Saturday, April 30, 2016

2016 Republican Delegate Allocation: INDIANA

This is part forty-four 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. 

INDIANA

Election type: primary
Date: May 3
Number of delegates: 57 [27 at-large, 27 congressional district, 3 automatic]
Allocation method: winner-take-most/winner-take-all by congressional district
Threshold to qualify for delegates: n/a
2012: hybrid primary

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Changes since 2012
In 2012, Indiana was a kind of reverse of Pennsylvania in 2016. District delegates were allocated in a winner-take-all fashion to the victor in each congressional district. However, the at-large delegates were selected at the state convention and remained unbound at the national convention.1 Unlike Pennsylvania, though, the sort of plan Indiana Republicans used in 2012 does not cut it under the Republican National Committee delegate rules for 2016.

The difference?

The Pennsylvania congressional district delegates are directly elected on the primary ballot while the Indiana at-large delegates were selected at a state convention and left unbound in 2012 despite a statewide primary election. The former is a loophole, but the latter is not.

The solution the Indiana Republican Party arrived at for 2016 was to streamline the process; to yield to a more Wisconsin method of allocation. That is to say, the party shifted to a winner-take-all by congressional district method of awarding delegates. The winner of the congressional district continues to receive all three delegates. And now the statewide winner is allocated all at-large and automatic delegates.


Thresholds
As the Indiana plan mimics Wisconsin and others like it, the delegates are all given out to the winner statewide or in the nine congressional districts. There is no threshold.


Delegate allocation (at-large and automatic delegates)
Winning statewide in Indiana means taking 30 at-large and automatic delegates. That is a large bonus on top of any congressional district delegates won. The Hoosier state joins South Carolina as the only other winner-take-all by congressional district state where there are more at-large delegates on the line than congressional district delegates. All the others are blue states that lack the bonus delegate-inflated at-large totals that Indiana and South Carolina have.2


Delegate allocation (congressional district delegates)
Win the district, win the three delegates. That is the same as 2012 and has carried over to 2016.


Binding
Under the party rules in Indiana (Rules 10-2 and 10-6), all at-large and congressional district delegates are bound on the first ballot at the national convention. That binding holds as long as the candidate(s) to whom they are bound is still an active candidate at the national convention.

That binding rule does conflict with state law -- Indiana Code 3-8-3-11 -- with respect to the at-large delegates. However, despite the conflict, the RNC rules give precedence to the state party rule.


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State allocation rules are archived here.


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1 Actually, delegates were directly elected on the May primary ballot to attend the state convention and ratify the selection of those at-large delegates.

2 Missouri would have been in this category, but the party shifted a couple of at-large delegates to each congressional district, greatly diluting the at-large pool of delegates.

3 Given the December RNC memo, that at-large total includes the three automatic delegates as well.


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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Colorado Bill to Restore Presidential Primary Introduced

Legislation has been introduced in the Colorado state House to bring a presidential primary back to the Centennial state for the first time since the 2000 election cycle.

HB 16-1454 would not only restore the presidential primary, but it would shift the decision about when to schedule the contest to the governor. The governor in consultation with the secretary of state would then have a window from the first, non-penalized date allowed by the national parties and a date no later than the third Tuesday in March in which to schedule the election. Consistent with the deadlines both national parties have, the bill calls for the decision on setting the date of the contest to be made before September 1 in the year prior to the presidential election.

Additionally and perhaps more interestingly, the bill allows unaffiliated voters to participate in the primary, but does this by allowing a temporary affiliation with one of the parties. That affiliation would expire 30 days following the presidential primary.

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NOTES:
  • Colorado joins Maine as another caucus state to examine switching (back) to a presidential primary. The Maine legislature has already passed legislation that has been signed into law to return to a presidential primary for the allocation national convention delegates to presidential candidates.
  • 2016 has been unusual in a number of ways. One of them is that legislation affecting caucuses and primaries often does not get acted on in presidential election years. This bill may go nowhere in Colorado, but it is another example of a caucus state reexamining the process.
  • The reason FHQ raises the specter of the bill going nowhere in Colorado is that is exactly what happened in 2015. A bill to restore the presidential primary died in committee, halted by mostly Republican proponents of the caucus system. 
  • Ceding the date-setting power to the governor is unusual, but not unheard of. Both Arizona and New Mexico have in the past given such authority to their governors. Typically, however, when a state legislature gives up the power to set the date of a presidential primary, it tends to shift it to another part of the state executive branch, the secretary of state (see Georgia and New Hampshire).
  • State parties are "entitled" to use the presidential primary so long as they have a qualified presidential candidate. However, they are not forced to use the primary. This leaves open the door to one or both parties maintaining a caucus/convention system. But Colorado is one of the rare states where state law affects the scheduling of presidential caucuses. 

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Thanks to Richard Winger at Ballot Access News for sending along news of the bill's introduction and Marilyn Marks for an earlier draft of the legislation.


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Monday, April 25, 2016

2016 Republican Delegate Allocation: RHODE ISLAND

This is part forty-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. 

