Friday, March 30, 2012

2012 Republican Delegate Allocation: Wisconsin

This is the twenty-seventh 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.


WISCONSIN

The state or Wisconsin represents the primary process' and this series' first foray into states not subject to the new proportionality requirement. It is the first state -- along with Maryland and Washington, DC -- to hold a contest following the April 1 proportionality cutoff. Before FHQ goes any further, it is worth noting that the future primary calendar landscape is not littered with a host of strictly winner-take-all states. It is not. In fact, the post-April 1 presidential primary calendar environment mimics the environment that has traditionally stretched across the whole calendar. It isn't that states are all winner-take-all, rather it is up to the states/state parties to decide how they want to allocate delegates. It can be winner-take-all, it can be proportional or it can be some hybrid of the two.

In the Badger state, the Republican Party of Wisconsin has maintained its typical method of delegate allocation; which is to say, something in between. Wisconsin will allocate its delegates in a winner-take-all fashion both statewide and in each of the eight congressional districts. A candidate winning a plurality of the vote statewide receives all of the at-large delegates and a candidate winning a plurality of the vote in a congressional district is entitled to the district's three delegates. In this way -- like the plans in both South Carolina and Michigan -- Wisconsin is not entirely winner-take-all since it allows for candidates other than the statewide winner to pick up some delegates if they manage a win in any of the eight congressional districts.

Wisconsin delegate breakdown:
  • 42 total delegates
  • 15 at-large delegates
  • 24 congressional district delegates
  • 3 automatic delegates
Again, this is all fairly straightforward. Win a district and win that district's three delegates. That is how those 24 congressional district delegates are allocated. The rest of this is also simple enough with one exception: the automatic delegates. According to Article X, Section 2 of the Republican Party of Wisconsin constitution, there are three delegates apportioned to each congressional district and the remaining delegates are all at-large.2 The question that arises from that is whether that applies to the automatic delegates as well. It would appear so according to the section cited above. However, automatic delegates are discussed in Section 6, but that language is copied almost verbatim from Rule 15(c)(11) of the RNC delegate selection rules. Of course, neither the Wisconsin rules nor the RNC rules indicate the way in which the automatic delegates are to be allocated. The RNC rule (15(c)(11)) refers to Rule 13(a)(2) which defines automatic delegates, but again, does not specify how they are to be allocated. That, it would seem, is a matter left up to the state parties, which in Wisconsin's case, brings it all full circle back to Section 2.

What that means is that all 42 delegates will be at stake in Tuesday's Wisconsin primary. That differs from the description of Wisconsin's delegate selection plan in the December 2011 memo on delegate selection from the RNC legal counsel office. That memo left the three automatic delegates unbound, but that does not jibe well with FHQ's reading of the Republican Party of Wisconsin's constitution.

...the section on delegate selection anyway.

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NOTE: The statewide winner in Wisconsin will start off with at least an 18 delegate advantage and will  not improve on that margin only under the circumstances that another candidate wins more than four congressional districts. That would appear unlikely.

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

2 Below is Article X (the section pertaining to national delegate selection) of the Republican Party of Wisconsin's constitution:
Article X - Selection of National Convention Delegates and Alternates 
The Executive Committee is empowered to regulate the rules in this Article but not alter them unless they fail to be in compliance with the Rules of the National Republican Party. 
SECTION 1. The total number of delegates and equal number of alternate delegates shall be those numbers fixed by the formulas set forth in the rules of each National Convention. 
SECTION 2. Of the total number fixed by Rule No. 1, three (3) district delegates and three (3) district alternate delegates shall be designated from the district of each Representative in the United States House of Representatives and the remainder shall be designated ―at large. 
SECTION 3. A candidate receiving a plurality of the votes in the Presidential Primary in any Congressional District is entitled to control the three (3) delegates and the three (3) alternate delegates from that district in all votes for nomination for President of the United States and Vice- President of the United States, unless the delegates and alternate delegates are released by the candidate or the candidate fails to receive at least one-third (1/3) of the total votes cast in any vote for nomination. 
SECTION 4. A candidate receiving a plurality of the statewide votes in the Presidential Primary is entitled to control all the delegates and alternate delegates designated ―At Large on all votes for nomination for President of the United States and Vice-President of the United States, unless the delegates and alternate delegates designated ―At Large are released by the candidate or the candidate fails to receive at least one-third (1/3) of the total votes cast in any vote for nomination. 
SECTION 5. After receiving the results of the Presidential Primary, each District Chairman, in consultation with his or her District Executive Committee and in consultation with the committee of the winning presidential candidate in that district, shall submit a list of no more than 20 or no less than 12 names to be considered by the candidate committee for the selection of their District delegates and alternate delegates. By March 9th, the candidate committee shall notify the respective District Chairmen which three from the list they wish to designate as delegates and which three from the list they wish to designate as alternate delegates. Giving due consideration to the candidate committee’s designations, the District Caucus shall elect three District delegates and three alternate District delegates from the originally submitted list. At-Large delegates and At-Large alternate delegates shall be selected by the committee of the candidate receiving a plurality of the statewide votes in the Presidential Primary, and a list of said delegates and alternate delegates shall be ratified by the State Executive Committee. It shall be understood that the candidate’s committee shall have final approval of the list of At-Large delegates and alternate delegates. All District and At-Large delegates and alternate delegates must conform to Section 7. The delegate selection process shall be completed no later than the second Saturday in May of the Presidential election year. 
SECTION 6. There shall be no automatic delegates nor alternate delegates to a National Convention who serve by virtue of party position or elective office, unless stipulated by RNC rules. 
SECTION 7. Both district and At-Large delegates and alternates must file an affidavit with the Republican Party of Wisconsin stating that they will abide by these rules and that they are qualified to represent the Republican Party of the State of Wisconsin by being a qualified voter and member in good standing of the Republican Party of their county since at least the date of their county’s caucus held in the Presidential election year. All affidavits must be received in the state party headquarters no later than 45 days prior to the opening day of the Republican National Convention or the office will be considered vacant and a replacement delegate or alternate will be selected per Section 8. 
SECTION 8. The Chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin shall fill any vacancies for District delegates and District alternate delegates in consultation with the District Chairman in whose district the considered replacement resides, and the appropriate presidential candidate committee. The Chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin shall fill any vacancies for At-Large delegates and At-Large alternate delegates in consultation with the committee of the candidate winning the statewide primary. The replacement of District or At-Large delegates or alternate must file an affidavit per Section 7 immediately upon accepting the office. 
SECTION 9. No preference shall be given in the delegate or alternate delegate selection process as to whether the delegate is a man or a woman.


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