Wednesday, April 20, 2016

2016 Republican Delegate Allocation: MARYLAND

This is part forty-one 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: April 26 
Number of delegates: 38 [11 at-large, 24 congressional district, 3 automatic]
Allocation method: winner-take-most/winner-take-all by congressional district
Threshold to qualify for delegates: n/a
2012: winner-take-most primary

Changes since 2012
The basic structure of how Maryland Republicans will select and allocate delegates to the national convention in 2016 is similar to 2012. How many delegates Maryland was apportioned by the Republican National Committee changed as did when the allocation will occur.

First of all, since 2012, Maryland voters elected a Republican governor. That increased the size of the Maryland Republican delegation from 37 in 2012 to 38 in 2016 under the apportionment formula the Republican National Committee utilizes.

Additionally, unlike four years ago, the Maryland primary is scheduled for the fourth Tuesday in April, a delay of three weeks as compared to 2012. The original motivation behind the move was to avoid an overlap between early voting ahead of a then-April 5 primary and Easter weekend. However, the originally called for one week delay would have created a conflict between the final certification of the primary vote two weeks later and the end of Passover. That forced a move of the primary back even further to the fourth Tuesday in April (which technically would fall during Passover week but would not delay the certification process). 

That new date had the added benefit of clustering the Maryland primary with a number of other mid-Atlantic and northeastern contests on the same day. While that in part shifted the Maryland primary from one smaller subregional cluster with Washington, DC in 2012 to another with more contests in 2016, Maryland will have been the most (bound) delegate-rich in each cluster.1

The result is that there are some changes in Maryland for 2016, but not with respect to the method of allocation (relative to 2012). It has more to do with the whens and how manys instead.

The Maryland Republican Party splits the allocation of its 38 delegates between the results both statewide and in the eight congressional districts. And since the plurality winner statewide and in the individual districts is allocated all of the delegates in that unit, there is no threshold to qualify for delegates.

Delegate allocation (at-large and automatic delegates)
Maryland is like Wisconsin and South Carolina in using the winner-take-most method of delegate allocation. That maintains a winner-take-all element to the allocation but requires a broader level of support statewide (across each of the congressional districts). Though the rules are the same the Badger and Palmetto states are a study in contrasts for how these rules tend to work. Trump enjoyed plurality support to varying degrees across South Carolina and parlayed that into a sweep of the delegates there. Cruz, on the other hand, won a plurality statewide, but found most of his support in and around Milwaukee. But he did not sweep the state as Trump overtook him in the 3rd and 7th districts to claim six delegates. In both cases, the statewide winner won the vast majority of delegates, but no winner under a winner-take-all by congressional district plan is not necessarily guaranteed all of them.

This is important when considering the at-large and automatic delegates allocated based on the statewide results. That group of delegates -- 14 in the case of Maryland -- basically serves as a (plurality) winner's bonus, one that gets tacked onto the delegate total amassed in the various congressional district races. And in a state with an even number of districts, that bonus can serve as a tiebreaker in the delegate count.

Delegate allocation (congressional district delegates)
As is the case statewide, the plurality winner in each of the congressional districts wins all three delegates in that district.

The Maryland Republican Party rules bind delegates to the statewide and/or congressional district winner(s) until:
  1. the candidate who has won those delegates releases them; 
  2. the candidate who has won those delegates receives less than 35% of the vote in the nomination vote at the national convention;
  3. or through two ballots at the national convention. 
One factor that makes Maryland different from South Carolina and Wisconsin is that the selection process is different. All three share a method of allocation, but in Maryland, the congressional district delegates and alternates are directly elected on the primary ballot (like in Illinois). Those delegate candidates have the option of filing as affiliated with a particular candidate (and to have the presidential candidate's name adjacent to the delegate candidate's name on the ballot), but that does not affect the binding in the Old Line state. Congressional district delegates, regardless of that affiliation, will be bound to the plurality winner of the congressional district unless or until one of the three conditions above is met.

At-large delegates contrarily are not directly elected. Rather, those 11 delegates are elected by the Maryland Republican Party state convention. Whereas the campaigns can directly facilitate the filing of congressional district delegates aligned with the campaign, those same campaigns do not necessarily have the same direct input or influence over the selection of the at-large delegates in Maryland.

State allocation rules are archived here.

1 Pennsylvania has nearly twice as many delegates as Maryland, but more than three-quarters of them are unbound.

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