Thursday, April 10, 2014

Nebraska Bill on Binding Delegates Based on Primary or Caucus Results Signed into Law

When FHQ discussed Nebraska bill LB 1048 back in February, talk was that an amendment would be added to the legislation. That amendment would have had the effect of shifting the presidential primary in the Cornhusker state out of May and to an earlier point on the presidential primary calendar. Yet, that particular amendment never came.

However, LB 1048 unanimously passed the Nebraska Unicam late last week and was signed into law by Governor Dave Heinemann (R) on Wednesday, April 9.  

From February, here's the impact of the bill for the presidential nomination process in Nebraska in 2016:
  1. State parties have to submit delegate selection plans to the Nebraska Secretary of State by December 1 in the year prior to the presidential election.
  2. Those plans should allocate at least 80% of the total number of delegates to candidates based on the results of a primary or caucuses.
  3. The plans must also specify how or if those delegates would be bound to particular candidates.
  4. Finally, those plans must also set a minimum threshold of 15% in the primary for a candidate to eligible for any delegates whether allocated proportionally or in a winner-take-all manner.
At its core, the new law requires that the state parties bind at least 80% of their delegates to candidates based on either the state-funded presidential primary election or presumably the first step of a party-funded caucus process (the precinct caucuses). Nebraska Democrats are already compliant, having done this the last two cycles through a caucuses/convention process.

The above changes to the law will be more consequential to Republican Conrnhuskers. The primary has always been used as an advisory beauty contest and the beginning stages of the caucus process had no direct bearing on the selection of delegates. A certain number of delegates for a particular candidate did not have to be elected in a precinct based on the percentage of the vote that candidate received there. The only restrictions were 1) that potential delegates to the national convention had to file with the state and party (with a candidate preference) just after the primary and 2) only credentialed delegates to the state convention were eligible.

There was, however, no binding mechanism. Now there is. And it was consistent with the DNC delegate selection rules and with the new binding requirement that the RNC has added to its rules for 2016.

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Peter Moseley said...

What exactly does "based on the results of a primary" mean for the Nebraska Republican vote? Can it work like the Colorado process? Or does it mean that if X% of the primary voters choose candidate A that X% of the AL and CD delegates will be bound to candidate A. Presumably the RNC delegates are unbound.

Josh Putnam said...

As the post indicates, Nebraska Republican have traditionally conducted its delegate allocation and selection through a caucus/convention process with an advisory (or beauty contest) primary. This legislation was intended to make the primary more meaningful in the allocation process.

The Nebraska Republican Party will allocate all of their delegates to the winner "based on the results of the primary". All of them will be bound to the winner.