Saturday, March 31, 2012

Romney Turns the Tables on Santorum/Paul at North Dakota Republican Convention

UPDATE: The AP is reporting the North Dakota delegate preferences as follows: Romney: 12, Santorum: 8, Paul: 2, Uncommitted: 2 and Gingrich 1. [4/6/12]

FHQ tweeted yesterday that a better indicator of where Rick Santorum stands in the Republican presidential nomination race currently may be the North Dakota Republican state convention this weekend instead of the Wisconsin primary on Tuesday.

Why?

Well, the emerging conventional wisdom is that the contest is, at best, slipping away from Santorum if it has not already completely slipped out of his campaign's grasp. Wisconsin is another one of those midwestern/Rust Belt opportunities for the former Pennsylvania senator (see Michigan, Ohio and Illinois), but North Dakota represents a state where he has already done well; winning the March 6 straw poll in the Peace Garden state. If he performs up to or overperforms the 39% of the vote he received in the straw poll in the convention delegate selection, then nothing really changes. If, however, Santorum underperforms in the delegate count compared to his straw poll vote share in North Dakota, then that is likely to be indicative of lack of organization within the Santorum campaign concerning caucus/convention states, state party establishment coalescence around Mitt Romney (or another candidate or candidates), and/or the delegates at the state convention collectively coming to a different conclusion as to which delegates represent the state at the national convention.

Recall that the 25 North Dakota delegates to the Republican National Convention in Tampa are technically unbound. The straw poll had no binding effect on the delegates who will ultimately be chosen. That said, it appears that the North Dakota Republican Party has made some effort to use that unbound loophole to their advantage; putting up for a vote at today's convention proceedings a group of delegates that seemingly leans heavily toward Mitt Romney. Romney placed third in the Super Tuesday straw poll in North Dakota with just under 24% of the vote.

However, news emerging from the convention this morning indicates that Romney may have the support of up to 60% of the national convention delegates placed in nomination and voted on by the state convention delegates.1 The formula used by the North Dakota State Executive Committee that yielded that outcome was weighted toward volunteers, donors and elected officials, obviously a group aligned with the establishment in the North Dakota GOP and more likely -- it could be argued -- to support Romney.

Given that both Rick Santorum and Ron Paul finished ahead of Romney in the straw poll, their supporters on the floor of Saturday's convention meeting were not happy and quite vocal in opposition to the slate of delegates put forth by the state party for a vote by the state convention delegates. Former North Dakota Republican Party chairman and Santorum supporter, Gary Emineth, called the delegate selection process "a railroad job" and that the party establishment had "hijacked" the process.. Additionally, current chairman, Stan Stein, shouted down dissenting voices and failed to recognize others as the process fell into a back and forth of parliamentary procedure.

The party and most of the convention was willing to proceed to the other business of the day: endorsements in races down-ballot from the presidential race. Following that, the convention adjourned for today while ballots were still being counted from the national delegate vote. That will be finalized tonight sometime.

So much for those AP fantasy delegates allocated to Santorum and Paul after Super Tuesday. Unbound these delegates may be, but they have preferences that in the aggregate seem to favor Mitt Romney well above his straw poll support level.

We'll see by just how much tomorrow.

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1 Others in attendance at the North Dakota Republican Party state convention indicated that the NDGOP slate put forward would have given Romney 20 delegates, Santorum 6 and Paul 2. That would have been over 70% of the 28 total delegates the party will send to Tampa who would have backed Romney; about triple the level of support he received compared to the straw poll.


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These things are over sooner rather than later.

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Friday, March 30, 2012

2012 Republican Delegate Allocation: Wisconsin

This is the twenty-seventh in a multipart series of posts that will examine the Republican delegate allocation by state.1 The main goal of this exercise is to assess the rules for 2012 -- especially relative to 2008 -- in order to gauge the impact the changes to the rules along the winner-take-all/proportionality spectrum may have on the race for the Republican nomination. As FHQ has argued in the past, this has often been cast as a black and white change. That the RNC has winner-take-all rules and the Democrats have proportional rules. Beyond that, the changes have been wrongly interpreted in a great many cases as having made a 180º change from straight winner-take-all to straight proportional rules in all pre-April 1 primary and caucus states. That is not the case. 

The new requirement has been adopted in a number of different ways across the states. Some have moved to a conditional system where winner-take-all allocation is dependent upon one candidate receiving 50% or more of the vote and others have responded by making just the usually small sliver of a state's delegate apportionment from the national party -- at-large delegates -- proportional as mandated by the party. Those are just two examples. There are other variations in between that also allow state parties to comply with the rules. FHQ has long argued that the effect of this change would be to lengthen the process. However, the extent of the changes from four years ago is not as great as has been interpreted and points to the spacing of the 2012 primary calendar -- and how that interacts with the ongoing campaign -- being a much larger factor in the accumulation of delegates (Again, especially relative to the 2008 calendar).

For links to the other states' plans see the Republican Delegate Selection Plans by State section in the left sidebar under the calendar.


WISCONSIN

The state or Wisconsin represents the primary process' and this series' first foray into states not subject to the new proportionality requirement. It is the first state -- along with Maryland and Washington, DC -- to hold a contest following the April 1 proportionality cutoff. Before FHQ goes any further, it is worth noting that the future primary calendar landscape is not littered with a host of strictly winner-take-all states. It is not. In fact, the post-April 1 presidential primary calendar environment mimics the environment that has traditionally stretched across the whole calendar. It isn't that states are all winner-take-all, rather it is up to the states/state parties to decide how they want to allocate delegates. It can be winner-take-all, it can be proportional or it can be some hybrid of the two.

In the Badger state, the Republican Party of Wisconsin has maintained its typical method of delegate allocation; which is to say, something in between. Wisconsin will allocate its delegates in a winner-take-all fashion both statewide and in each of the eight congressional districts. A candidate winning a plurality of the vote statewide receives all of the at-large delegates and a candidate winning a plurality of the vote in a congressional district is entitled to the district's three delegates. In this way -- like the plans in both South Carolina and Michigan -- Wisconsin is not entirely winner-take-all since it allows for candidates other than the statewide winner to pick up some delegates if they manage a win in any of the eight congressional districts.

Wisconsin delegate breakdown:
  • 42 total delegates
  • 15 at-large delegates
  • 24 congressional district delegates
  • 3 automatic delegates
Again, this is all fairly straightforward. Win a district and win that district's three delegates. That is how those 24 congressional district delegates are allocated. The rest of this is also simple enough with one exception: the automatic delegates. According to Article X, Section 2 of the Republican Party of Wisconsin constitution, there are three delegates apportioned to each congressional district and the remaining delegates are all at-large.2 The question that arises from that is whether that applies to the automatic delegates as well. It would appear so according to the section cited above. However, automatic delegates are discussed in Section 6, but that language is copied almost verbatim from Rule 15(c)(11) of the RNC delegate selection rules. Of course, neither the Wisconsin rules nor the RNC rules indicate the way in which the automatic delegates are to be allocated. The RNC rule (15(c)(11)) refers to Rule 13(a)(2) which defines automatic delegates, but again, does not specify how they are to be allocated. That, it would seem, is a matter left up to the state parties, which in Wisconsin's case, brings it all full circle back to Section 2.

