This is part fifty-three 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: 29 [23 at-large, 3 congressional district, 3 automatic]
Allocation method: winner-take-all
Threshold to qualify for delegates: n/a
2012: proportional primary
Changes since 2012
Much like New Mexico, South Dakota Republicans have traditionally had a late-calendar primary with proportional allocation of delegates. Also like New Mexico, a high qualifying threshold has tended to translate into a presumptive nominee and primary winner taking all of the delegates from the Mount Rushmore state. However, unlike New Mexico, South Dakota Republicans have made a change for 2016. The primary date is the same (first Tuesday after the first Monday in June), but the party has discarded the proportional method of allocation for a winner-take-all scheme.
Why quadrennially be backdoor winner-take-all when the national party rules allow for a straight winner-take-all allocation? Why indeed. Both the motivation and rationale for a change were clear enough. And the South Dakota Republican Party followed through.
In the proportional era, the threshold to qualify for delegates was 20 percent. Now however, there is no threshold for candidates to meet to qualify for delegates under a winner-take-all method.
Delegate allocation (at-large, congressional district and automatic delegates)
The allocation of South Dakota's 29 delegates are clear enough: the statewide plurality winner of the primary takes all of the state's delegates. As a one congressional district state, there is little need to split the delegates. The result is a pool delegation either proportionally allocated or all awarded to the winner. South Dakota now fits into the latter category.
The South Dakota delegates selected in March are bound to the winner of the primary for the first vote at the national convention. That is true in all cases except scenarios in which the South Dakota primary winner withdraws from the race, suspends campaign activities or does not have his or her name placed in nomination at the national convention. If someone other than the South Dakota primary winner is the only candidate placed in nomination (and the South Dakota primary winner is not), then all 29 delegates are bound to that candidate if that candidate received votes in the South Dakota primary.1 Otherwise, the delegates are unbound on the first ballot. It is much more likely, given the late date of the primary and a likely winnowed field that the presumptive nominee will win the South Dakota primary, be the only name placed in nomination, and have the delegates from the Mount Rushmore state cast their votes for him or her.
State allocation rules are archived here.
1 This is one method of avoiding a white knight candidate -- or someone who did not compete during the primaries -- at the national convention. Of course, such a method would have to be employed in more states than just one. The language of this rule is unique to South Dakota Republicans.
2016 Republican Delegate Allocation: NEW MEXICO
More Past Primary Calendar Revisionism
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