Wednesday, March 14, 2012

2012 Republican Delegate Allocation: Puerto Rico

This is the twenty-fourth 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.


This seems to be a running theme in the last few of these glances at state-level delegate allocation, but the RNC memo released in December gave the wrong impression of the delegate allocation in Puerto Rico. That document indicated that the Atlantic island US commonwealth would be allocating its delegates winner-take-all. Well, that set off a whole host of "But Puerto Rico is scheduled to hold its primary before April 1. How are they winner-take-all and not penalized?" questions.

The answer is simple: no violation, no penalty. Puerto Rico is conditionally winner-take-all/proportional.2 Depending on whether a candidate receives a majority of the vote across the island in the primary, the winning candidate will receive either all of the island's at-large delegates or divide them proportionally with any other candidate receiving over 15% of the vote. If, then, a candidate wins a majority, he will be allocated all 20 at-large delegates. If not, then the allocation is proportional. Easy enough, right?

Puerto Rico delegate breakdown:
  • 23 total delegates
  • 20 at-large delegates
  • 3 automatic delegates
The three automatic delegates are free to endorse or pledge to any candidate of their choice. Thus far, both Mitt Romney has claimed endorsements from two Puerto Rico automatic delegates and Newt Gingrich one each.

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

2 Here is the relevant section of the Puerto Rico Republican Party delegate selection rules that FHQ has received on background:
  • All twenty (20) delegates and twenty (20) alternate delegates from Puerto Rico are delegates at large.
  • Each candidate for President shall be awarded at-large delegates from Puerto Rico authorized by the Republican National Committee proportionately, according to the ratio of votes they received to the total votes cast on an islandwide basis. Provided however, no delegates shall be awarded to any candidate for President receiving less than fifteen percent (15%) of the vote, and such votes shall be allocated among the other candidates in proportion to their total vote. If one candidate for President receives a majority (50%) of the total islandwide votes cast, then that candidate shall be awarded all at-large delegates from Puerto Rico.

Recent Posts:
2012 Republican Delegate Allocation: Hawaii

About that Santorum Campaign Delegate Strategy Memo

2012 Republican Delegate Allocation: Mississippi

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