Tuesday, May 15, 2012

2012 Republican Delegate Allocation: Nebraska

This is the thirty-seventh 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.


As if it wasn't bad enough that the Nebraska presidential primary is non-binding, now everyone other than Mitt Romney has stopped contesting the nomination in the remaining primary and caucus states yet to have voted. That makes the primary in the Cornhusker state even less consequential. It has been a while since the presidential nomination campaign saw its last non-binding contest with delegates not also directly on the same ballot. One has to go back to the North Dakota caucuses on Super Tuesday for the last non-binding contest. And typically that is the mark of the caucus state: an early start allows for the caucus/convention process to have culminated with national convention delegate selection in a timely enough manner prior to the start of the national convention. Nebraska is atypical in that regard. The process there begins with a May beauty contest presidential preference primary that has no role in the selection of delegates, continues with early June (June 1-10) county conventions where delegates are chosen to attend the July 14 state convention. It is from the pool of county convention delegates at the state convention that the at-large and congressional district delegates are chosen to go to, in this case, Tampa.

In other words, there is a reason that most are following the Nebraska senate nomination races as opposed to the presidential primary. Well, actually there are few reasons.

Nebraska delegate breakdown:
  • 35 total delegates
  • 23 at-large delegates
  • 9 congressional district delegates
  • 3 automatic delegates
At-large allocation:
Again, don't look to the primary as to how the delegates in Nebraska will be allocated. The state convention is where all the delegate action will happen. In terms of the at-large delegates, Article VII, Section 3.b,d of the Nebraska Republican Party constitution covers the selection of at-large delegates.2 Delegate candidates file with the party no more than ten business days following the primary and are selected at the state convention. State law binds delegate candidates to the presidential candidate to whom they are aligned as indicated on the filing form. [Filing as an uncommitted delegate candidate is also an option.] This is a soft binding mechanism as delegates selected to attend the national convention are to use their "best efforts" to support the candidate to whom they have pledged. "Best efforts" is undefined in the statute and there is no specified penalty for not observing the intent of the pledge on the filing form.

Congressional district allocation:
Nebraska state law calls for district conventions to be held for the purposes of selecting congressional district delegates -- among other business -- "immediately after the adjournment of the state postprimary convention". That will take place on July 14. Article VII, Section 3.c further defines the procedure, calling for the district delegate candidates, like the at-large candidates, to file no later than 10 business days after May primary.

Automatic delegate allocation:
Though the national committeeman and committeewoman are elected at the state convention in presidential years (Article IV, Section 1), neither assumes office until after the national convention in the same year. Nebraska Republican Party state chairmen are elected in odd years (Article IX, Section 4). All three automatic delegates from Nebraska are in place then and will not change hands prior to the Tampa convention. All three are unbound and free to endorse or vote for any Republican presidential nomination candidate of their preference.

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

2 Relevant sections of the Nebraska Republican Party constitution related to delegate selection:
Article IV
Representatives on Republican National Committee
Section 1.  In each year when a President of the United States is to be elected, the State Convention shall elect a National Committeeman and a National Committeewoman to take office at the close of the succeeding National Convention.  The State Chairman shall certify the names of the National Committeeman and National Committeewoman so elected to the National Committee.

Article VII
Post-Primary Conventions
Section 3. National Convention Delegates
(a)  In each Presidential election year, delegates and alternates to the Republican National Convention shall be elected in the manner specified in this Section 3, as authorized by the Rules of the National Convention.

(b)  All National Convention delegates designated by the Rules of the National Convention as at-large delegates shall be elected at-large by the State Convention.  All National Convention alternate delegates designated as at-large alternates shall be elected at-large by the State Convention following the election of at-large National Convention delegates.

(c)  All National Convention delegates and alternates designated by the Rules of the National Convention as district delegates or district alternates, respectively, shall be elected by the caucus of delegates of that U.S. House of Representatives district at the State Convention in accordance with the Congressional district boundaries delineated under Nebraska State law.  Candidates for National Convention District delegate and District alternate delegate shall file for election in person or by mailing a notice of intent to the State Headquarters postmarked no later than the 10th business day after the state primary election.  Only persons elected and credentialed as delegates or alternates to the State Convention shall be qualified to be elected at the State Convention as District National Convention delegates or alternates. 

(d)  At-large candidates for National Convention delegate and alternate delegate shall file for election in person or by mailing a notice of intent to the State Headquarters postmarked no later than the 10th business day after the state primary election.  Only persons elected and credentialed as delegates or alternates to the State Convention shall be qualified to be elected at the State Convention as at-large National Convention delegates or alternates. 

(e)   All candidates for delegate and alternate at the State Convention shall designate the presidential candidate to whom they are committed or state that they are uncommitted, and shall be bound by such commitment if elected, all in accordance with Nebraska State Law.  Delegate and alternate candidates shall indicate their commitments by mailing a notice to State Headquarters, postmarked no later than five business days prior to the date registration for the State Convention commences.

Article IX
State Party Administration
Section 4.  ELECTION AND TERMS OF OFFICE.  The Chairman and Treasurer shall be elected by the State Central Committee at a meeting held no later than May 1 of each odd-numbered year.  The Vice Chairman, the Assistant Chairmen, the Secretary, the General Counsel and the Finance Chairman shall be appointed by the State Chairman with the approval of the Executive Committee as soon as practicable after the election of the State Chairman and shall take office immediately, subject to the approval of their appointments by the State Central Committee at its next meeting.  The term of office of the State Officers and members of the State Central Committee shall be approximately two years.  They shall serve until their successors have been elected.

Recent Posts:
2012 Republican Delegate Allocation: West Virginia

2012 Republican Delegate Allocation: North Carolina

2012 Republican Delegate Allocation: Indiana

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