Monday, April 27, 2015

Ohio Conservative Group Against Potential Move Away from Proportional Allocation Rules in 2016

Jo Ingles at WKSU in Ohio had a nice story up last week about Buckeye state conservatives' reactions to the legislation moving through the state legislature to shift the Ohio presidential primary back a week to March 15. The Republican-controlled state government is motivated to make the change in order to get the currently March 8 primary out of the proportionality window; away from that RNC mandate.

But as Ingles points out, not all Republicans in the state are on board with that idea:
Tom Zawistowski with the conservative group, Ohio Citizens PAC, says he wants proportional voting because it gives more conservative candidates an opportunity to win.
Now, FHQ raises this not to stir the pot. There was only minimal opposition to the move in the Ohio House among Republican legislators. It would be surprising if the Senate consideration of HB 153 was any different. The more important issue here is that this move and any dissension among the Republican rank-and-file in the state to that move highlights the importance of what is really at stake here.

FHQ mentioned in part three of our look at the Republican National Committee's proportionality rules changes for 2016 that there is entirely too much effort placed on the allocation rules of states within the proportionality window instead of outside of it. Furthermore, there is a problem in how we all tend to talk about those differences. The tendency has been to draw a line between proportional and not proportional when it might be better to think about this in terms of truly winner-take-all rules and everything else.

This Ohio situation is the perfect example of that.

As FHQ has pointed out, Ohio Republicans have a history with winner-take-most allocation plans. In the past the state party has given a fraction of its delegates -- the at-large delegates -- to the statewide winner of the presidential primary and the remainder out to the winners of the various congressional districts. If a candidate wins district #1, then that candidate wins all three delegates apportioned to that district by the national party. In the past, FHQ has called this winner-take-all by congressional district. Some just call it winner-take-all.

But it is not winner-take-all. The potential exists for multiple candidates to win delegates if they win plurality support in just one congressional district. Depending on the level of support for the various candidates, that could look more proportional or it could move closer to the winner-take-all end of the spectrum.

It is not clear at this point that Ohio Republicans are going toward a truly winner-take-all allocation plan for 2016. It is just clear that they are attempting to avoid the proportionality window and its mandate. But if the party returns to the winner-take-most plan that it has historically used, then maybe it will not actually be all that bad for those conservative candidates and their supporters in the Buckeye state.

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