Friday, March 25, 2016

2016 Republican Delegate Allocation: NEW YORK

This is part thirty-seven 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. 

NEW YORK

Election type: primary
Date: April 19 
Number of delegates: 95 [11 at-large, 81 congressional district, 3 automatic]
Allocation method: proportional (but with majority winner-take-all trigger statewide and at the congressional district level)
Threshold to qualify for delegates: 20%
2012: proportional primary

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Changes since 2012
There are three main differences between the delegate allocation/selection plan the New York Republican Party used in 2012 and how the process will operate in 2016. Two of those are more visible changes than the third alteration.

The easiest of the 2016 changes to spot is the positioning of the New York primary on the 2016 presidential primary calendar. As compared to 2012, the primary for 2016 in the Empire state is one week earlier. But the route to that one week change took a winding path. First, the 2011 law setting the primary for April 24 expired at the end of 2012. That caused the election law to reset and the primary date to revert to the first Tuesday in February, a date not compliant with national party rules. By summer 2015, it looked as if the New York primary would once again end up among a group of contiguous mid-Atlantic and northeastern states at the end of April. But that April 26 date fell right in the middle of Passover week and forced the state legislature to consider a date one week earlier, April 19. That bill ultimately passed the legislature and was signed into law by Governor Cuomo.

While the primary date was changed in that legislation, so too, was the method of delegate allocation and selection. As was the case with Arizona, New York is a state where the line is somewhat blurred between which entity -- state government or state party -- determines the method of delegate allocation and selection. In the grand scheme of things, the state party tends have the final say in the matter. If state law called for one thing and the state party wanted another, then the RNC rules (not to mention the courts when these sort of conflicts arise and end up in that arena) give precedence to the state party rule.

But there is no conflict between state law and state party rules in New York. In fact, the changes the New York Republican Party made to its rules for allocation and selection made their way into the aforementioned legislation moving the primary date and became law when the bill was signed.

From an allocation angle, the changes are minimal. New York was "2012 proportional" four years ago despite the fact that its presidential primary fell outside of the proportionality window. All that entailed was a proportional allocation of the statewide/at-large delegates coupled with a winner-take-all component at the congressional district level. That was "proportional" under the 2012 RNC delegate rules.

Yet, in 2016, despite again being outside of the early March proportionality window, New York Republicans have opted for a "2016 proportional" plan. The same rules apply to the at-large delegates awarded based on the statewide results, but now the congressional district delegates are not allocated in a strictly winner-take-all manner. Instead, under certain conditions, the allocation of the three delegates in each congressional district are allocated proportionally and under others, winner-take-all. [More on that below.] For now, it is sufficient to say that the New York congressional district delegates are more likely to be divvied up between candidates in 2016 than was true in 2012.

On the subject of congressional district delegates, one related item that has changed since 2012, is that New York Republicans will be operating under a more standard procedure than was the case four years ago. During the last cycle, New York was apportioned delegates by the RNC as if it had 27 congressional districts. However, due to redistricting-triggered uncertainty over the map of those districts, New York Republicans were forced to use the old, pre-census 29 district map. This resulted in a two delegate per district apportionment under the old map rather than a three delegate per district plan under a new 27 district map. That, in turn, had the effect of shifting more delegates into the at-large pool to be allocated based on the statewide results.

Absent the 2012 redistricting issues, New York is back to the standard alignment between the delegates apportioned the state by the RNC and how those delegates are allocated.

While all those changes are clear, the one change operating under the surface concerns the delegate selection process. In previous cycles, New York Republicans had candidates file slates of delegates and then based on the results of the primary, fill allocated slots from those slates. That is not the case in 2016 (based on an intra-party dispute over the 2012 delegate selection process). The state party will have a greater say in this than the candidates and their campaigns. Instead of having the campaigns file slates of delegate candidates, the New York Republican Party state committee will select delegates. The full state committee will elect the at-large delegates and just state committee members from a congressional district will elect delegates to fill the three slots from each respective district.


Thresholds
There are several layers to this, but keeping it simple, the New York Republican process has a couple of main thresholds that apply both statewide and at the congressional district level.

On the one hand, there is a qualifying threshold. If a candidate wins more than 20 percent of the vote, then that candidate becomes eligible for either statewide or congressional district delegates. That is a more manageable proposition at the statewide level with 14 (at-large and automatic) delegates than at the congressional district level with just three. As FHQ has said numerous times, there are only so many ways three delegates can be proportionally allocated. [More on this below in the allocation sections.]

On the other, there are winner-take-all thresholds at play in New York as well. If a candidate wins a majority of the vote either statewide or in a congressional district, then all the delegates either statewide (at-large and automatic) or in a district are allocated to the majority winner. That winner-take-all trigger, if tripped, renders the 20% qualifying threshold unnecessary.


Delegate allocation (at-large and automatic delegates)
Should some candidate win a majority, this process becomes a lot easier. Anyone over 50 percent is allocated all 14 at-large and automatic delegates.

