Saturday, February 27, 2016

2016 Republican Delegate Allocation: MASSACHUSETTS

This is part twenty-three 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: primary
Date: March 1
Number of delegates: 42 [12 at-large, 27 congressional district, 3 automatic]
Allocation method: proportional
Threshold to qualify for delegates: 5% (statewide)
2012: proportional primary

Changes since 2012
The Massachusetts Republican Party did very little to alter for 2016 the delegate allocation plan the party used in 2012. As was the case four years ago, the party will pool its delegates and proportionally allocate them to candidates based on the results of the March 1 primary in the Bay state. However, unlike 2012, that pool of delegates will include not only the at-large and congressional district delegates, but the three automatic/party delegates as well. Additionally, the party has lowered its qualifying threshold from 15 percent to five percent. That likely yields delegates for all of the candidates still involved.

Dropping the qualifying threshold by ten percent is not a trivial change. A 15 percent threshold is much more likely to keep candidates with only very narrow paths (or no path at all) to the nomination out of the delegate count in Massachusetts. But at just five percent, the bar is considerably lower. No, that is not a boon to any candidates on the lower end of the order in the vote totals. Those candidates will only get a very small number of delegates.

The real importance of the change -- lowering the threshold -- lies in the fact that those are delegates that would have gone to candidates at the top of the order with a higher threshold. The lower hurdle means fewer delegates for the most viable candidates in the race.

Delegate allocation (at-large, congressional district and automatic delegates)
The allocation in Massachusetts is pretty simple; the simplest thing this side of a truly winner-take-all allocation. Candidates who clear the five percent threshold will qualify for a proportional share of the 42 delegates Massachusetts has to offer. That calculation will utilize the qualifying total -- the votes of just the candidates who clear the five percent barrier -- as the denominator and the candidates' shares of the vote as the numerator.

The Massachusetts GOP will then use simple rounding rules to determine the final count. Those candidates with fractional delegates more than .5 will round up to the nearest whole number. Any candidate below .5 will round down. In the event that the rounding leads to an overallocation of delegates -- more than the 42 Massachusetts has -- then those delegates will be taken from the candidate(s) at the bottom of the vote order. Should there be an under-allocation -- fewer than 42 delegates allocated after rounding -- any unallocated delegate(s) will be awarded to the top votegetters. 

The 42 members of the Massachusetts Republican delegation will be bound to the candidates to whom they have been allocated through the first ballot of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. 

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