RHODE ISLAND

Election type: primary
Date: April 26 
Number of delegates: 19 [10 at-large, 6 congressional district, 3 automatic]
Allocation method: proportional
Threshold to qualify for delegates: 10%
2012: proportional primary

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Changes since 2012
Though Rhode Island Republicans still operate under the banner of proportional allocation in 2016, much has ever so slightly changed since 2012 about its method of proportionality. The Republican delegation in the Ocean state is just 19 deep, and as FHQ has often said this cycle there are only so many ways that a small group of delegates can be awarded to candidates. Some similarly small states have historically been to be as close to winner-take-all as possible so as to maximize whatever influence they have over the process. Others -- and perhaps most fit into this category -- stick with tradition and use some form of proportional allocation. Often that tradition is rooted in a loose tie to originally Democratic-passed measures to comply with the DNC proportionality mandate.

But again, Rhode Island Republicans have not always used a straight proportional method directly consistent with the Democratic Party rules. Instead they have settled for a number of variations. Four years ago, for example, the proportionate method utilized by the party pooled the delegates for the allocation process. However, they were selected differently. The three party delegates were unbound as many were across the country in 2012, but of the remaining 16, eight were directly elected from one district and eight from the other.

That shifts in 2016. This time around, the RIGOP will split the delegates by type -- at-large/automatic and congressional district -- and proportionally allocate them to candidates based on the statewide or district level vote respectively. That means that tiny Rhode Island will have just one delegate less than New York available based on the statewide result, but without a similar winner-take-all trigger. Additionally, Rhode Island will carry 25 fewer congressional districts and thus lack the extra 75 district delegates New York had to offer. Those delegates also come with no winner-take-all trigger.

The selection is also different. Rather than being elected at the district level as in 2012, the 10 at-large delegates will be elected statewide, and voters within each district will directly elect three district delegates (rather than all selected in the congressional districts and allocated based on the statewide vote).

Finally, while there were efforts to change to a March primary through the state legislature in 2015, the fourth Tuesday in April primary persisted. That kept Rhode Island tethered to a cluster of regional contests that lost New York from 2012, but added Maryland for 2016.


Thresholds
This could just as easily have been added to the section on changes, but the threshold for qualifying for delegates also changed. FHQ spoke in 2012 about how Rhode Island differed from some of its neighbors in having a 15 percent threshold rather than requiring 10 percent to qualify (as Massachusetts and New Hampshire had in 2012). That was then.

Four years later, Rhode Island Republicans have lowered their threshold to 10 percent, which will virtually assure that most of the viable candidates will qualify for some of the 19 delegates. That additionally greatly lowers the type of surplus that the winner of the primary should expect to take from the Ocean state.

There is no winner-take-all threshold, but there is also no prohibition of a backdoor winner-take-all outcome. However, with such a low threshold, such an allocation is highly unlikely.


Delegate allocation (at-large and automatic delegates)
There are perhaps more questions than answers in the Rhode Island Republican Party rules on delegate allocation. The proportional allocation is clear enough, but neither the allocation equation nor the rounding rules are specified.

With respect to the allocation of the at-large and automatic delegates, the sorts of issues that might arise based on rounding -- namely how many delegates a candidate should have -- are deferred to the Credentials Committee of the state party. Questions would be handled by that group according to Rule 3.03.b.


Delegate allocation (congressional district delegates)
The at-large allocation is not the only process that produces question marks. Allocating congressional districts under the Rhode Island Republican plan is also overly simplistic and lacking in contingencies for particular outcomes (particularly those where fewer than three candidates qualify for delegates).

The default setting is based on an assumption that three candidates will clear the 10 percent threshold within a congressional district. There is no rounding involved and all three (or the top three) candidate each receive one delegate. That is true in all cases unless the congressional district winner receives 67 percent of the vote. That is enough to claim two of the delegates rather than just one. But the language of the rule is that a winning candidate in such a scenario would receive "at least" two delegates. This implies there is some potential for even further expansion of the district allocation, but the details are not clear. It could simply mean that a candidate who has won at least 67 percent of the vote reduces the likelihood that another candidate has cleared the 10 percent threshold. But since there is no prohibition of a backdoor winner-take-all outcome, the "at least" seems superfluous.

The RIGOP Credentials Committee would have initial jurisdiction on any rounding-related questions here as with at-large delegates.


Binding
In another change from 2012, members of the Rhode Island delegation will be bound in 2016 to the candidate to whom they have been allocated either until released by the candidate or until one ballot ha been cast at the national convention. The first condition was true in the last cycle, but the first ballot provision replaced one that required a 75 percent vote among the delegates bound to a particular candidate to release themselves (if not released by the candidate).

As stated above delegates are directly elected from slates filed by the campaigns (or as uncommitted) rather than selected through a caucus/convention process. Not only do the candidate have some say in filing a slate of delegates, but there is added insurance in this selection process.

Take for instance a scenario in which Candidate A wins 50 percent statewide followed by Candidate B with 30 percent and Candidate C with 20 percent. Assume also that seven delegates on Candidate B's slate are the top delegate votegetters statewide and that Candidate C has the next three highest finishers. This seems like a situation where Candidate A would have five delegates bound to him or her that would likely abandon Candidate A after a hypothetical inconclusive first ballot.

