This is part fifty 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: 27 [21 at-large, 3 congressional district, 3 automatic]
Allocation method: winner-take-all
Threshold to qualify for delegates: n/a
2012: non-binding primary/convention
Changes since 2012
Little is different on the surface in Montana in 2016 as compared to the 2012 cycle. The primary in the Treasure state will still bring up the rear of the primary calendar on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in June as usual. However, unlike past cycles, the primary will carry more weight. As was the case in Nebraska, the state party in Montana dropped its formerly non-binding/advisory primary in order to comply with the new binding requirements added to the RNC rules during and after 2012.
Montana Republicans traditionally have sent an unbound delegation to the Republican National Convention, but to continue doing that while essentially ignoring the results of the primary would have run afoul of changes made to Rule 16(a)(1). Under the new rule for 2016, any statewide preference vote -- whether via primary or caucuses -- binds the delegates to the national convention in a manner to be chosen by the state party.
And in this case, Montana Republicans chose a route similar to the one in Nebraska: all delegates will be bound to the statewide primary winner. That is made all the simpler by the fact that with only one congressional district, Montana Republicans had no options at their disposal in terms of splitting the allocation between statewide and congressional district results. They are one in the same.
Since the Montana Republican Party has opted to hold a winner-take-all primary for their 27 delegates, there is no threshold of voter support a candidate must meet in order to qualify for delegates.
Delegate allocation (at-large, congressional district and automatic delegates)
All 27 delegates, regardless of distinction, are allocated to the winner of the June 7 primary under Montana Republican Party bylaws (Section III.F.3). While only a plurality is required to claim all of the delegates, the late date of the Montana primary and the fact that the field has winnowed (and a presumptive nominee has emerged) likely means that the winner will take more than a majority of the vote.
Delegates selected at the May 14 State Delegate Convention are bound to the winner of the June 7 primary through the first ballot at the national convention. That binding is contingent upon the Montana primary winner having his or her name placed in nomination. If that does not occur, then the 27 delegates are unbound on the first ballot. However, and again, given the late primary date and a field narrowed down to the presumptive nominee, it is likely that the Montana primary winner will have his or her name put in nomination. Stated differently, the presumptive nominee is likely to win the Montana primary. That presumptive nominee will have his or her name on the roll call ballot at the national convention.
State allocation rules are archived here.
About those bound delegates
2016 Republican Delegate Allocation: CALIFORNIA