Number of Delegates in Iowa vs How Many Needed to Win DNC Nomination


Just how many delegates are needed to actually win the Democratic nomination for President? And how many are available in Iowa? Here’s a quick look.

Iowa Is More About Momentum than a Huge Number of Delegates

Iowa is more about starting momentum during the primaries, rather than actually getting a lot of delegates right off the bat.

In order to win the first ballot at the Democratic National Convention in July, a candidate needs a majority of the pledged delegates. This would be about 1,990 pledged delegates according to 270 To Win. (Other sources say 1,991.) These all come from the caucuses and primaries.

If a candidate doesn’t get that many, then the DNC will move on to a second ballot and the convention is considered contested. At that time, superdelegates can join in the votes. But how much power they have really depends on how close the top candidates are to each other. There are an estimated 764 superdelegates in 2020, according to Ballotpedia. Their names will be confirmed by March 6, 2020.

For the second and subsequent ballots at the DNC, a majority of the 4,745 delegates (i.e. 2,373 total) are needed to get the nomination. So every delegate is important in this race.

In Iowa, a total of 41 pledged national delegates are up for grabs, CNN reported. Then there are eight additional unpledged delegates in Iowa, which include five members of the Democratic National Committee and three members of Congress. These unpledged PLEO delegates were known in 2016 as superdelegates. Unlike in 2016, they will only be able to vote at the Democratic National Convention if a candidate does not get a majority of votes on the first ballot at the DNC.

So 41 delegates isn’t a big piece of the 1,991 needed to secure a first ballot nomination. But it’s a good start. Many people consider the Iowa caucus to be a great way for a candidate to gain a lot of momentum if they can secure the most delegates by a large margin.

Note that the Iowa Democratic Party does not declare a caucus winner, but simply presents results to the public and the SDE number (which is the number of state delegates allotted per candidate, technically called the State Delegate Equivalency number), the IDP noted.

Which Primaries & Caucuses Are Next?

New Hampshire’s Democratic primary is next on February 11.

The Nevada Democratic caucus will be on February 22.

South Carolina’s primary is February 29 (only for Democrats.)

On Super Tuesday on March 3, 15 states will host their primaries and caucuses, including California and Texas. This year, California has moved up its primary from when it usually is held in June, making Super Tuesday an even bigger deal.

On March 10, primaries and caucuses will be in Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota (Democrat only), and Washington.

On March 17, primaries will be in Florida, Illinois, Ohio, and Northern Mariana (caucus). Arizona will also have a Democratic primary, but the Republican primary was canceled.

On March 24, American Samoa (Republican caucus only) and Georgia’s will take place.

On March 29, Puerto Rico will host its primary (Democratic only.)

270 To Win notes that by the end of March, more than 50 percent of the Democratic party’s delegates will already be decided.

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