What that means is that all 42 delegates will be at stake in Tuesday's Wisconsin primary. That differs from the description of Wisconsin's delegate selection plan in the December 2011 memo on delegate selection from the RNC legal counsel office. That memo left the three automatic delegates unbound, but that does not jibe well with FHQ's reading of the Republican Party of Wisconsin's constitution.

...the section on delegate selection anyway.

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NOTE: The statewide winner in Wisconsin will start off with at least an 18 delegate advantage and will  not improve on that margin only under the circumstances that another candidate wins more than four congressional districts. That would appear unlikely.

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1 FHQ would say 50 part, but that doesn't count the territories and Washington, DC.

2 Below is Article X (the section pertaining to national delegate selection) of the Republican Party of Wisconsin's constitution:
Article X - Selection of National Convention Delegates and Alternates 
The Executive Committee is empowered to regulate the rules in this Article but not alter them unless they fail to be in compliance with the Rules of the National Republican Party. 
SECTION 1. The total number of delegates and equal number of alternate delegates shall be those numbers fixed by the formulas set forth in the rules of each National Convention. 
SECTION 2. Of the total number fixed by Rule No. 1, three (3) district delegates and three (3) district alternate delegates shall be designated from the district of each Representative in the United States House of Representatives and the remainder shall be designated ―at large. 
SECTION 3. A candidate receiving a plurality of the votes in the Presidential Primary in any Congressional District is entitled to control the three (3) delegates and the three (3) alternate delegates from that district in all votes for nomination for President of the United States and Vice- President of the United States, unless the delegates and alternate delegates are released by the candidate or the candidate fails to receive at least one-third (1/3) of the total votes cast in any vote for nomination. 
SECTION 4. A candidate receiving a plurality of the statewide votes in the Presidential Primary is entitled to control all the delegates and alternate delegates designated ―At Large on all votes for nomination for President of the United States and Vice-President of the United States, unless the delegates and alternate delegates designated ―At Large are released by the candidate or the candidate fails to receive at least one-third (1/3) of the total votes cast in any vote for nomination. 
SECTION 5. After receiving the results of the Presidential Primary, each District Chairman, in consultation with his or her District Executive Committee and in consultation with the committee of the winning presidential candidate in that district, shall submit a list of no more than 20 or no less than 12 names to be considered by the candidate committee for the selection of their District delegates and alternate delegates. By March 9th, the candidate committee shall notify the respective District Chairmen which three from the list they wish to designate as delegates and which three from the list they wish to designate as alternate delegates. Giving due consideration to the candidate committee’s designations, the District Caucus shall elect three District delegates and three alternate District delegates from the originally submitted list. At-Large delegates and At-Large alternate delegates shall be selected by the committee of the candidate receiving a plurality of the statewide votes in the Presidential Primary, and a list of said delegates and alternate delegates shall be ratified by the State Executive Committee. It shall be understood that the candidate’s committee shall have final approval of the list of At-Large delegates and alternate delegates. All District and At-Large delegates and alternate delegates must conform to Section 7. The delegate selection process shall be completed no later than the second Saturday in May of the Presidential election year. 
SECTION 6. There shall be no automatic delegates nor alternate delegates to a National Convention who serve by virtue of party position or elective office, unless stipulated by RNC rules. 
SECTION 7. Both district and At-Large delegates and alternates must file an affidavit with the Republican Party of Wisconsin stating that they will abide by these rules and that they are qualified to represent the Republican Party of the State of Wisconsin by being a qualified voter and member in good standing of the Republican Party of their county since at least the date of their county’s caucus held in the Presidential election year. All affidavits must be received in the state party headquarters no later than 45 days prior to the opening day of the Republican National Convention or the office will be considered vacant and a replacement delegate or alternate will be selected per Section 8. 
SECTION 8. The Chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin shall fill any vacancies for District delegates and District alternate delegates in consultation with the District Chairman in whose district the considered replacement resides, and the appropriate presidential candidate committee. The Chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin shall fill any vacancies for At-Large delegates and At-Large alternate delegates in consultation with the committee of the candidate winning the statewide primary. The replacement of District or At-Large delegates or alternate must file an affidavit per Section 7 immediately upon accepting the office. 
SECTION 9. No preference shall be given in the delegate or alternate delegate selection process as to whether the delegate is a man or a woman.


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These things are over sooner rather than later.

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

These things are over sooner rather than later.

The history of the presidential primary process -- the trajectory of it throughout the post-reform era anyway -- has shown that some candidate clinches the nomination sooner rather than later. The logic of this has been thrown on its head to some extent over the last two cycles with... 1) Democratic voters in 2008 having an either/or proposition in the choice between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton while remaining with some exceptions high on both options and 2) 2012 Republican voters being torn between yielding to a plurality candidate who doesn't necessarily have the backing of the full party or opting to vote (for the best, viable candidate) in protest.

It is on that latter scenario that I would like to focus, though. We know where later is on the sooner--later spectrum: the convention. But we are in the process of determining where sooner is. The 2012 Republican presidential nomination race is at a point where Mitt Romney is in control and his nomination is a when not if proposition. But that is not necessarily readily apparent.

...at least not where it counts: with the main opposition campaign (Santorum).

If the Romney nomination is a when not if proposition, then the race is in a position of negotiating Santorum's withdrawal. Now, FHQ doesn't mean that as either the RNC and/or Romney campaign incentivizing in some way Santorum's exit.1 Against the backdrop of a likely steady stream of endorsements for, not to mention primary victories by, Romney throughout April will be a decision-making calculus within Santorum campaign as to the utility of continuing in the race.

...of the campaign coming to the realization that either Santorum cannot become the nominee (at the convention2) or he cannot keep Romney from reaching the 1144 delegates necessary to wrap up the nomination. Another angle to consider is that the Santorum camp comes to the realization that continuing on is in no way helpful to their/the party's cause. For the Santorum campaign, they have to concern themselves with the optics of persisting in a cause that will be hard to keep together during April (see above). The longer they keep at it, the worse the outlook is for getting a VP or cabinet nod from a presumptive Romney-as-nominee. And no, that may not be the goal here. Alternatively, it also hurts Santorum's efforts with the very people that would help him in any future run at the nomination: the establishment of the party. If the perception is -- among that group -- that Santorum has, is or does hurt(ing) Romney in terms of the former Massachusetts governor's chances against Obama in the fall. If that is the conventional wisdom, then the party establishment is much less likely to rally around Santorum in the future. That is an iffy proposition anyway. That assumes that there is not a "better" candidate out there four or eight years from now that occupies a similar ideological space among the field of candidates. [After all, the 2012 field is viewed as relatively weak.] If that is the conclusion that is reached within the Santorum campaign -- that there are no incentives forthcoming from the Romney camp and/or the future outlook is bleak -- then they have nothing to lose by continuing in the race.

...at least until the money dries up and the sort of retrenchment witnessed in the Gingrich campaign this week hits the Santorum camp.

That is the self-interested side of this. But there are also party-centered, altruistic notions at play here. We can call those "taking one for the team" notions; that stepping aside is for the good of the party's fortunes in the general election campaign. Even this comes back to the self-interested angle above. If the feeling is that they/the campaign has nothing to lose by continuing on, then this is likely to play out in a rather slow, but obvious manner. In that scenario, if we follow history in the post-reform era as a guide, the Santorum campaign will likely die a slow death during primary season. But that has yet to play out.