While this can happen in some states, the Rhode Island Republican rules prevent that outcome, giving the candidates a firmer grasp on their delegates following the primary. In the scenario mentioned above, Candidate B would have the top three finishers from the Candidate B slate as his or her three allocated delegates. The remainder would become alternates. The same would happen for Candidate C. Candidate A's delegate slots would be filled by Candidate A slate delegates. The only "damage" done to Candidate A is in the alternate delegate count. The lower down the finishing order Candidate A's delegates are, the less likely it is that Candidate A would have any alternates.

But among the top line of delegates, Candidate A's positions are guaranteed (as are Candidate B's and  Candidate C's).


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State allocation rules are archived here.


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Sunday, April 24, 2016

2016 Republican Delegate Allocation: PENNSYLVANIA

This is part forty-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. 

PENNSYLVANIA

Election type: primary
Date: April 26 
Number of delegates: 71 [14 at-large, 54 congressional district, 3 automatic]
Allocation method: winner-take-all (at-large/automatic), directly elected (congressional district)
Threshold to qualify for delegates: n/a
2012: loophole primary

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Changes since 2012
Looking back over the post-reform era, Pennsylvania is the model of consistency. On the calendar, the Keystone state has rarely packed it up and moved away from its traditional fourth Tuesday in April primary position. And even then, the only break in the pattern was a shift to just the first Tuesday in April for the 2000 cycle. For delegate allocation/selection, Pennsylvania Republicans have always used some variation of the loophole primary method that allows delegates to be directly elected.

However, it is on that front -- delegate allocation/selection -- where Pennsylvania Republicans have made some changes since 2012. The primary date is still the same, and the bigger question was how many states would join Pennsylvania, rather than whether and where the primary in the commonwealth would be moved.1 Yet, due to changes in the Republican National Committee delegate selection rules, Republican Party of Pennsylvania had to change business as usual for 2016.

The RNC -- or rather the delegates at the 2012 convention -- closed off many of the unbound delegate loopholes: eliminating non-binding caucuses and primaries. However, the national party allowed those states -- whether parties and/or governments -- to continue directly electing delegates and exempted any delegates that filed and ran as uncommitted delegates. If a delegate candidate in Illinois or West Virginia filed to run as a delegate aligned with Cruz or Kasich or Trump, then that delegate candidate from either of those states is bound to that candidate.

But Pennsylvania is different. The delegate candidates do not align with a campaign when filing and are uncommitted on the ballot. Directly elected congressional district delegates, then, are unbound. That is the same as it has always been in Pennsylvania, and the RNC change did not alter that.

What changed is the treatment of the similarly traditionally unbound at-large and automatic delegates. In the past, the at-large Pennsylvania delegates were selected by the PAGOP state central committee, but without regard for the vote in the primary election.2 Furthermore, those delegates were to remain unbound as if the primary had only been advisory at best or a beauty contest at worst.

Of course, that practice was and is not consistent with the changes to the national Republican delegate rules 2016. The Republican Party of Pennsylvania could leave well enough alone with the congressional district delegates, but had to tether the selection and allocation of the at-large and automatic delegates to the results of the statewide primary. Instead of being unbound as in 2012 (and before), those 17 delegates will be allocated to the winner of the Pennsylvania primary in 2016.

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One other small change is that there were a handful of two and four delegate congressional districts in 2012 to go along with mostly three delegate districts. There is complete uniformity across districts in 2016. All 18 will have three delegate slots at stake.


Thresholds
As the congressional district delegates are directly elected and the at-large and automatic delegates are allocated to the winner of the primary statewide, there are no thresholds at play in the Pennsylvania primary.


Delegate allocation (at-large and automatic delegates)
The 71 delegates are not pooled in Pennsylvania, and as such, different delegates are allocated/treated differently. Pennsylvania, like Illinois, South Carolina, Wisconsin and others both separately allocates at-large and automatic delegates and awards them all to the statewide winner.


Delegate allocation (congressional district delegates)
While the Pennsylvania process has a winner-take-all element to it, the plan also contains a wholly unique method of selecting -- not allocating -- congressional district delegates. Unlike other loophole primary states, Pennsylvania delegate candidates have no official affiliation with a particular presidential candidate or their campaign. That is official in that there is no pledge process associated with filing to run as a delegate candidate. As the delegate candidates are running as uncommitted -- unofficially pledged to a candidate or not -- they are treated as unbound by the RNC as a result. The 54 unbound delegates on the line in the primary in the Keystone state represents the largest cache of unbound delegates in any state. In light of the very close chase for 1237 delegates, that means that the election of these delegates takes on an added level of importance.

It is important to note that, though delegate candidates can pledge to a presidential candidate, that in no way binds them to that candidate. And while they can change their minds if/once elected, those delegates tend to be loyal to the candidate to whom they have pledged (if they have pledged).


