Saturday, January 9, 2016

2016 Republican Delegate Allocation: KENTUCKY

Updated 3.5.16

This is part nineteen 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: 46 [25 at-large, 18 congressional district, 3 automatic]
Allocation method: proportional
Threshold to qualify for delegates: 5%
2012: proportional primary

Changes since 2012
The big-ticket allocation rules changes for Kentucky Republicans in 2016 are that the party abandoned its typical mid- to late May primary for early March caucuses. If that was not enough, the party also chose to continue allocating its national convention delegates in a proportionate fashion  but dropped its threshold for qualifying for delegates from 15% of the statewide vote to 5%.

The changes mean that the process in the Bluegrass state will function differently in 2016 than it has in the past. A later primary, despite being proportional, often ended up featuring a winner-take-all allocation because a presumptive Republican nominee had emerged and no other candidate received more than 15% of the statewide vote (in order to qualify for delegates). But by moving their delegate selection event up to a spot on the calendar -- on the heels of the SEC primary four days prior -- Kentucky Republicans have shifted into a much more competitive portion of the process. And by dropping the threshold to just 5%, the party has constructed a set of rules likely to allocate delegates to more than one candidate.

Mathematically, all eleven candidates who qualified for the caucus ballot in Kentucky could win delegates with or without the 5% threshold. Realistically though, over a month into the primary calendar, the field is likely to have winnowed, separating viable candidates -- and perhaps favorite son, Rand Paul -- from the rest. But while that may limit the number of candidates who ultimately qualify for delegates, that number will almost certainly be more than one as the Kentucky primary allocation has often been toward the end of the primary calendar. And that number of candidates is much more likely to be higher with a 5% threshold than the 15% threshold utilized by the Republican Party of Kentucky in the past or the maximum 20% threshold used by some states before Kentucky on the calendar.

Delegate allocation (at-large, congressional district and automatic delegates)
The Kentucky delegates will be proportionally allocated to candidates based on the outcome of the March 5 caucuses across the Bluegrass state. Based on an earlier poll conducted on the race in Kentucky (the mid-June 2015 Public Policy Polling survey), the allocation would look something like this1:
  • Paul (19%) -- 10.659 delegates (11 delegates)
  • Bush (13%) -- 7.293 delegates (7 delegates)
  • Trump (12%) -- 6.732 delegates (7 delegates)
  • Walker (11%) -- 6.171 delegates (6 delegates)
  • Rubio (10%) -- 5.610 delegates (6 delegates)
  • Huckabee (10%) -- 5.610 delegates (6 delegates)
  • Carson (7%) -- 3.927 delegates (4 delegates)
  • Cruz (4%) -- 0 delegates
  • Fiorina (4%) -- 0 delegates
The allocation above uses the total number of votes cast for qualifying candidates -- those above 5% of the caucus vote -- as its denominator. That allocates all 46 delegates to seven candidates. Actually, it over-allocates those delegates. After that rounding, 47 delegates have been awarded to the qualifying candidates. In the event of such a situation, the superfluous delegate is taken away from the candidate who is furthest from the (.5) rounding threshold. In this simulation, that would be Walker, who has a remainder of .171.2

In the case of an unallocated delegate, the candidate closest to the rounding threshold would receive that left over last delegate. One would assume that means closest to but not over the rounding threshold, but that is not made clear in the current Republican Party of Kentucky (RPK) rules. If both conditions are necessary -- closest to and under the rounding threshold -- then Bush would claim a hypothetical 47th delegate given the data above (and if there was an unallocated delegate).

This rounding scheme most closely resembles the one used by Virginia Republicans. Unlike others -- see Kansas for instance -- the rounding method is not one that favors the winner or the top votegetters.

Kentucky delegates to the Republican National Convention will be bound to their respective candidates based on the March 5 caucus results through the first roll call vote on the presidential nomination.

Those delegates bound by the caucus results to candidates who subsequently withdraw from the race initially become uncommitted (unbound). However, at the call of the delegation chairman at the national convention, the delegates (both bound and "released"/uncommitted) will convene a meeting, hold a secret ballot vote and bind those "released"/uncommitted delegates to a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. Basically, this is a vote among the Kentucky delegates to reallocate those uncommitted delegates. The reallocation of that N number of uncommitted delegates is done in proportion to the secret ballot vote.

It should be noted that delegates can vote for any candidate in this intra-delegation vote and not necessarily the candidate to whom they are bound for the presidential nomination roll call vote. If, for example, Rand Paul drops out of the presidential race, then those 10 delegates would first become uncommitted and then reallocated and bound by the Kentucky delegation. Those delegates would be allocated to some number of the six remaining candidates if all of them were still in the race. In the event that just one candidate remains, the delegation would likely vote to deliver all of the delegate votes to the remaining candidate. If all six were involved still, then Bush-bound delegates, for instance, would not have to cast their votes in the secret ballot vote for Bush. They could vote for any remaining candidate.

And it should be noted that the newly uncommitted delegates (in that state because of a candidate withdrawal) take part in that vote. That makes that bloc important; particularly if it votes as a bloc. In other words, they have some say in the candidate to whom some of them would end up bound.

State allocation rules are archived here.

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

2 There is no contingency plan in place that is readily apparent in the RPK rules for breaking any ties like the one between Rubio and Huckabee here.

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