...so, we know where later is, but we're still trying to determine where, or more appropriately when, sooner is.

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1 This is a dynamic process, but the RNC and Romney campaigns, independent of each other, seem to be taking more of a hands-off instead of hands-on approach to this. If an argument can be made for either one intervening, it would be for the RNC (...as measured by the steady stream of endorsements coming in for Romney). And even that argument is tenuous at best. It is more a matter of a collective will -- independent of national party coordination -- that folks like Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush or George HW Bush are coming out in favor of Mitt Romney or endorsing the idea that the process should come to a close.

2 I think that, barring a significant shake up to the current dynamics of this race as they currently exist, we can all agree that Santorum cannot get to 1144 or surpass Romney in the delegate count during primary season. It is his campaigns only play to keep Romney under 1144 heading into the convention and rolling the dice there.


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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

South Carolina House Moves to Safeguard Future Presidential Primary Calendar Position

Yesterday a bill was introduced in the South Carolina state House to protect the Palmetto state's "First in the South" status on future presidential primary calendars. Now, FHQ has seen H 5081 described as "modeled after the New Hampshire bill" and that is partially true.1 First, the bill defines "South" -- or in other words, the states South Carolina perceives as threats to its quadrennially preeminent status on the presidential primary calendar. And outside of attempting to legally codify the position of the South Carolina primary on the calendar, that is where the similarities end.

Mainly, that is due to a couple of related factors. First, there is one decision-maker in the New Hampshire presidential primary scheduling process: Secretary of State Bill Gardner. He -- or any other person elected to the position in the future -- is the only actor within the presidential primary positioning calculus for the concurrent presidential primaries in the Granite state. Typically, when FHQ discusses concurrent primaries it is in reference to a state that holds both its presidential primary and the primaries for state and local offices on the same date. In this instance, however, "concurrent" refers to both the Democratic and Republican Parties holding primaries on the same date. Neither New Hampshire political party has any latitude on this. If they opt into the primary as a means of allocating delegates -- as opposed to say a party-funded primary or caucus -- then they are stuck with the date Secretary Gardner selects.2

But this is different from the set up in South Carolina. There you have not one but two primary scheduling decision-makers: the two state party chairpersons. That is to say that the potential exists for there to be two different primary dates; something that is foreign to New Hampshirites. In fact, it is traditional for South Carolina to hold two separate presidential primaries: one for the Democrats and one for the Republicans. That is attributable to several factors. The state is largely in Republican control and as a result the Republican primary is the one most associated with the "First in the South" phenomenon. If we're being honest here, the first "First in the South" South Carolina primary was not until 2000. We hear so much about South Carolina being the barometer of who the ultimate Republican nominee will be, and while that may be true, South Carolina didn't stake its claim to "First in the South" to bolster the "barometer" credentials until 2000.3

South Carolina Democrats have had a different experience historically. The minority party in the state, South Carolina Democrats have had on-again-off-again presidential primaries. That they have held primaries instead of caucuses is a rather new development. And the party has not necessarily staked a claim to "First in the South"; not directly anyway. South Carolina Democrats have a privileged position within the context the Democratic National Committee's delegate selection rules not necessarily for regional reasons, but for reasons of racial diversity as well. South Carolina's addition to the list of "carve out" states in the 2008 cycle was a function of the party adding racial -- and secondarily, regional -- balance to the list of early primary and caucus states.

All this is to say that this bill affects the two South Carolina parties differently (...at least potentially). That makes this legislation different than -- in both form and function -- the law in New Hampshire.  That there is the potential for and very great likelihood of there being two separate presidential primaries in South Carolina is a budget nightmare for South Carolina; a problem the law in New Hampshire does not yield.

One other notable provision in this legislation that is similar to the way in which the New Hampshire law has and will continue to implement its law is that both require a certain buffer between its presidential primary and another similar contest; seven days.  While the New Hampshire law uses the "similar contest" language, the South Carolina proposal pinpoints "similar presidential preference primar[ies]." This may provide the Nevada caucuses some leeway in the South Carolina decision-making calculus.

Presumably Florida would be the biggest threat to South Carolina's position -- and yes, Florida is on the list of southern states in the bill -- and because the Florida primary is typically on Tuesday and South Carolina's on Saturday, the potential window actually grows to ten days (as it has the both of the last two cycles). One additional complicating factor here is that the two political parties hold separate primaries more often than they do not; making the codification of such a buffer in South Carolina law potentially more difficult. The buffer would potentially be different for the two parties if there is a continued insistence in holding a separate Democratic primary and a separate Republican primary. To specify a buffer would mean that even more space would have to be created to fit all of the early states into a seemingly increasingly small window (...if the process continues to push up against the first of the calendar year). This would seemingly cause the two state parties to work together to come to a common date, but that is not required by the legislation. However, the legislation would give state parties chairs some wiggle room to break with the seven day buffer under "extraordinary circumstances".

Is this legislation attempting to legally carve out an early position for South Carolina as the law in New Hampshire has done for a generation? Yes. But is the implementation different?

You betcha.

NOTE: Please see that Rep. Joshua Putnam is a co-sponsor of this legislation. No, that isn't FHQ though we share the same name.

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1 The text of H 5081: South Carolina House Bill 5081 (2011-12 session)

2 This is horrible, right? "Stuck with" is hardly the proper way of phrasing this as the New Hampshire parties give up very little -- half their delegates in the past two cycles on the Republican side -- in exchange for the first primary position on the calendar.

3 It should be noted that there have been very few competitive Republican nomination races since 1980 when the South Carolina primary came into existence. In that year, the South Carolina primary was preceded by the Republican caucuses in Arkansas. In 1988, the South Carolina primary was the weekend before the Southern Super Tuesday. Also, Louisiana actually held caucuses before South Carolina in 1996.


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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Santorum Super PAC Doubles Down on Ludicrous Delegate Count Claim

Sigh.

FHQ doesn't know where to start on this one. The Red White & Blue Fund -- the super PAC supporting Rick Santorum -- today again pushed its needlessly long plan to reallocate delegates across many of the states to have finalized the binding of delegates.1 That RWB is claiming this based on the rules only reinforces the growing notion that they have no idea what the rules are. Let's look at a few examples.

Florida:
Romney: 50

Florida (RWB interpretation):
Romney: 23
Gingrich: 16
Santorum: 7
Paul: 4

Arizona:
Romney 29

Arizona (RWB interpretation):
Romney: 14
Santorum: 8
Gingrich: 5
Paul: 2

FHQ notes: Look, both RWB and the Santorum campaign have a leg to stand on in this argument. That Florida and Arizona not only held non-compliant primaries in terms of timing, but also held winner-take-all violations is a clear [double] violation of the RNC delegate selection rules. However, as I have tried to point out -- and this is where RWB and the Santorum campaign begins to show their lack of knowledge about the rules -- they are assuming a directly proportional allocation at the convention. That may happen in a challenge situation, but strict proportionality is not the only way a state can be "proportional" under the rules created in 2010. The delegate allocation can be divided into winner-take-all by congressional district (for the congressional district delegates) and proportional statewide (for the at-large delegates). Under that sort of allocation -- again, that is perfectly proportional under the rules -- Santorum would gain some delegates on Romney, but not nearly to the extent laid out above. The point is that this issue is anything but settled and both RWB and the Santorum campaign are only providing the polar opposite of the current allocation; a polar opposite with several options in between it and a winner-take-all allocation.