Binding
It is clear, then, that the majority of delegates -- nearly three-quarters of them -- are unbound coming out of the Pennsylvania primary. Those congressional district delegates would be free to shift alliances with candidates before the convention and before the first ballot vote at the convention. However, the remaining 17 delegates will be locked in and bound to the winner of the statewide primary for the first ballot at the convention according to Rule 8.3 of the Rules and Bylaws of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania. Should the first ballot prove inconclusive -- no candidate gets to the 1237 delegates needed -- then those 17 delegates would become unbound and join the remainder of the Pennsylvania delegation in that distinction.

The at-large delegates will be selected by the Pennsylvania Republican state central committee at a previously scheduled May 21 meeting.


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State allocation rules are archived here.


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1 There was an effort to move the Pennsylvania primary from April to March that had the support of some Republicans in the state legislature, but that proposal faced opposition from both state parties and was basically dead on arrival in Harrisburg.

2 That is not a fair characterization of the process really. Typically, the selection of the at-large delegates has been done after the point at which a presumptive nominee had emerged. That places less emphasis on ensuring that delegate candidates are either proportionally is disproportionately selected from various competing campaigns when the end result is that everyone will head to the national convention to vote for the eventual nominee. In truth, the Pennsylvania primary has tended to be on or after the point at which a presumptive nominee has emerged. That, in turn, increases the likelihood that the Pennsylvania winner is the presumptive nominee and takes the bulk of the delegate to the national convention anyway.


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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Revisiting Rule 40

This past Thursday night my Twitter feed began filling up with links to Alexandra Jaffe's story on the impact of Rule 40(b) on John Kasich's chances at the Republican nomination in a contested convention. The heart of story is a three paragraph section:
But top RNC strategists confirmed to reporters Thursday at the committee's Spring Meeting that the 40b requirement amounts to little more than a technciality. Having your name put into nomination affords candidates a number of advantages, like space in the convention hall and a nominating speech. But it's not required to ultimately win the nomination. 
Under the current rules, even those candidates who don't meet the 8-state threshold can continue to amass delegate votes. And if they're able to cobble together the support of a majority of delegates — the magic 1237 number — they win, even if it's spread across all 50 states. 
Typical interpretations of Rule 40 assumed Kasich's campaign would somehow have to rewrite the convention rules to get the governor into contention for the nomination. That's a tall order for the campaign, as they'd have to pack the committee finalizing the convention rules with supporters, and both Cruz and Trump already have an advantage in that effort. Still, Rule 40b isn't final — the Convention Rules Committee will meet the week before the convention to finalize changes to the rules.
FHQ does not really see the news in this, and I certainly don't get the bit about the "typical interpretations of Rule 40".1

The truth of the matter is that the RNC has all along viewed the process as a resetting after every vote at the convention (should it progress beyond a first ballot vote). That would theoretically give candidates the chance to 1) qualify anew, 2) qualify for the first time or 3) even fail to qualify under the provisions of Rule 40(b) on subsequent ballots. Candidates like Kasich -- likely to fall short of the majority of delegates from at least eight states threshold on the first ballot -- have that opportunity because the number of unbound delegates increases as the number of ballots increase.2

Those free agent delegates, bound on the first or second or third ballot, can move away from the candidate to whom they were bound for a candidate such a delegate 1) preferred in going through the delegate selection process to become a national convention delegate (a sincere delegate), 2) supports for strategic reasons to prevent another candidate from claiming the nomination or 3) prefers because one candidate is viewed as more electable in the general election.

Combining those two factors -- a nomination reset and a growing number of unbound delegates over time -- means that Rule 40(b) was always less prohibitive than many have cast it. Unbound delegates can shift to candidates -- white knights, John Kasichs or otherwise -- and help them to form coalitions that not only qualify them under (a current or altered) Rule 40, but ideally surpass the 1237 threshold.

Kasich does not need rules changes. His campaign needs time at the convention; time measured in terms of the number of ballots cast. He will not qualify under the current Rule 40(b) and will not have 1237 delegates behind him.

Not on the first ballot anyway.

Rule 40(b) being in place or not does not change that reality. If Donald Trump gets to 1237, then there is little Kasich or anyone else can do on that first ballot. Should Trump fall short of that mark on the first ballot, then Ted Cruz seems well positioned to increase his number of delegates on a second vote and Kasich could potentially qualify (if enough unbound delegates come his way). Things moving down that path then puts a premium on the delegate selection process going on now. Those efforts affect how a second or third vote or beyond goes. When the bond disappears, those delegates are free to fit into the three categories described above (or others). The decision-making calculus changes for them.

But the bottom line here is Kasich's roadblock is not Rule 40(b). His roadblocks are the delegates he is not being allocated now and the selection process in which the Cruz campaign has jumped out to a lead. But if, as delegates become unbound at a hypothetical contested convention, Kasich amasses 1237 delegates, then yes, he, too, can become the Republican nominee.

That is a pretty steep climb though.


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Previous Post:
The Real Import of Rule 40 in 2016


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1 And this idea that someone can have the support of 1237 delegates distributed 50 states and not qualify under Rule 40(b). That seems quite far-fetched. Mathematically, it is possible, but it is not at all probable.

That RNC interpretation of Rule 40 is not shared by all. There are those who say the rule is silent to the matter of renomination (or second/second chance nominations) and others who take a harder line that the rule would limit the voting to just those who qualified under the provisions of Rule 40 before the first vote.


