THE 2020 DEMOCRATIC PRIMIARIES AND THE RACE TO 1990 DELEGATES AND THE NOMINATION

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By Washington Osiro

This post tries to summarize the upcoming US Elections for my non-American/Kenyan friends who are interested in the event and in America writ large.

While the post also reflects MY personal interest in politics (US and World) since that’s what I studied in college, it was further prompted by an interesting finding by the Pew Research Center (PRC). In an article titled “How people around the world see the U.S. and Donald Trump in 10 charts” Jacob Poushter, a Pew Research Center associate director (of global attitudes) offered this finding:

That “65% of Kenyans surveyed had faith in Donald Trump”. Only the Philippines (77%) and Israel (71%) ranked higher than the East African nation in their support of Donald Trump.

This PRC finding is consistent with an observation I made some ten years ago as I was writing my book “WUODHA: My Journey from Kenya to These United States”; findings that have since been buttressed by several articles readily available in the public domain:

That the divide/animus between two of Kenya’s largest (numerically) tribes – Luo and Kikuyu – seemingly travelled with them across the Atlantic and came to fore during Barack Obama’s two runs for the White House – in 2008 and 2012. (“Tribe and Prejudice” – Guardian, November 2008 and “Mitt Romney’s Kenyan connection, Barack Obama’s problem with Pakistan, and other insights from global polls” – Quartz, October 2012). At a minimum, this dynamic between these two tribes (and tribal conflict in Africa in general) remains a topic of intense, interesting and oftentimes disparate research and findings.

Back to the on-going Democratic Primaries, the winner needs a majority of the 3,979 delegates up for grabs in the 2020 Democratic Primaries. This works out to 1,990+ delegates for the nomination.

Without getting into the weeds, the delegates are awarded “proportionally” i.e. a candidate who wins 40% of a state’s vote in the primary election will win 40% of that state’s delegates.

As typically with near-everything related to the Democratic Party, there are exceptions to this rule – including the requirement that a candidate must win at least 15% of the primary vote in order to receive any delegates.

Then there is this thing known as a “Super Delegate”.

Oh, a “Delegate” is a person selected to represent the interests of a group of people, in this case the Democratic Primaries while a “Super Delegate” is an unpledged delegate who is seated automatically and chooses for themselves whom to support/vote for. I told you this can get confusing so for now, just remember that there are “Delegates” and “Super Delegates” and the winning candidate needs a majority of the three thousand nine hundred and seventy-nine (3,979) delegates available for grabs to face Donald Trump in the General Elections scheduled for November 3, 2020.

One last set of terms and their meanings:

CAUCUS: A meeting/gathering of supporters or members of a specific political party or movement. These gatherings allow participants to openly show support for candidates – by raising hands or breaking into groups according to who the caucus goers support. (Factcheck.org)

PRIMARY: A statewide voting process in which voters cast secret ballots for their preferred candidates. In an “Open” primary, all registered voters can vote for any candidate, regardless of their political affiliation while in a “Closed” Primary, voters can only vote for candidates of the party they are registered for. (Factcheck.org)

Below is the calendar for the respective primaries/caucuses beginning with the all-important Iowa Caucuses less than one month away:

– Monday, Feb. 3: Iowa caucuses (49 delegates)
– Tuesday, Feb. 11: New Hampshire primaries (33 delegates)
– Saturday, Feb. 22: Nevada Democratic caucuses (48 delegates)
– Saturday, Feb. 29: South Carolina Democratic primaries (63 delegates)
– March 3 (“Super Tuesday”): Alabama primaries (59 delegates), Arkansas primaries (36 delegates), California primaries (495 primaries), Colorado primaries (80 delegates), Maine primaries (32 delegates), Massachusetts primaries (114 delegates), Minnesota primaries (91 delegates), North Carolina primaries (122 delegates), Oklahoma primaries (42 delegates), Tennessee primaries (73 delegates), Texas primaries (262 delegates), Utah primaries (35 delegates), Vermont primaries (23 delegates), Virginia Democratic primary (124 delegates)


– Tuesday, March 10: Idaho primaries (25 delegates), Michigan primaries (147 delegates), Mississippi primaries (41 delegates), Missouri primaries (178), North Dakota caucuses (18 delegates), Washington primaries (107 delegates)


– Tuesday, March 17: Arizona Democratic primary (78 delegates), Florida primaries (248 delegates), Illinois primaries (184 delegates), Ohio primaries (153 delegates)

Of the more than twenty candidates who threw their names into the ring to vie for the nomination, the following are still in the running though I will confess that the state of the race is very fluid and dynamic:

1) Former Obama VP Joe Biden
2) Vermont Senator/2016 aspirant Bernie Sanders
3) Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren
4) South Bend (Indiana) Mayor Pete Buttigieg
5) Hawaii’s House Representative Tulsi Gabbard
6) Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar
7) Entrepreneur Andy Yang
8) Billionaire Tom Steyer
9) Billionaire & Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg

Notables who have dropped out for one reason or another include incumbent US Senator/former State Attorney-General (CA) Kamala Harris, incumbent US Senator (New Jersey) Cory Booker, former Obama Housing & Urban Development (HUD) Secretary/Mayor of San Antonio Julian Castro.

Also out of the running are former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke, incumbent New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and a handful of other not-so-notable aspirants including US Rep (CA) Eric Swalwell, Jay Inslee and the latest dropout, Texan-born author, spiritual leader, politician, and activist Marian Williamson.

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All told, the contest for the Democrat who will face Donald Trump in the November 2020 General Elections will begin in earnest next month when all the prognostications, analysis, barnstorming and kissing babies take a back seat and the voters finally cast their vote for their preferred candidate.

Stay tuned!

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