Tuesday, March 15, 2016

2016 Republican Delegate Allocation: OHIO

Updated 3/23/16

This is part thirty-four 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: March 15 
Number of delegates: 66 [15 at-large, 48 congressional district, 3 automatic]
Allocation method: winner-take-all
Threshold to qualify for delegates: n/a
2012: proportional primary

Changes since 2012
There have been changes to both the date and allocation method used for the Ohio Republican primary in 2012 for the 2016 cycle. Unlike the winding path the North Carolina legislature took the primary and allocation method on in the Tar Heel state, Ohio legislators had a clear intent in their actions in 2015. The Republican-controlled legislature moved a bill through both chambers to shift back the date of the presidential primary in the Buckeye state by a week -- from the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March to the second Tuesday after the first Monday in March. It was a subtle change, but one designed to give the Ohio Republican Party the ability to choose a winner-take-all allocation plan if it wanted. While the primary move was only a shift of a week, that change pushed the Ohio primary out of the proportionality window.

That, in turn, allowed the Ohio GOP the ability to make a change from the "2012 proportional" plan the party used four years ago to the winner-take-all method the party will utilize in 2016. For the last cycle, Ohio Republicans retained a winner-take-all method at the congressional district level (according to the vote within the district), but allocated the state's small allotment of at-large delegates proportionally based on the statewide vote. The was rules-compliant in 2012, but would not have qualified as proportional in 2016. Rather than keep the primary on what would have been March 8 and have to revise the 2012 plan -- to make it "2016 proportional" -- the primary was shifted back and a winner-take-all method was adopted.

Those changes brought Ohio to the same date as the Florida primary and with the same winner-take-all method. It also meant the two biggest truly winner-take-all states were scheduled for the day after the close of the proportionality window.

Delegate allocation (at-large, congressional district and automatic delegates)
Like Florida, the delegate allocation for Ohio Republicans is elementary. If a candidate wins the statewide vote, then that candidate win all 66 delegates from the states. There is no rounding, no threshold and no backdoor. Win the vote, win the delegates.

The Ohio Republican Party rules are mostly silent on the matter of the release and/or binding of delegates. Article X, Section 1(d), the special rule added to make the allocation winner-take-all for just 2016, awards all 66 delegates to the winner of the statewide Ohio primary. That is the extent of the binding. Not included is information on how delegates would be released in the event that the winner of the primary withdraws from the race in addition to any description of how long those delegates would be bound at the national convention. Unlike other states, the number of ballots bound is not specified in the Ohio Republican Party rules.

While there are some gaps in these areas, Ohio is a state where state party rules overlap to some degree with Ohio state law on these matters. As such, the Ohio Republican Party is in consultation with Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted's office to reconcile the differences across the rules/laws and to determine the details on the remaining release and binding issues.

State allocation rules are archived here.

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