Tuesday, February 28, 2012

2012 Republican Delegate Allocation: Alaska

This is the fifteenth in a multipart series of posts that will examine the Republican delegate allocation by state.1 The main goal of this exercise is to assess the rules for 2012 -- especially relative to 2008 -- in order to gauge the impact the changes to the rules along the winner-take-all/proportionality spectrum may have on the race for the Republican nomination. As FHQ has argued in the past, this has often been cast as a black and white change. That the RNC has winner-take-all rules and the Democrats have proportional rules. Beyond that, the changes have been wrongly interpreted in a great many cases as having made a 180º change from straight winner-take-all to straight proportional rules in all pre-April 1 primary and caucus states. That is not the case. 

The new requirement has been adopted in a number of different ways across the states. Some have moved to a conditional system where winner-take-all allocation is dependent upon one candidate receiving 50% or more of the vote and others have responded by making just the usually small sliver of a state's delegate apportionment from the national party -- at-large delegates -- proportional as mandated by the party. Those are just two examples. There are other variations in between that also allow state parties to comply with the rules. FHQ has long argued that the effect of this change would be to lengthen the process. However, the extent of the changes from four years ago is not as great as has been interpreted and points to the spacing of the 2012 primary calendar -- and how that interacts with the ongoing campaign -- being a much larger factor in the accumulation of delegates (Again, especially relative to the 2008 calendar).

For links to the other states' plans see the Republican Delegate Selection Plans by State section in the left sidebar under the calendar.


Well, Alaska is another Republican caucus state, so let's dust off the old "it's like Iowa" line and move on, shall we?

Not so fast.

The delegate allocation process in Alaska, as it turns out, is more like Nevada than Iowa or most of the other caucus states to have held meetings thus far. Yes, that's right. Alaska is another one of those rare, binding caucus states. And just like Nevada, the Alaska process binds its delegates proportionally based on the results of the district conventions to take place between Super Tuesday, March 6 and March 24.2

As the Alaska Republican Party states:
All registered Alaska Republicans are invited to cast their vote for their preferred candidate.  The Presidential Preference Poll vote binds the 24 Alaskan National Convention Delegates to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, FL from August 27-30. 
The primary goal of the PPP is to develop and run an open, reasonably accessible, fair, valid, logistically pragmatic and secure process which will direct the Alaska Republican Party (ARP) delegates to the Republican National Convention to vote for their Republican candidate(s) of choice for the Presidency of the United States.
Lest this discussion be misleading, allow FHQ to dive into the actual delegate allocation. As is the case in Wyoming, there is only one congressional district in Alaska, and as such the term "district conventions" does not obviously refer to the lone Alaskan congressional district. Instead, the district conventions are a way of subdividing the state into smaller units for the purpose of allocating delegates with a nod toward regional -- intra-Alaska -- and population representativeness. The subdivision of choice is the Alaska state House district (as opposed to the county in Wyoming). Each of the 40 state House districts will hold at least one meeting on March 6, though several will hold multiple meetings throughout the district.

The total statewide vote in the Presidential Preference Poll will determine the way in which Alaska's delegates will be allocated. The breakdown: Alaska has...
  • 27 total delegates
  • 21 at-large delegates
  • 3 congressional district delegates
  • 3 automatic delegates
The three automatic delegates from the Last Frontier are free agents as most of the automatic delegates are nationwide. And while they can choose whomever they please, it should be noted that a state party chairperson, the national committeeman and the national committeewoman will all be elected at the April 26-28 state convention (see Article V, Section 14 of the Alaska Republican Party rules). Those delegates will not be known until then. The 24 remaining delegates, however, are the delegates that will be proportionally allocated based on the total statewide House district convention vote on March 6.

1 FHQ would say 50 part, but that doesn't count the territories and Washington, DC.

2 Yes, this is news to FHQ as well. When I spoke with Alaska Republican Party Chairman Randy Ruedrich back in the fall, I was told that all of the conventions would take place on March 6. But apparently the process will stretch on throughout the month of March. The Alaska Republican Party page devoted to the delegate selection process lists both March 6 and March 6-26 as dates on which the district conventions will occur. It is not clear whether convention attendees will be asked to come to a presidential preference poll vote on March 6 only to return at a later date for the remaining business or if what will take place will be more akin to the processes in Maine or Wyoming. The former does not jibe well with the "open, reasonably accessible, fair, valid, logistically pragmatic and secure" process referred to above. So we are likely talking about more of a Maine/Wyoming situation; a process that will not be complete until March 24.

Recent Posts:
Romney Still Ahead in Wyoming Precinct Caucus Straw Poll Count

Patterns in the Republican Primaries?

On the Nature of 2012 RNC Rules Changes

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You state this:

"the Alaska process binds its delegates proportionally based on the results of the district conventions to take place between Super Tuesday, March 6 and March 24"

Then you post the Alaskan Republican Party Rules which state this:

"The Presidential Preference Poll vote binds the 24 Alaskan National Convention Delegates"

The PPP will be on March 6 while District Conventions will be held between March 6-24. Will the delegates be bound based on votes in the PPP or based on votes in the District Conventions? If it is based on the District Conventions, then isn't the PPP just another caucus straw poll?