Additional note: It is poor form to cherrypick certain bits of rule 15 without considering the whole rule (see below for more of this).

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Idaho:
Romney: 32

Idaho (RWB interpretation):
Romney: 20
Santorum: 6
Gingrich: 6

Puerto Rico:
Romney: 20

Puerto Rico (RWB interpretation):
Romney: 18
Santorum: 2

FHQ notes: These are just painful to read. It is an absolutely laughable proposition to claim that either Idaho or Puerto Rico are not abiding by the rules. Did both end up being winner-take-all in their final allocations? Yes, but that is because -- in a manner compliant with the RNC definition of proportionality -- Mitt Romney won over 50% of the vote in each. Again, that is the minimum conditional threshold by which a state with a primary or caucus before April 1 can allocate delegates winner-take-all if it chooses. If a candidate is over a majority of the vote that candidate receives all of that state's delegates. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote then the allocation is proportional. This is A-OK with RNC rules. There is no "valid and viable challenge" that Santorum can bring on this. None. Idaho and Puerto Rico are compliant. Ridiculous.

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Michigan:
Romney: 16
Santorum: 14

Michigan (RWB interpretation):
Romney: 15
Santorum: 15

FHQ notes: I've dealt with this one already, but the bottom line is that at least those two at-large delegates should be looked at in Michigan. The original plan called for the full -- unpenalized -- allotment of at-large delegates be proportionally allocated to candidates over the 15% threshold. The Michigan Republican Party did a bad job of rolling out the altered plan to allocate its delegates and a winner-take-all allocation of the at-large delegates is a violation of the RNC rules on the same grounds as Florida and Arizona.

Of course, if this whole thing comes down to one delegate...

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I don't know that I have the heart to address the Red, White and Blue Fund's position on the delegate allocation in the islands. Here is that rationale via Jon Ward at HuffPo:

Torchinsky said the estimates that Santorum can pick up delegates in the territories were "educated guesses based on rough numbers," rather than being based on any real political intelligence. 
"Seems that of 18 people, convincing 4 that Rick is the right guy is reasonable," Torchinsky told HuffPost.

FHQ notes: Really!?!

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Look, as FHQ mentioned last week in response to the Santorum campaign delegate count conference call -- a count that differs from the RWB's tortured math -- I take them at their word on their efforts in the non-binding caucus states. Can Santorum overperform in the delegate allocation relative to the vote share in those non-binding straw polls? Sure. Will they? That remains to be seen and it is certainly true that they are not the only campaign attempting to pull off such a feat. The Santorum folks are not operating in a vacuum in that regard. Bernstein argues -- and I agree -- that it is those with enthusiasm and organization who will be well-positioned to do well with unbound delegates in the non-binding caucus states.

Even if we give Santorum all of the unbound delegates (336) -- right now and not when they will actually be allocated -- the former Pennsylvania senator only just edges ahead of Romney by 27 delegates in FHQ's count. That's all. And that's before any of the April contests that favor Romney anyway. [Note also that that 336 unbound delegates includes automatic delegates from states that have held contests thus far. Of the automatic delegates who have endorsed a candidate to this point in the race, Romney has gotten the nod from 86% of them. There are only about 85 total automatic delegates left to endorse.]

Yeah, but wouldn't that hurt Romney's efforts to get to 1144? It would, but the jury is still out on exactly how close that would cut it for the former Massachusetts governor.

...stay tuned on that front.

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1 I suppose a couple of tweets on the matter weren't enough from FHQ. Truth be told, I was going to come back to this anyway, but thought this memo might have disappeared. Apparently not.
RWB Delegate Analysis 3-22-2012

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There's a reason the Santorum campaign didn't mention West Virginia in its delegate conference call last week

If you listened in on or followed the parallel twitter conversation around the Santorum campaign conference call last week on the delegate math, you heard that...
  1. ...the April contests were hardly mentioned and/or...
  2. ...the campaign views May as much friendly -- delegate-wise -- territory.
To expand on the second point, the Santorum campaign revealed that it is looking ahead/emphasizing contests like North Carolina, Arkansas, Kentucky and Texas. All of those are southern/border states where the Santorum candidacy can or could conceivably resonate with voters. Given the geography/demography of where/who the former Pennsylvania senator has done will in/with, this makes sense.

But do you know which state is missing from the list? West Virginia.

Why?

The Mountain state is obviously a state where one could see if not Santorum doing well, then Romney not faring so well (...with Santorum or another candidate doing well by default). [See, for example, below the national average statistics for income and education.] If that happens to be the case, then why is the Santorum campaign not targeting West Virginia. The argument could be made that West Virginia does not represent that big of a delegate haul and with only 28 contested delegates at stake, that's fair. It is not as delegate-rich as any of the above target states.

The main factor hurting Santorum, however, is the same problem his campaign has had elsewhere: ballot access. That is, ballot access not so much for him, but for him both statewide and in each of the congressional districts or with getting delegates on the ballot. In West Virginia, the problem is a combination of the two. Santorum is on the ballot, but like Illinois, that vote is meaningless. Primary voters in West Virginia on May 8 will also directly elect delegates -- both at-large and by congressional district. There are 19 at-large delegate slots in West Virginia. Romney has filed 24 delegates, Gingrich 23 and Paul 19. Santorum has three delegates who his campaign has filed or have both filed and are committed to his candidacy.

Additionally, there are three delegate slots per each of the three West Virginia congressional districts. Romney has filed at least seven delegates in each of the districts, Gingrich has filed at least three delegates in each district (with double that number in one district and over triple the minimum in another), and Paul has filed the minimum full slate of three in each district. Santorum? Well, the former senator filed two delegates in the first congressional district and that is it. He will not have Santorum delegates on the ballot for the congressional district spots in either the second or third congressional district.

Now, to be fair that isn't all she wrote. There are other options at the disposal of Santorum/not Romney supporters. Again, both Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich have full slates of delegates filed. But there are also a host of uncommitted delegates who have filed as well. There are 42 uncommitted at-large delegates filed statewide and there are seven, 10 and 11 uncommitted delegates filed in the first, second and third congressional districts, respectively. Voters also have the option of writing in names on the West Virginia ballot. The catch with coordinating either uncommitted slate voting and/or a write-in campaign is that that will take campaign organization and discipline to pull off.1

That may be organization/discipline that is more efficiently expended elsewhere -- in more delegate-rich states, for instance -- than in West Virginia. That said, the Mountain state is another one of those potential missed opportunities for Santorum; a place where he could do well, but may have to hope for Gingrich or Paul to exceed expectations to prevent Romney from getting any or many of the delegates from that loophole primary because he -- Santorum -- is not on the ballot. Once again, in an overall sense, this speaks to the difficulty in running an ad hoc campaign organization against a well-organized, well-funded frontrunner; even if it is a nominal frontrunner.

It is tough to play catch up on the fly.

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1 Of course, to the extent that uncommitted delegates emerge from these elections, those are free agents that any of the campaigns, Santorum included, can go after.


