Category Archives: GOP

Primary End Game — Republicans

As April begins to turn into May, delegate counts become key.  This site has typically used the count at www.thegreenpapers.com as a good count — mostly because the Green Papers shows its work — exactly how it calculates the delegate counts.  Actually, the Green Papers has four separate counts.  What those different counts mean for the next two months is the main focus of this post.  To explain the terminology that the Green Papers uses, the Green Papers distinguishes between hard counts and soft counts.  The hard count is the actual number of delegates actually won to date.  The soft count has three components — the soft pledged count, the soft unpledged  count, and the soft total.  These components have slightly different meanings for the two parties given the difference in the rules of the two parties.  This post looks in a general sense at what these counts mean — primarily looking at the delegates from the states that have already voted — for the Republicans.

For the Republican Party, because delegates are bound by either the initial presidential preference vote or the delegate’s pledge when they ran for delegate (in certain caucus states, Illinois, and West Virginia), the hard count and the soft pledged count is, for the most part, the same for all of the candidates and differs only for uncommitted.   Soft unpledged (for the most part) represents officially uncommitted delegates who have announced their non-binding support for a candidate.  Additionally, for Colorado and Wyoming, the Green Papers treats the automatic delegates as “available” but for American Samoa, Guam, North Dakota, and the Virgin Islands, the Green Papers treat these delegates as uncommitted.  The actual status appears to be the same for both sets of automatic delegates — because there was no preference vote, these delegates are not bound to support any of the candidates.

For the Republican Party, all that truly matters for now is the hard count.   Including the automatic delegates from Colorado and Wyoming and the 54 district-level delegates from Pennsylvania, there will be 124 unbound delegates available on June 8 (128 if the original delegation from the Virgin Islands is seated by the Convention).  Of those 124 delegates, 18 will be the party leaders (party chair and RNC members) from the three states and three territories that did not hold a preference vote.  The other 106 or 110 will be the individual elected as uncommitted delegates in Colorado (4), American Samoa (6), Guam (6), North Dakota (25), Virgin Islands (2 or 6), Wyoming (1),  Louisiana (5), Oklahoma (3),  and Pennsylvania (54).  In addition to the uncommitted delegates, there are the delegates won by the other candidates.  As discussed last month, as best as can be determined, sixty-nine of these delegates are effectively unbound and another 44 could be released by the candidate to whom they are bound.  Presumably Ben Carson will release his nine delegates, but the other 35 might be kept bound if the remaining candidates are firmly opposed to Trump.  (Given the binding rules, it is hard to see how any candidate other than Trump could win on the first ballot.  If it gets to the second ballot, everything is up in the air.)  The key for unbound delegates is that tentative pledges by these delegates (including guesses as to which way these delegates are believed to be leaning) are not binding or set in stone.  Depending upon how the rest of the campaign goes, they are free to change their mind. Continue Reading...

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Delegate Math: Week of April 25

New York this past week was huge for the front runners in both parties.  For both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the results in New York essentially offset everything that has happened over the past several weeks.  On the Republican side, the race stands essentially where it stood on April 1 except for 223 more delegates allocated.  On the Democratic side, the race stands essentially where it stood on March 14 except for 1197 more delegates allocated.  In other words, the New York reset basically gave Trump a glimmer of hope that he can win enough delegates to get the nomination while it put Clinton back in control of the Democratic race.  This week’s primaries feature five states that comprise the rest of the Mid-Atlantic (Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania) and the last two New England states (Connecticut and Rhode Island).  For both Trump and Clinton, the hope is that this week will be mostly a repeat of New York.  For Trump that hope is a necessity because he still is behind where he needs to be on the delegate count and May is a little less friendly than this week.  Clinton also faces a potentially weaker performance in May, but she is fast approaching the point where it is mathematically impossible for Sanders to catchup on the pledged delegate count (much less the popular vote count).

Starting with the Republicans, the simplest state is Delaware — 16 delegates — winner-take-all.  There has not been much (if any polling) In Delaware.  Given the polls in neighboring states, Trump looks like the favorite to win in Delaware unless the supporters of Cruz and Kasich can unite to block him.

