Thursday, January 7, 2016

2016 Republican Delegate Allocation: KANSAS

This is part eighteen of a series of posts that will examine the Republican delegate allocation rules by state. The main goal of this exercise is to assess the rules for 2016 -- especially relative to 2012 -- in order to gauge the potential impact the changes to the rules along the winner-take-all/proportionality spectrum may have on the race for the Republican nomination. For this cycle the RNC recalibrated its rules, cutting the proportionality window in half (March 1-14), but tightening its definition of proportionality as well. While those alterations will trigger subtle changes in reaction at the state level, other rules changes -- particularly the new binding requirement placed on state parties -- will be more noticeable. 


Election type: caucus
Date: March 5
Number of delegates: 40 [25 at-large, 12 congressional district, 3 automatic]
Allocation method: proportional
Threshold to qualify for delegates: 10% (both statewide and within the congressional districts)
2012: proportional caucuses

Changes since 2012
The Kansas Republican Party delegate selection rules for 2016 only subtly differ from the rules used four years ago. For the most part, the change is a function of the national party change to the definition of "proportional". Just as in 2012, the Kansas caucuses will fall within the proportionality window, but to be proportional in 2016, Sunflower state Republicans had to make some changes. Again, it was subtle.

Just as in 2012, the allocation of the 25 at-large delegates will be proportional based on the statewide vote. Unlike four years ago, however, Kansas Republicans can no longer allocate congressional district delegates in a winner-take-all fashion and remain proportional. That was allowed in 2012 so long as the at-large delegates were awarded in a proportionate manner. The big change for Kansas, then, is that the three congressional district delegates in each of the four districts will be divvied up between qualifying candidates in 2016.

Another change is in the threshold that candidates must meet in order to qualify for delegates. In 2012, the Kansas Republican Party set that at the maximum 20%. Again, the congressional district delegates were winner-take-all, but to receive any of those 25 at-large delegates in 2012, a candidate had to receive at least 20% of the vote. Only winner, Rick Santorum, and runner-up, Mitt Romney, made the cut.

That qualifying share of the vote has been cut in half for 2016. Had the threshold been set at 10% in 2012, then both Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul would have joined Santorum and Romney in qualifying for at-large delegates.

Additionally, that 10% threshold applies to not only the allocation of at-large delegates, but congressional district delegates as well. There is no winner-take-all trigger at either level, nor is there the possibility of a backdoor winner-take-all scenario. Should only one candidate or no candidates clear the 10% threshold, then the allocation functions as if there is no threshold. Kansas Republicans have more clearly than some other states -- see many of the SEC primary states on March 1 -- written a backdoor winner-take-all prohibition into their rules.

Delegate allocation (at-large delegates)
The at-large delegates -- 25 delegates in total -- will be proportionally allocated to candidates based on the outcome of the March 5 caucuses across Kansas. Based on the last poll conducted on the race in Kansas (the late September 2014 USA Today/Suffolk poll), the allocation would look something like this1:
  • Bush (15%) -- 13 delegates
  • Huckabee (14%) -- 12 delegates
  • Christie (9%) -- 0 delegates
  • Cruz (8%) -- 0 delegates
  • Perry (7%) -- 0 delegates
  • Paul (6%) -- 0 delegates
  • Rubio (6%) -- 0 delegates
  • Ryan (6%) -- 0 delegates
  • Walker (4%) -- 0 delegates
  • Santorum (2%) -- 0 delegates
  • Jindal (1%) -- 0 delegates
Only Bush and Huckabee surpass the 10% barrier, and are thus the only candidates to qualify for any of the 25 at-large delegates. Bush would round up to 13 delegates and Huckabee would take the remainder. The rounding scheme the Kansas Republican Party uses always rounds up and then works in a downward sequence based on how the candidates placed in the vote count. Even in a situation in which Bush received just one more vote than Huckabee (and assuming they were still the only two candidates to qualify), that small fractional advantage would always round Bush up to the next whole number. This is made slightly easier by an odd number of at-large delegates.

It goes without saying, perhaps, that this method of rounding gives advantages to the top votegetter(s). Whoever ends up as the last remaining qualifying candidate often will get the short end of the stick, receiving only the delegate leftovers by the time the allocation sequence gets to them.

Delegate allocation (congressional district delegates)
Counter to the Republican National Committee summary of the Kansas Republican Party delegate rules, the congressional district delegates are allocated in the same manner as the at-large delegates, but based on the vote count in the congressional districts rather than statewide. Candidates qualify for congressional district delegates if clear 10% of the vote within a district. If only one candidate or no candidates have more than 10% of the vote, then allocation is done as if there was no threshold. If the above poll numbers are extended to the congressional district level that would mean Bush would be allocated two delegates and Huckabee the remaining delegate from a district.

That same 2:1, Bush to Huckabee allocation ratio would hold even if Chris Christie, for instance, received 10% of the vote and qualified for delegates. Under that scenario, Christie would qualify for delegates, but due to the rounding scheme be left out. Again, the rounding is always up to the nearest whole number starting with the top finisher and working sequentially downward. Bush would round up to two delegates and Huckabee would take the remaining delegate. This would be true at the congressional district level in all cases except for one where the top three are exactly tied. Functionally, then, the allocation of Kansas delegates at the congressional district follows the top two method being used in states like Alabama and Georgia.

As with the at-large delegates statewide, there is no route to a backdoor winner-take-all allocation at the congressional district level. The Kansas rules expressly prohibit the winner-take-all scenario in which only one candidate clears the qualifying threshold.

Delegate allocation (automatic delegates)
The automatic delegates -- state party chair, national committeeman and national committeewoman -- from the Kansas Republican Party delegation are allocated and bound to the statewide winner of the caucuses on March 5. In the scenario above, those three delegates would be awarded to Jeb Bush. This is yet another advantage the winner accrues embedded in the Kansas Republican delegate selection rules.

The Kansas delegation will be bound to the candidates who qualified for delegates based on the results of the March 5 caucuses. That binding holds until a candidate releases their delegates. That could occur during primary season after the Kansas caucuses or through several ballots at the national convention in Cleveland. Unlike most other states, Kansas Republicans have not set a specific number of roll call ballots after which Sunflower state delegates will be relieved of their binding. Instead, that release is left to the discretion the candidate.

State allocation rules are archived here.

1 This admittedly outdated poll is being used as an example of how delegates could be allocated under these new rules in Kansas and not as a forecast of the outcome in the Sunflower state caucuses.

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