Delegate Math — Week of March 7

As votes are being counted this evening (with each party having one contest scheduled for Sunday), time to look at the week ahead.  As with the previous week, all of the contests in both parties use proportional allocation of delegates (except the Republicans in Wyoming).  However, for the Republicans, each state gets to pick their own threshold (including potentially setting a threshold for winner-take-all) and decide whether to allocate all of the delegates based on the statewide result or allocate some delegates by congressional district.  For the Democrats, the key issue is how many delegates in each pool of delegate (district-by-district, at-large, and pledged party leader).  This upcoming week, there will be fewer contests — 4 for the Democrats and five and a half for the Republicans.

Starting with the Democrats, the four contests for this week are Democrats Abroad; Michigan,  Mississippi, and the Northern Marianas.

The Democrats Abroad actually started voting this past Tuesday, but the last day to vote is March 8 (There are voting centers in certain, mostly friendly countries, but otherwise voting is by mail, fax, and internet.)  The complicating factor for discussing the Democrats Abroad delegation is their “district” delegates.   The Democrats Abroad have three regions in place of district — the Americas, Asia-Pacific, and Africa-Europe-Middle East.  While the three regions will have a total of nine delegates, how many delegates each region gets will be determined based on that region’s share of the total vote.  Based on the over-all vote, there will be three at-large delegates and one pledged party leader (so a 3-1 split in favor of the candidate that finishes first)

March 8 is also the primaries in Michigan and Mississippi.  Michigan has fourteen congressional districts with eighty-five total district delegates (ranging from five to nine per district), seventeen pledged party leader delegates, and twenty-eight at-large delegates.  Mississippi has four congressional districts with twenty-three total delegates (ranging from four to nine per district), five party leader delegates, and eight at-large delegates.  By the numbers:  4 delegates (takes 62.5% to win three ) — Mississippi 4th; 5 — Michigan 2nd, Michigan 3rd, Michigan 4th, Michigan 6th, Michigan 7th, Michigan 8th, Michigan 10th, Mississippi 1st, Mississippi 3rd, Mississippi pledged party leaders (winner gets three, takes 70% to win four); 6 — Michigan 1st, Michigan 9th, Michigan 11th (takes 58.35% to win four); 7 — Michigan 5th, Michigan 12th (winner gets four, takes 64.3% to get five); 8 — Mississippi at-large (takes 56.26% to get five); 9 — Michigan 13th, Michigan 14th, Mississippi 2nd (winner gets five take 61.2% to get six); 17 — Michigan pledged party leader (winner gets nine,  takes 5.9% for each additional delegate); 28 — Michigan at-large (takes 51.8% to get fifteen, 3.6% for each additional delegate).

March 12 is the territory convention for the Northern Marianas which has six delegates (see above for percentage to get four delegates).

March 8 is the big day for the Republicans.  Besides the primaries in Michigan and Mississippi, they will have a caucus in Hawaii and a primary in Idaho.  Both Idaho and Michigan allocate all of their delegates (32 in Idaho, 59 in Michigan) by the state-wide result.  Idaho uses a 20% threshold to qualify for delegates, and Michigan uses a 15% threshold.  If a candidate reaches 50% in either state, they win all of that state’s delegates.  Mississippi awards three delegates in each of the congressional district (using the same 2-1 split as many of the other southern states unless a candidate gets to 50% of the vote in which case that candidate gets all of the delegates).  For the twenty-eight at-large delegates, Mississippi uses a 15% threshold with apparently no winner-take-all provision.  The Hawaii caucuses are a little like the Kansas caucuses — delegates are awarded by congressional district with delegates rounded up to the next whole number for both state-wide and district delegates.  There is one twist, however, before calculating delegates, the candidates percentage is rounded up to the next whole number (thus 33.1% becomes 34% which at the congressional level is 1.02 delegates rounded up to 2 delegates, all but guaranteeing a 2-1 split given only four candidates left).

On Saturday, Republicans in D.C. (nineteen delegates) will caucus.  D.C. has a 15% threshold and become winner-take-all if anybody gets 50%.  Finally Wyoming will hold its county conventions.  As discussed last week, twenty-two of Wyoming’s counties are paired up with the counties alternating which of the two gets a delegate and which gets an alternate to the national convention.  The last county, Laramie, gets to elect both a delegate and an alternate.  Thus, twelve national convention delegates will be elected on Saturday.  (The remaining fourteen will be elected in April at the state convention.)  Candidates for delegate must declare their presidential preference, and they are bound to that preference at the national convention.

On the Republican side, this week is the last week of the two week-window in which states have to use some form of proportional allocation.  However, the 2-1 split used by many states for congressional district delegates still allows candidates to build up large delegate totals in the states that they win (e.g. Senator Cruz in Texas, Donald Trump in Georgia).  The large threshold (20% in some states) also increases the delegate haul for the winner when the third-placed candidate barely misses qualifying.  With the race being down to four candidates, the question remains can Senator Rubio and Governor Kasich find areas where they can win (especially when some states become winner-take-all or winner-take most) or get a significant delegate haul.    If they can’t, this race may be a two-candidate race between evil and eviler by the end of March.  That outcome might favor Senator Cruz.  So far, even when he wins, Trump is struggling to get above 35% — a number good enough for first in a four-way race, but a landslide loss in a two-way race.  The Republican establishment could live with a four-way race as long as each the non-Trump candidates can focus on the states that they can win and avoid splitting the vote in a way that allows Trump to sneak by with a narrow win.

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