WY's Delegate System Isn't As Simple As You Think

by Amée LaTour

Next up for our Democratic contenders is the state of Wyoming. Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Sec. Hillary Clinton will compete for 14 pledged delegates in the state's caucuses on Saturday, April 9. While it's certainly not a huge delegate haul, every delegate counts as Sanders presses to narrow the gap between himself and front-running Clinton, and she tries to expand her lead. Just how does the state allocate its delegates? Is the Wyoming caucus winner-take-all?

Wyoming, as with all other states, uses a proportional allocation system to divvy up its Democratic delegates. That means candidates get roughly the percentage of available delegates as they do the percentage of votes in the caucuses (adjusted for rounding). But, as with all things in this race, it's a little more complicated than one simple calculation.

States have different types of delegates. Frontloading HQ reported that Wyoming has four "at-large" delegates, two "pledged party leader and elected official" (PLEO) delegates, and eight congressional district delegates. (The state also has four superdelegates, but those aren't bound to vote according to the caucus results, and they won't officially decide whom to support until the Democratic National Convention in July). These delegates are typically allocated a bit differently than one another.


In most states, PLEO and at-large delegates are allocated proportionally based on the statewide results. Congressional district delegates are awarded proportionally based on results within each district. However, Wyoming only has one congressional district. So there's just one calculation for all Wyoming's delegates, right?

Sorry, not so. The delegates in the state are not "pooled," Frontloading HQ reported. This means that the state's 14 delegates are not awarded proportionally according to the statewide vote as a group. Rather, the two PLEO delegates are awarded proportionally according to the statewide vote, the four at-large are awarded proportionally, and the same with the eight congressional district delegates. They each have a different calculation.

And each type of delegate also has a threshold. Daily Kos explained that PLEO delegates have a 25 percent threshold, meaning a candidate must get at least that percentage of the vote to earn a PLEO delegate. The other two types have a threshold of 15 percent. A table at Daily Kos shows how many of each type of delegate correspond with different percentages of the vote.

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Wyoming is a small state with a small number of delegates; there really isn't much room for significant deviation between the percentage of the popular vote a candidate gets and the delegates he or she earns. Wyoming allocates its delegates proportionally, and though the nitty-gritty of it is a bit messy, the overall result on Saturday will likely be straightforward.