#DemsInPhilly: The DNC Convention Basics

The 2016 Democratic Convention starts today in Philadelphia amid party scandal and the resignation of Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, City Hall protests, and even a heatwave.  

Amidst this activity, party leaders and celebrities will aim to bring the party together to support Hillary Clinton, who at the end of the week will become the first woman to ever be nominated for president by a major party. But what’s happening between all the speeches?

Here’s a quick dive into the DNC Convention basics:

Who are the delegates and how are they selected?

There are 4,764 delegates at the DNC convention this year.

4,051 of the delegates are “pledged,” which means they were elected at state conventions and are bound to vote for certain candidates. Congressional delegates are pledged based on the results of the primaries and caucuses in their districts. At-large delegates and pledged party leader and elected officials (PLEO) delegates are pledged based on the statewide results in the primary or caucus.

What makes this system most different from the RNC are the unpledged, or “superdelegates.” The 713 superdelegates at this year’s convention are members of the DNC or distinguished party leaders, and can pledge support for any candidate of their choosing.

What are the Convention committees?

There are three standing Committees of the Convention, each with 187 members.

  • The Credentials Committee meets before the convention to resolve any challenges and approve the seating of delegates and alternates.

  • The Platform Committee presents a draft of the National Platform to the Convention for vote, drawn up in the weeks leading up to the event.

  • The Rules Committee is responsible for drawing the rules of the convention and the party. In light of the recent email leak and resignation of DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, many anticipate heightened attention paid to this committee, especially around party rules and, the allocation of pledged delegates., Already the committee has voted to change some of the rules around superdelegates in the next election

What actually happens at the DNC Convention?

The most important orders of business for the DNC Convention are similar to the those at the RNC Convention: the delegates will cast their official votes during roll call for the party nominee, accept the nomination of Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, and vote on the adoption of the party platform.

Between these tasks, the DNC has put together a list of speakers that includes President Obama, Vice President Biden, Senator Sanders, Senator Warren, Michael Bloomberg, and First Lady Michelle Obama.


Change Politics and Change.org are excited to be on the ground in Philadelphia this week. If you’re in town, grab a cup of coffee, a quick bite, or recharge your phone with us at The Hill’s Hospitality Suite at The Hub CityView, S. 17th Street, 14th Floor, daily from 2:00-4:00 pm.


Photo courtesy of Rob Shenk via Flickr

Written by
July 25, 2016 8:38 pm