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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

2016 Republican Delegate Allocation: MARYLAND

This is part forty-one 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. 

MARYLAND

Election type: primary
Date: April 26 
Number of delegates: 38 [11 at-large, 24 congressional district, 3 automatic]
Allocation method: winner-take-most/winner-take-all by congressional district
Threshold to qualify for delegates: n/a
2012: winner-take-most primary

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Changes since 2012
The basic structure of how Maryland Republicans will select and allocate delegates to the national convention in 2016 is similar to 2012. How many delegates Maryland was apportioned by the Republican National Committee changed as did when the allocation will occur.

First of all, since 2012, Maryland voters elected a Republican governor. That increased the size of the Maryland Republican delegation from 37 in 2012 to 38 in 2016 under the apportionment formula the Republican National Committee utilizes.

Additionally, unlike four years ago, the Maryland primary is scheduled for the fourth Tuesday in April, a delay of three weeks as compared to 2012. The original motivation behind the move was to avoid an overlap between early voting ahead of a then-April 5 primary and Easter weekend. However, the originally called for one week delay would have created a conflict between the final certification of the primary vote two weeks later and the end of Passover. That forced a move of the primary back even further to the fourth Tuesday in April (which technically would fall during Passover week but would not delay the certification process). 

That new date had the added benefit of clustering the Maryland primary with a number of other mid-Atlantic and northeastern contests on the same day. While that in part shifted the Maryland primary from one smaller subregional cluster with Washington, DC in 2012 to another with more contests in 2016, Maryland will have been the most (bound) delegate-rich in each cluster.1

The result is that there are some changes in Maryland for 2016, but not with respect to the method of allocation (relative to 2012). It has more to do with the whens and how manys instead.


Thresholds
The Maryland Republican Party splits the allocation of its 38 delegates between the results both statewide and in the eight congressional districts. And since the plurality winner statewide and in the individual districts is allocated all of the delegates in that unit, there is no threshold to qualify for delegates.


Delegate allocation (at-large and automatic delegates)
Maryland is like Wisconsin and South Carolina in using the winner-take-most method of delegate allocation. That maintains a winner-take-all element to the allocation but requires a broader level of support statewide (across each of the congressional districts). Though the rules are the same the Badger and Palmetto states are a study in contrasts for how these rules tend to work. Trump enjoyed plurality support to varying degrees across South Carolina and parlayed that into a sweep of the delegates there. Cruz, on the other hand, won a plurality statewide, but found most of his support in and around Milwaukee. But he did not sweep the state as Trump overtook him in the 3rd and 7th districts to claim six delegates. In both cases, the statewide winner won the vast majority of delegates, but no winner under a winner-take-all by congressional district plan is not necessarily guaranteed all of them.

This is important when considering the at-large and automatic delegates allocated based on the statewide results. That group of delegates -- 14 in the case of Maryland -- basically serves as a (plurality) winner's bonus, one that gets tacked onto the delegate total amassed in the various congressional district races. And in a state with an even number of districts, that bonus can serve as a tiebreaker in the delegate count.


Delegate allocation (congressional district delegates)
As is the case statewide, the plurality winner in each of the congressional districts wins all three delegates in that district.


Binding
The Maryland Republican Party rules bind delegates to the statewide and/or congressional district winner(s) until:
  1. the candidate who has won those delegates releases them; 
  2. the candidate who has won those delegates receives less than 35% of the vote in the nomination vote at the national convention;
  3. or through two ballots at the national convention. 
One factor that makes Maryland different from South Carolina and Wisconsin is that the selection process is different. All three share a method of allocation, but in Maryland, the congressional district delegates and alternates are directly elected on the primary ballot (like in Illinois). Those delegate candidates have the option of filing as affiliated with a particular candidate (and to have the presidential candidate's name adjacent to the delegate candidate's name on the ballot), but that does not affect the binding in the Old Line state. Congressional district delegates, regardless of that affiliation, will be bound to the plurality winner of the congressional district unless or until one of the three conditions above is met.

At-large delegates contrarily are not directly elected. Rather, those 11 delegates are elected by the Maryland Republican Party state convention. Whereas the campaigns can directly facilitate the filing of congressional district delegates aligned with the campaign, those same campaigns do not necessarily have the same direct input or influence over the selection of the at-large delegates in Maryland.


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State allocation rules are archived here.


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1 Pennsylvania has nearly twice as many delegates as Maryland, but more than three-quarters of them are unbound.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

2016 Republican Delegate Allocation: DELAWARE

This is part forty 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. 

DELAWARE

Election type: primary
Date: April 26 
Number of delegates: 16 [10 at-large, 3 congressional district, 3 automatic]
Allocation method: winner-take-all
Threshold to qualify for delegates: n/a
2012: winner-take-all primary

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Changes since 2012
The aim often in states with small delegations is to maximize the impact of a contest by using winner-take-all rules (rather than proportionally dividing up a small number of delegates). That had traditionally been the case during competitive Republican cycles with the primaries in Washington, DC as well as in Delaware. Republicans in the First state were able to continue that tradition in 2012 when Democrats in control of the state government moved the primary from early February to late April. The late April date fell outside of the proportionality window and allowed Delaware Republicans to allocate the full allotment of delegates to the winner.

