Joe Biden Wins Wyoming Democratic Caucus, Party Sees Historic Turnout

Apr 19, 2020

Credit Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Former Vice President Joe Biden won Wyoming's Democratic Caucus, which party officials say drew a historic number of Democratic voters.

Biden won 72.2 percent of the vote in the final round of the caucus. Senator Bernie Sanders, who suspended his presidential campaign earlier this month, won 27.8 percent.

This year's caucus was unique in two ways. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the party suspended an in-person option for returning a ballot and conducted the caucus entirely by mail. It also used a ranked-choice voting system for the first time.

Chairman of the Wyoming Democratic Party Joe Barbuto says 15,428 democrats cast a ballot, more than double the turnout for 2016's caucus.

"I really think that speaks to the enthusiasm among democratic voters in Wyoming. We look forward to carrying that enthusiasm over to November," Barbuto said. "But I also think it speaks to the advantages of both using a ranked choice ballot and a vote by mail system."

The party adopted a ranked-choice system because of the historically large field of Democratic candidates at the start of the campaign. However, Biden was the only major candidate still actively campaigning by Friday, April 17, the deadline for voters to mail in their ballots. Biden and Sanders were the only two candidates to achieve the 15 percent threshold for viability.

According to the state party, Wyoming will send 10 of its delegates to the August Democratic National Convention (DNC) for Biden and 4 delegates for Sanders. However, DNC rules state that Sanders is not eligible for any of Wyoming's pledged "PLEO" (Party leader and elected official) delegates, since he has suspended his campaign.

Based on the DNC's formula, the Associated Press is reporting that Biden has won 12 of Wyoming's delegates and Sanders has won two. But Nina Hebert with the Wyoming Democratic Party said Wyoming will follow its own formula, which she said was approved by the DNC.

"The Wyoming Democratic Party will allocate delegates to the national convention based on the popular vote of Wyoming Democrats, as is outlined in our approved delegate selection plan," Hebert said in a statement. "If at some point the DNC requests that we apportion our delegates differently, we'll address that matter at that time."

Wyoming's four automatic "super" delegates will only vote if there is a second ballot at the convention, in accordance with a 2018 rule-change meant to reduce their influence.

Barbuto said the party will likely stick with the ranked-choice system and offer a mail-in option for future caucuses. However, he said the party will continue to advocate for a statewide primary.

"We're hoping that this is the last caucus we ever have to do," Barbuto said. "Between now and the next presidential election, 2024, we're going to push hard for Wyoming to adopt a Presidential primary run by the state. Because that's where you get the most participation."

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Savannah Maher, at smaher4@uwyo.edu.