Tuesday, April 24, 2012

2012 Republican Delegate Allocation: Rhode Island

This is the thirty-first 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.


RHODE ISLAND

For a state that is strictly proportional in terms of its delegate allocation, Rhode Island has some interesting contours. Sure, it is true that FHQ has said that about a great many "proportional" states, but the elections statutes in the Ocean state are clear in laying out the parameters of the presidential primary process and any resultant delegate allocation. In that way, Rhode Island is like neighboring Massachusetts or nearby New Hampshire. But instead of a 10% threshold for receiving delegates in New Hampshire, the threshold, as in Massachusetts, is set at 15% (see Rule 3.02).2 3

Rhode Island delegate breakdown:
  • 19 total delegates
  • 10 at-large delegates
  • 6 congressional district delegates
  • 3 automatic delegates
At-large and congressional district delegates: Mathematically, it will work out that a candidate who receives 40% of the vote will receive approximately 40% of the delegates from Rhode Island. Getting to that point, though, is not as easy. Another of the contours of the Rhode Island Republican delegate allocation is that instead of treating the total 16 delegates as a pool of delegates, they are divided across the two congressional districts. Each congressional district is allotted eight delegates which are then allocated to candidates based on their statewide share of the presidential preference primary vote. [This was different four years ago when there was an odd number of total at-large/congressional district delegates that had to be unevenly apportioned across districts.] If Romney, for instance, receives 40% of the vote, he will receive three delegates from each of Rhode Island's two congressional districts (about 40% of the delegates). Of the delegates filed by the Romney campaign in Rhode Island, the top three will be taken from each district's list.

Automatic delegates: All three automatic delegates are free to select a presidential candidate of their preference, and all three automatic delegates have endorsed Mitt Romney.

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

2 Rhode Island Republican Party delegate selection rules:
2012 RIGOP Delegate Selection Process

3 Of course, if one looks at either Title 17.12 or Title 17-12.1 of the Rhode Island General Laws, there is no mention -- anymore (???) -- of "proportional" or "15%". [If you see any mention of either in the statutes, drop me a line. I've looked through them a few times now and have been unsuccessful.] Regardless, those are the rules the Rhode Island Republican Party is utilizing for its 2012 delegate allocation.

Recent Posts:
2012 Republican Delegate Allocation: Connecticut

Race to 1144: MN, MO & WY Conventions

Another Weekend, Another Mixed Bag for Romney in Caucus State Delegate Allocation


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