However, the delegates end up being split in most scenarios where no one wins a majority of the vote statewide. Assuming that two more more candidates finish above the 20 percent qualifying threshold, the allocation becomes proportional. A candidate's share of the vote would be divided by the total number of votes of just those candidates over the 20 percent threshold. Any remaining fractional delegates are rounded to the nearest whole number. If that results in an under-allocation, then any under-allocated delegate is given to the top votegetter statewide. In the event that rounding leads to an overallocation, any superfluous delegate(s) is/are removed from the total of the qualifying candidate with the least statewide votes.

Note that there is a split of the delegates in only most scenarios in which a candidate fails to reach 50 percent statewide. There is no provision in the law either permitting or prohibiting a backdoor winner-take-all scenario; one in which only one candidate is above the statewide qualifying threshold.  Yet, since only candidates over 20 percent of the statewide vote can qualify for at-large and automatic delegates, then in the situation in which only one candidate clears 20 percent, said candidate would be allocated a pro-rata portion of the available delegates. That share would be 100 percent of the total qualifying vote and thus translate to an allocation of all of the at-large and automatic delegates.


Delegate allocation (congressional district delegates)
There are a number of contingencies to account for with respect to the allocation of the congressional district delegates.

In a situation where a candidate wins a majority of the vote, then under the New York rules, all three congressional district delegates are awarded to the winner.

If two or more candidates clear the 20 percent hurdle in a congressional district, then the top finisher would receive two delegates and the runner up one. But in the scenario where only one candidate is above 20 percent in a congressional district, then that one candidate is awarded all three delegates.

Additionally, if no candidate receives more than 20 percent of the vote, then the "delegate positions from such district shall be deemed vacant and filled pursuant to the rules of the national Republican party". This is an interesting provision. The RNC rules defer to the states on these sorts of matters. With the state law/state party rules giving deference to the national party rules, this would seemingly provide the state party with the ability to allocate and fill those slots in a manner that it deems appropriate. And that could be anything: all delegates going to the top votegetter or two going to the top votegetter and one to the runner up (regardless of the threshold), etc.

The party would appear to get to decide on that; to fill in the blanks. Of course, that decision could also be challenged at the national convention by any aggrieved candidate. Given the winnowed field of candidates likely to be around for a mid-April contest, it seems less likely that no candidate will get to 20 percent.


Binding
In the past, when delegates were chosen from slates filed with the state party by the candidates, the New York Republican Party rules kept those delegates bound through the first ballot at the national convention. However, for the 2016 cycle, the slate filing has been removed and replaced by the New York Republican Party state committee selecting those delegates. The full committee will elect the at-large delegates and the members of the subset of state committee members from each district will elect the congressional district delegates. This has the effect of tipping the selection of delegates away from the campaigns and toward the state party. The choices that each may make may not necessarily be in concert with each other. When and if they do not, the campaigns have lost some measure of control over the process and thus who their delegates are.

New York delegates to the Republican National Convention will be bound to candidates based on the results in the April 19 primary. That bond holds until a delegate is released by the candidate or through the first roll call ballot.


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State allocation rules are archived here.



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Monday, March 21, 2016

Changing the Rules [at the Convention] Changes the Game

For a placeholder rule, Rule 40 in the Rules of the Republican Party has gotten entirely too much attention during the 2016 presidential election cycle.

One of the least understood parts of the Republican presidential nomination process is that the delegates -- two from each of the 56 states and territories on the Convention Rules Committee -- write the rules that will govern them at the national convention. Under normal circumstances in a more typical cycle, this process is little more than a formality. Of the three basic types of rules in the Republican Party rulebook -- party organization rules (Rules 1-12), nomination process rules (Rules 13-25) and convention rules (Rules 26-42) -- the first and third types tend to be carried over from cycle to cycle with little more than some tweaking here and there. The changes to the second type, the nomination process rules, set the baseline of rules that will govern the nomination process in the next cycle, but only a baseline.1

Rule 40 obviously sits among the rules in the convention rules section. The delegates to the 2012 convention changed the provisions in that rule, upping the requirement for a candidate to have his or her name placed in nomination at the convention to a majority of delegates from at least 8 states. It is a small change but with a large potential impact. But that rule applied in 2012 and was designed to keep Ron Paul off of the presidential nomination roll call ballot. At the 2008 convention, Rule 40 called for a candidate to have only a plurality of delegates from just five states; a far lower bar (but one that Paul was flirting with heading into the national convention).

That flirting was enough to trigger the action that raised the threshold for having a candidate's name placed in nomination. And to be clear, that rules change was a one written by and for the delegates at the 2012 convention; a normal part of the sequence of events under the Republican rules. Just as the 2012 delegates on the 2012 Convention Rules Committee looked over the landscape of the 2012 process and opted to up the requirements to qualify for nomination, the 2016 delegates on the 2016 version of that committee may choose to lower or alter those thresholds and consider other rules changes.

