Primary Primer I: Who Chooses The Presidential Nominee

The primaries are upon us and soon both parties will be selecting their nominees. But if the residents of States vote in the primary or caucus, what’s the role of the Party Convention? Where do SuperDelegates fit in? Who is really choosing the Presidential candidate?

In this post we’ll be examining how the delegates which choose the nominee are selected.

Elected Delegates: It Could Be YOU
Delegates don’t come out of thin air; a vast majority of them are elected (we’ll address the ones which aren’t below).

It all starts with petitioning…(unless you’re in a caucus state)
Requirements for getting on the ballot vary by State but there’s always an option to gather signatures from some percentage of the population. Again, depending on the State, petitions may be directly for the candidate (sign for Presidential candidate x) or they may be for specific delegates pledging to vote for that candidate (sign for delegate candidate who will vote for presidential candidate x).

If you want want to petition for a candidate and run as a delegate for him/her, you should contact the campaign.

In New York…
Delegates petition for themselves (or a slate running together) within a Congressional District (CD). They are listed in a predetermined order and, for every delegate a candidate wins in that CD, another delegate candidate is elected. Delegate order is determined in coordination with the Presidential campaign they hope to represent. A campaign may also reject specific delegate candidates.

It builds to the Primary…(unless you’re in a caucus state)
In the primary, voters either select the candidate or individual delegates. Either way the result is the same, the percentage of the vote determines how many delegates a candidate receives and a proportional number of delegate candidates become real delegates.

*NOTE*: Not everyone gets to vote for delegates all the time! In the next post, we’ll be talking about just who gets this critical power.

Ok, you’re in a caucus State…
Though outside the purview of the Manhattan Democratic Party (where we use primaries) we’ll cover it. In a Caucus there’s no petitioning. Party members go to caucus and then select, sometimes over hours of discussion, who they should support and who should be delegates. In this system, delegates may be elected as “uncommitted” to any particular candidate.

Super Delegates
SuperDelegates are unelected delegates. They are politically important people such as Elected officials. The Democratic Party uniquely gives seats to former high-ranking electeds such as past Presidents.