Sunday, March 13, 2016

2016 Republican Delegate Allocation: FLORIDA

This is part twenty-nine 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: 99 [15 at-large, 81 congressional district, 3 automatic]
Allocation method: winner-take-all
Threshold to qualify for delegates: n/a
2012: winner-take-all primary

Changes since 2012
The one change that has affected the delegate allocation in Florida the most for 2016 when compared to 2012 (or 2008 for that matter) is that the presidential primary is scheduled in a compliant position on the calendar. Unlike the last two cycles, the Florida presidential primary is in mid-March 2016 rather than in late January as was the case in 2008 and 2012. Those state-level decisions regarding the scheduling of the Florida contest five and nine years ago had consequences. On the Republican side, the January primary date carried with it a penalty cutting the size of the Florida delegation in half.

Florida was early then, but there was a price to pay for that action.

However, the one silver lining was always that, reduced delegation or not, Florida Republicans used a truly winner-take-all allocation of their delegates. Even at half strength in 2008 and 2012, the Florida Republican primary delivered and early at least a +50 in the delegate count to both John McCain and Mitt Romney. In each case, the winner's delegate haul coming out of Florida was basically the seed money for a delegate lead that neither McCain nor Romney ever relinquished.

Florida retains that winner-take-all allocation method in its party rules for the 2016 cycle, but the contest comes six weeks after Iowa rather than four as in 2008 and 2012. No, two extra weeks does not sound like a big difference. It is not. But -- and this oversimplifying things a bit -- it is the difference between Florida being the fourth nominating contest in 2012 and being tied for/in the 29th position in 2016.

Florida, then, is a much later delegate boost for candidates in 2016 than in the previous two cycles.

Delegate allocation (at-large, congressional district and automatic delegates)
This one is pretty simple; a nice departure from the varied rounding rules that have dominated the discussions of states within the early proportionality window in the Republican process. If a candidate wins the (statewide) Florida primary -- even if by just one vote -- then that candidate receives all 99 delegates from the Sunshine state.

There is no rounding and no split of the delegates. A candidate very simply leaves Florida with a little more than eight percent of the 1237 delegates necessary to clinch the 2016 Republican nomination.

The 99 delegates allocated to the winner of the March 15 presidential primary are bound to that candidate through the first three ballots at the Republican National Committee according the Republican Party of Florida rules. That is the longest hold on the delegates at the convention of any state to have held a nominating contest thus far in 2016.

The selection process for the delegates to fill those allocated slots is also of note. Within a week of the Florida primary candidates -- all of them and not just the winner -- are to have submitted to the state party a list of potential delegates and alternates. It is from those lists that the delegates are chosen at a meeting of the party called by the state party chair. Congressional caucuses comprised of the state committeemen and committeewomen and county party chairs from that district elect the three congressional district delegates while the remaining at-large delegates are elected by the Executive Board of the Republican Party of Florida.

That process does not guarantee that the winner will have its supporters filling all 99 slots. And the motivation of the party in that instance is not necessary to help or hurt the winner. Rather, the party is often motivated to insert party regulars (including elected officials)and/or those who donate time and money to the state party in those delegate slots as a reward for that service. But again, regardless of their background, those delegates are bound to the winner of the Florida primary for three ballots at the national convention.

State allocation rules are archived here.

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