Monday, April 18, 2016

2016 Republican Delegate Allocation: CONNECTICUT

This is part thirty-nine 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: April 26 
Number of delegates: 28 [10 at-large, 15 congressional district, 3 automatic]
Allocation method: at-large/automatic delegates: proportional
    congressional district delegates: winner-take-most/winner-take-all by congressional district
Threshold to qualify for delegates: 20% (statewide, for at-large/automatic delegates)
2012: winner-take-most primary

Changes since 2012
Compared the changes made to the Connecticut Republican Party delegate allocation method from 2008-12, the alterations made for the 2016 cycle are minor bordering on non-existent.

Despite seeing Democrats in the Nutmeg state government in 2011 move the presidential primary back from early February 2008 to late April 2012, Connecticut Republicans pushed forward with a plan to shift from a truly winner-take-all allocation plan to a more proportional method. That is "despite" since the primary moved to a later date, after the proportionality window had closed. In other words, the change was not necessary to comply with Republican National Committee rules for 2012. That plan called for both a winner-take-all element on the congressional district level and a proportional component statewide (if no candidate received a majority of the vote).

But that was 2012, and those were substantial changes. For 2016, the Connecticut Republican Party has only slightly tinkered with its rules.

The one big change?

A new section has empowered the state party chairman to fill any delegate slots awarded to the uncommitted option on the ballot (assuming "uncommitted" clears the qualifying threshold). While new, Section 17.H is more contingency planning than anything else; an insurance policy should "uncommitted" qualify.

Given scant changes, the ground rules are largely the same for Connecticut Republicans in 2016 as they were in 2012. The only difference is that the competitive phase of the race will stretch to late April on the calendar, unlike 2012. As the rules are the same, there is a qualifying threshold, but only under certain conditions. First, a candidate must receive at least 20 percent of the vote in order to qualify for any delegates in the Connecticut primary. But reaching that barrier only qualifies a candidate for a share of the states 13 at-large and automatic delegates. That is just a proportional share of a little less than half of the total number of delegates apportioned state Republicans by the RNC.

However, that proportional allocation of that group of delegates only holds if no one candidate wins a majority of the statewide vote. In the event that one candidate take a majority statewide, that candidate would be allocated all 13 at-large and automatic delegates.

There is, then, a qualifying threshold, but it is superseded by the winner-take-all trigger if a candidate wins more than 50 percent of the statewide vote. Additionally, there is no rule prohibiting the backdoor winner-take-all allocation of all 13 at-large and automatic delegates should only one candidate surpass the 20 percent qualifying threshold (given the equation described above and presumably assuming a large field of candidates).

Delegate allocation (at-large and automatic delegates)
The above thresholds affect just the allocation of the 13 at-large and automatic delegates. Assuming a proportional allocation of those delegates -- no one receives a majority of the vote statewide -- then the allocation equation divides each candidates share of the statewide vote by the total qualifying vote (just those over 20% rather than the total number of votes cast).

Fractional delegates from that calculation would be rounded to the nearest whole number. Those .5 and above would be round up and those below .5 would be rounded down.

Should there be an unallocated delegate due to rounding, the Connecticut Republican Party bylaws call for that slot to go to the winner of the statewide vote. Interestingly, there is no provision in the rules dealing with a rounding result that leads to an overallocation of delegates. There is no description laying out the procedure for removing the superfluous delegate from a particular candidate's total.

Delegate allocation (congressional district delegates)
Matters are simpler with regard to the allocation of the congressional district delegates. Like Wisconsin or South Carolina before it, Connecticut Republicans allocate all three delegates to the plurality winner of a congressional district. There are no thresholds involved. A candidate need not win 20% of the vote to qualify for those three delegates. Having 19 percent of the vote, for example, is sufficient to claim all three congressional district delegates so long as that is the highest vote share in a given district. With a later primary and a winnowed field, however, such a winning share becomes less likely.

At-large and automatic delegates are bound to the majority winner statewide or to their respective candidates under a proportional allocation through the first ballot at the national convention. It is less clear whether congressional district delegates are bound for the same duration. The only mention of how long delegates are bound is in the section of the rules detailing the allocation of the at-large delegates (and only refers to "delegate[s]"). When the rules shift into a discussion of the allocation of congressional district delegates in a subsequent section, there is no provision detailing the length of the bond.

This sounds more provocative than it is in practice. And that is due to the way that delegates are selected. Connecticut is one of the states that chooses delegates from slates submitted by the various campaigns. If a candidate has filed a full slate of delegates and there is a majority winner statewide who also sweeps the congressional districts then the mystery is gone. There really is no selection so much as all the delegate slots are filled by the winner's slate.

There is only a choice in so much as there is 1) a proportional allocation in which delegates are being pulled from multiple slates or 2) a candidate has either filed too few or no delegates with the state  party. The candidates and their campaigns choose the slates, but the state party at its May state central committee meeting selects which delegates from those slates fill the candidates' allocated slots. Unlike the majority of states where candidates have no direct influence over the delegate selection process, Connecticut Republicans allow for candidate input on the matter. Since the candidates have input in the matter, their delegates are likely to be with them on the first ballot (and beyond).

State allocation rules are archived here.

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