Tuesday, February 7, 2012

2012 Republican Delegate Allocation: Minnesota

This is the eighth 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.


It gets old typing "just see the Iowa post for how the delegate allocation works in caucus state X". Yet, with some variation from caucus state to caucus state, that really is pretty much how things are. That said, there are some noteworthy differences in how the caucus system works for Minnesota Republicans. The RNC apportioned 40 delegates (of the 2286 total delegates nationally) to Republicans in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Here is how they break down:
  • 13 at-large delegates: At-large delegates are selected at the Minnesota Republican Party state convention and according to the rules governing the delegate selection process in the party constitution may be bound for up to one ballot at the national convention.2 The decision on whether to bind at-large delegates is made at the state convention on May 18-19.
  • 24 congressional district delegates: Like Colorado and Iowa, the Minnesota congressional district delegates -- 3 in each of the 8 Minnesota congressional districts -- will be allocated at the congressional district conventions. None of these delegates are bound, but are selected from among the pool of delegates who are selected at the precinct, then county, then legislative district caucuses. Again, there is no direct transference of presidential preference from one step to the next, and there are no rules governing which delegates get chosen and how. Also, there is no requirement that there be either winner-take-all or proportional allocation at the precinct level and onward. It may ultimately end up that way, but it may be that those who are committed to staying long enough and/or are committed to being delegates get chosen to move to the next step in the process. [This is why any premature projection of delegates from these non-binding contests is so ridiculous, but I digress...] The bottom line is that there may some underlying presidential preference that emerges through the process -- the precinct caucus straw polls serve as a baseline -- but these congressional district delegates, and more than likely the at-large delegates will go to the Tampa convention unbound.
  • 3 automatic delegates: The three automatic delegates are also technically unbound, but are free to endorse whomever they choose. To this point only one Minnesota automatic delegate, Jeff Johnson, has weighed in on the race. The Minnesota Republican National Committeeman has endorsed Newt Gingrich.

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

2 The relevant section is in Article V, Section 5:
Election and Terms of Delegates.  
A. All state, Congressional District, BPOU, and Delegates and Alternates shall be elected in general election years and shall hold office for a term of two years or until their successors are elected, or upon adoption in their respective BPOU constitution, they may elect Delegates and Alternates to the Congressional District and state conventions annually in the same manner as provided in the general election year, and these Delegates and Alternates elected under this option shall hold office for a term of one year, or until their successors are duly elected.  
B. All affiliate Delegates and Alternates shall serve a two year term or until their successors are elected. Affiliate Delegates and Alternates shall not hold the same office for consecutive terms. An affiliate Delegate or Alternate may not be a regular party Delegate or Alternate to the same convention. Affiliate Delegates and Alternates to Congressional District conventions must reside in the Congressional District and must be elected by the affiliate members who reside in the Congressional District and will be legally qualified voters in the next general election. 
C. In compliance with the rules of the Republican National Convention, no Delegate or Alternate may be an automatic Delegate or Alternate. Each Delegate or Alternate must be elected by his/her respective convention. No Delegate to the Republican National Convention shall be bound by party rules or by state law to cast his/her vote for a particular candidate on any ballot at the convention except that the state convention may bind the Delegates whom it elects to the National Convention of the Republican Party on the first ballot to vote for a candidate for the office of President of the United States, unless they be released by said candidate.

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