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Race to 1144: Louisiana Primary

The Myth of Proportionality's Impact is Dead

2012 Republican Delegate Allocation: Louisiana


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Monday, March 26, 2012

Race to 1144: Louisiana Primary


Source:
Contest Delegates (via contest results and rules, and RNC, Georgia Secretary of State)
Automatic Delegates (Democratic Convention Watch)

Delegate breakdown (post-Louisiana):


Changes since Illinois (3/21/12):
Romney: +7 delegates (Louisiana: +5, Georgia: +1, New Hampshire: +11)
Santorum: +10 delegates (Louisiana: +10)
Gingrich: -1 delegate (Georgia: -1)

Notes:
1) Those who have been following these updates closely will notice that the "Uncommitted" column in the spreadsheet above has been made primary red (unbound/unpledged) instead of maroon (bound/pledged) as it has been in previous publications. This brings up an interesting quirk in the delegate classification. While those delegates -- one each in the Virgin Islands and Wyoming and 10 now from Louisiana -- have been allocated, they are no more bound/pledged to any candidate than the unallocated/unbound/unpledged delegates that Santorum would have been entitled to in, say, Ohio (if he had been on the ballot across all of the Buckeye state) or the automatic delegates. So while these uncommitted delegates have been allocated, they are unbound according to the RNC count. FHQ will treat them as such as well. NOTE: The two uncommitted delegates -- before Louisiana -- were not included in the bar chart previously. Those are now included in the "Unbound" total both on the chart and in the spreadsheet.

2) There was a very interesting discussion Saturday night as the Louisiana returns were coming in as to the true nature of the delegate allocation in the state. FHQ's reading of the allocation was that the Louisiana Republican method is set up in such a way as to push "extra" delegates -- those not claimed by candidates under the threshold -- into the uncommitted category as opposed to being reallocated to the candidates above the threshold. The Green Papers, however, persuasively argued from a legalistic standpoint, that the language and order of the allocation rules embedded rule 20(b) indicated that those delegates would in reality be allocated to Santorum and Romney. Instead of a 10 (Santorum)-5 (Romney)-5 (uncommitted) distribution, the count would have been or should be 13 (Santorum)-7 (Romney). FHQ doesn't have a dog is this "fight". We are willing to defer to the RNC or LAGOP on the matter. And in a press release put out by LAGOP on Sunday, it appears that the 10-5-5 allocation is their interpretation of the allocation rules:
Based upon the unofficial election results from the Secretary of State, Rick Santorum has won 10 delegates with 49.07% of the vote.  Mitt Romney came in second with 5 delegates with 26.62% of the vote. Both Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul did not meet the threshold of 25% of voters required in order to garner delegates. As a result, neither Gingrich or Paul will be allocated delegates and five of the twenty delegates will go uncommitted to the National Convention.  
3) Speaking of thresholds, can someone explain to FHQ how the 25% threshold that the Louisiana Republican Party is using is within the RNC rules? My reading of the rules -- certainly subject to being incorrect -- is that the highest that threshold can be is 20%. Though this is curious, a challenge is futile on at least one front: Dropping the eligibility line for delegates to 20% would not alter the delegate allocation described above. Yet, it is still a violation of the rules and though it does not alter the delegate allocation, it could open the state up to the 50% delegate penalty for violating the rules. Imagine a scenario -- Yes, for the love of all that is holy, this is VERY far-fetched, but bear with me here for the sake of the exercise. -- where Romney is close enough to the 1144 1132 delegates necessary to clinch the nomination that losing two or three delegates in a penalized Louisiana delegation would keep the former Massachusetts governor under 1144 1132.2 That would have Santorum, well, taking one for the team, and taking a greater delegate hit from the challenge in an effort to keep Romney under 1144 1132.  Is Romney likely to be that close to 1144 1132 that just a handful of delegates could make a difference? Probably not, but a penalized Louisiana along with proportionally allocated Arizona and Florida delegates might provide the Santorum camp with a little more ammunition in keeping Romney under 1144 1132. Will that happen? No.

...but it is a fun scenario to think about.

4) The allocation of the delegates in Georgia is based on the most recent vote returns published online by the office of the Georgia Secretary of State. The allocation here differs from the RNC allocation in Georgia. The above grants Gingrich one additional delegate (which has been taken from Romney's total). ***UPDATE*** Due to the way the Georgia Republican Party rounds fractional delegates, the FHQ count was off by one delegate (+Romney/-Gingrich). The congressional district count is unaffected (Gingrich 31, Romney, 8 and Santorum 3), but the way the at-large delegates are allocated to Gingrich and Romney -- the only candidates over 20% statewide -- is a bit quirky. Gingrich's portion of the vote would have entitled him to 14.6 delegates and Romney's 8.0. Under Georgia Republican rules, Gingrich is given 14 delegates and Romney 8. That leaves nine delegates unclaimed because the remaining candidates did not clear the 20% threshold. The candidate with the highest "remainder" is awarded the first delegate and the candidates over 20% trade turns until all of those delegates are allocated. Remember, Gingrich did not round up to 15 delegates (14.6), but that 0.6 gives him a larger "remainder" than Romney. The former speaker, then, is allocated the first of nine delegates. With an odd number of delegates leftover, Gingrich would have a fifth turn after Romney's fourth and that would end the allocation of those "extra" delegates. Gingrich would claim five to Romney's four. Of the 31 at-large delegates, Gingrich is allocated 19 and Romney 12. Please note that for winning the statewide vote, Gingrich is allocated the three automatic delegates. That makes the final allocation Gingrich 53, Romney 20 and Santorum 3.

5) The Alabama primary results by congressional district have not been released by the Alabama Republican Party. The allocation above is based on the RNC interpretation of the allocation. The same is true in Tennessee

6)  Iowa Republican Party Chairman Spiker was a part of the Paul campaign in Iowa and resigned his position upon taking up the post of party chair. While he has expressed his intent to side with whomever the Republican nominee will be, Spiker has not also directly signaled any neutrality in the race. The door is open for his support of Paul at a potential contested convention. While FHQ includes Spiker in Paul's delegate total, it is necessary to make note of the possible future subtraction of one delegate that would bring the Texas congressman's total to 26.

--
1 Romney picked up the support of one of the two now-unbound Jon Huntsman delegates from New Hampshire. The RNC has considered those delegates unbound.

2 If Louisiana lost half of their delegation for a violation of the RNC delegate selection rules, that would reduce Louisiana's delegates to 23. That would, in turn, reduce the overall total number of delegates to 2263. A simple majority of 2263 is 1132 delegates. A hat tip to Sam G for bringing this back to my attention in the comments.

Recent Posts:
The Myth of Proportionality's Impact is Dead

2012 Republican Delegate Allocation: Louisiana

August Presidential Primary Resurrected in Kentucky Legislation


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Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Myth of Proportionality's Impact is Dead

FHQ and John Sides put together a short op-ed piece for Bloomberg View over the last couple of weeks. The premise was pretty simple: Much is being made of the changes to the Republican delegate selection rules in 2012, but what impact are those changes truly having on the race? FHQ has argued since the summer of 2011 that the true measure of change would be felt through the more evenly dispersed calendar of primaries and caucuses and that the new proportionality requirement would have minimal effects on the accrual of delegates throughout that calendar.

