Saturday, March 10, 2012

2012 Republican Delegate Allocation: Kansas

This is the twentieth 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.


With caucuses set to begin across Kansas later today, a quick look at how those 40 delegates will be allocated is probably a useful exercise. Republicans in the Sunflower state -- like those in Nevada, Idaho and Alaska before them -- will actually bind delegates based on the results of the closed precinct caucuses.2 But let's have a closer look:3

Kansas delegation breakdown:
  • 40 total delegates
  • 25 at-large delegates
  • 12 congressional district delegates
  • 3 automatic delegates
First of all, since the Kansas precinct caucuses are binding, the allocation has to qualify as "proportional" in the eyes of the RNC. The bare minimum action to achieve that distinction is to allocate at-large delegate proportionate to a candidate's share of the vote. That is what Kansas Republicans have done. Candidates are eligible for a proportionate share of the 25 at-large delegates if they receive at least 20% of the vote statewide. [FHQ went into some detail about this yesterday when Kansas was used as an example in our post-Super Tuesday examination of the delegate math.] Everyone should be eyeing Ron Paul today and whether the Texas congressman is able to surpass the 20% barrier. Santorum looks to be poised for victory and Romney will likely cross 20%, but whether Paul gets there will determine how these at-large delegates are allocated. If only one candidate breaks the 20% barrier or no candidates get there, the allocation reverts to a straight proportional method for everyone.

For the congressional district delegates the formula is simple: Win the district, win the delegates. Each of the four Kansas congressional districts has three delegates. A clean sweep of all four means 12 delegates for the winner in addition to the three automatic delegates -- who are bound according to the results of the statewide vote (to the winner).

In other words, if one candidate has a consensus victory across the state -- both statewide and in the four congressional districts -- that candidate will start out with a base 15 delegates before the at-large delegates are proportionally allocated.

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

2 Caucusgoers have to be registered Republicans to participate. Independents and Democrats can participate if they switched their registration on or before February 17.

3 Below is the Kansas Republican Party delegate selection plan:
2012 Kansas Caucus Rules

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