Decision 2016: A Preview of the March 26 Western Primary States

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We are about a week and a half away from the next “crucial” primary in Wisconsin on April 5. But before that takes place, there are three contests in the Democratic Primary going on today. In fact, the voting is already underway in Washington and Alaska. Hawaii begins voting later this evening.

Washington is the big delegate prize today with 101 pledged delegates available. By contrast, Alaska and Hawaii are only allocating 16 and 25 pledges delegates respectively. Given the smaller population of theses states, their favorable demographics, and the fact they are caucuses, today should be a clean sweep for Bernie Sanders.

However, it should be stressed, again, that it is not just about winning states at this point in the race. Sanders is trailing Clinton by 300 pledged delegates; and even when he has run up large margins of victory on her in the past, he has been unable to make up enough ground in the delegate count.

This is why Washington is so important for the Vermont Senator. He is expected to win, but a net gain of 10 or so delegates simply won’t cut it. Sanders needs to run up the score. It is even more crucial since large, delegate rich states like New York, Maryland, and Pennsylvania are coming up over the next month. These states will award a total of 619 delegates and they all play to Clinton’s strengths.

For Sanders to show any kind of strength going forward, and to give voters in these upcoming states a compelling reason to believe he can still win the primary, he will have to come away with at least 70 to 75 delegates in Washington.

Here is a little more information on the rules and processes in Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii.

Washington

Who votes?: Washington State does not officially register voters by party. So for a voter to participate, they have to show up at their local caucus site and affirm that they want to participate as a Democrat.

Caucus Times: Voting began at 10:00 a.m. PST (1:00 p.m. EST) and is expected to last roughly two hours.

Delegate Allocation & Thresholds: 118 total delegates available: 101 pledged delegates; 17 unpledged superdelegates. 67 awarded by district; 34 awarded statewide; 15% threshold to receive delegates at the district level.

District Allocation: 67 district delegates are awarded proportionally based on each candidate’s performance in Washington’s 10 congressional districts, so long as they meet the 15% threshold required.

Delegates are assigned to each district based on population. The big district prize of the day is CD7, with 12 delegates at stake, which covers Seattle (King County).

Alaska

Who votes?: Alaska conducts a closed caucus. Only registered Democrats can participate.

Caucus Times: Voting began at 10:00 a.m. Alaska Standard Time (2:00 p.m. EST).

Delegate Allocation & Thresholds: 20 total delegates available: 16 pledged delegates; four unpledged superdelegates. 10 awarded by district; six awarded statewide; 15% threshold to receive delegates at the district level.

Hawaii

Who votes?: Hawaii conducts a closed caucus. Only registered Democrats can participate. Voters can register as Democrats at their caucus site on the day of. If an individual has already voted in the GOP Caucus a few weeks ago, they are not allowed to participate.

Caucus Times: Voting begins at 1:00 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time (7:00 p.m. EST).

Delegate Allocation & Thresholds: 35 total delegates available: 25 pledged delegates; 10 unpledged superdelegates. 16 awarded by district; nine awarded statewide; 15% threshold to receive delegates at either the district or state level.

District Allocation: Each of Hawaii’s two congressional districts are assigned eight delegates. These delegates are awarded proportionally to each candidate so long as they surpass the 15% threshold.

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