That has been the way of things in Delaware stretching back to 1996 when the Delaware primary was created. It was winner-take-all in 2012 and will be again in 2016. That is a long way of saying that nothing has changed in Delaware for the 2016 cycle.

Well, one thing has changed. Rather than allocating 17 delegates as was the case four years ago, First state Republicans will only allocate 16 delegates to the winner of the April 26 primary.


Thresholds
As Delaware is a winner-take-all contest -- the fourth on the calendar and first since Arizona -- there are no thresholds to qualify for delegates.


Delegate allocation (at-large, congressional district and automatic delegates)
This, too, is easy enough to interpret. At a minimum, the plurality winner of the Delaware primary will be allocated all 16 of the national convention delegates apportioned to the state by the RNC.


Binding
According to Article XI, Section 3 of the the Delaware Republican Party bylaws:
"On the first ballot for the National Party's presidential candidate at the Republican National Convention, each delegate or alternate entitled to vote shall vote for the candidate who wins a plurality of the votes cast in the presidential primary..."
The only exception to that is in the event that the winning candidate in Delaware withdraws from the race prior to the convention and/or releases his or her delegates. In that case, the rules unbind the delegates, allowing them to vote for a candidate of their preference. However, given that the Delaware primary is on the back half of the calendar and the field of candidates has winnowed, it is less likely that the winner will relinquish his delegates prior to the first ballot vote.

A slate of 16 delegates is selected by the Delaware Republican Party Executive Committee, presented to and voted on by the state convention. Importantly, Article XI, Section 4 of the state party bylaws states that, "Presidential candidates shall not nominate or propose any delegates or alternate delegates."

As such, Delaware is another example of a state where the candidates and their campaigns have no direct influence over the delegate selection process. In fact, in Delaware, the candidates are at the mercy of the state party with respect to the selection process.


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State allocation rules are archived here.


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Monday, April 18, 2016

2016 Republican Delegate Allocation: CONNECTICUT

This is part thirty-nine 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. 

CONNECTICUT

Election type: primary
Date: April 26 
Number of delegates: 28 [10 at-large, 15 congressional district, 3 automatic]
Allocation method: at-large/automatic delegates: proportional
    congressional district delegates: winner-take-most/winner-take-all by congressional district
Threshold to qualify for delegates: 20% (statewide, for at-large/automatic delegates)
2012: winner-take-most primary

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Changes since 2012
Compared the changes made to the Connecticut Republican Party delegate allocation method from 2008-12, the alterations made for the 2016 cycle are minor bordering on non-existent.

Despite seeing Democrats in the Nutmeg state government in 2011 move the presidential primary back from early February 2008 to late April 2012, Connecticut Republicans pushed forward with a plan to shift from a truly winner-take-all allocation plan to a more proportional method. That is "despite" since the primary moved to a later date, after the proportionality window had closed. In other words, the change was not necessary to comply with Republican National Committee rules for 2012. That plan called for both a winner-take-all element on the congressional district level and a proportional component statewide (if no candidate received a majority of the vote).

But that was 2012, and those were substantial changes. For 2016, the Connecticut Republican Party has only slightly tinkered with its rules.

The one big change?

A new section has empowered the state party chairman to fill any delegate slots awarded to the uncommitted option on the ballot (assuming "uncommitted" clears the qualifying threshold). While new, Section 17.H is more contingency planning than anything else; an insurance policy should "uncommitted" qualify.


Thresholds
Given scant changes, the ground rules are largely the same for Connecticut Republicans in 2016 as they were in 2012. The only difference is that the competitive phase of the race will stretch to late April on the calendar, unlike 2012. As the rules are the same, there is a qualifying threshold, but only under certain conditions. First, a candidate must receive at least 20 percent of the vote in order to qualify for any delegates in the Connecticut primary. But reaching that barrier only qualifies a candidate for a share of the states 13 at-large and automatic delegates. That is just a proportional share of a little less than half of the total number of delegates apportioned state Republicans by the RNC.

However, that proportional allocation of that group of delegates only holds if no one candidate wins a majority of the statewide vote. In the event that one candidate take a majority statewide, that candidate would be allocated all 13 at-large and automatic delegates.

There is, then, a qualifying threshold, but it is superseded by the winner-take-all trigger if a candidate wins more than 50 percent of the statewide vote. Additionally, there is no rule prohibiting the backdoor winner-take-all allocation of all 13 at-large and automatic delegates should only one candidate surpass the 20 percent qualifying threshold (given the equation described above and presumably assuming a large field of candidates).


Delegate allocation (at-large and automatic delegates)
The above thresholds affect just the allocation of the 13 at-large and automatic delegates. Assuming a proportional allocation of those delegates -- no one receives a majority of the vote statewide -- then the allocation equation divides each candidates share of the statewide vote by the total qualifying vote (just those over 20% rather than the total number of votes cast).

