large delegates. Winner takes 11-10 split. Takes 54.8%(9.6% margin) to get 12-9 split then 4.8% for each additional delegates.
22 delegates — Georgia at-large delegates. Takes 52.28% (4.56% margin) to get 12-10 split, then 4.56% for each additional margin.
29 delegates — Texas party leader delegates. Winner gets 15-14 split. Takes 53.45% (6.9% margin) to get 16-13 split then 3.45% for each additional delegate.
48 delegates — Texas at-large delegates. takes 51.05% (2.1% margin) to get 25-23 split, then 2.1% for each additional margin.
By way of example, Secretary Clinton won Nevada with 52.64% of the vote. If a congressional district or state has a similar result on Tuesday, the winner would get an additional delegate only in the Georgia and Texas at-large delegate pools. Sixty of the delegate pools on Tuesday (and another 13 on Saturday and Sunday) award an odd-number of delegates (compared to sixty-nine on Tuesday with an even number of delegates and ten on Saturday and Sunday). Thirty-eight of these pools are in states that the conventional wisdom has as favoring Clinton. on Tuesday (with an additional four on Saturday) Only one is in a state expected to favor Sanders (with an additional three on Sunday). Twenty-one are in toss-up states (with an additional six on Saturday). What this race will look like on Sunday evening will depend on: 1) whether the conventional wisdom is right about Clinton having solid leads in the states with 42 odd-numbered delegate rules (with Clinton taking between 39-42 of these districts); 2) who wins the 27 toss-up districts; and 3) whether candidates can win extra delegates in any of the pools (has happened in nine of the twenty-five delegates pools in the first four contests).
While only approximately twenty-five percent of pledged delegates will have been elected by Sunday, the same math issues apply to late states as it does in early states. A candidate trying to play catch-up needs to start winning all of the districts with an odd number of delegates and picking up extra delegates in as many districts and states as possible. Yet, the essence of a close race is that most states and districts will be too close for anybody to pick up that many extra delegates and the odds of all of the “odd” districts and all of the extra delegates going in favor of one candidate are very slim. While a narrow lead on March 7 is not significant, a 100-150 delegate lead is very significant — especially if that lead stays intact over the following two weeks (with five additional large states having voted). At that point, the first stage of the process will have begun in states with approximately 50% of the pledged delegates, and the opportunities to change the picture will begin to dwindle.