To test this John and I took the 2008 delegate selection rules -- a mix of proportional, winner-take-all, and other hybrid rules in between -- from the states that have held primaries or caucuses thus far in 2012 and simulated a reallocation of the delegates under those rules.  The results were revealing in the face of so many complaints from within some Republican circles that the new proportionality requirement is drawing out the current nomination process (...with the implication that the protracted fight is not helpful to the Republican Party or its standard bearer in the fall). Through the same point in the process -- post-Illinois -- Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul would all have lost delegates and Rick Santorum would have gained a handful. The net change to the current delegate margin between Romney and Santorum would  have been to have tightened it by 65 delegates. Instead of accelerating the process -- pushing Romney closer to the 1144 delegates necessary to clinch the nomination -- the 2008 delegate rules would actually have slowed things down (...while still providing Romney with a better than two to one delegate advantage over his nearest competitor).

--
From this came a rather strange series of critiques from Dana Houle (via Twitter). I'm not entirely sure what Mr. Houle was reading into or in our op-ed. But he did at one point seemingly attempt to make the piece about inserting the full 2008 Republican rules -- hyper-frontloaded calendar and all -- into the 2012 context as opposed to the intended isolation of the new proportionality requirement. [And FHQ has taken issue with Mr. Houle's interpretation of the Republican delegate selection rules in the past.] Again, FHQ has argued that the rules-based changes in how the process has progressed are almost solely due to the calendar.1

But Mr. Houle stretched this out into a discussion of the impact the new proportionality requirement has had, contending that changes to delegate allocation rules begets changes to candidate strategy or campaign tactics. Has the proportionality requirement changed how candidates have amassed delegates in 2012? It has, but that impact is minimal; negligible even.2 Has this had an impact on candidate strategy/campaign tactics? Perhaps, but FHQ would argue that the nature of that change, too, has been or would have been minimal as compared to a 2012 race under 2008 delegate selection rules.

Particularly interesting was Mr. Houle's contention that Ron Paul would have been "irrelevant" and that Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich would have been apt to "blow off a state rather than try to get some delegates here and there". Let's examine this. I enjoy the criticism, and the chance to clarify the bottom line here is a good thing.

January
3
Iowa:
2008: non-binding caucuses (unbound delegates)
2012: non-binding caucuses (unbound delegates)
Strategic change: none

10
New Hampshire:
2008: proportional primary
2012: proportional primary
Strategic change: none

21
South Carolina:
2008: winner-take-all primary statewide and by congressional district
2012: winner-take-all primary statewide and by congressional district
Strategic change: none

31
Florida:
2008: winner-take-all primary
2012: winner-take-all primary
Strategic change: none

February
4
Nevada:
2008: non-binding caucuses (unbound delegates)
2012: binding, proportional caucuses
Strategic change: Ah, well here's something. If Nevada had been non-binding in 2012 -- as the 2008 rules outlined -- perhaps the candidates would have "blown off" the Silver state and simply ceded it to Romney as was the case in 2008.3 It could also have been the case that "irrelevant" Ron Paul would have contested the caucuses in an effort to influence actual delegate selection process rather than focus on the non-binding straw poll as he has attempted in other similar 2012 contests. As for Gingrich and Santorum, maybe they skip ahead to Colorado or Minnesota, or maybe they treat Nevada as a non-binding caucus on par with those next contests and see no harm in the potential momentum a surprise win (or performing better than expected) would bring.

7
Colorado:
2008: non-binding caucuses (unbound delegates)
2012: non-binding caucuses (unbound delegates)
Strategic change: The presidential nomination process is sequential, so changes at one point create changes at subsequent sequential events. FHQ will grant Mr. Houle that. But that was never anything that we were arguing. The likely strategic change would have been minimal. Do I know? ...for sure? No, but I invite comments on how things -- outcomes -- would have changed.

Minnesota:
2008: non-binding caucuses (unbound delegates)
2012: non-binding caucuses (unbound delegates)
Strategic change: See Colorado

Missouri:
2008: winner-take-all primary
2012: non-binding primary/binding caucuses (in March)
Strategic change: This is a tough one. The process that produced the switch to a caucus system in Missouri was a chaotic one; rife with legislative division over what to do and a general misunderstanding of the primary system. One thing that drove the division was the threat of losing half of the delegation for holding a primary too early. That is a function of the calendar rule change (not the proportionality requirement) and was not what we were testing. We withheld Missouri from the reallocation simulation, or treated it as similarly unbound (as it was in 2012 -- unbound until the delegates are bound at the congressional district conventions and the state convention). But if we want to play of the game of Missouri holds a binding, winner-take-all primary on February 7, we can. Missouri would have lost half of the party's delegation -- cutting it to 26 total delegates -- and the winner-take-all allocation would have been under a similar level of threat of challenge (on par with Florida above). That would have added 26 delegates to Santorum's total. Would Santorum or even Gingrich have known that Missouri was going to be a good state for one or both of them beforehand? That is dubious. It would have been unclear ahead of time -- just as it was in reality in 2012 -- that was the case. One of the patterns that we have come to recognize as predictable -- evangelicals for Santorum -- had yet to emerge.

Now, I don't think that the Missouri GOP would have challenged the RNC rules and held a binding primary even in the absence of the proportionality requirement. However, if it had, that delegate boost would have helped Santorum push back on the chorus of "He won, but didn't win any delegates" charge that was lobbed at his campaign in the time after his February 7 sweep. And that may have put some additional pressure on Gingrich to drop out of the race.4 Whether that would have actually moved Gingrich, well...

11
Maine:
2008: non-binding caucuses (unbound delegates)
2012: non-binding caucuses (unbound delegates)
Strategic change: There is an issue of timing with the Maine caucuses in 2008 compared to 2012. Four years ago Maine Republicans held their caucuses across one weekend, but in 2012 the bulk of the caucuses stretched across two weekends. Most of the attention paid to Maine in 2012 occurred in the time after the February 7 contests and that likely would not have changed under 2008 rules. Attention would not have increased nor would other strategy have changed much in regard to the non-binding caucuses in the Pine Tree state.

28
Arizona:
2008: winner-take-all primary
2012: winner-take-all primary
Strategic change: none

Michigan:
2008: winner-take-all by congressional district/proportional statewide primary
2012: winner-take-all primary statewide and by congressional district
Strategic change: This is another tricky one. The Michigan GOP apportioned 1 delegate per each district in 2008 and let the remainder be proportionally allocated at-large delegates (based on the statewide result). In 2012, however, the state party opted to apportion two delegates per congressional district with just two leftover delegates to be at-large. The bottom line is that candidates would have had opportunities to win delegates in each plan whether by congressional districts in the 2012 plan or by proportional allocation of bigger pool of at-large delegates in 2008. Given the that the difference is just one delegate in the true allocation (16-14 in favor of Romney) versus the simulated allocation of delegates under 2008 rules (15-15 tie), the change was small. Again, there were opportunities in both plans for the same candidates who did well in that contest in 2012. Very little would have changed, particularly with Michigan sharing the spotlight with Arizona.

March
3
Washington:
2008: non-binding caucuses (unbound delegates) & winner-take-all by congressional district/proportional statewide primary
2012: non-binding caucuses (unbound delegates)
Strategic change: We could not simulate a primary that did not/does not exist in Washington in 2012. Since the Washington legislature eliminated it anyway, it would be impossible to include it in the simulation. The assumption, then, is that Washington would have held the same non-binding caucus under 2008 or 2012 rules and that there would have been no change in tactics as result.