Maryland is only a little more complex — a winner-take-most state.  Maryland has eight congressional districts and the winner in each of those districts will take three delegates while the state-wide winner will take fourteen delegates.  Polling puts Trump near 40% with Cruz and Kasich tied for second.  There are potentially some districts that Cruz or Kasich could take.  Strategic voting would probably keep Trump from getting 12 or 15 delegates. Continue Reading...

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Convention Games

As each week passes, it is looking more and more likely that the Republicans are facing the great white whale of politics geeks — the contested convention.  While as discussed earlier, it is likely that the campaigns will maneuver to change the rules governing the convention, there are also some games that the candidates can play within the existing rules as set forth in the Rules of the Republican Party.

We have already seen one type of game being played — trying to “steal” pledged delegates.  As noted at this site, the national rules of the Republican Party do not give candidates the right to have input into the delegates pledged for that candidate, leaving it to the states to define what role (if any) candidates have in delegate selection.   As the folks at 538 have noted, the majority of Republican delegates are selected by party conventions or committees.  While each state has slightly different rules, a candidate with a good delegate selection strategy can slip his supporters into slots allocated to other candidates.  While these delegates are supposedly bound by state party rules and Rule 16 to vote according to their pledge on the first ballot, those state rules only bind the delegates for a certain number of ballots (mostly only the first ballot).  If nobody gets a majority on the first ballot, these stolen delegates could decide who wins on the second or third ballot.

The other games involve interpretation of the rules and the use of uncommitted delegates. Continue Reading...

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The Rules of the Convention: Part Four — Issues for the Convention

As discussed in the previous three parts (particularly part one and part three) of this series, the rules for the two conventions are currently simply a first draft set forth in the Rules of the Republican Party (on the Republican Side) and the Call for the Convention (on the Democratic side).  When the rules committees of the two conventions meet this summer before the conventions, they will need to decide what needs to be fixed for this convention and what can wait until after the convention.

On the Democratic side, this debate will be relatively simple.  In all likelihood, the candidate with the most pledged delegates will also have the most total delegates and will control the majority of the rules committee.  Given the input that candidates have on delegate selection, it is unlikely that the delegates would approve any rules changes that dramatically alter the business of the convention.  Additionally, the fact that both of the major candidates will have enough members on each of the committees to write a minority report will put a brake on any major rule changes.  While the general purpose of the rules is to manage the business of keeping the convention running smoothly, this balance of power on the Rules Committee tends to discourage attempts to use the rules to silence the trailing candidates at a Democratic Convention.   While there are certainly minor changes that people looking at the call might want to do, most of the Democratic debate about the convention involve things like unpledged party leader delegates that are not part of the rules of the convention.  The issue about whether to make any changes to the role of these super delegates are an issue for after the convention.

The same can’t be said about the Republicans — particularly if no candidate heads into Cleveland with more than 1,100 delegates.  In a contested convention, everything about the Republican rules will be open for discussion in the Rules Committee. Continue Reading...

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Catching Up

I haven’t posted in several weeks as I ended up getting actual Influenza A (and yes, I took the vaccine). I’m not saying it was rough, but I didn’t even care that there were primaries and caucuses because I couldn’t raise my head. For those of you who know me personally, you’ll understand how low I was when I mention that for more than two weeks, I didn’t have even a sip of coffee.

There is so much to catch up on. First, Bernie is on a roll, and I have received a lot of emails and texts asking whether or not he can actually get the nomination. The answer is a full maybe. First off, those pledged delegates from the caucus states can move, as they did last Saturday as the process moves from election day to the county, district and state conventions. The split in Nevada has so far moved from 20 – 15 Clinton to 18 – 17 Clinton, but there are 8 additional delegates to allocate and the State convention in May. Maine is another state that could reallocate delegates. Will it be enough? Amazingly, it will depend on places like New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania and California which are normally non-starters in the primary race.

