Tuesday, March 13, 2012

2012 Republican Delegate Allocation: Hawaii

This is the twenty-third 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.


Hawaii, like Mississippi, is another state where the RNC memo on state-by-state delegate allocation is somewhat misleading. At the very least, that December memo left several things unsaid while making it appear as if Hawaii was a state that allocates its delegates proportionally. The Aloha Republicans do use a proportional forumla, but with some caveats.

Hawaii delegate breakdown:
  • 20 total delegates
  • 11 at-large delegates
  • 6 congressional district delegates
  • 3 automatic delegates
Right off the bat, FHQ should note a couple of things:
  1. There is no conditionality to the allocation of the delegates in Hawaii. Even if one candidate receives a majority of the vote, the delegate allocation will remain proportional.
  2. Though the RNC memo cited above indicates that there is a 15% threshold for receiving delegates, there is nothing in the Hawaii rules on delegate allocation signaling that that is in fact the case.2 With the threshold the allocation looks a lot like Mississippi. Without the threshold, Hawaii looks like a cross between Mississippi (congressional district delegates) and Alaska (proportional caucus state with no threshold).  
At-large allocation: With the above notes in mind, the allocation of the 11 at-large delegates will either be proportional to all candidates or proportional to all candidates over 15% of the vote statewide. That distinction may make some differences but only at the margins and mostly only for any candidate(s) who does (do) not receive over 15% of the vote. Plus, all that we are really talking about here is 11 delegates divided up among two or three or four candidates. The key to remember here is that the allocation is done in descending order starting with the top vote-getter and moving down the line. In other words, the statewide winner will have his delegate total rounded up to the nearest whole number and so on until all of the delegates are allocated. For example (alphabetically) we could simulate the delegate allocation based on the following results (assuming no 15% threshold)3:
Vote Share:
Gingrich: 27%
Paul: 26%
Romney: 24%
Santorum: 23%
Gingrich: 2.97
Paul: 2.86
Romney: 2.64
Santorum: 2.53
This ends up being a nice, fictitious example because all of the candidates would theoretically round up to three delegates. But there are not 12 at-large delegates to allocate; only 11. Again, in descending order, then, Gingrich would round up to three delegates, then Paul would round up to three delegates, then Romney would round up to three delegates and Santorum would receive the final two delegates available. In that scenario, despite being above half a delegate, Santorum could not round up to the next highest number according to the Hawaii rules.

Congressional district allocation: As is the case in most states, there are three delegates apportioned to each of the two congressional districts in Hawaii. Those three delegates will be allocated proportionally as well. But recall that it is unclear whether there is a 15% threshold in place in Hawaii. That matters at the margins here because depending on how many candidates surpass that barrier, it may make the the difference between some candidate receiving delegates or not. [But it appears that there is no threshold. See note 3 below.] This means that unless a candidate receives a majority of the votes within a congressional district, then no one will receive over one delegate per congressional district. In other words, if no one is over 50% then the top three vote-getters will be allocated one delegate each. If a candidate is able to get a majority on the congressional district level, then their delegate total will round up to two delegates. But at the end of the day, all we're talking about are 6 delegates. No one is likely to take a huge margin out of these districts, much less the entire state, without a fairly broad victory.

Automatic delegate allocation: All three Hawaii automatic delegates are unbound and unaffected by tonight's results. They are all free to endorse or pledge to whichever candidate they choose.

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

2 Hawaii Republican Party delegate selection rules (sections 214-216):
Hawaii Republican Party Rules-2011
3 A new RNC blog post out this afternoon seems to indicate that there is no 15% threshold for wither at-large or congressional district delegates.

Recent Posts:
About that Santorum Campaign Delegate Strategy Memo

2012 Republican Delegate Allocation: Mississippi

2012 Republican Delegate Allocation: Alabama

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that Gingrich staying in actually helps Santorum by blocking Romney from reaching 50% in states where doing so would net him more delegates? Or is that off-set by throwing more congressional districts to Romney? Newt's effect on the race has to be more complex than the media suggests.