Fractional delegates from that calculation would be rounded to the nearest whole number. Those .5 and above would be round up and those below .5 would be rounded down.

Should there be an unallocated delegate due to rounding, the Connecticut Republican Party bylaws call for that slot to go to the winner of the statewide vote. Interestingly, there is no provision in the rules dealing with a rounding result that leads to an overallocation of delegates. There is no description laying out the procedure for removing the superfluous delegate from a particular candidate's total.


Delegate allocation (congressional district delegates)
Matters are simpler with regard to the allocation of the congressional district delegates. Like Wisconsin or South Carolina before it, Connecticut Republicans allocate all three delegates to the plurality winner of a congressional district. There are no thresholds involved. A candidate need not win 20% of the vote to qualify for those three delegates. Having 19 percent of the vote, for example, is sufficient to claim all three congressional district delegates so long as that is the highest vote share in a given district. With a later primary and a winnowed field, however, such a winning share becomes less likely.


Binding
At-large and automatic delegates are bound to the majority winner statewide or to their respective candidates under a proportional allocation through the first ballot at the national convention. It is less clear whether congressional district delegates are bound for the same duration. The only mention of how long delegates are bound is in the section of the rules detailing the allocation of the at-large delegates (and only refers to "delegate[s]"). When the rules shift into a discussion of the allocation of congressional district delegates in a subsequent section, there is no provision detailing the length of the bond.

This sounds more provocative than it is in practice. And that is due to the way that delegates are selected. Connecticut is one of the states that chooses delegates from slates submitted by the various campaigns. If a candidate has filed a full slate of delegates and there is a majority winner statewide who also sweeps the congressional districts then the mystery is gone. There really is no selection so much as all the delegate slots are filled by the winner's slate.

There is only a choice in so much as there is 1) a proportional allocation in which delegates are being pulled from multiple slates or 2) a candidate has either filed too few or no delegates with the state  party. The candidates and their campaigns choose the slates, but the state party at its May state central committee meeting selects which delegates from those slates fill the candidates' allocated slots. Unlike the majority of states where candidates have no direct influence over the delegate selection process, Connecticut Republicans allow for candidate input on the matter. Since the candidates have input in the matter, their delegates are likely to be with them on the first ballot (and beyond).



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State allocation rules are archived here.


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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Following LePage Signature, Maine Now Has a Presidential Primary

The presidential caucus may be gone in Maine for 2020.

Over the last month, presidential primary legislation with widespread support quickly moved through the Maine state legislature. Proposed on March 23, LD 1673 establishes a presidential primary in the Pine Tree state, charges the Maine secretary of state with setting the primary date for a Tuesday in March during a presidential election year, and also tasks the secretary of state with exploring the costs (to the state) of the election.

Similar legislation has been introduced in the recent past, but stalled in the legislature. In 2016, however, the move to reestablish a presidential primary in Maine for the first time since 2000 garnered significant support. 84 co-sponsors joined the bill's sponsor, Senator Justin Alfond (D-27th, Portland) significantly helped ease the primary bill through both chambers -- 128-22 in the House and unanimously in the state Senate -- this past week and onto Governor LePage's desk.

LePage signed the bill into law on Friday, April 15.

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Implications:
  • The first step in the reinstitution of the presidential primary is that the office of the Maine secretary of state will study the costs of the new primary during 2017.
  • The secretary will then by November 1 of the year prior to a presidential election year set the date of the contest for some Tuesday in March. This date selection process will be done in consultation with the state parties. 
  • That last part is key. The state parties obviously have the final say in all of this. Despite there being presidential primary, the state parties are not required to opt into it. Those parties could continue to use caucuses as a means of both allocating and selecting delegates. But by providing some (early calendar) flexibility and by consulting with the parties, the new law maximizes the likelihood that the two state parties opt into the primary and allocate delegates through the vote in the contest. 
  • This legislation does a couple of interesting things. First, as mentioned above, the secretary of state has some carefully calibrated discretion on setting the date of the primary. The law does not set the primary for a specific date, but rather calls for it to happen on a Tuesday in March. More importantly, though, the decision on the date of the primary for 2020 and in the future rests with the secretary of state -- like in New Hampshire and Georgia -- instead of having to filter any date change through the legislative process. The discretion that the Maine secretary of state will have on this is far more restricted than in either New Hampshire or Georgia, but there is some flexibility there. That makes Maine a bit more adaptable than states with primaries scheduled for specific dates. 
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Tip of the cap to Amy Fried for passing along information on the bill.


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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

On Democratic Party Rules Changes for 2020

Primary and caucus season is just a little more than two months old (with three months to go until the national conventions), but already people are coming up with ways to "fix" the process for 2020 and beyond. The Post's Greg Sergent recently weighed in under the headline "Here's one way the Clinton-Sanders brawl could end well". The premise? The Democratic presidential nomination battle could lead to delegate selection rules changes at the national convention in Philadelphia.

Well, maybe, only that is not really how it works. Meaningful change rarely comes directly out of the national convention on the Democratic side. Unlike their Republican counterparts, there is no baseline set of rules that emerges from one convention to guide the process (with some tweaks thereafter during the last two cycles) for the next cycle.

