Original posting 8 February 2010

Democratic Change Commission's Recommendations
for the 2012 Presidential Nominating Process

Adopted Wednesday 30 December 2009

The delegates at the 2008 Democratic National Convention created the Democratic Change Commission to make recommendations for improvements to the 2012 presidential nominating process. These recommendations cover-- determining the dates during which primaries and caucuses may be held, reducing the number of unpledged delegates, and improving the caucus system.

On 30 December 2009, the report of the Democratic Change Commission was adopted. The report makes several recommendations:

1. The pre-window states (Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina) may begin their nominating processes on or after Wednesday 1 February 2012. TheGreenPapers notes: In 2008, 3 of the 4 pre-window states and 2 of the remaining states went before their original authorized date.

2008 Primary Calendar. The source for the original earliest authorized date is
the DNC Delegate Selection Rules of 19 August 2006.
Actual DateNotes
Iowa14 January 20083 January 2008 
Nevada19 January 200819 January 2008Nevada was the only pre-window state that did not move to an earlier date.
New Hampshire22 January 20088 January 2008New Hampshire jumped ahead of Nevada.
South Carolina29 January 200826 January 2008 
Florida5 February 200829 January 20085 October 2007: The DNC determined that Florida's primary violates party rules and decided to strip the state of its entire delegation. 31 May 2008: The Democratic Rules and Bylaws Committee decided to seat the entire Florida delegation with each delegate casting ½ delegate vote. 24 August 2008: The Democratic National Convention's Credentials Committee restored full voting strength to the Florida delegation.
Michigan5 February 200815 January 20081 December 2007: The DNC determined that Michigan's primary violates party rules and decided to strip the state of its entire delegation. 31 May 2008: The Democratic Rules and Bylaws Committee decided to seat the entire Michigan delegation with each delegate casting ½ delegate vote. 24 August 2008: The Democratic National Convention's Credentials Committee restored full voting strength to the Michigan delegation.
all others5 February 20085 February 2008No other state went early.
Reference: 2008 Presidential Primaries, Caucuses, and Conventions Chronologically

2. All other states may begin their process on or after Tuesday 6 March 2012 (first Tuesday in March). TheGreenPapers note: The 2008 window for all other states was 5 February 2008. Corresponding to the proposed 6 March 2012 starting date-- by 4 March 2008, jurisdictions representing 83% of the delegate votes had begun their process.

2008 Weekly Distribution.
The cumulative numbers reflect the total number of delegate votes
assigned to the jurisdictions whose process has begun.
Weekly events
Delegate Votes
Percent of Total
8 January 20082872%
15 January 200812446%
22 January 200812786%
29 January 2008254312%
5 February 2008242,62759%
12 February 200883,10470%
19 February 200823,22573%
4 March 200843,66983%
11 March 200823,72884%
22 April 200813,91589%
6 May 200834,14394%
13 May 200814,18295%
20 May 200824,30797%
3 June 200834,418100%
Reference: 2008 Weekly Delegate Distribution and Availability.

3. The Party should create an incentive to encourage states to regionally cluster contests. TheGreenPapers note: There was no such plan in 2008.

4. The Party should create an incentive to encourage states to hold their contests later in the cycle. TheGreenPapers note: The 2008 incentive plan awarded states a 5 to 30% bonus for starting their process at a later date. Only 10 states participated in the plan and those states received a total of 54 bonus delegates. Note that the bonus was computed on a subset of the total number of delegates allocated to the state rather than the entire delegation and a state had to start later in 2008 than it did in 2004 to receive a 15 or 30% bonus. Since Presidential contenders are typically vetted out in the first few contests (the disproportionate influence of the earlier states) the number of additional delegates seems to be an inadequate compensation for forfeiting the chance to choose from the full complement of candidates. The GOP had a bonus plan in 2000 but eliminated it in 2004. It too offered little in return for starting later in the cycle.

2008 Bonus Delegate Allocation
JurisdictionBonus as
Increase in
Of Additional
North Carolina30%21.82%24
Puerto Rico10%6.78%4
South Dakota10%4.55%1
West Virginia10%5.41%2
Totals  54
Find the 2008 details and associated math here.

5. The Party should eliminate the unpledged add-on delegate category. TheGreenPapers note: In 2008, 81 out of 4,418 delegate votes were cast by unpledged add-on delegates.
2008 Unpledged Add-on Delegates
JurisdictionNumber of Add-onsPercent of Delegation
American Samoa00.00%
Democrats Abroad00.00%
District of Columbia25.00%
New Hampshire13.33%
New Jersey21.57%
New Mexico12.63%
New York41.42%
North Carolina21.49%
North Dakota14.76%
Puerto Rico11.59%
Rhode Island13.03%
South Carolina11.85%
South Dakota14.35%
Virgin Islands00.00%
West Virginia12.56%
Find the 2008 details here.

