Monday, October 12, 2015

2016 Republican Delegate Allocation: NEW HAMPSHIRE

UPDATED 2/9/16

This is part two of a series of posts that will examine the Republican delegate allocation rules by state. The main goal of this exercise is to assess the rules for 2016 -- especially relative to 2012 -- in order to gauge the potential impact the changes to the rules along the winner-take-all/proportionality spectrum may have on the race for the Republican nomination. For this cycle the RNC recalibrated its rules, cutting the proportionality window in half (March 1-14), but tightening its definition of proportionality as well. While those alterations will trigger subtle changes in reaction at the state level, other rules changes -- particularly the new binding requirement placed on state parties -- will be more noticeable. 


Election type: primary
Date: presumably February 9 [not officially set yet]
Number of delegates: 23 [14 at-large, 6 congressional district, 3 automatic]
Allocation method: proportional based on statewide results
Threshold to qualify for delegates: 10%
2012: proportional primary

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

While the presidential primary calendar and the position of New Hampshire primary specifically have changed over the years, the Granite state has always maintained its position as the first presidential primary in the queue and has had the same method of allocating national convention delegates for the majority of the post-reform era. That is to say, New Hampshire has been first and has allocated a share of its apportioned delegates to candidates based on their statewide performance in the presidential primary.

There is a 10% threshold set by state law that candidates must reach or surpass in order to qualify for delegates, but New Hampshire, with so few delegates traditionally, is customarily less about the delegate score than it is about winning, placing or showing (as compared to expectations). Winning some small fraction of just 23 delegates means less, in other words, than punching one of the limited number of tickets out of the Granite state. It is the result that tends to winnow the field rather than the delegate haul.

Still, since FHQ is here to discuss delegate allocation, let's do so fully. The one caveat to all of this is that fractional delegates round to the nearest whole number. Any leftovers -- unallocated delegates -- are awarded to the top vote-getter. 2012 offers a nice example of this practice. Mitt Romney won just under 40% of the vote. That cleared the 10% threshold and meant he was awarded a 39.3% share of the 12 delegates that were available in New Hampshire (post-penalty). The former Massachusetts governor and eventual nominee received 5 delegates, Ron Paul netted 3 and Jon Huntsman got 2.1 The two remaining unallocated delegates -- again, out of 12 -- were allocated to Romney, the winner of the statewide vote. Romney, then, received less than half of the statewide vote, but got more than half of the available Granite state delegates.

There is, then, a little boost that is provided to the winner in the event that there are unallocated delegates. That advantage may be enhanced even more depending on which candidates in a large field clear the 10% threshold. If many candidates qualify for delegates, the winner's cushion will be minimal, but if just a handful of candidates meet the vote share requirement, the number of unallocated delegates to be awarded to the winner will increase.

If we were to use the Huffington Post Pollster average (as of 2/9/15) in the New Hampshire polls here is who would qualify for delegates:
Trump -- 31.0% -- 7 delegates  
Rubio -- 14.7% -- 3 delegates 
Kasich -- 14.1% -- 3 delegates 
Cruz -- 11.9% -- 3 delegates 
Bush -- 10.2% -- 2 delegates
That leaves 5 unallocated delegates; all of which would go to Trump. No, 12 total delegates is not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. However, 1) that is a victory with a nice resultant delegate advantage and 2) means that the winner -- Trump in this case -- would leave the Granite state with over half the delegates from a proportional primary. That latter fact is more significant in the race to secure majority control of at least 8 state delegations to be placed in nomination at the convention. That is an important point in the face of the arguments that proportional allocation in states will make getting to majority control in eight states more difficult. Yes, but it is more nuanced than that.

Finally, should a candidate who has won New Hampshire delegates withdraw from the nomination race, that candidate's delegates are released and free to support a candidate of their choosing.

State allocation rules are archived here.

1 It is important to note that the denominator in determining the percentage is the total statewide vote and not the total of just the candidates over 10%. That, along with the number of candidates over the threshold, has big implications for how many unallocated delegates there will be.

Follow FHQ on TwitterGoogle+ and Facebook or subscribe by Email.

No comments: