Tuesday, February 28, 2012

2012 Republican Delegate Allocation: Georgia

This is the sixteenth 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.


Buckle up, folks. Alaska was in many ways the easiest Super Tuesday contest to describe. Many of the rest of the states are where we will finally get a glimpse at how various states have adapted to the oft-discussed Republican proportionality requirement. And folks, it ain't pretty. [Well, I suppose it is plenty "pretty" to someone who can appreciate the vagaries of delegate selection rules. Guilty.]

What better place to start the magical mystery tour through the Super Tuesday states (with crazy rules) than in Georgia, the home of the county unit system. Now, that is perhaps an unfair comparison, but the Georgia Republican Party response to the RNC call for "proportionality" for contests prior to April 1 is no less strangely constructed. [And no, for the record, FHQ is not implying or suggesting that there is anything nefarious about the Georgia delegate allocation plan.] The Georgia Republican Party essentially took what was a South Carolina-like plan (one the party has traditionally utilized) -- winner-take-all by congressional district and statewide -- and turned it into something else. Recall that the quickest and easiest responses to the new RNC mandate were to either 1) make the statewide, at-large delegates proportional or 2) make the overall allocation conditional on a candidate receiving a majority of the vote statewide (winner-take-all if so, proportional if not). Georgia did the former, but added an additional layer by making the congressional district delegates roughly "proportional".

That latter step was superfluous if compliance with the national party rules was the intent. As several state plans have already demonstrated, state parties can continue to allocate congressional district delegates winner-take-all based on the vote in each congressional district. That is fully within the letter of the law. Georgia Republicans, however, will allocated two [2] delegates to the winner of a congressional district and one [1] delegate to the runner up. Should one candidate surpass the majority threshold within the district that candidate will be allocated the full three [3] delegates apportioned to all congressional districts nationwide from the RNC. The potential, then exists for there to be a straight winner-take-all allocation of congressional district delegates so long as a candidate or candidates win majorities in each of the 14 Georgia congressional districts.

The statewide allocation of at-large delegates is slightly more straightforward. It will be proportional for all candidates receiving at least 20% of the vote statewide. That is the highest threshold for receiving any delegates as the RNC will allow.

Here's the delegate breakdown: Georgia has...
  • 76 total delegates
  • 31 at-large delegates
  • 42 congressional district delegates
  • 3 automatic delegates
The at-large and congressional district delegates will be allocated as described above. As for the automatic delegates, the state party chair, , was elected last year, but the national committeeman and national committeewoman will be elected at the 2012 state convention in May.2 That said, none of the three are free agents like many automatic delegates are elsewhere across the country. The Georgia Republican Party considers the automatic delegates in the Peach state at-large and they are allocated to the top vote-getter in the primary (statewide). Those automatic delegates are the only directly winner-take-all delegates within the plan with no strings (thresholds) attached.

Georgia, then, has 76 bound delegates heading to the Republican National Convention in Tampa in August.

1 FHQ would say 50 part, but that doesn't count the territories and Washington, DC.

2 See Georgia Republican Rule 7:
Georgia Republican Party Rules (adopted Sept. 2011)

Recent Posts:
2012 Republican Delegate Allocation: Alaska

Romney Still Ahead in Wyoming Precinct Caucus Straw Poll Count

Patterns in the Republican Primaries?

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