Instead, the Democratic National Committee through its Rules and Bylaws Committee has traditionally empowered a commission to reexamine the nomination rules and recommend changes to them in the time after the presidential election of one cycle. Those recommendations are then handed off to the Rules and Bylaws Committee to vote on and pass usually during the summer of the midterm election year between cycles.1

Nothing, then, really happens rules-wise at the Democratic National Convention.2 Sure, there is a report on rules from the Rules and Bylaws Committee to the convention, and said Committee meets immediately after the convention, but any rules tinkering takes place well after the convention (or it traditionally has in the post-reform era).

Heated battle or not during primary season, the Sanders campaign may have little leverage on this issue at the convention itself. The key will be the long game: getting surrogates on the Rules and Bylaws Committee who can affect change through that channel. This is the sort of thing that latent campaigns do during the rules-making phase; something the would-be Sanders campaign and allies failed to do in 2013-14.

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Not to pick on Sargent, but he does go on to catalog a number of changes at which the party could look. And the list is made up of the usual suspects :
  • Eliminate superdelegates
  • Eliminate caucuses
  • Limits on the number of primaries on one day
  • Eliminating closed primaries
This always operates like a quadrennial deja vu.

It is the same list. Go ahead. Give the FHQ posts from the 2009-10 proceedings of the Democratic Change Commission a glance. Or look at the DCC's recommendations: 1) reducing the number of superdelegates by shifting add-on delegates out of the category and making them the PLEOs (Party Leaders and Elected Officials) that are now a part of the process and 2) developing a set of "best practices" for how caucuses should be run. One could also look at the scant deliberations of the Rules and Bylaws Committee in 2013-14.

The problem, as always, is that the national parties have only so much control over the presidential nomination process. The system started out and has evolved into a patchwork of overlapping national party rules, state party rules and state laws. In attempting to fix the perceived problems of any given cycle, the national parties have to navigate that patchwork. And they often run the risk of crossing the  Sununu line; that parties are better served by attempting to manage rather than control the component parts of the presidential nomination process.

Why?

Well, when state parties opt into state-funded primaries, they cede the power in most cases to set the date of that primary (see clustering issue above) or to determine who can participate in that primary (open vs. closed). And state parties, more often than not, opt into those state-funded primaries to avoid having to raise and spend money on an election rather than on other party-building exercises.

Eliminating caucuses means some states with some combination of Republican-controlled state governments, no presidential primary, a closed system and no means of funding a primary election have to somehow overcome all or some of those barriers to comply. Perhaps one could take exception with what Washington Democrats do: traditionally hold caucuses despite having a Democratic state government (in most cases) and a presidential primary option. Perhaps Democrats in the Evergreen state could be convinced to change tradition.

But what about a state like Maine or Wyoming or Iowa where there is a mix of state government partisanship and no primary system in place? Can the Democratic National Committee make Wyoming Republicans in change of state government institute a primary?3 Are they willing to foot the bill for that election if not? If they are unwilling, this is an unfunded mandate that would hypothetically force Wyoming Democrats to opt for the cheapest form of election for most state parties in similar situations: a caucus.

And what about this idea of reducing clustering? The national parties have attempted for a long time now to reduce frontloading on the presidential primary calendar. Both national parties have a fairly effective mix of rules and penalties to keep states in line, but the overall process is still pretty organic within a broader set of calendar guidelines. The motivation is still there to push to front; to cluster at the beginning of the calendar. And do not lose sight of the fact that the DNC currently has a bonus delegate regime in place to motivate later, subregional clusters of contests. That has been somewhat effective in 2012 and 2016, but has not rid the motivation to move earlier in some states.

This is a thorny set of issues that involves state-level traditions that stretch back more than just a cycle or two and partisan divisions between state government control and the national parties. Very simply, the national parties have managed the nomination system to varying degrees in the post-reform era by deferring to the states on a number of issues to allow states to better tailor a plan that works for them but also within an overarching set of national party guidelines.

That is an institutionalized feature of the process that seeks to overcome a multifaceted coordination problem: nominating a presidential candidate within two diverse, big tent parties.

The problem with eliminating superdelegates is a little different. There is no overlap with state party rules or state laws, but nixing those unpledged delegates is an idea that requires superdelegates -- members of the DNC -- to vote to strip themselves of that power. It is not a non-starter, but that idea is a long way from being enacted (even if Sanders supporters sit on the RBC or a commission examining the rules).

The only addition to the list of perennial grievances is the handling of the debates. This is something that is not really codified in the Democratic Party rules. The RNC added debates-curtailing rules to their rulebook, but with mixed results. But even that can get pretty close to the Sununu line.

If one is placing bets on likely rules changes or additions, look to the debates issue. The others are more difficult to manage much less control.


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1 That post-reform routine was disrupted after 2012. Rather than have a commission look at the rules and recommend changes, the Rules and Bylaws Committee handled that task directly.

2 It is right there in the Charter of the party. None of the rules-changing activity is confined to just the national convention and by practice it has happened outside it.

3 Yes, Wyoming legislators are considering a switch, but on their own, not as part of some directive from a national party.



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