Sunday, May 8, 2016

2016 Republican Delegate Allocation: OREGON

This is part forty-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: primary
Date: May 17
Number of delegates: 28 [10 at-large, 15 congressional district, 3 automatic]
Allocation method: proportional
Threshold to qualify for delegates: 3.57%
2012: proportional primary

Changes since 2012
Much of the delegate selection plan the Oregon Republican Party used in 2012 and has historically used in the post-reform era has carried over to 2016. That is largely a function of the significant overlap between the state party rules and state law in the Beaver state with respect to delegate allocation, selection and binding. States where that bond -- between rule and law -- is strong are states  that are more resistant to change than states where the state party rules and state law are more fully divorced from each other.

That is not to say that such a state cannot make changes to their state party rules that conflict with state law.1 Rather, their holding pat signals how entrenched/institutionalized the practice has become over time.

In Oregon, that is the case again in 2016. The allocation will again be proportional based on the statewide results as called for in state party bylaws and state law. The binding requirements will again hold delegates through the second ballot (with some conditional exceptions described below).

The one change made to the bylaws and/or special rules the ORGOP adopts every four years (as called for in those bylaws) is actually a recent one. Just this spring, the party made a change to its rules on allocation and binding. Triggered by the January memo from the Republican National Committee general counsel's office, Oregon, like many other states, had to tweak its rules regarding the allocation of the three automatic delegates in the Beaver state. Unlike past cycles and due to a change in the RNC binding requirements, those three party delegates have to be allocated and bound in some manner based on any statewide preference vote.

Rather than just 25 delegates, all 28 Oregon delegates will be proportionally allocated based on the results of the May primary. Also, as Oregon Republican Party Chair Bill Currier notes, those three delegates -- the state party chair, the national committeeman and national committeewoman -- are likely to fill three of the slots allocated to the winner of the primary. To be clear, those three delegates will fill three of the slots allocated to the winner. That is different than them being separately -- as a bloc of three -- to the winner. Very simply, the automatic delegates are part of the total pool of delegates to be allocated.

Functionally, the allocation process in Oregon approximates the language of the delegate selection rules in NevadaAny candidate who receives less than the percentage required for one Delegate will receive no Delegates. That is essentially how the process will operate in Oregon. For every 3.57% of the vote a candidate receives statewide in the primary, the candidate will be allocated one delegate.

Delegate allocation (at-large, congressional district and automatic delegates)
The Oregon Republican approach to proportional allocation is a bit different from that described in other proportional states in this series. The crux of the difference is the allocation equation. In most other states, the equation amounts to something like this:
Delegates allocated to candidate X equals candidate X's votes divided by the total number of statewide votes. That ratio is then multiplied by the total number of delegates at stake. 
In Oregon, however, that equation is replaced by a more stepwise method. The ratio is still the same -- candidate vote share divided by total votes cast -- but that percentage is divided by the 3.57 "threshold". That -- the 3.57 -- is what the ORGOP calls the "benchmark increment". It is not dissimilar to the incremental rounding threshold FHQ uses to describe the share a Democratic candidate would have to receive to round up to an additional delegate.

That process is done sequentially -- from the top finisher down -- until all of the delegates have been allocated. In doing so, the method the party is using eliminates the possibility of an overallocation. In the event, the allocation process works its way through the qualifying candidates and has unallocated delegates, then the procedure is to award delegate slots to the candidate closest to that benchmark increment.

If there are multiple unallocated delegates, then the allocation follows a sequence of proximity to that benchmark increment. The candidate closest to rounding up gets the first delegate, the next closest the next delegate and so on.

The form delegate candidates have to file with the Oregon Republican Party includes a section that not only requires those candidates to affiliate with a presidential candidate -- it requires them to state a preference -- but lays out the conditions of how long that pledge holds. As mentioned above, delegates if selected to attend the national convention are bound to the candidate to whom they have pledged through the first two ballots at the convention.

However, if the candidate to whom the delegate is pledged/bound is not on the ballot at the national convention (not placed in nomination), is released by the candidate before the balloting and/or does not receive 35 percent support on the first ballot, then the delegate is unbound. Typically in an environment with a presumptive nominee, this means that all of the delegates not bound to the presumptive nominee are freed by virtue of no other candidate appearing on the ballot (or their candidate releasing them). Yet, the bottom line here is that the two ballot requirement is less restrictive than meets the eyes. These exceptions greatly loosen that barrier.

State allocation rules are archived here.

1 Ultimately, state parties have the final say in matters of delegate selection. On the Republican side, the RNC give precedence to state party rules over state laws in any instance of conflict between the two. Additionally, it should noted that there are potential penalties associated with breaking with state law. A state party could take the matter to court as has been done in a number of cases in which state law has defined parameters of primary participation -- open or closed -- that conflict with the desired mix in the state party. This can also be seen in the maneuvering of dates on the primary calendar. A state party may want an early primary, but be stuck in a later date (as that is the timing defined by state law). Often the only alternative is for a state party to hold caucuses but on its own dime. Those financial costs -- disincentives -- can force a continued marriage between state law and state party rule.

Recent Posts:
2016 Republican Delegate Allocation: WEST VIRGINIA

2016 Republican Delegate Allocation: NEBRASKA

2016 Republican Delegate Allocation: INDIANA

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