This is part fifty-two 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: June 7
Number of delegates: 24 [12 at-large, 9 congressional district, 3 automatic]
Allocation method: proportional
Threshold to qualify for delegates: 15%
2012: proportional primary
Changes since 2012
New Mexico Republicans are about to do in 2016 what they have done every four years since 1980: hold one of the final presidential primary elections of the season. Though Democrats during Bill Richardson's time as New Mexico governor created and opted into a February firehouse primary that was allowed at the time by state law, Republicans in the Land of Enchantment never followed suit. Likewise, the 2015 push by Republican legislators to move the consolidated primary -- presidential and those for other offices -- into March stalled in committee.
All that means is the New Mexico will once again have a primary on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in June. Furthermore, the Republican Party of New Mexico is like its neighbor to the west, Arizona. In both cases, the procedure for the primary and delegate allocation (and all that goes along with that) are laid out in state law rather than state party rules. The latter are dedicated to describing the delegate selection through a caucus/convention process. But since the presidential primary law has not been altered since 2011, there are no changes to the method by which Republicans in New Mexico will allocate delegates in 2016.
The only difference is based on the guidance provided by the RNC on the binding of automatic delegates. Now, those three, formerly unbound delegates are allocated and bound like the at-large and congressional district delegates.
The aforementioned state law sets the threshold for candidates to qualify for delegates at "at least 15 percent". Like most other states, fractional delegates are rounded in New Mexico, not fractional percentages. A failure to get at or above 15 percent in the statewide vote would leave a candidate excluded from the delegate allocation.
Delegate allocation (at-large, congressional district and automatic delegates)
New Mexico Republicans do not separate the delegate allocation across congressional districts and the state. All 24 delegates are in one pool that is proportionally allocated to qualifying candidates at 15 percent or more of the statewide vote in the primary.
The rounding rules are not laid out in either state law or the state party rules. In a competitive environment that would be consequential, but given the position of the New Mexico primary on the calendar and the fact that the field has typically winnowed down to a presumptive nominee, the lack of clear rounding rules carries less weight.
The tendency, then, is for the presumptive nominee to be the only one to clear the 15% threshold. And since the allocation equation divides by only the qualifying vote, the winner ends up being allocated all of the New Mexico delegates. That has been the case over the last two cycles in any event. Mitt Romney was the only candidate to earn more than 15 percent of the vote in the 2012 primary, and though Ron Paul just barely missed out on qualifying in 2008, John McCain took all of the delegates in 2008.
After touching base with the Republican Party of New Mexico, the rounding scheme the party uses works as follows:
- Fractional delegates are rounded to the nearest whole number.
- If that leads to an overallocation of delegates, then the surplus delegate is subtracted from the candidate with the remainder least proximate to the rounding threshold.
- The allocation is done sequentially from the top votegetter down, but should any delegates remain unallocated, then the delegate would be allocated to the qualifying candidate with the highest remainder (closest to the rounding threshold).
Again, this is a matter that is covered by state law. Delegates are proportionally allocated to all qualifiers (or just to the winner/presumptive nominee if he or she is the only qualifier) and bound by statute to vote for that candidate on the first ballot at the national convention. The law essentially provides the delegation chair at the convention with enforcement power. Said chair is instructed by the law to cast the votes in proportion to the vote in the primary (rather than the delegates themselves).
Delegates are released after the first ballot, but can be released before that if the candidate to whom they are bound dies or by written release.
State allocation rules are archived here.
More Past Primary Calendar Revisionism
2016 Republican Delegate Allocation: NEW JERSEY
2016 Republican Delegate Allocation: MONTANA