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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Republican Primary Delegates

In the upcoming eight days before the January 21 South Carolina Primary, we'll surely take a close look at the state of the six remaining candidacies for the Republican nomination. Before we do that, however, let's first take a look at some quantitative factors that will determine the fates of those candidacies. The following are important reference points to which we can refer between now and South Carolina, probably through a self-referential link, if you’re not getting sick of those. (Apologies in advance if today's post comes across as too didactic, but I think there a lot of questions out there about how the delegation sizes work.)

Here is the Republican Primary Schedule through "Super Tuesday":
January 3: Iowa (caucus)
January 10: New Hampshire (primary)
----
January 21: South Carolina (primary)
January 31: Florida (primary)
February 4: Nevada (caucus)
February 4–11: Maine (caucus)
February 7: Colorado (caucus), Minnesota (caucus), Missouri (primary, won't count),
February 28: Arizona (primary), Michigan (primary) March 3: Washington (caucus)
March 6: (Super Tuesday) Alaska (caucus), Georgia (primary), Idaho (caucus), Massachusetts (primary), North Dakota (caucus), Ohio (primary), Oklahoma (primary), Tennessee (primary), Vermont (primary), Virginia (primary)

It's notable that with the exception of Florida, all of these states give “proportional” allocations. It's not until the primaries held on April 3 and later where we'll see allocations that are “winner-take-all.” This means two things for the unfolding primary:
--1) Florida, even with a 50 percent penalty on its 99 delegates (more about which later), is a huge wildcard if Romney doesn't wrap this up on the 21st.
--2) Ron Paul is a factor until April 3, but only until April 3. Thus, we can ask: to what extent is he a factor at all? More on that before South Carolina.

In addition to the primary schedule, another relevant factor for this primary process is the exact number of delegates that each state awards to the Republican National Convention. For that, I find this website, "thegreenpapers.com," particularly helpful. If you scroll down to "Republican Detailed Delegate Allocation - 2012," you'll see a terrific breakdown. You'll notice that each state accounts for more than just pledged, "district" delegates, which are delegates directly awarded for performances in primaries. In other words, in these primaries and caucuses, it's the district delegates for which the candidates are competing when they stump for votes. This number is determined by the state’s House delegation multiplied by three. (Connecticut, for example, has five members in the US House of Representatives; therefore, they get 15 district delegates awarded by their primary.)

As thegreenpapers shows us, however, there are also "At Large" delegates for each state. These are determined by total number of US Senators for each state, multiplied by five. Thus, every state has 10 At Large delegates. (US territories like Washington DC, Puerto Rico, Guam, and others also have At Large delegates, these determined by their population.)

Additionally, each state (and territory) is awarded three "Party Leader" delegates (the national committeeman, the national committee woman, and the chairman of the state Republican Party).

There are, furthermore, a variety of "Bonus Delegates" awarded. One is for voting Republican in the 2008 presidential election (McCain-Palin), one for currently hosting a Republican governor, and one for each (if any) of its Republican US Senators. Moreover, if 50 percent or more of its US House delegation is Republican, that’s another Bonus Delegate. Finally, having a majority in a chamber of the state legislature counts as a Bonus Delegate (one for each chamber, if any). For details on the specific breakdowns in each state, I strongly recommend the greenpapers site.

But again, the voting caucuses and primaries which we follow on TV only make up the district delegates, not the total delegates, of a state. At times—particularly in the lowest population states—the delegates awarded through voting are fewer than the other delegates the state awards. To clarify this convolution, let’s take a look at familiar Iowa and New Hampshire.

Iowa awards a total of 28 delegates, but of those 28, only 12 of them are district delegates awarded by the famed caucuses. The difference comes from Iowa’s 10 At Large delegates (10), 3 Party Leaders (3), and the fact that it has a Republican governor (1), a Republican US Senator (1), and one of its chambers is majority Republican (1); combined, that makes up the extra 16. In sum (literally): 12 from the voters + 16 from the rest = 28 total delegates from the state of Iowa.

New Hampshire awards 23 delegates (though it’ll ultimately be only 12 for reasons I’ll explain at the end of this paragraph). Of those 23, only 6 come from the actual New Hampshire Primary! Of the remaining 17, 10 are at large, 3 are Party Leaders, 1 is from having a Republican US Senator, 1 for having Republicans as a majority of its US House delegation, and 2 for having each chamber of its state legislature as majority Republican. However, since New Hampshire moved up its primary against the Republican National Committee’s wishes, the RNC placed a 50 percent penalty on the New Hampshire Republican delegation. Thus, New Hampshire, instead of sending 23 delegates to the National Convention, will only send 12.

The RNC, in fact, placed similar penalties on Florida, Michigan, Arizona, and South Carolina. Therefore, the aforementioned “winner take all” Florida Primary on January 31, which was originally scheduled for 99 total delegates (81 District, 10 At Large, 3 Party Leaders, one governor, one US Senator, one for its House delegation, and one for each of its Republican-dominated chambers of its state legislature), will actually only count for 50.

Fun, right?

Tomorrow, I’ll take a look at the Republican Primary standings, including the delegate count so far and the delegates up for grabs in the coming weeks. See you then.

-IC

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