Tuesday, March 6, 2012

2012 Republican Delegate Allocation: Massachusetts

This is the eighteenth 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.



Following Idaho, the Massachusetts Republican Party method of delegate appears quite pedestrian. In fact, the Massachusetts Republican Party method of delegate allocation is more the Massachusetts commonwealth method of allocation as the formula is broadly defined in the Massachusetts General Laws.

Now, this is not to suggest that the state party has no say in the matter. As FHQ argued in the New Hampshire discussion, the state party always has the final say on these matters. If there is a conflict between state law and what the state party wants in terms of delegate allocation, the courts typically square the issue; yielding to the desires of the party. In this instance, Bay state Republicans allocate their apportioned delegates in proportion to the vote share each candidate receives in the statewide election. The Massachusetts Republican Party has added the caveat that only candidates over the 15% mark in that statewide vote are eligible for a portion of the delegates.

What that means is that Massachusetts is essentially New Hampshire, but with a slightly higher minimum threshold for receiving delegates (15% as opposed to 10% in New Hampshire). This is applied across the entire delegation regardless of the at-large or congressional district distinction.

Massachusetts delegate breakdown:
  • 41 total delegates
  • 11 at-large delegates
  • 27 congressional district delegates
  • 3 automatic delegates 
The 38 at-large and congressional district delegates are allocated to candidates over 15% of the vote proportionate to their share of the statewide election. The remaining three automatic delegates are unbound and can endorse when and if they choose to do so.

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

Recent Posts:
2012 Republican Delegate Allocation: Idaho

Goodbye Idaho Presidential Primary

Santorum Can't Get to 1144

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