With Pennsylvania’s presidential primaries suddenly visible in the distance, this is a great time to examine how each party determines the number of delegates that the Keystone State will get.
Note: A major tip of the hat to The Green Papers for these numbers.
The process of determining the number of delegates a state gets in the Democratic primary is exceptionally complicated. Nevertheless, we’ll try to simplify the system as much as possible (you can read a more detailed explanation here).
There are three types of delegates: pledged, unpledged and bonus.
For pledged delegates, the vote totals that the Democratic nominees in 2004, 2008 and 2012 received in each state are totaled and run through a mathematical formula. In the end, the 9,204,732 Pennsylvania votes for John Kerry and Barack Obama results in 189 pledged delegates.
PA also has quite a few unpledged delegates, or “superdelegates”, as they’re more commonly known. 13 DNC members from the Keystone State get a vote as does Governor Wolf, Senator Casey and PA’s five Democrats House members. There’s also an extra delegate under the “distinguished party leaders” column (former Gov. and DNC Chair Ed Rendell perhaps?). Altogether, the state gets 21 superdelegates.
Finally, there are the bonus delegates. In an attempt to prevent the front-loading of primaries, the party rewards states and territories for holding back. So the later the primary or caucus, the bigger the reward. States are also encouraged to “cluster” their contest, i.e. convince neighbors to hold their elections on the same day. The goal is to create as many regional primaries as possible. Therefore, Pennsylvania gets a 15% bonus for holding their primary on the same day as Maryland and Delaware. The result is 34 bonus delegates.
When added together, Pennsylvania holds 210 out of the 4,764 total delegates or just over 4.4%.
The Republican Party has a much simpler process (if you’d like, though, you can delve into it here), but like their rivals they also have three types of delegates: electoral, party leaders and bonus.
Electoral delegates are determined by a state’s representation in Congress. Each state gets 10 votes off the bat (five for each Senator) and another three votes for each member of the House of Representatives. Since PA has 18 Congressmen that amounts to 54 votes. Combined, we get 64 electoral delegates. It’s interesting that Republicans dole out their main slate of delegates based on congressional districts, regardless of whether their party holds all of those seats or not.
The party leaders category is simply enough. Every state and territory has three, their national committeeman, national committeewoman, and the party chair. They all get to go to the convention and vote.
Finally, bonus delegates are somewhat similar to superdelegates yet some important distinctions remain. Most of them go to states that voted for the Republican nominee in the last election, thus excluding Pennsylvania. The commonwealth does pick one up, though, because of Sen. Toomey and another one since over half the state’s House delegation is Republican. Additionally, the GOP majorities in the State House and State Senate net PA another two delegates. So in total, the Republicans grant Pennsylvania four bonus delegates.
After all three categories are added together, the commonwealth emerges with 71 delegates out of a total of 2,472 or about 2.9%.
The Pennsylvania presidential primary is scheduled for April 26th.