Thursday, March 10, 2016

2016 Republican Delegate Allocation: VIRGIN ISLANDS

This is part twenty-seven 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 10 
Number of delegates: 9 [6 at-large, 3 automatic]
Allocation method: delegates directly elected
Threshold to qualify for delegates: none
2012: caucus

Changes since 2012
Literally none.

However, there is a story behind that. The process book the Republican National Committee released on October 2 -- the day after the deadline for states and territories to submit their plans to the national party -- indicated that the Republican Party in the Virgin Islands would allocate all nine of its delegates in a winner-take-all fashion based on the vote in March 19 caucuses.

But none of that was official ( least not the part concerning the Virgin Islands). Instead the section on the Virgin Islands was based on a delegate selection plan that had yet to be submitted to the RNC. And, in fact, the VIGOP missed the October 1 submission deadline. In such situations, the state/territory party in violation is forced to use the rules that governed the selection/allocation process from the previous cycle.

That is why there are Thursday caucuses. The 2012 VIGOP delegate allocation rules called for a (Saturday) March 10 series of caucuses to directly elect six at-large delegates. The date remains the same, but the day is different. And that is essentially the only change to how Republicans on the Islands are electing delegates.

As the six at-large delegates are directly elected on the caucus ballot, there are no thresholds to qualify for delegates.

Delegate allocation (at-large delegates)
While there are no thresholds, candidates being "allocated" delegates depends on how many candidate-affiliated delegate candidates filed or were filed with the Virgin Islands Republican Party. In other words, a candidate cannot win all six at-large delegates unless there are six or more delegate candidates on the ballot who are aligned with a particular candidate.

Of the active candidates, only Ted Cruz has at least six delegates running on the caucus ballot. Marco Rubio and Donald Trump have only three delegate candidates running on their behalf while John Kasich has no delegate candidates pledged to him running on the ballot. What that means is that only Cruz can sweep the at-large delegates. The best Rubio or Trump can hope for is half the at-large delegates (and a third of the full nine member delegation). Kasich very simply is out of the running in the Virgin Islands.

It should also be noted that delegate candidates on the ballot can file and run as uncommitted to candidates. There are 20 such delegate candidates on the March 10 ballot. That remains something of a wildcard in all of this. Additionally, four of those uncommitted delegate candidates have had their residency on the islands called into question by the Department of Elections (not the territorial party) in the territory.

UPDATE: Those four uncommitted delegate candidates have cleared the residency hurdle for the time being.

If delegate candidates have affiliated with a candidate for the Republican nomination, then by rule of the VIGOP, the delegate, if elected, is bound to that candidate through the first ballot at the national convention. Should the candidate to whom those candidates are bound withdraw, then those delegates are released and treated as uncommitted.

As the 2012 rules have carried over to 2016, the three automatic/party delegates -- the territorial party chair, the national committeeman and national committeewoman -- are all unbound. Only the at-large delegates are bound and then only if they are aligned with a candidate. Yes, in other states, the automatic delegates have been treated as at-large delegates where the state/territory rules are not clear. However, the three party delegates will not appear on the ballot for electing delegates and there is not preference vote -- just the vote for the six at-large delegates -- to bind them.

State allocation rules are archived here.

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