It is that context that made Georgia Republican National Committeeman Randy Evans' comments at a local county caucus -- a part of the delegate selection process in the Peach state -- over the weekend so interesting. Rather than some of the more chaotic scenarios that have risen to the top in some recent media accounts of the possibility of convention rules changes, Evans provided a calmer look forward to rules and rules changes to be considered before (but not adopted until at) the national convention.2

Evans basically pointed toward three rules changes likely to be considered (at the RNC spring meeting and later in the lead up to the convention):
  1. Unbinding the delegates. This change would diminish the importance of winning primaries and caucuses during primary season and render the delegate allocation process going on now largely moot. While doing that, unbinding the delegates would simultaneously raise the importance of the delegate selection process; the parallel fight to fill allocated slots with party and/or campaign loyalists. Needless to say, this one would be rather contentious. Unbinding the delegates so that they may vote sincerely carries the potential of overturning the outcome of primary season in a way similar to the way superdelegates are viewed in the context of the Democratic Party process.3 Since this one is laced with toxic outcomes no matter the choice, the status quo is likely to be maintained. 
  2. Some change to Rule 40. Georgia's Evans mentioned that perhaps the eight state threshold could revert to the five state required before 2012. That is consistent with conversations FHQ has had with others in the RNC. That level has not always been at five. At one time, there was no such threshold and then it became a three state threshold before being upped again. Thresholds of both three and five have been mentioned, but there was also a discussion at the RNC winter meeting in Charleston about lowering the qualifying threshold to have a candidate's name placed in nomination at just one delegate. That's one delegate, not one state. The majority/plurality control threshold is another area that could potentially see some change in Rule 40. It seems like something may have to give with the way Rule 40 is currently constructed. The 2012 working rule does not seem to fit well into the 2016 process. It seems likely that Rule 40 will change, but there is a lack of consensus at this time about what may replace it. 
  3. Pledging delegates. This one is pretty fascinating. The idea is that a rule would be written -- again by and for the 2016 delegates at the 2016 convention to fit 2016 conditions -- that would allow candidates to pledge bound delegates to other candidates. On the one hand, the intent is to facilitate an easier and perhaps more orderly resolution to a contested convention. However, on the other hand, as Evans points out, individual delegates would lose discretion under such provisions. That may bear some support in the party, but in other areas would be strongly opposed. 

To be sure, this is not a laundry list of proposed rules changes. And there will be others that will likely come along at the national convention. Most of those proposed changes are likely to occur in an effort toward setting the rules baseline for the 2020 cycle, however. While that is and will be important, more eyes will be on the shorter list of changes made to the convention rules that will govern the 2016 convention.


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1 If Rule 12 survives the 2016 convention, then the party will once again be able to alter the nomination process rules outside of the convention (as it did following 2012 when Rule 12 was created). Even given that power, the party only slightly changed the process rules between 2012 and 2014.

2 It should be noted that it is consistent with expectations that members of the Republican National Committee would in the vast majority of cases urge caution and to let the rules play out rather than give into the chaos angle.

3 There are risks involved whether there is a clear presumptive nominee with more than 1237 delegates bound to him heading into the convention or if there is a candidate with a plurality of delegates.


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Sunday, March 20, 2016

2016 Republican Delegate Allocation: UTAH

This is part thirty-six 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. 

UTAH

Election type: caucus
Date: March 22 
Number of delegates: 40 [25 at-large, 12 congressional district, 3 automatic]
Allocation method: proportional (but with statewide winner-take-all trigger)
Threshold to qualify for delegates: 15%
2012: winner-take-all primary

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Changes since 2012
The presidential nomination process has been all over the map in Utah for the last five years. State law called for a February presidential primary back in 2011 but only if the state funded that election. The legislature did not fund that (would-have-been non-compliant) election for 2012, but did have to alter the law to add a presidential line to the June primary ballot for state and local offices. Even then, there were discussions about moving the primary to March (which never came to fruition).

Yes, all of this happened before 2012, but that same type of pattern carried over to the 2016 cycle as well. The same February option was there for state legislators in the Beehive state, but funding of that election was never considered after 2012. However, a 2014 bill to move the Utah primary into a first in the nation slot on the calendar ahead of Iowa and New Hampshire passed the state House before getting lost in the shuffle of last-day negotiations on the state Senate side.

Once that fizzled, actors within both state parties as well as the legislature were left with a late June presidential primary that failed to comply with either national parties' delegate selection rules. It was too late on the calendar; too close to the conventions.

After a failed attempt in 2015 to move the non-compliant June primary to March, both Utah state parties were forced to shift to caucuses, and both opted for March 22 dates that aligned with the primary in neighboring Arizona.

But for Utah Republicans the switch to caucuses (and an earlier contest) was not the only change for 2016. Despite settling on a date that was outside of the proportionality window, the Utah Republican Party chose to adopt a more proportional allocation plan in lieu of the party's traditional winner-take-all formula.


Thresholds
The Utah Republican Party version of proportional requires that a candidate win 15 percent of the statewide vote in order to qualify for a share of the 40 delegates. All 40 delegates, regardless of at-large, congressional district or automatic status, are pooled and allocated based on the statewide vote in the caucuses.

Additionally, there is a provision in the Utah Republican Party rules prohibiting a backdoor winner-take-all allocation scenario. If fewer than three candidates surpass the 15 percent threshold then the threshold is dropped and the allocation becomes truly proportional.

With caucuses planned as late as the Utah Republican caucuses are -- after the point on the calendar where 50 percent of the delegates will have been allocated -- the field of candidates is likely to have winnowed. That opens the door to a couple of possibilities. First, as the field of candidates shrinks, the chances that the winner-take-all trigger will be tripped rises. Any candidate who wins a majority of the statewide vote qualifies to be allocated all 40 Utah delegates.

