Friday, March 23, 2012

2012 Republican Delegate Allocation: Louisiana

This is the twenty-sixth 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.


In Louisiana on Saturday we will finally have a state in the 2012 cycle that is allocating delegates based in part on a primary, but also in part on a caucus. We saw this in Texas on the Democratic side in 2008, but also in Washington and West Virginia four years ago on the Republican side. The two portions of the process operate independent of each other in terms of how the delegates are allocated. The pool of voters in the Saturday primary in Louisiana will not be the same group of congressional district caucusgoers (and state convention attendees) selecting the remaining delegates beginning in April (...but finalized in June at the state convention).

In any event the primary in Louisiana on Saturday kicks off the delegate selection process for Pelican state Republicans.

Louisiana delegate breakdown:
  • 46 total delegates
  • 25 at-large delegates
  • 18 congressional district delegates
  • 3 automatic delegates
At-large allocation: Right off the bat, the delegate selection process is a little quirky. At stake in the primary on Saturday are the at-large delegates. Well, a portion of the at-large delegates are a stake anyway. Of the 25 at-large delegates, five are already slated as uncommitted. All that Romney, Santorum, Gingrich and Paul are fighting over on Saturday, then, is 20 delegates. Those 20 delegates will be bound based on the vote in the primary. If one and only one candidate receives a greater than 25% share of the vote, then that candidate is entitled to his proportional share of those delegates while the rest remain uncommitted. If, however, no candidate is able to surpass the 25% threshold then all 20 delegates remain -- or become -- uncommitted.

Where the delegates allocation is likely to end up, though, is somewhere in between those two ends of the spectrum; with more than one candidate over the 25% threshold. If that is the case, then the candidates over the threshold will be allocated the delegates proportionally. But those candidates won't be allocated all 20 delegates between them. In some states we have witnessed rules that reallocate delegates that would have been bound to candidates under the threshold in a given state to the candidates who met or passed the barrier. For instance, Rick Santorum did not meet the 20% threshold statewide in Georgia to be eligible to receive any delegates. The delegates he would have been entitled to under strictly proportional rules were "reallocated" among Romney and Gingrich instead. Such as system is not obviously strictly proportional. [And mind you, this happens on the Democratic side as well.] This is in stark contrast to the proportional rules in Alaska where each candidate received a share of the delegates roughly proportional to his share of the presidential preference vote in the Alaska caucuses.

But Louisiana is different. Let's look at an example as a means of illustrating the point:
Assume Santorum receives 52% of the vote, Romney 26% and Gingrich and Paul split the remaining 22% evenly. That means that only Santorum and Romney are eligible for any of the 20 delegates at stake on Saturday. That would bind 10 delegates to Santorum and five delegates to Romney. Here is where the difference lies. Under a system like the one in Georgia described above, the other five (of 20) delegates would be allocated to Santorum and Romney; pushing Santorum to 13 delegates and Romney to 7. In an Alaska context, Gingrich and Paul would split those five delegates. However, in Louisiana, those five delegates go not to Romney and Santorum or Gingrich and Paul, but become uncommitted instead (see Rule 20.b of the Louisiana Republican Party Rules).2 That would mean -- given the vote breakdown above -- that Santorum would claim 10 delegates, Romney 5 and the remaining five would be uncommitted. And remember, Louisiana has a total of 25 at-large delegates. Five started out uncommitted. 
Translation? If Romney and Santorum are the only candidates over 25%, they need to maximize their collective vote share to insure that the base 5 uncommitted delegates does not grow (by much). The higher their collective vote share, the lower the number of uncommitted at-large delegates.

Congressional district allocation: On April 28 will hold congressional district caucuses to begin the process of actually selecting the delegates who will be bound (or unbound) to candidates based on the primary vote. All delegates -- at-large and congressional district -- will be selected at the state convention in Shreveport on June 2, including the 18 congressional district delegates.

Automatic delegate allocation: The three Louisiana automatic delegates are unbound and free to endorse/pledge themselves to any candidate they prefer (at any time).

The only portion of the full 46 member delegation that will be bound to any candidate or candidates will be determined by the primary vote this weekend.

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

2 Louisiana Republican Party delegate selection rules:
LAGOP 2012 Caucus and Convention Rules

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