Monday, March 14, 2016

2016 Republican Delegate Allocation: ILLINOIS

This is part thirty 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: 69 [12 at-large, 54 congressional district, 3 automatic]
Allocation method: winner-take-all (at-large/automatic), directly elected (congressional district)
Threshold to qualify for delegates: n/a
2012: loophole primary

Changes since 2012
The basic infrastructure of the Illinois Republican Party delegate allocation/selection process is the same in 2016 as it was in 2012. It is still a loophole primary, that primary is still on the third Tuesday in March, there are still 69 delegates at stake, and congressional district delegates are still elected directly on the presidential primary ballot.1

However, there are a few subtle and not-so-subtle differences. There are a couple of things that fall into that latter, not-so-subtle category. First, the at-large and automatic delegates -- 15 delegates total -- are allocated to the statewide winner of the primary. Those delegates were all unbound in 2012. Second, while the congressional district delegates continue to be directly elected, they are being considered bound to the candidate they aligned with when filing (or being filed) to run as a delegate candidate. In 2012, those delegates were considered unbound. And if a delegate has filed to run as an uncommitted delegate, then those delegates, if elected, would also be unbound at the 2016 convention. The affiliation with a candidate upon filing is the key.

One subtle difference between the 2012 and 2016 processes in Illinois is that for 2016 there are three delegates being elected in each of the 18 congressional districts across the Land of Lincoln. Four years ago, there were a handful of districts that elected just two congressional delegates and other, more populous districts that balanced that out by electing four congressional district delegates.2 The majority of districts still elected just three delegates in 2012, but that has been standardized for this current cycle.

The other small difference is an echo of the winner-take-all allocation of the at-large delegates discussed above. As the Illinois Republican Party suggests...

No, that is not some nod to the vote early, vote often maxim that was the hallmark of the bygone days of Chicago machine politics (though FHQ did chuckle at that segment upon reading it for that very reason). Instead, that statement is a function of how the process works in Illinois. Voters have traditionally voted for a presidential candidate and also congressional district delegates to go to the national convention on the presidential primary ballot. Two types of votes.

However, in the past, that presidential preference vote was largely meaningless. It has never really had a direct bearing on how the delegates would be selected at the state convention.3 This time it does. The allocation of delegate slots to candidates is a direct reflection of who has won the statewide vote in the primary. The results are binding.

Delegate allocation (at-large and automatic delegates)
At-large delegates will continue to be selected at the May state convention, but will be bound based on the statewide vote in the presidential primary. And those 15 delegates will be bound to the winner on top of that.

Nine at-large delegates and nine at-large alternates will be chosen at the Illinois state convention. Additionally, the national committeeman and national committeewoman will be elected at that convention. Participants in that state convention, then, will select 11 delegates and 9 alternates to fill the slots allocated to the statewide winner in the March 15 primary.

The state party chair position is not elected at the state convention, so the current chair will ultimately serve as an automatic delegate to the national convention. That is the only delegate not elected as part of the 2016 process. All three of the automatic delegates -- the state party chair, the national committeeman and the national committeewoman -- all serve as delegates with no alternates.

Delegate allocation (congressional district delegates)
The nature of the loophole primary -- the direct election of congressional district delegates -- as FHQ described in the context of the 2012 Illinois primary, is that the statewide winner usually ends up with a disproportionate share of the delegates. In other words, the loophole primary historically has been neither truly proportional nor truly winner-take-all. The allocation tends to end up somewhere in between with the winner taking a greater share of delegates than their share of the statewide vote.

That pattern may or may not hold in a more competitive, multi-candidate race. Trump supporters would theoretically vote for Trump and Trump delegates. All of the other voters in the Not Trump category may find it difficult to choose which other candidates delegates to support. Barring any clear direction there, the vote for Not Trump congressional district delegates will tend to be diluted as compared to Trump's. For example, Cruz supporters may not have as clear an indication that they need to support Kasich or Rubio delegates in a district where Cruz may be at a disadvantage. That is a long way of saying that there is an organization hurdle that the Not Trumps have to overcome in Illinois with which the Trump campaign is not faced.

The Illinois Republican Party rules bind the different types of delegates in a different manner. Since the congressional district delegates are directly elected (and bound to a candidate with whom they have aligned if they have aligned), those elected delegates are bound until released by the candidates. However, the at-large and automatic delegates are bound to the statewide winner through the first ballot at the national convention. If a candidate formally withdraws before the convention and has any at-large or automatic delegates, then those delegates would be released at the point of withdrawal.

State allocation rules are archived here.

1 These delegate candidates will continue to appear on the ballot with the name of the candidate to whom they have committed list alongside. Voters know that they are voting for a Trump delegate candidate or a Cruz delegate candidate, etc.

2 Look for the red check marks for an indication of the two and four delegate districts at that AP link.

3 It has helped in most past cycles that the race was decided by the time it got to Illinois or the winner of the primary went on to win the nomination.

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