But the odds of winner-take-all trigger being activated only increase to a certain point. Given the backdoor winner-take-all prevention provision described above, the field shrinking also means that the odds that the 15 percent threshold will be removed are still high under certain circumstances. For example, in a three person race -- one in which one candidate is approaching (but still under) the 50 percent winner-take-all trigger, another is hovering around the 15 percent qualifying threshold and another is clearly above the 15 percent barrier -- the 15 percent threshold disappears and the allocation becomes truly proportional. [More on this in the next section.]


Delegate allocation (at-large, congressional district and automatic delegates)
Utah Republicans will use an allocation equation that divides the qualifying candidate's share of the statewide vote by the total number of qualifying votes (only the votes of those candidates above the 15 percent threshold). That equation is coupled with a rounding method that favors candidates at the top end of the order. Fractional delegates are all rounded up and in a sequence from the top votegetter to the last qualifying candidate. Operationally, the top votegetters statewide will have their delegates rounded up and the final qualifier will be left with whatever scraps there are.

In a large field with numerous qualifying candidates that rounding method may keep a final qualifier out of the delegates altogether. However, a smaller field may net the last qualifier some delegates, but a larger delegate deficit relative to the winner depending on the winner's share of the vote. That is more likely to be the case in a multi-qualifier field of three than in a two qualifier scenario.

Yet, if only two candidates qualify and no one receives a majority, the allocation method changes. Under the provisions described above, if only two candidates clear the 15 percent threshold, then the allocation shifts to a truly proportional method with no threshold. That alters the allocation equation; switching out the total qualifying vote as the denominator for the total overall vote (for all candidates appearing on the ballot). That would not only bring the third candidate in the scenario above (see Thresholds section) back into the delegates but others as well.

To proportionally allocate all of the delegates as called for in the Utah Republican rules, all of the candidates on the ballot become much more likely to receive delegates. Again, the rounding is always up, so fractional delegates become whole delegates. And the process is sequential. The allocation will go on down the line until all of the delegates are allocated.

For example, in the current race in Utah, Cruz appears to be approaching the majority mark in some polls. But if the Texas senator does not get there and Katich's presence in Utah hurts both Cruz and Trump, then Donald Trump may fail to get to 15 percent. In that instance the allocation becomes truly proportional. Furthermore, it means that suspended candidates like Bush and Rubio or Paul and Huckabee could also round up to a full delegate with only very few votes. That is the only the way the allocation can work in full under the rules.

But that brings this to how the binding works.


Binding
The above method of rounding greatly simplifies matters by eliminating the prospect of over- and under-allocated delegates. Utah Republicans have also similarly simplified the binding of delegates compared to other states. All 40 delegates are or will be bound throughout the Republican nomination process. The only question is who those delegates are bound to. That can change.

How?

Utah, like Alaska, reallocates the delegates of candidates who have dropped out of the race to any still-active candidates. Unlike the process in Alaska, Utah Republicans do this throughout the process until there is a Republican nominee. If, for example there are three candidates -- Candidate A, Candidate B and Candidate C -- all of whom qualify for and win delegates in the Utah caucuses, then those delegates are bound to those candidates as long as the candidates are still in the race.

If Candidate C drops out at any point, his or her delegates are proportionally reallocated to Candidate A and Candidate B based on the statewide results in the March 22 caucuses. Those delegates would be bound to those two candidates, again, until there is a nominee.

If Candidate B were to drop out thereafter, then Candidate B's delegates would be reallocated to the remaining still-active candidates. In this hypothetical situation, only Candidate A is left. Candidate B's delegates -- which include at least some of Candidate C's delegates -- would be reallocated to Candidate A, who would have all 40 of the Utah delegates bound to him or her at that point.1

Unlike other states, Utah does not have a procedure for release. Delegates are reallocated instead. This prevents the bound-but-not-sympathetic delegate conflict entirely, but also tamps down on the potential for chaos in a contested convention environment by binding the delegates throughout. That the delegates are all bound throughout the process minimizes to some degree the importance of the delegate selection process in Utah.

Still, in the scenario where suspended candidates have been allocated delegates (described above in the Allocation section), those delegates are not reallocated until the national convention. Not being involved in the race "at the national convention" is the line drawn in the language of the Utah Republican rules to trigger a reallocation. That means that that only happens once -- at the convention -- rather than multiple times throughout primary season as candidates drop out.2


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State allocation rules are archived here.



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1 The one quirky loophole in the reallocation process is that there is nothing -- no language in the rules -- covering the possibility that a non-qualifying candidate becomes the presumptive nominee. In other words, how are the Utah delegates reallocated in the event that a candidate who did not qualify for Utah delegates -- a prerequisite for being reallocated delegates under the rules as the reallocation is done "in accordance to the rules of this section [Section 7.0 B on delegate allocation]" -- emerges as the last candidate standing at the national convention. This would apply to two types of candidates: 1) Candidate D, who ran but failed to qualify for delegates in the Utah primary or 2) Candidate E, who after multiple ballots at the convention is inserted as a consensus candidate but who did not compete for votes in Utah or any other states during the primary phase.

