Friday, October 2, 2015

2016 Republican Delegate Allocation Rules by State

Convention: State will bind delegates to the national convention at a state/territory convention. Other conventions will leave the delegation unbound.

Proportional: State will proportionally allocate delegates based either on the statewide primary/caucus vote or on the combination of the statewide and congressional district votes.

Proportional with Trigger: State will follow above proportional rules but allows for a winner-take-all allocation if a candidate wins a majority of the vote statewide or at the congressional district level.

Hybrid: State will follow some form of winner-take-most plan (i.e.: winner-take-all by congressional district) or directly elects delegates on the primary ballot.

Winner-take-all: State will award all delegates to the plurality winner of the primary or caucus.

October 1 came and went with little fanfare. But that was the deadline for states to have finalized and submitted delegate selection plans to the Republican National Committee for approval. Most of the rules have been adopted by state parties at meetings and conventions throughout 2015. That gave the RNC a chance to green light most of them as they became available.

Some plans, however, are more available than others as FHQ found when trying to put together a "what do we know now about delegate allocation rules" post over the course of this week. Thankfully Zeke Miller at Time came along and filled in a number of those gaps.

I will make some broad comments now and revisit this on a state-by-state basis as 2016 approaches (more specifically in October and November). What should we focus on? Here are a few things:

1) Which states have new rules since 2012?
Most of the changes cycle-over-cycle are from formerly non-binding caucus states that, due to a change in the RNC rules, had to adopt a binding plan. Iowa, Minnesota, Maine and Washington to name a few developed differing sets of binding rules. Two other states, Montana and Nebraska traded beauty contest primaries with non-binding caucus/convention systems for winner-take-all primaries. Others like Ohio made a switch to winner-take-all rules to advantage one candidate or another. 
2) For (proportional) states in the proportionality window and out, is there a threshold that will limit which candidates will qualify to be awarded delegates?
This is a big one that will very likely aid the winnowing of this atypically large field of Republican presidential candidates. Candidates will very likely be separated into at least four groups: 
a) those who win contests
b) those who lose contests
c) those who win delegates
d) those who do not win delegates

The candidates who fall into categories b or d are going to feel pressure in various ways to drop out of the race. The saving grace for those candidates in category b is if they are winning delegates, but staying in striking distance.
3) For other (proportional) states in the proportionality window and out, is there a winner-take-all trigger [see striped states above]?
In other words, can a candidate win all of the delegates or all of the either statewide/at-large or congressional district delegates if they win the state or the congressional district? There are a lot of these trigger states on the calendar in the proportionality window. Their impact -- as potential winner-take-all states -- very much depends on the size of the field and competition among the candidates at the point that a contest is held. As FHQ pointed out in 2011 and again this year, the smaller the field is, the more likely it is that a backdoor winner-take-all contest will be triggered. It is difficult to see that with 15 candidates involved now, but the field will winnow and the calculus will change. 
4) What else is there to know?
Lots. There are rounding schemes and recalculations of delegate allocations and other sliding rules that are conditional. As always this process is a patchwork of rules in 50 states. There is a lot of variation; a lot of caveats. FHQ will be doing a tour through all 50 states as we did in 2012 and the additional territories where rules are available and state party officials willing to talk to fill in gaps. Updates will come often over the next couple of months and will be archived here for future reference
And here is the full report on delegate allocation rules from the RNC.

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