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Tag Archives: 2016 Republican Convention
At this time of every cycle, the media begins to speculate about the possibility of a brokered convention. The speculation rarely goes much further than talking head and the blogosphere. Over the past fifty years, there have only been a handful of election cycles in which the ultimate result has been in doubt by the end of the primary process. The last time that a major party took more than one ballot to choose its nominee was the 1952 Democratic Convention. This time around, however, the leadership of the Republican Party is talking about the possibility of a brokered convention (although only behind closed doors). What is different with this cycle?
As noted earlier this year, the Republican nomination process is, in some ways, more complex than the Democratic nomination process because the Republican Party gives states more discretion in setting the rules for delegate allocation to candidates. The Democratic Party follows relatively uniform rules in which approximately two-thirds of the pledged delegates are proportionately allocated by the results in each Congressional District and one-third of the pledged delegates are proportionately allocated by the results state-wide with a 15% threshold for each. The complexity on the Democratic side is in figuring out the number of at-large delegates and in each district and working the math on the tipping points for winning a delegate. On the Republican side, each state has different rules. Yesterday, the Republican National Committee released a summary of the rules adopted by each state.
For the most part, the Republican rules allocate the delegates to the states (each state getting three per congressional district, and ten at-large delegates with states eligible to get additional at-large delegates based on past election results) and to the territories (with the rules designating how many delegates each territory get), but allow the state to award delegates to the candidates as they see fit. There are two primary limitations on the states. First, states holding their primaries (or binding caucuses) between March 1 and March 14 must use some form of proportional allocation. To qualify as proportional, these states may not set the minimum threshold for delegates above 20%, but can set a lower threshold. Additionally, these states can establish a threshold — no lower than 50% — at which a candidate wins all the delegates. Second, if a state does have a preference vote (whether in a primary election or as a straw poll at some level of the state’s caucus process), delegates must be awarded based on that preference with one major exception (discussed below). Unlike in the Democratic party, delegates are not just awarded based on the preference vote, they are bound by the preference vote and may not change their vote at the national convention (unless released by their candidate).
Given the general lack of rules, each state Republican party has a series of choices to make. First, do you use a caucus/convention system or do you use a primary to allocate delegates? Second, do you allocate delegates based solely on the state-wide result or do you also allocate based on congressional district results. Third, if your allocation occurs after March 14, do you use a proportional system or a winner-take-all system? Fourth, if you use proportional, what is the threshold for a candidate to receive delegates and do you have a threshold at which one candidate takes all of the delegates? Fifth, if you use a caucus/convention system, do you use a binding preference vote (and if so, when)? Sixth, if you use a primary, do you elect delegates directly without regard for preference?