Simplifying, assume that Candidate D is someone like Donald Trump. The New York real estate tycoon is not expected to do well in the Utah caucuses. He could even fall short of the qualifying threshold to receive any delegates. Yet, he has enough delegates from other states so far to be a factor if not the ultimate nominee at the national convention. It isn't clear in the Utah rules as written that the delegates could be reallocated to him.

The same is true if Candidate E is someone like Mitt Romney, who could hypothetically be put forth after a number of inconclusive roll call votes at the convention as a, again, hypothetical consensus candidate. Like Trump above, Romney did not qualify for delegates in the caucuses and theoretically could not be reallocated those delegates.

There is no clear release procedure, and there is an additional lack of clarity over whether the Utah delegates would become unbound in that case or bound to a presumptive nominee.

2 Yes, that runs counter to how the example was described above, but that type of description was necessary in order to lay the groundwork for the description of the full impact of the reallocation rules in the first footnote above.


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Saturday, March 19, 2016

2016 Republican Delegate Allocation: ARIZONA

This is part thirty-five 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. 

ARIZONA

Election type: primary
Date: March 22 
Number of delegates: 58 [28 at-large, 27 congressional district, 3 automatic]
Allocation method: winner-take-all
Threshold to qualify for delegates: n/a
2012: winner-take-all primary

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Changes since 2012
Much of what has already been written about Florida applies to Arizona as well. Like the Republicans in the Sunshine state, the 2012 presidential preference election in Arizona was scheduled in a non-compliant position on the primary calendar. Like Florida, Arizona Republicans traditionally have allocated the delegates apportioned them by the Republican National Committee in a winner-take-all fashion and did so in 2012. And as was the case with Florida four years ago, Arizona, too, was guilty of violating the rules of the Republican Party twice; once based on the timing of the primary and again for allocating all of the Arizona delegates to the winner of the statewide primary before the March 31 close of the 2012 proportionality window.

The problem then from the perspective of the Republican National Committee was that the national party rules only equipped the party to penalize one of those two violations. Arizona lost half of its delegation for the timing violation, but the RNC had minimal tools at its disposal to prevent a winner-take-all allocation in the Grand Canyon state.

The RNC changed that dynamic for the 2016 cycle by upping the penalty for a timing violation and adding a 50% penalty for would-be rogue states seeking to deliver more than a (Republican Party definition of) proportional share delegates from within the proportionality window on the early part of the calendar.

Those changes from the national party level, though they were not finalized at the time, seem to have triggered a change in Arizona. In the spring of 2014, the state legislature there passed legislation (that was ultimately signed into law) shifting back the date of the 2016 Arizona primary. The move from a late February non-compliant position in 2012 to a late March slot for 2016 pushed the primary back far enough that it was not only rules-compliant but outside of the proportionality window. That, in turn, allowed the state party to continue with its traditional winner-take-all allocation formula.


Delegate allocation (at-large, congressional district and automatic delegates)
The shorter version of the above is that the Arizona primary is later in 2016 and the delegation is not penalized as a result. What is the same is the winner-take-all allocation of delegates. As has been the case with other winner-take-all states, the process is quite simple and stands in stark contrast to some of the complexities in the more proportional states.

There is not a lot to this. The candidate who wins the statewide primary -- regardless of whether that is with a majority or plurality of the vote -- wins all 58 delegates on the line in the Arizona primary.


Binding
Comparing the delegate allocation/selection process across states, some state parties defer more to state law than others. Some state parties, such as the New Hampshire Republican Party, opt into the guidance provided in state law on the timing of the primary, the filing of slates of delegates and the formula for allocating delegates to candidates based on the results of the primary. However, in other states -- South Carolina, for instance -- the only factor covered by state law is that the state picks up the tab for the primary. Everything else is set by the state party.

The Arizona process is closer to New Hampshire than South Carolina on that continuum. State law in the Grand Canyon state dictates much of the process. That includes the date of the primary, but also provides instruction on the allocation, obligation and release of delegates. The Arizona Republican Party defers to that guidance.

As such, the state party allocates delegates in a winner-take-all manner and binds those delegates to that candidate until he or she is nominated. There are, of course, exceptions as the winner in the Arizona primary is not necessarily the same candidate who will ultimately be nominated at the national convention.

If a candidate who has won in Arizona (and thus has been allocated all of the delegates) withdraws from the race and/or releases those delegates (before the convention), then they are freed from the bond and able to pledge to vote for a still-active candidate of their preference (and change that pledge thereafter if they so choose). Those delegates are unbound.

If the winner of the Arizona primary takes those bound delegates into the national convention, they are only bound to that candidate through the first roll call ballot.

That means that the selection process -- the part of this that fills the delegate slots allocated to the winner with actual human beings -- is important if the overall primary season has proven inconclusive in terms of identifying a presumptive nominee. Arizona is a state where the Republican Party does not require the submission of delegate slates/candidates by the presidential campaigns at any point in the process. Instead the campaigns (and not just the winning one) are forced to fight to fill as many of those delegate slots -- regardless of the binding -- with supporters in the district caucuses and at the state convention.

Arizona, then, files into that category of states where the candidates and their campaigns have a less direct influence over who their delegates are. That gives rise to the possibility that a delegate who supports one candidate may be bound to another for the first ballot at the national convention.


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State allocation rules are archived here.