6
Alaska:
2008: proportional caucuses
2012: proportional caucuses
Strategic change: none

Georgia:
2008: winner-take-all primary statewide and by congressional district
2012: proportional primary statewide, top two by congressional district (or winner-take-all if majority winner in district)
Strategic change: It would still have been a Gingrich state, but Romney and Santorum would have had opportunities in congressional districts. Would they have "blown off" Georgia to focus elsewhere? Maybe, but the Romney/Santorum's focus was mainly on Ohio anyway. Gingrich would have ended up with a greater number of delegates under the 2008 rules.

Idaho:
2008: proportional primary
2012: conditionally winner-take-all/proportional caucuses
Strategic change: There were larger delegate prizes on Super Tuesday that would have drawn the candidates away from Idaho regardless of the rules in a state that favored Mitt Romney anyway. Though it should be noted that Romney would have lost delegates in the Gem state under different rules due to the proportional primary in 2008. Ron Paul, perhaps, would not have gone to Idaho as it would not have been a caucus state under the 2008 rules.

Massachusetts:
2008: proportional primary
2012: proportional primary
Strategic change: None. The rules didn't change and neither did the fact that Romney was the former Bay state governor.

North Dakota:
2008: non-binding caucuses (unbound delegates)
2012: non-binding caucuses (unbound delegates)
Strategic change: none

Ohio:
2008: winner-take-all primary statewide and by congressional district
2012: winner-take-all primary by congressional district with conditionally winner-take-all/proportional allocation (majority winner takes all at-large delegates)
Strategic change: There are two ways of thinking about a change in the rules in Ohio. First of all, if the 2008 rules had been in place, Santorum still would have had opportunities to win delegates in congressional districts. Second, that race was competitive enough that proportional or winner-take-all, it would have brought the candidates' attention. Romney would have come out of Ohio with many more delegates under the 2008 rules.

Oklahoma:
2008: winner-take-all primary statewide and by congressional district
2012: conditionally winner-take-all/proportional primary statewide, top two/three in congressional districts
Strategic change: Like Ohio above for Romney, Santorum would have been the beneficiary in the Sooner state. The two states largely offset each other.

Tennessee:
2008: conditionally winner-take-all/proportional primary statewide, top two or proportional in congressional districts
2012: conditionally winner-take-all/proportional primary statewide, top two or proportional in congressional districts
Strategic change: none

Vermont:
2008: winner-take-all primary
2012: conditionally winner-take-all/proportional primary, winner-take-all by congressional district
Strategic change: There were too many other large prizes on Super Tuesday for things to have changed much from the campaigns' perspectives in Vermont. Romney would have gained delegates under the 2008 rules.

Virginia:
2008: winner-take-all primary
2012: conditionally winner-take-all primary statewide and winner-take-all by congressional district
Strategic change: Very little would have changed in Virginia due to the ballot situation. Romney would have gained three delegates and the automatic delegates under the 2008 rules, but little else would have changed.

10
Guam
2008: non-binding caucuses (unbound delegates)
2012: non-binding caucuses (unbound delegates)5
Strategic change: none

Kansas:
2008: winner-take-all caucuses statewide and by congressional district
2012: proportional caucuses statewide and winner-take-all by congressional district
Strategic change: Likely none. With Alabama and Mississippi on the horizon -- good states demographically by this point in the race for Santorum and/or Gingrich -- the focus was there already and would have been under the 2008 rules. Romney was also focused on those states. That would not have changed.

Northern Mariana Islands:
2008: non-binding caucuses (unbound delegates)
2012: non-binding caucuses (unbound delegates)5
Strategic change: none

Virgin Islands:
2008: non-binding caucuses (unbound delegates)
2012: non-binding caucuses (unbound delegates)5
Strategic change: none

Wyoming:
2008: non-binding county conventions
2012: non-binding county conventions
Strategic change: none

13
Alabama:
2008: conditionally winner-take-all/proportional primary statewide, conditionally winner-take-all/top two by congressional district
2012: conditionally winner-take-all/proportional primary statewide, conditionally winner-take-all/top two by congressional district
Strategic change: none

American Samoa:
2008: non-binding caucuses (unbound delegates)
2012: non-binding caucuses (unbound delegates)5
Strategic change: none

Hawaii:
2008: convention (unbound delegates)
2012: proportional caucuses
Strategic change: The big change here -- as was the case with Nevada above -- is that under the 2008 rules, the Hawaii delegates would have been unbound instead of proportionally allocated. That may have affected the (Paul, Romney and Santorum) campaigns' decisions to send one of their children each on a vacation/campaigning trip. But that's probably about it.

Mississippi:
2008: conditionally winner-take-all/proportional statewide and winner-take-all by congressional district
2012: proportional primary statewide and conditionally winner-take-all/top two or three by congressional district
Strategic change: With no change in Alabama rules-wise from 2008 to 2012, there may have been some shift in the focus to Mississippi under 2008 rules with the potential for a wider delegate margin from the state. Santorum would have gained from the switch to 2008 rules.

17
Missouri:
2008: winner-take-all primary
2012: non-binding primary/binding caucuses (in March)
Strategic change: See Missouri entry above. A non-binding caucus with no reporting of results is difficult to plan for. But if a winner-take-all primary had been scheduled for this date instead of a non-compliant February date, Missouri Republicans would have had a full apportionment of delegates. That would have changed the strategy around the contest, but the proportionality rule was not what led to switch to the caucuses.

18
Puerto Rico:
2008: conditionally winner-take-all/top two or three caucuses
2012: conditionally winner-take-all/proportional primary
Strategic change: The 2008 to 2012 change would have perhaps altered Santorum's decision to spend any time in Puerto Rico, but that depends upon whether you think the trip down there was vacation or not. The reality is that Romney won by enough to win all of the delegates under either delegate selection plan.

20
Illinois:
2008: loophole primary
2012: loophole primary
Strategic change: none

--
Would there have been strategic/tactical changes if the 2008 delegate allocation rules had been in place in 2012 instead of the current rules? Of course there would have been changes. Would those changes have affected where this race is now or the outcome of certain races? Probably not or at least I am hard pressed to think of a primary or caucus that would have changed or how the course of the race would have changed (...other than, say, at the margins). Over time, it may have caused the campaigns to shift more focus onto states that would have been favorable to one candidate or another, but that would have a canceling out effect. Santorum would have focused more on the South/prairie and won more delegates there while Romney would have focused minmal effort there and more in his areas of strength. The effect in the aggregate is very similar to the delegate situation the race is in at the moment.

What this exercise does shed even more light on is that the new proportionality requirement has had very little influence over the course of the 2012 Republican nomination race and minimal effects on the resultant strategy. The myth is dead. If the attempt is to pinpoint a rules change that is drawing the process out, then the finger should be pointed at the calendar rules changes (and state-level reactions to them) that produced the 2012 primary calendar.

FHQ gets the point Mr. Houle is trying to make. There are factors that cannot be accounted for in all of this. I won't argue that point because it is true. However, there is very little evidence that the presence/absence of the proportionality requirement would have fundamentally altered this race (or even altered it at the margins in ways that add up to even a small change in the course of the race). If anything, the delegate picture would look largely the same while the candidates would have potentially more greatly emphasize areas/regions/states of strength. And that would tend to reinforce the current (demographic to delegate) dynamics while ever so slightly closing the delegate gap.

