Washington Caucus 101 - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Washington Caucus 101

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SPOKANE, Wash. -

How is it possible that even though Hillary Clinton lost in the Democratic Precinct Caucus in Washington state on March 26, she was still awarded delegates? That's a question that's come into the newsroom dozens of times in the last 48 hours. We've seen every version of it (the caucuses were wrong, Hillary cheated her way to delegates, Bernie Sanders cheated HIS way to delegates, etc).

The short answer is, Hillary Clinton has an estimated 9 delegates awarded right now (versus Sanders' 25 delegates) because the delegates are awarded proportionally. That means Washington state is not a winner take all state. Even though Bernie Sanders did win the majority of the Caucus, Clinton met the 15% threshold in multiple precincts, which means she will be awarded a proportional number delegates. Not as many as Sanders, but she still gets some.

Now to the longer answer. Before we get into this we should note that every state is different and this article will focus exclusively on the Washington state Democratic Caucus. There are 118 total Democratic delegates up for grabs in Washington state. At the time of this writing, the Associated Press estimates that Bernie Sanders has 25 such delegates and Hillary Clinton has 9. Totals are still being counted up.

But keep in mind that the March 26 Precinct Caucus was the first step in this process. The process looks like this: March 26 precinct caucuses elect about 27,000 delegates (19,000 for Sanders vs. 7,000 for Clinton). Those are whittled down at legislative district caucuses and county conventions to 1,400 delegates. The final delegates to the Democratic National Convention are picked at congressional district caucuses in May and the state convention in June to arrive at the final 118 who go to the National Convention this July in Philadelphia. Remember, 17 of those 118 are Superdelegates. Superdelegates get to choose who they vote for and are not elected at caucuses (See list).

The 17 Superdelegates are able to cast their vote for either candidate, and can change their support at will.

Picking a delegate

Becoming a delegate is a lengthy process, and it's a little bit difficult to understand. Basically, you really need to be passionate about your candidate, you need to be willing to show up to all the caucusing events, and you need to be able to sell yourself a little bit, because in a very real sense, you'll be campaigning to be "elected" by your fellow caucus-goers to represent them at each level of the process.

So who's going to win?

It's hard to say right now. If you look purely at the numbers RIGHT NOW Clinton has 1,712 delegates, including 469 superdelegates, and Sanders had 1,004 delegates, including 29 superdelegates, according to the Associated Press. It takes 2,383 delegates to secure the Democratic nomination so based purely on numbers the math favors Clinton.. But will it stay that way? Again, it's hard to say right now. Sanders supporters are very hopeful and so are Clinton supporters.

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