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Friday, March 18, 2016

The Reallocation of Rubio's Five Alaska Delegates

On Tuesday evening Marco Rubio suspended his campaign in the wake of a loss in the primary in his home state of Florida. That set off a firestorm of reactions concerning what would happen to the approximately 170 delegates allocated to Senator Rubio through the contests that have occurred to this point on the presidential primary calendar. The short answer is that the process for the release of delegates varies by state and is complex.

The longer answer, as FHQ has explained elsewhere, is that the variation across states tends to fall into three main categories:
  1. The delegates are unbound if released (assuming a more formal withdrawal).
  2. The delegates are locked in regardless. The bond is indefinite.
  3. The delegates are reallocated to the still-active candidates (assuming they met any qualifying threshold if one exists).
This last category is perhaps the most interesting. It closes the unbound loophole, but does not force a delegate to continue being bound to a candidate who very likely will not win the nomination or contest it in a contested/open convention environment. It is a middle ground option.

Kentucky has this option. The Republican delegation from the Bluegrass state will vote at the convention on reallocating the seven delegates bound to Rubio. Nevada also has this option, but it is a candidate option. Rubio could choose to have his seven delegates in the Silver state reallocated or opt to release those delegates. In both cases, it is not entirely clear where those 14 delegates will end up in terms of their preferences, much less the candidate to whom they are (newly) bound (if newly bound).

There is more immediate clarity on what happens in Alaska with regard to the reallocation of the five delegates Rubio was allocated based on the March 1 caucuses in the Last Frontier.

Well, at least there seemed to be.

The Alaska Republican Party rules, first of all, have a low bar for the release of delegates. To be deemed released, a candidate merely has to have stopped actively campaigning. Rubio meets that qualification. The next step is the reallocation.

According to those same Alaska Republican Party rules, there are different contingencies for the reallocation based on when the release of the delegates occurs.
  1. If a candidate drops out before the state convention (when the delegates are selected to fill those slots allocated in the March 1 caucuses) then any delegates that candidate was allocated are reallocated to any qualifying candidate (those who met the 13% threshold) still in the race. 
  2. If a candidate drops out after the state convention and thus, after the delegates have been chosen, any delegates won by the withdrawing candidate are reallocated to the remaining qualified candidates using the proportional formula in the original post-caucus allocation. 
  3. If a candidate drops out at the national convention, the delegates are bound to the candidate through the first two ballots. After a hypothetical inconclusive couple of ballots, the delegates become unbound. 
Rubio clearly falls into contingency #1. The Alaska state convention is not until the end of April.

But take a moment to go back and carefully read the conditions of contingency #1 and contingency #2. Yes, there is the before and after the state convention difference, but there is also an operational difference with respect to the specificity of the reallocation. Note that the provisions in contingency #1 are ambiguous. There is no explicit guidance as to how the reallocation is to be done. However, in contingency #2, there is. The drop out-aligned delegates are reallocated proportionally to the remaining qualifying candidates.

Under that type of reallocation -- the one described in contingency #2 -- Rubio's five delegates would have been split 3-2. Cruz beat out Trump in the Alaska caucuses and would claim three delegates to Trump's two. That would give Cruz more than half of the Alaska delegation with 15 total delegates and give the Texas senator one more state toward the eight necessary to be placed in nomination under the current Rule 40.

But the reallocation process in contingency #1 is not as clearly specified as it is in contingency #2. Instead of the reallocation leading to a new 15-13 split that favors Cruz, the Alaska Republican Party has reallocated three of the Rubio delegates to Trump and two to Cruz. The state party interprets the rules in a way that leads to an even 14-14 delegate distribution of the Alaska delegates.

Now sure, this is one delegate. This Alaska situation also echoes in some ways the Romney-Santorum argument over one delegate in Michigan four years ago. But 2016 is not 2012. With increasing talk of a contested convention, even one delegate matters.

Keep this one in mind should primary season end in an inconclusive result. It will come back up again then.


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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. 

OHIO

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

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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.


Binding
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.


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State allocation rules are archived here.


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2016 Republican Delegate Allocation: NORTH CAROLINA

This is part thirty-three 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. 

NORTH CAROLINA

Election type: primary
Date: March 15 
Number of delegates: 72 [30 at-large, 39 congressional district, 3 automatic]
Allocation method: proportional
Threshold to qualify for delegates: no official threshold
2012: proportional primary

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Changes since 2012
The period between 2012 and 2016 was a bit of a roller coaster ride with respect to the process for allocating national convention delegates in North Carolina. In the late summer of 2013, the North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation (that was ultimately signed into law) tethering the presidential primary in the Tar Heel state to the South Carolina primary. As the latter is a carve-out state, that moved North Carolina out of compliance with the national party rules regarding the timing of delegate selection events.

That also set off an eventual 2015 discussion about untethering from South Carolina and changing the non-compliant primary date to avoid sanction. Revisiting the primary date issue gave rise to an additional wrinkle: changing state law to shift from a proportional allocation to a winner-take-all allocation. Legislation coupling the winner-take-all provision with a March 15 primary -- the first day following the close of the proportionality window when states have the option of awarding delegates in a winner-take-all fashion -- made its way through the general assembly and was signed into law.

But then the North Carolina Republican Party overrode the legislative decision on the method of allocation, opting in a September 2015 Executive Committee meeting to continue with the traditional proportional method of allocation.