6. The Party should replace the unpledged PLEO (Party Leaders and Elected Officials) delegates (composed of DNC Members, Democratic Members of the U.S. House and Senate, Democratic Governors, Distinguished Party Leaders, and add-ons) with a new category of pledged NPLEO (National Party Leaders and Elected Officials) delegates. These pledged delegates (composed of all the above except the add-ons) are allocated proportionally according to the statewide vote-- same formula as the At-Large and Pledged PLEO delegates. Any NPLEO delegate who does not wish to attend the National Convention as a pledged delegate may attended as a non-voting delegate. TheGreenPapers notes: The document does not describe how NPLEO delegates (Governors, Senators, Congressmen, etc.) are handled when a politician leaves or takes office after the selection procedure. The number of 2008 delegates votes in each class is shown below.
2008 Democratic Delegate Vote Allocations
ClassDelegate VotesPercent of Total
Pledged Delegates3,56680.7%
Unpledged DNC Members4289.7%
Unpledged U.S. Senate511.2%
Unpledged U.S. House2395.4%
Unpledged Governor320.7%
Unpledged Distinguished Party Leaders210.5%
Unpledged Add-ons812.8%
Find the 2008 details here.

7. The Party should improve the caucus system by establishing a "Best Practices" program.

These "Best Practices" per se were not specifically outlined by the Democratic Change Commission itself: nonetheless, it was recommended, by the Commission, that the Rules and Bylaws Committee of the Democratic Party set up a committee made up of representatives from all States holding "first determining step" caucuses (TheGreenPapers presumes that these would be those States planning to utilize the Caucus/Convention system in 2012, with or without a concomitant Primary [this last- Primary and caucuses combined- having been the case in Texas in 2008]) which would itself come up with any such "Best Practices".

Said "Best Practices" would be what the Change Commission referred to as "a set of benchmarks" leading up to the holding of any and all "first determining step" caucuses in 2012: States holding such caucuses would be required to show they are adhering (or, at least, are in the process of adhering) to said "benchmarks" and the oversight re: such adherence would be by the Rules and Bylaws Committee itself.

Although specific "Best Practices" for caucuses were not actually recommended by the Change Commission, the concerns expressed by the Commission as regards caucuses themselves suggest that the following areas might well be addressed by such "Best Practices":

  • allowing absentee, proxy, or some equivalent form of voting for the benefit of those unable to otherwise attend precinct (or equivalent local jurisdiction) caucuses scheduled to take place at a specific time because of work or school schedules, age or health issues, service in the military, etc.
  • allowing the more experienced Caucus/Convention States [such as Iowa, which has been holding caucuses in many a Presidential Election cycle now] to better advise States with much more limited experience in the holding of caucuses as a "first determining step" towards Presidential Nomination, thereby moving towards a process in all Caucus/Convention States which, while not necessarily uniform, is at least comparable.
  • making certain that all due preparation (from optimum site selection re: the holding of local caucuses to voter education as to how such caucuses function) has been made before the caucuses actually are held, as well as making certain that public reporting of numbers- not only the raw caucus vote but also relevant information related to the delegates selected to the next level/tier of the Caucus/Convention process- is done in a timely fashion.

It is all too evident, however, that- as regards such so called "Best Practices" for caucuses- the Commission pretty much steered clear of outright imposing- or, for that matter, even recommending the imposing of- any strictly uniform standard for the holding/conducting of caucuses or higher levels/tiers within the Caucus/Convention process as utilized by any State or equivalent jurisdiction (the Commission itself citing long-standing Party practice and tradition in many States, as well as the differences in election law among States as being a barrier to their so doing). TheGreenPapers.com note: thus, the Caucus/Convention system continues to remain the proverbial "spanner in the works" re: the whole Delegate Selection/Pledging process-- the votes cast in favor of a presidential contender "on the ground" during a local caucus (especially one held earlier in the Primary/Caucus "season" than later) will still end up not being all that reflective of National Convention delegates pledged (or not!) to said contender at a higher level/tier convention later (in some cases much later!) on in the process: therefore, the precinct caucuses will continue to have a function quite unlike the Primaries, in which the votes cast in same are immediately, and mathematically, translatable into the numbers of National Convention delegates pledged to each presidential contender as the Primary/Caucus "season" goes along.


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  30 December 2009 - Democratic Change Commission's Recommendations for the 2012 Presidential Nominating Process  
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  6 August 2010 - Republican Temporary Delegate Selection Committee's Recommendations for the 2012 Presidential Nominating Process  
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