Thursday, December 15, 2011

2012 Republican Delegate Allocation: New Hampshire

This is the second in a multipart series of posts that will examine the Republican delegate allocation by state.1 The main goal of this exercise is to assess the rules for 2012 -- especially relative to 2008 -- in order to gauge the impact the changes to the rules along the winner-take-all/proportionality spectrum may have on the race for the Republican nomination. As FHQ has argued in the past, this has often been cast as a black and white change. That the RNC has winner-take-all rules and the Democrats have proportional rules. Beyond that, the changes have been wrongly interpreted in a great many cases as having made a 180º change from straight winner-take-all to straight proportional rules in all pre-April 1 primary and caucus states. That is not the case. 

The new requirement has been adopted in a number of different ways across the states. Some have moved to a conditional system where winner-take-all allocation is dependent upon one candidate receiving 50% or more of the vote and others have responded by making just the usually small sliver of a state's delegate apportionment from the national party -- at-large delegates -- proportional as mandated by the party. Those are just two examples. There are other variations in between that also allow state parties to comply with the rules. FHQ has long argued that the effect of this change would be to lengthen the process. However, the extent of the changes from four years ago is not as great as has been interpreted and points to the spacing of the 2012 primary calendar -- and how that interacts with the ongoing campaign -- being a much larger factor in the accumulation of delegates (Again, especially relative to the 2008 calendar).

For links to the other states' plans see the Republican Delegate Selection Plans by State section in the left sidebar under the calendar.


Who thought New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner's only job was to, well, depending on who you ask, either set the date of the presidential primary in Granite state or tear a hole in the space/time continuum by ruining the calendar every four years? Obviously, any secretary of state has additional duties, but the secretary of state in New Hampshire has a role to play in the allocation of delegates to the national presidential nominating conventions as well. In some states that allocation method is set by the state parties and in others it is set by state law.

Now, FHQ doesn't want to get into a broad discussion of this, but the state party has the ultimate say in how its delegates are allocated to the candidates for the national convention. Where state law governs this process, it is usually done with the blessing of the state parties. Court challenges on this sort of political matter typically are settled in favor of the party. The nominating function is after all a party function. Most often where these conflicts arise is over the issue of who can participate in primaries (opened or closed).2 Rarely have we seen this come up in the area of primary dates or delegate allocation, but that could theoretically happen as well if a state party wanted to bring a challenge to court.

Needless to say, New Hampshire is one of those states where the allocation method is codified in the New Hampshire revised statutes. The law -- RSA 659:93 -- grants the secretary of state the power to:
"...apportion delegates to the national party conventions among the candidates voted for at the presidential primary by determining the proportion of the number of votes cast for each presidential candidate to the total votes cast for all presidential candidates of the same political party, rounded to the nearest whole number."
Furthermore, the law sets a minimum percentage of the vote whereby candidates qualify for delegates (10%).

With the penalty for holding a contest prior to February, New Hampshire's total delegation will be only 12 delegates, so there won't be a whole lot to go around. Regardless, like Iowa, there have been no changes to the allocation method on the Republican side in New Hampshire. The proportional method that is in place was in place in 2008 and stretching all the way back to at least the 1984 cycle (The last revision to the law was in 1981.). The new Republican National Committee rules regarding delegate selection, then, had no effect on New Hampshire. The Granite state was proportional already.

Delegate allocation score: 0 [No change from 2008.]
Cumulative allocation score: 0 [No change through two contests from 2008.]

1 FHQ would say 50 part, but that doesn't count the territories or account for the fact that there is no public information on Republican delegate selection in some states at this point.

2 The precedent for this is the Tashjian case in which Connecticut state law restricted primary participation to partisans only. The Connecticut Republican Party challenged that law, wanting to add independents to the mix and won based on a parties right to freedom of association under the first amendment.

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