The long and winding road ended up pushing the North Carolina primary -- the presidential one along with the primaries for state and local offices -- up seven weeks on the primary calendar from May but maintained a proportional allocation of delegates. The state party also decided to continue allocating delegates with no qualifying threshold. North Carolina is the last of the truly proportional states -- no threshold -- on the Republican presidential calendar. It is also the final southern state primary.


Delegate allocation (at-large, congressional district and automatic delegates)
With no threshold, there is little to the North Carolina method of delegate allocation. Every candidate still in the race will qualify for some delegates. The real question is how the rounding rules work. The  North Carolina Republican Party plan of organization does not include the specifics, but in consultation with the Republican National Committee and the North Carolina Republican Party, the rounding operates under a closest to the threshold rule. Any fractional delegate above 0.5 is rounded up and anything below is rounded down.

In the event that the rounding leads to an overalloation of delegates, then the superfluous delegate is removed from the total of the candidate with the remainder (fractional delegate) closest to the rounding threshold. Should the total rounding lead to fewer than the full North Carolina apportionment of delegates being allocated, then the under-allocated is added to the total of the candidate closest to the rounding threshold. These rounding rules are consistent with those used in neighboring Virginia.


Binding
There is a lack of clarity at this time as to what the release procedure is for delegates bound to candidates who have withdrawn from the race, and furthermore how long delegates would be bound to a candidate at the national convention (the number of ballots). As of now, the tentative judgment of the North Carolina Republican Party is that the delegates would be bound all the way through the balloting with no release procedure (similar to Iowa). However, that is not set in stone.



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State allocation rules are archived here.


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Vox 2016 Delegate Projection Model Explainer

The folks over at Vox asked FHQ to put together a delegate projection model of the Republican race similar to the one we created with The New Yorker in 2012. Below are the details:

The model
With more than 20 contests in the books in the Republican presidential nomination process in 2016, there is enough data to begin looking at patterns from the results. While there are a number of demographic factors that highly correlate with Donald Trump’s share of the vote in those contests -- percentage with a college education, percentage of non-white population, religiosity (in various forms), among others -- the catch is that those same variables do not all adequately explain the variation in the other three candidates’ shares of the vote across states. 

Ted Cruz’s vote share across the contests to this point, for instance, increases more in caucus states and those in the interior West. The Texas senator is helped more in those states than his opponents -- Trump most especially -- are hurt. Kasich does best in highly educated states with lower religiosity and Rubio is all over the map. The vote share for the junior Florida senator is most highly (and negatively) correlated with Kasich’s share of the vote. As Kasich votes have increased at the state level, Rubio’s has decreased. 

Given that variety, a kitchen sink approach to explaining all four candidates’ vote percentages across states and projecting across the remaining states was not fruitful. The best performing model was one in which the percentage of non-white population, an interior West dummy variable and Cook’s PVI were regressed on the candidates’ shares of the vote in the contests that have been completed. Data for that parsimonious model was available not only the state level but at the congressional district level as well

Those regressions, in turn, allow for a projection of the candidate’s vote shares in the upcoming contests both statewide and, where necessary, at the congressional district level. A similar process was used for a projection model the New Yorker published later in the 2012 Republican race. Once predicted, those vote shares in upcoming states allows for a projection of the delegate count through the conclusion of the contests on June 7.


The projection
The resulting projected delegate allocation is revealing. Building on the FHQ Delegate Count as a baseline, Trump crests above the 1237 delegates necessary to clinch the Republican nomination, but would not do so until June 7. California would push him over the top. The model also predicts Trump victories in both Florida and Ohio on March 15. That 165 delegates is a significant chunk of delegates in Trump’s column. 

However, it should be noted that the model does not include polling or any measure of how well candidates are or are perceived to be doing in various states, including their home states (especially in Kasich’s case). But even without Ohio’s 66 delegates, Trump is above 1200 delegates and would still have up to 250 other delegates to woo in order to close the small gap.  

Cruz does well in the interior West as the discount placed on Trump and Cruz’s overperformance in that area through March 8 pushes him past Trump in those states. That is handy in a number of truly winner-take-all states like Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota, but those are small delegation states that more than overtaken by Trump wins in winner-take-all Arizona, Delaware and New Jersey (on top of Florida and Ohio). Cruz does well, but only musters about half of Trump’s delegate total in this projection. What the model demonstrates is that Trump would use March 15 to stretch his current delegate lead and then break away in the late April contests in the mid-Atlantic and northeast. 

The delegate allocation rules really hamper Rubio and Kasich if they continue. Third place (or lower) was no place to be on Super Tuesday on March 1 due to the allocation rules and that is even more true after March 15. The combination of winner-take-all, winner-take-most and proportional allocations with thresholds significantly decrease the odds that Rubio and Kasich would be able to acquire many more delegates.

Given what is known from the results so far, the models project a delegate count that looks like this:

Trump: 1279
Cruz: 601
Rubio: 235
Kasich: 78


The weaknesses
What is not accounted for in this model are contingencies triggered by any of the candidates currently in the race dropping out. That ideally would require more data, but could also be overcome with a redistribution of the current vote shares. However, the latter course, is potentially prone to errors. When in doubt, gather or wait for more data. 

