How Biden Secured Adequate Delegates for Another Democratic Presidential Nomination

A Democratic electorate that overwhelmingly chose President Joe Biden to top the party’s ticket in November despite concerns about his age made his path to unofficially clinching the Democratic nomination this year shorter and less dramatic than in 2020. Naturally, being the incumbent helped.

The Associated Press pronounced Biden the presumed nominee at 7:16 p.m. EDT Tuesday after he won the Georgia primary and at least 100 of its 108 delegates, surpassing the 1,968 required to secure the candidacy.

As the sole contender in Mississippi, he will automatically gain 35 delegates when votes close at 8 p.m. EDT. Early in the day, Biden won six Northern Mariana Islands delegates.

After finding neither Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips nor self-help author Marianne Williamson could win enough delegates in Georgia to stop Biden, the AP concluded he would win enough.

Georgia Democratic delegates are obtained by candidates who receive at least 15% of the statewide vote. Candidates must receive 15% of the vote in a congressional district to gain delegates.

Based on the initial vote, the AP predicted that Phillips and Williamson would fail in most of Georgia’s 14 congressional districts and the statewide vote.

To determine if Phillips or Williamson could cross the threshold in any congressional district, the AP compared Georgia’s current votes to past races, the demographics of counties that have reported vote results, and estimated county turnout.

What’s happened in 2024 influenced AP’s analysis. Phillips and Williamson, the only other Georgia Democratic candidates, have been considerably behind Biden and received “uncommitted” votes since January. That applies nationwide and in every congressional district. Phillips missed the delegate threshold in his Minnesota district.

38 days after his party awarded its first delegates, Biden reaches the milestone. That’s faster than Trump’s 43 days to win the GOP nomination in 2020. When running for reelection in 2012, President Barack Obama took almost three times as long to win the Democratic primary.

Democratic state delegate procedures, which allocate delegates proportionally to primary and caucus results, make it easier for trailing candidates to win delegates and prolong the nomination race. Both Biden and Hillary Clinton did not secure the nominations until early June in the 2020 and 2016 Democratic primaries due to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ strong fight.

Obama won more than twice as many contests as Clinton in February and March 2008, but Clinton secured enough delegates to prevent Obama from becoming the probable nominee until June.

How Biden Secured Adequate Delegates for Another Democratic Presidential Nomination

Biden avoided that issue in 2024. Sanders declined to oppose the president for the nomination last spring and discouraged other progressives from doing so. No other major Democrats ran, leaving Phillips and Williamson as Biden’s primary opponents. Anti-vaccine activist Robert Kennedy Jr. briefly challenged Biden for the nomination but later ran alone.

Biden had won 19 of 20 ballot races and 99% of the delegates before Tuesday. He received 80%–90% votes in 12 competitions. He won above 80% in four additional contests. He did worst in Hawaii, winning 66% of the vote. Biden’s sole loss thus far was in American Samoa, where 51 of 91 Democratic caucus members opted for unknown Jason Palmer, who divided the territory’s six delegates evenly with Biden.

In Michigan, Minnesota, and Hawaii, “Uncommitted” voters prevented Biden from obtaining 20 of 214 delegates, or 1% of the total. A few more states are pursuing similar approaches.

In contrast, Biden struggled early in 2020, finishing fourth in Iowa, sixth in New Hampshire, and second in Nevada. After winning South Carolina’s primary and receiving Rep. James Clyburn’s endorsement, Biden continued to gather delegates for the nomination.

Biden has had many advantages as president, including aid from cooperative state party organizations that cleared or limited state ballot contests. His clear route to renomination wasn’t guaranteed as the process began.

Last year, Biden pushed the Democratic National Committee to reschedule its primary calendar to empower voters of color early in the nominating process. The revised timetable gave South Carolina, which saved his 2020 campaign, the lead-off spot instead of Iowa and revised Hampshire, which had historically held it.

In contrast to Iowa Democrats, which scrapped their 52-year-old caucuses for a mail-in presidential preference vote on Super Tuesday, New Hampshire scheduled its primary for Jan. 23, almost two weeks before South Carolina.

Biden did not run in the New Hampshire primary because it violated the party’s new calendar, but his supporters ran a write-in campaign. This raised the unpleasant possibility that the president’s reelection campaign may start with a close win or unofficial loss in the New Hampshire primary. No worries, as Biden won the write-in election with 64% of the vote, easily ahead of Phillips, whose campaign peaked at 20%.


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