[NOTE: FHQ will have more on this data throughout the weekend and into next week.]

--
1 There are obviously much different dynamics (outside of the rules) in this race than in 2008 or any other cycle. That is the nature of the presidential nomination process. You never know what you're going to get. Others will point to the impact Super PAC spending has had on the 2012 race as well. Both have more of an impact on all of this than the proportionality requirement.

2 Does the switch alter the delegate count? Yes. Does it change the state of the race as it is now? No, it doesn't. Romney would still have a healthy lead in the delegate count; just not quite as healthy.

3 Of course, Nevada shared the same date in 2008 as the South Carolina primary and that dynamic was what drove Romney's victory in the state. Had the Nevada caucuses been the only event on its caucus date in 2008 -- binding or not -- the candidates likely all would have been there.

4 And IF Missouri was binding and winner-take-all that may have caused the candidates to focus more of their efforts there instead of in either Minnesota or Colorado. But again, Missouri VERY likely would not have gone in that direction; opting instead to shift to a later caucus. The Missouri GOP was very wary of losing delegates and would have made the move regardless.

5 The island territories held conventions that both started and completed the delegate selection process. In each case, decisions were made to pledge/bind those delegates (in contrast with the other non-binding caucus states where the delegate allocation has yet to take place).


Recent Posts:
2012 Republican Delegate Allocation: Louisiana

August Presidential Primary Resurrected in Kentucky Legislation

Divining the Meaning of Illinois


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Friday, March 23, 2012

2012 Republican Delegate Allocation: Louisiana

This is the twenty-sixth in a multipart series of posts that will examine the Republican delegate allocation by state.1 The main goal of this exercise is to assess the rules for 2012 -- especially relative to 2008 -- in order to gauge the impact the changes to the rules along the winner-take-all/proportionality spectrum may have on the race for the Republican nomination. As FHQ has argued in the past, this has often been cast as a black and white change. That the RNC has winner-take-all rules and the Democrats have proportional rules. Beyond that, the changes have been wrongly interpreted in a great many cases as having made a 180º change from straight winner-take-all to straight proportional rules in all pre-April 1 primary and caucus states. That is not the case. 

The new requirement has been adopted in a number of different ways across the states. Some have moved to a conditional system where winner-take-all allocation is dependent upon one candidate receiving 50% or more of the vote and others have responded by making just the usually small sliver of a state's delegate apportionment from the national party -- at-large delegates -- proportional as mandated by the party. Those are just two examples. There are other variations in between that also allow state parties to comply with the rules. FHQ has long argued that the effect of this change would be to lengthen the process. However, the extent of the changes from four years ago is not as great as has been interpreted and points to the spacing of the 2012 primary calendar -- and how that interacts with the ongoing campaign -- being a much larger factor in the accumulation of delegates (Again, especially relative to the 2008 calendar).

For links to the other states' plans see the Republican Delegate Selection Plans by State section in the left sidebar under the calendar.


LOUISIANA

In Louisiana on Saturday we will finally have a state in the 2012 cycle that is allocating delegates based in part on a primary, but also in part on a caucus. We saw this in Texas on the Democratic side in 2008, but also in Washington and West Virginia four years ago on the Republican side. The two portions of the process operate independent of each other in terms of how the delegates are allocated. The pool of voters in the Saturday primary in Louisiana will not be the same group of congressional district caucusgoers (and state convention attendees) selecting the remaining delegates beginning in April (...but finalized in June at the state convention).

In any event the primary in Louisiana on Saturday kicks off the delegate selection process for Pelican state Republicans.

Louisiana delegate breakdown:
  • 46 total delegates
  • 25 at-large delegates
  • 18 congressional district delegates
  • 3 automatic delegates
At-large allocation: Right off the bat, the delegate selection process is a little quirky. At stake in the primary on Saturday are the at-large delegates. Well, a portion of the at-large delegates are a stake anyway. Of the 25 at-large delegates, five are already slated as uncommitted. All that Romney, Santorum, Gingrich and Paul are fighting over on Saturday, then, is 20 delegates. Those 20 delegates will be bound based on the vote in the primary. If one and only one candidate receives a greater than 25% share of the vote, then that candidate is entitled to his proportional share of those delegates while the rest remain uncommitted. If, however, no candidate is able to surpass the 25% threshold then all 20 delegates remain -- or become -- uncommitted.

Where the delegates allocation is likely to end up, though, is somewhere in between those two ends of the spectrum; with more than one candidate over the 25% threshold. If that is the case, then the candidates over the threshold will be allocated the delegates proportionally. But those candidates won't be allocated all 20 delegates between them. In some states we have witnessed rules that reallocate delegates that would have been bound to candidates under the threshold in a given state to the candidates who met or passed the barrier. For instance, Rick Santorum did not meet the 20% threshold statewide in Georgia to be eligible to receive any delegates. The delegates he would have been entitled to under strictly proportional rules were "reallocated" among Romney and Gingrich instead. Such as system is not obviously strictly proportional. [And mind you, this happens on the Democratic side as well.] This is in stark contrast to the proportional rules in Alaska where each candidate received a share of the delegates roughly proportional to his share of the presidential preference vote in the Alaska caucuses.

But Louisiana is different. Let's look at an example as a means of illustrating the point:
Assume Santorum receives 52% of the vote, Romney 26% and Gingrich and Paul split the remaining 22% evenly. That means that only Santorum and Romney are eligible for any of the 20 delegates at stake on Saturday. That would bind 10 delegates to Santorum and five delegates to Romney. Here is where the difference lies. Under a system like the one in Georgia described above, the other five (of 20) delegates would be allocated to Santorum and Romney; pushing Santorum to 13 delegates and Romney to 7. In an Alaska context, Gingrich and Paul would split those five delegates. However, in Louisiana, those five delegates go not to Romney and Santorum or Gingrich and Paul, but become uncommitted instead (see Rule 20.b of the Louisiana Republican Party Rules).2 That would mean -- given the vote breakdown above -- that Santorum would claim 10 delegates, Romney 5 and the remaining five would be uncommitted. And remember, Louisiana has a total of 25 at-large delegates. Five started out uncommitted. 
Translation? If Romney and Santorum are the only candidates over 25%, they need to maximize their collective vote share to insure that the base 5 uncommitted delegates does not grow (by much). The higher their collective vote share, the lower the number of uncommitted at-large delegates.

Congressional district allocation: On April 28 will hold congressional district caucuses to begin the process of actually selecting the delegates who will be bound (or unbound) to candidates based on the primary vote. All delegates -- at-large and congressional district -- will be selected at the state convention in Shreveport on June 2, including the 18 congressional district delegates.

Automatic delegate allocation: The three Louisiana automatic delegates are unbound and free to endorse/pledge themselves to any candidate they prefer (at any time).

The only portion of the full 46 member delegation that will be bound to any candidate or candidates will be determined by the primary vote this weekend.

--
1 FHQ would say 50 part, but that doesn't count the territories and Washington, DC.

2 Louisiana Republican Party delegate selection rules:
LAGOP 2012 Caucus and Convention Rules

Recent Posts:
August Presidential Primary Resurrected in Kentucky Legislation

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