This series of models could also be vulnerable to criticism concerning how robust the included variables explain the variation in the candidates’ vote shares in the completed contests. With only three independent variables, the door is opened to omitted variable bias. 

Finally, close observation will reveal that in most cases, statewide winners are also sweeping all of the congressional districts in the winner-take-most/winner-take-all by congressional district states. This is a function of the small standard deviation in the percentage of non-white population variable being used to predict future vote shares. The needle moves, but not much on the congressional district level. Yet, the interesting thing is that both Trump and Cruz do better in states and districts with a higher percentage of non-white population. Whether it increases or decreases, Trump and Cruz are affected in the same direction. When Trump loses share as the non-white population drops, Rubio is gaining. Cruz is most consistently in second place in those districts behind Trump, but Rubio overtakes Cruz the lower the non-white population is. That may or may not have some bearing on future delegate allocations if Rubio drops out. But the bottom line here is that a multi-candidate race seems to be hurting Cruz or the candidate in second place. It would be more troubling if there was an inverse relationship between Trump and Cruz with respect to the percentage non-white population variable.  



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The Impact of Divided National Parties on Presidential Elections

The following is a guest post from Paul-Henri Gurian, associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Georgia.

University of Georgia Political Science Professors Paul-Henri Gurian and Audrey Haynes, together with Drs. Nathan Burroughs, Lonna Atkeson and Damon Cann, have published a study that measures the impact of national party division on presidential elections. Their results are relevant to the current party divisions, especially within the Republican party. 

History shows that when one party is divided and the other party is united, the divided party almost always loses the presidential election. Consider, for example, the elections from 1964 through 1984; in each case the divided party lost. The study measures party division during the primaries and indicates how much the more divided party loses in the general election. 

The study shows that both national party division and divisive state primaries have significant influence on general election outcomes. But national party division has a greater and more widespread impact on the national results. A divisive state primary can have a small negative impact on that one state, but national party division can have large negative impact on the national vote. A divisive state primary rarely leads to more than a 1-2% decrease in the general election in that state. For example, Hillary Clinton received 71% of the Democratic vote in the Georgia primary while Donald Trump received 39% of the Republican vote. If nominated, Trump would lose almost 1% in the state of Georgia in the general election.

In comparison, national party division often leads to decreases of more than 3% nation-wide. For example, as of March 12, Trump has received 36.1% of the total national Republican primary vote while Clinton has received 60.0% of the Democratic vote. If these proportions remain steady for the remainder of the nomination campaign (and if these two candidates win the nominations), then Trump would lose 5.7% of the vote in the general election (compared to what he would otherwise be expected to receive). In a close election (such as 2000, 2004, 2012), 5-6% could change the outcome in terms of which party wins the presidency. 

The results of this study provide analysts with a way to anticipate the impact of each primary and, more importantly, the impact of the total primary vote on the general election results. Subtracting the percent of the Republican nominee’s total popular vote from that of the Democratic nominee and multiplying that by 0.237 indicates how much the Republican nominee is likely to lose in the November election (compared to what would otherwise be expected). The 5.7% figure calculated through March 12 can be updated as additional states hold their primaries. (The same can be done for individual state primaries by multiplying by 0.026.)  

The full study, “National Party Division and Divisive State Primaries in U.S. Presidential Elections, 1948-2012,” published by Political Behavior, is available online now (http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11109-016-9332-1). Contact Dr. Gurian at PHGurian@uga.edu for further information, questions or clarification.


Monday, March 14, 2016

2016 Republican Delegate Allocation: NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS

This is part thirty-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. 

NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS

Election type: caucus
Date: March 15 
Number of delegates: 9 [6 at-large, 3 automatic]
Allocation method: winner-take-all
Threshold to qualify for delegates: n/a
2012: non-binding caucus

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Changes since 2012
Unlike in the other nine delegate territories, the Republican Party in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands has more clearly defined rules on the allocation and particularly the binding of its delegates to the Republican National Convention. Whereas the delegates in the American Samoa, Guam and the Virgin Islands have unbound delegations, the Republicans in the Northern Marianas will allocate their nine delegates to the winner of the territorial caucuses on March 15.1

That is not only a departure from the other territories but from how the process operated in 2012 in CNMI when the delegation headed to Tampa unbound.


Delegate allocation (at-large and automatic delegates)
There will be two votes that participants in the caucuses in the Northern Marianas will cast. The first is for presidential preference and the second to elect the six at-large delegates from the islands. That first vote binds the delegates chosen in the second vote to the winner of the caucuses.


Binding
Delegates will be bound to the winner of the Northern Marianas caucuses through the first ballot at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. After that, the delegates are releases. If the winner of the caucuses withdraws before the convention, then the delegates vote as a group on who to support as a nine member group on the first ballot. Should the first ballot is inconclusive, then the delegates are freed of their bond to the original winner or the replacement choice of the delegation and can support any candidate they prefer (as individuals).


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State allocation rules are archived here.


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1 Yes, the Virgin Islands would have had bound delegates had any delegates committed to candidate been elected. The rules there -- carried over from 2012 -- did not necessarily call for the binding of delegates. That is a function of an interpretation of the Virgin Islands rules by the RNC given the new rules on binding for 2016.


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