The new requirement has been adopted in a number of different ways across the states. Some have moved to a conditional system where winner-take-all allocation is dependent upon one candidate receiving 50% or more of the vote and others have responded by making just the usually small sliver of a state's delegate apportionment from the national party -- at-large delegates -- proportional as mandated by the party. Those are just two examples. There are other variations in between that also allow state parties to comply with the rules. FHQ has long argued that the effect of this change would be to lengthen the process. However, the extent of the changes from four years ago is not as great as has been interpreted and points to the spacing of the 2012 primary calendar -- and how that interacts with the ongoing campaign -- being a much larger factor in the accumulation of delegates (Again, especially relative to the 2008 calendar).
For links to the other states' plans see the Republican Delegate Selection Plans by State section in the left sidebar under the calendar.
One of the most fascinating aspects of this presidential primary cycle -- to FHQ anyway -- has been the ways in which the early and non-compliant states have adapted their regular delegate selection rules to their after-penalty delegate apportionment from the Republican National Committee. Penalized states are left to their own devices to devise an altered formula that differs from the usual three delegates per congressional district and an n number of at-large delegates alignment. South Carolina, for instance, reduced the per-district delegate count from three to two (14 of 25 delegates) and designated the remaining 11 delegates at-large. Additionally, FHQ speculated that the Republican Party of Florida could do something similar if forced to go "proportional". However, in order not to exceed the Sunshine state at-large delegate total, the party would have to reduce the number of delegates per each of the 27 districts to one with the remaining 23 (out of 50) delegates being at-large.
Michigan is another early primary state carrying a penalized delegation that has to rejigger its delegate allocation to account for the changes. The original plan adopted by the Michigan GOP -- the one with 59 total delegates -- looked like this:
- 42 congressional district delegates (3 in each of the 14 congressional districts in the Great Lakes state): allocated winner-take-all based on the congressional district vote
- 14 at-large delegates: allocated proportionally to candidates surpassing 15% of the statewide vote
- 3 automatic delegates: free to choose whomever.
According to the updated Michigan Republican Party delegate rules forwarded to FHQ by Neil King at the Wall Street Journal it looks like this:
- 28 congressional district delegates (2 per each of the 14 districts): allocated winner-take-all based on the vote in the congressional district
- 2 at-large delegates: allocated winner-take-all2
- 0 automatic delegates: Penalized states lose their automatic delegates.
Now, this has a couple of significant implications:
- The Michigan Republican Party completely gutted its at-large delegate total and kind of sort of skirted the proportionality requirement in the process. Hey, it is hard to allocate two delegates proportionally.
- With such a reduced at-large total, the real battle in the Great Lakes state is not statewide, but from congressional district to congressional district. Strategically, the, if you're Mitt Romney or a Romney-aligned super PAC, you focus on the districts in and around the Detroit area and perhaps cede the rest of the state to Santorum. And if you're the Santorum camp you try and gobble up as much of the remainder as you can and hope to crack into those Detroit areas.
*A tip of the cap to Neil King at the Wall Street Journal for passing along the Michigan rules and to Matt Frendewey at the Michigan GOP for clarifying them.
1 FHQ would say 50 part, but that doesn't count the territories and Washington, DC.
2 The rules state that the statewide winner receives the two at-large delegates, but MIGOP's Frendewey conceded that if the top two voter-getters in the statewide vote over 15% -- the threshold required to receive any at-large delegates -- are sufficiently close in the final results, then the allocation of those two delegates would be proportional; each candidate getting one delegate.
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