Monday, March 14, 2016

2016 Republican Delegate Allocation: MISSOURI

This is part thirty-one 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: primary
Date: March 15 
Number of delegates: 52 [25 at-large, 24 congressional district, 3 automatic]
Allocation method: winner-take-most/winner-take-all by congressional district (with majority winner-take-all trigger statewide for all of the delegates)
Threshold to qualify for delegates: n/a
2012: caucus

Changes since 2012
Change perhaps seemed inevitable in Missouri for 2016. Following a cycle in which the state legislature could not agree on legislation to shift back the date of the presidential primary in the Show-Me state, the Missouri presidential primary is back and back in compliance with national party rules on timing.

Five years ago, the Missouri legislature failed to move the primary out of February. While February primaries were compliant under both national parties' rules in 2008, they were not in 2012. This forced a lot of states to schedule later primaries. Missouri was not one of those states. In fact, the Republican-controlled Missouri legislature could not only not agree on moving the primary, it also could not agree on canceling it even after the Missouri Republican Party had opted out of the non-compliant, state-funded primary to hold mid-March caucuses to avoid losing delegates to the national convention.

But the Missouri legislature righted the primary ship in 2014, shifting the primary back to a point on the calendar comparable to the caucuses four years ago. The move pushed the primary far enough back on the calendar that the Missouri Republican Party was eligible revert to allocating all of the state's delegates to the statewide winner (as had been the case prior to 2012). However, the party opted to replace the winner-take-all plan with a winner-take-most delegate allocation plan.

However, that plan has a twist. Rather than a standard winner-take-all by congressional district plan, the Missouri Republican Party has reweighted the distribution of congressional district delegates. Most states allocate three delegates per congressional district. That is a number that is derived from the RNC apportionment formula. Each state is apportioned three delegates per congressional district, and most states that consider the congressional district vote in the allocation formula allocate those three delegates in various ways.

In Missouri, though, the winner of a congressional district will be allocated five delegates in 2016. That includes the regular three congressional district delegates, but also two of the at-large delegates. Basically, the party has raided the at-large pool to increase the power that each of the congressional districts carry in the overall allocation. That shifts 16 delegates from the at-large pool into the congressional district pool for the purposes of allocation.1

On the surface, all this means is that the congressional district wins carry a bit more weight in Missouri than in other states and that the at-large pool is decreased from 25 (plus the three automatic delegates) to 9 (plus the three automatic delegates).

Finally, the Missouri Republican Party has added as part of their plan a winner-take-all trigger. If any candidate wins a majority statewide, then that candidate is entitled to all 52 delegates at stake in the Show-Me state.

Delegate allocation (at-large and automatic delegates)
Win statewide and a candidate wins the 12 at-large and automatic delegates.

Delegate allocation (congressional district delegates)
A win in a congressional district means a candidate wins all five delegates from that district.

There is the winner-take-all trigger that could allocate all the delegates -- at-large, congressional district or otherwise -- to a majority statewide winner.

Delegates are bound to the candidates they have been allocated on the first ballot at the national convention or until released if a candidate withdraws before the the convention.

Missouri is not a state where candidates have clear input on who their delegates are. It requires organizing delegate candidates to stand for election in the caucus/convention process that culminates with congressional district conventions on April 30 and the state convention on May 20-21.

State allocation rules are archived here.

1 While two at-large delegates will be allocated in each of the congressional districts in Missouri, they will still be selected at the late May state convention with the other at-large delegates.

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