Thursday, January 21, 2016

2016 Republican Delegate Allocation: HAWAII

Updated 3.9.16

This is part twenty-one 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. 


Election type: caucus
Date: March 8
Number of delegates: 19 [10 at-large, 6 congressional district, 3 automatic]
Allocation method: proportional (statewide and in congressional districts)
Threshold to qualify for delegates: No official threshold
2012: proportional caucus

Changes since 2012
The Hawaii Republican Party rules for delegate allocation have not changed in any meaningful way as compared to the method the party operated under in 2012. The date -- the second Tuesday in March -- is the same and though Hawaii Republicans lost one at-large delegate from 2012, it is a change of just one delegate. But the small number of delegates at stake in the March 8 Hawaii Republican caucuses will be proportionally allocated based on the caucus results at both the state and congressional district level. Rather than pooling the 16 at-large and congressional district delegates, Hawaii Republicans will allocate both types separately. At-large delegates will be proportionally allocated based on the statewide results while the congressional district delegates will be awarded based on the outcome of the caucuses in each of the islands' two congressional districts.

There is no threshold in the Hawaii allocation process at either the state or congressional district level to qualify for delegates. However, the rounding method used by Republicans in the Aloha state both advantages the winner/top finishers and limits the number of candidates who will likely end up being allocated any delegates (see below for an illustration of this).

Delegate allocation (at-large delegates)
The Hawaii delegates will be proportionally allocated to candidates based on the outcome of the March 8 caucuses in the Aloha state. There has been no polling in the Hawaii race, but rather than make up numbers, FHQ will base the simulated allocation below on the data from Based on that data, the allocation of the 13 at-large and automatic delegates would look something like this2:
  • Trump (44%) -- 4.4 delegates [5 delegates]
  • Rubio (15%) -- 1.5 delegates [2 delegates]
  • Cruz (14%) -- 1.4 delegates [2 delegates]
  • Carson (10%) -- 1.0 delegates [1 delegate] 
  • Paul (5%) -- 0 delegates 
  • Bush (5%) -- 0 delegates 
  • Christie (4%) -- 0 delegates 
  • Fiorina (3%) -- 0 delegates
  • Kasich (2%) -- 0 delegates
This is where the rounding method is important. Fractional delegates always round up to the nearest whole number, but that means there is a threshold under which no one receives delegates and the last one over that barrier receives any leftover, unallocated delegates. That is because the rounding has a sequence, starting with the top votegetter and working downward through the list in the order of finish.

All of the candidates, then, round up to the next whole number despite, for example, Carson having a remainder less than .5. That leaves just one delegate left for Rand Paul by the time the sequence gets to him. Now, the junior Kentucky senator would have been allocated one delegate anyway based on pulling in 5% of the statewide vote. However, that is not the proper way of thinking about the Hawaii allocation because of the sequential rounding. Once the sequence gets to Paul, there is just one delegate left. It would be his.

Such a sequential method when coupled with always rounding up means that while there is no official threshold in Hawaii, an unofficial one will force itself into the allocation of the at-large delegates. Some candidate will be the last to be allocated delegates in the sequence and those behind that candidate will be left out of the allocation process. In this example then, that threshold is at 5%, but again, not officially.

Four years ago, all 11 at-large delegates were allocated to the top three candidates and Newt Gingrich, despite winning more than 10% of the vote had nothing to show for it. The unofficial threshold to win any delegates, then, was higher in 2012 -- around the 19% that Ron Paul received.

The main point here is not so much this threshold idea, but rather to point out that though there is no official threshold, there are limitations to who and how many candidates receive any delegates. And it should be noted that part of that is a function too of there being so few delegates in the first place.

Delegate allocation (congressional district delegates)
The same type of principle used in the allocation of the at-large delegates impacts the congressional district delegate allocation as well. There is no threshold, but as FHQ has said numerous times, there are only so many ways to proportionally allocate the three delegates the RNC apportions to each of a state's congressional districts.

The key to the allocation of the Hawaii congressional district delegates is in the rounding. Just as above, fractional delegates will be rounded up to the nearest whole number. If a candidate receives more than one-third of the vote in a congressional district, then that candidate will round up to two delegates in that district. The remaining delegate would be left to the candidate in second place in that district. If no candidate clears that 33.3% threshold in a congressional district, however, then the top three candidates would all be allocated one delegate.

This is a firmer threshold than the one discussed in the at-large example above. It is akin to some of the winner-take-all thresholds that exist in other states, but this one is specific to the allocation of two versus one delegate to the congressional district winner. To receive all three delegates -- to round up to all of them in a congressional district -- a winner would have to clear the roughly 67% barrier. That seems unlikely even with a winnowed field.

Delegate allocation
(automatic delegates)
Due to the new guidance from the RNC on the allocation and binding of the three automatic delegates, the Hawaii Republican Party could no longer leave them unbound. Rather than included them in the at-large pool of delegates as other states have done, the HIGOP has opted to separately allocated those three delegates based on the statewide results.

Given the above data from the simulation, Trump would receive two delegates and Rubio one.

Hawaii Republican delegates are bound by party rule Section 216 to candidates on the first roll call ballot at the national convention. However, those same party rules allow the candidates/campaigns some discretion in the delegate selection process. Delegates, then, may not be bound after the first ballot, but would likely remain loyal to their candidate in any subsequent vote. They would be pledged but not bound unless or until their candidate pulls his or her name from consideration.

State allocation rules are archived here.

1 I have no idea about the methodology at ISideWith. Again, this is just an exercise in how the allocation might look, but probably will not. Using their numbers is perhaps marginally better than me creating results. And yes, they sum to 102.

2 This data is being used as an example of how delegates could be allocated under these rules in Hawaii and not as a forecast of the outcome in the Aloha state caucuses.

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