Tuesday, March 13, 2012

2012 Republican Delegate Allocation: Mississippi

This is the twenty-second in a multipart series of posts that will examine the Republican delegate allocation by state.1 The main goal of this exercise is to assess the rules for 2012 -- especially relative to 2008 -- in order to gauge the impact the changes to the rules along the winner-take-all/proportionality spectrum may have on the race for the Republican nomination. As FHQ has argued in the past, this has often been cast as a black and white change. That the RNC has winner-take-all rules and the Democrats have proportional rules. Beyond that, the changes have been wrongly interpreted in a great many cases as having made a 180ยบ change from straight winner-take-all to straight proportional rules in all pre-April 1 primary and caucus states. That is not the case. 

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.


MISSISSIPPI

Contrary to how the December RNC memo on delegate allocation by state described it, Mississippi is not exactly proportional.2 Well, it is, but not in the same way that all of the delegates from New Hampshire or Massachusetts were. Instead, the formula is slightly more complicated. First, what's at state in the Magnolia state on Tuesday?

Mississippi delegate breakdown:
  • 40 total delegates
  • 25 at-large delegates
  • 12 congressional district delegates
  • 3 automatic delegates
At-large allocation: The 25 at-large delegates are all allocated to the winner of the statewide vote if that  candidate receives a majority of the vote. If no candidate clears the 50% barrier, then the allocation is proportional to those candidates who have received over 15% of the vote.
Notes: As was/will be the case in Alabama, this means that a close race -- like the tight three way race that the polling in the state seems to indicate -- yields a near even allocation of at-large delegates among Gingrich, Romney and Santorum. Again, this would greatly resemble what we witnessed in Oklahoma. 
Congressional district allocation: The three congressional district delegates per each of the four Mississippi districts are also allocated winner-take-all if one candidate is able to garner a majority of the vote. Now, if no candidate clears the 50% mark is where this gets interesting -- especially in light of a potentially tight three way race. With no one over the majority point and with three candidates likely over the 15% threshold, none of the three candidates is going to be mathematically able to gain enough separation to round up to more than one delegate. In a race with three candidates over 15% within any one of the congressional districts, one candidate would have to get over half of the vote to even round up to two delegates. And of course, at that level, a candidate would receive all three delegates. In all likelihood, a candidate will have to clear the 20% mark within a congressional district to be able to round up to one full delegate; particularly if that candidate is in third place.
Notes: Mississippi, then, ends up looking an awful lot like Oklahoma (...on the condition that the vote mirrors the recent polling in the state. That is anything but a certainty.): a proportional allocation of the at-large delegates and an evenly distributed allocation of the three congressional district delegates to the three candidates over 15%. But on the congressional district level there may be some measure of variation across districts that may alter the possibility of one district delegate per candidate pattern.
Automatic delegate allocation: The three automatic delegates -- as is the case with most of them across the country -- are free to endorse or pledge themselves to a candidate of their choosing. In Mississippi, one automatic delegate has already endorsed Mitt Romney.

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1 FHQ would say 50 part, but that doesn't count the territories and Washington, DC.

2 Mississippi Republican Party delegate allocation rules:
2012 Mississippi Republican Delegate Allocation Rules

Recent Posts:
2012 Republican Delegate Allocation: Alabama

Race to 1144: Super Tuesday, Kansas/Territories

About that RNC Delegate Count...


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