After the first four states, Donald Trump has taken 81 of 133 delegates. However, between March 1 and March 6, eighteen states with over 800 delegates will begin the process. The Republicans rules require that the states going this week allocate their delegates proportionately if they have a preference vote, but only place very loose limits on what qualifies as proportional. For the states and territories going in this time period, there are four questions that each state must answer: 1) do we have a preference vote (for caucus states); 2) do we do proportional by congressional district or do we allocate all delegates by the statewide vote: 3) what is the minimum threshold to qualify for delegates (the rules allow up to 20%); and 4) is there a level at which the state becomes winner-take-all (the rules set a floor of 50%).
Two states, both going on March 1, will not have a preference vote — Colorado (37 delegates) and Wyoming (29 delegates). In Colorado, delegates will be elected to county assemblies which will meet later this month. Those county assemblies will elect delegates to the congressional district and state conventions. At those district and state conventions, delegates will be selected for the national convention. If a person running for national convention delegate pledges to support a specific candidate when they file to run for delegate, they are bound to support that candidate at the national convention. In Wyoming, the precinct meetings elect delegates to the county conventions. The 23 county conventions then elect 12 delegates and 12 alternates on March 12 (1 county elects both and the other 22 choose one or the other — alternating each cycle). The state convention chooses the last 17.
Seven states/territories opt to allocate all delegates by state-wide vote as follows:
March 1 — Alaska (caucus — 28 delegates) — 13% threshold to qualify, no winner-take-all provision; Massachusetts (primary — 42 delegates) — 5% threshold to qualify, no winner-take-all provision; Virginia (primary — 49 delegates) — no threshold, no winner-take-all provision); Vermont (primary — 16 delegates) — 20% threshold to qualify, 50% threshold for winner-take-all.
March 5 — Kentucky (caucus — 46 delegates) — 5% threshold to qualify. no winner-take-all provision; Maine (caucus — 23 delegates) — 10% threshold to qualify, 50% threshold for winner-take-all.
March 6 — Puerto Rico (primary — 23 delegates) — 20% threshold to qualify, 50% threshold for winner-take-all.
Nine states opt to allocate three delegates per congressional district by congressional district result. For these states, there is the additional question of how they define proportional. For some states, proportional means that if three or more make the threshold, the split is 2 to the winner, 1 to the runner-up, and 0 to any other candidate. For others, proportional means a 1-1-1 split by the top three if three candidates qualify. Finally, some mean true proportionately (meaning whether 2-1 or 1-1-1 depends upon the vote totals). These states are as follows:
March 1 — Alabama (primary — 21 CD delegates, 29 state-wide delegates) — 20% threshold to qualify (by district), 50% threshold for winner-take-all (by district), 2-1 split at district level; Arkansas (primary — 12 CD delegates, 28 state-wide delegates) — 15% threshold to qualify (by district), 50% threshold for winner-take-all (by district), 2-1 split at district level; Georgia (primary — 42 CD delegates, 34 state-wide delegates) — 20% threshold to qualify (by district), 50% for winner-take-all (by district), 2-1 split at district level.; Minnesota (caucus — 24 CD delegates, 14 state-wide delegates) — 10% threshold to qualify (by district), 85% threshold (by state-wide) for winner-take-all (all delegates), true proportions at district level; Oklahoma (primary — 15 CD delegates, 28 state-wide delegates) — 15% threshold to qualify (by district), 50% for winner-take-all (by district), 1-1-1 split at district level; Tennessee (primary — 27 CD delegates, 31 state-wide delegates) — 20% threshold to qualify (by district), 66.6667% for winner-take-all (by district), 2-1 split at district level; Texas (primary — 108 CD delegates, 47 state-wide delegates) — 20% threshold to qualify (by district); 50% for winner-take-all (by district), 2-1 split at district level.
Both of the March 5 states have weird rules. Kansas has a 10% threshold to qualify with no winner-take-all provision and uses true proportionality at the district level. However, proportionality only applies to the 12 CD delegates and the 15 at-large state-wide delegates. The three automatic delegates go to the candidate who finishes first.
Louisiana has a rule somewhat similar to New Hampshire. The 18 congressional district delegates are proportionately allocate with a 20% threshold with no winner-take-all provision and true proportionality. The twenty-eight state-wide delegates are proportionately allocated based on the total state-wide vote. Like New Hampshire, delegate allocation for the state-wide delegates occurs first. After delegates have been allocated, only candidates who meet the threshold (20% in Louisiana) keep their delegates. In Louisiana (unlike New Hampshire which gave these orphan delegates to the winner), the delegates “won” by candidates who failed to meet the threshold become uncommitted delegates.
With only 5 candidates still running, it is likely that at least two (and in most cases at least three) candidates will qualify for delegates in most states and most congressional districts and that (with a handful of exceptions) none of the winner-take-all provisions will be triggered. The real battle will be in the 70 congressional districts from states that do a 2-1 split. Donald Trump will probably finish in the top two in most of these districts. For both Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. they need to make the top two in most of these districts and finish first in the majority of these districts. (They could also use finishing first in one or two states.) If Trump gets 2 delegates in 55 or more of these districts, the chances of the other candidates to stop Trump will become much slimmer. (With proportionality, Trump will probably get less than 50% of the delegates at stake this week. The difference between a Trump who gets 250-70 out of 800 and a Trump who gets 340-60 out of 800 is huge for the rest of the candidates ability to get enough delegates to win on the first ballot). For John Kasich, he needs solid second place finishes in states like Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Vermont.
Kasich is the one most likely to drop out by the end of the week. Cruz and Rubio can probably continue for a little bit longer with numbers in the mid-20s, hoping to be the last man standing (on the theory that Trump will not be able get 50% in any state, meaning that in the winner-take-all states to come, these candidates can quickly close the gap). While getting wins is still nice and something that candidates can use to prove that they are still competitive, this is the week when the delegate count becomes significant. Three candidates within 100 delegates of each other is a race. Two candidates tied for second at 200 delegates while the leader has 400 delegates is not a race.