While everyone (including DCW) looks at the full delegate total, including Super Delegates, my math is a little different. Continue Reading...

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The Rules of the Convention: Part Three — Organization of the Convention and Nomination Process

In July, the individuals elected as delegates to their party’s conventions will show up in Cleveland and Philadelphia to select the nominees of their party.  As noted in Part One, each party has temporary rules:  the Republican rules contained in the “Rules of the Republican Party” and the Democratic  Rules contained in the “Call for the Convention.”  These temporary rules do include several committees that will meet before the convention to work on some of the details of the convention, including a rules committee for drafting the permanent rules.

The rules for both parties have some similarities.  There are two big differences, however.  The first involves the composition of the convention committees.  The second involves the process for voting on a nominee.

Continue Reading...

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Rubio requests his delegates stay bound #rnc2016

Note the typo on the first line
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Update from Matt: Alaska says Rubio will get his 5 delegates back.

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The Rules of the Convention: Part Two — Delegate Selection and Binding

In multiple past posts, I and others on this site have discussed the procedures by which delegates are allocated to the states and how candidates then win delegate slots.  This post deals with the process by which real live human beings are chosen to fill those delegate slots.  When the nominee of the party is settled before the convention, the actual people serving as delegates simply confirm that decision.  In a contested convention, the delegates will have to actually decide the nominee of the party.  In such a circumstance, who is filling those slots can become very significant.

As with the more general rules, there are some similarities between the Democratic rules and the Republican rules.  There are, however, very significant differences — particularly in how the two parties assure that the delegates are actually loyal to their supposed candidate.

Continue Reading...

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The Rules of the Convention: Part One — The Basics

Normally, the rules of the two national conventions are an after-thought.  One candidate gains a significant lead in early March and the rest of the candidates drop out.  The convention becomes a coronation and the rules only matter to insiders.  This year, however, both parties may have two (or more) candidates fighting into June .  At that point, the rules may become crucial to bringing an end to the race.

This post will cover some of the basics in the rule.  With the race now entering a “calm period” with Wisconsin on April 5 and New York on April 19 before the pace picks back up on April 26, my hope is to reach at least three other topics over the next several weeks:  1) delegate selection; 2) the running of the convention itself; and 3) what might change between now and the conventions.

Continue Reading...

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Watching the Republicans

Summary of research for the Republican Autopsy, 2012

Summary of research for the Republican Autopsy, 2012

Let’s review.  Back in 2012, the GOP decided to do an autopsy of what went wrong with Mitt Romney and the 2012 election. (For those of us keeping score, the highlight was watching the Karl Rove meltdown. Sorry, couldn’t help myself.) Reince Priebus selected people with gravitas to undertake the study,  including Ari Fleischer and Haley Barbour, and the team interviewed over 52,000 Republicans. They reached conclusions related to being more inclusive, changing their messaging, and doing serious outreach. I’m not making this up, you can read it here.  Had they done any of those things, this would be a different March of 2016.

But they did the exact opposite, and then when the poster child for the absolute worst parts of the Republican Party started a campaign, they made fun of him, and wrote him off. And so today, their presumptive candidate is Donald Trump and they’re floundering for a way to cheat him out of the nomination.

The rhetoric yesterday was amazing. Utilizing, or potentially changing Rule 40, Currently, this rule says that unless a candidate has won eight states outright, his name cannot be entered in nomination. As of this writing, Trump has won 19 states, Cruz 7, Rubio 3 and Kasich 1. Cruz may well get his eighth (think Utah) but Rubio is out, and Kasich has a heavy lift. Notwithstanding the delegate count, which is a mixture of proportional, semi-proportional and winner-take-all, it’s basically down to two on the floor. This also precludes the floated Republican plan of Paul Ryan or someone else who wasn’t part of the primary elections. This rule was enacted to stop Ron Paul in 2012, after the shenanigans they used in 2008 to invalidate his delegates in Saint Paul. The GOP is infamous in its ability to move the goalposts so they’ll likely screw with the rule, but Trump is different. Really: take the quiz. Continue Reading...

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