The Early States’ Delegate Formula

Dec. 16 2015 — When voting starts in the Iowa Caucus on the first day of February, much more will be happening than simple vote counting. Here, delegate apportionment begins and it is this latter system that will determine who becomes the party nominee.

Since the Democratic battle is virtually clinched for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, we will concentrate on the Republican side for the purposes of this report. Under Republican National Committee rules, all states voting before March 15 must use a proportional system to divide their delegates. By definition, this means multiple candidates will be awarded delegate votes, thus expanding the chances that the nomination process will deadlock after all 56 primaries and caucuses are conducted.

The Republicans allow several delegate apportionment systems: Winner-Take-All, where the candidate with the most statewide votes is awarded all of the particular state’s delegates; Winner-Take-All by congressional district, where each CD hosts its own “election”, if you will, and awards three delegates to the candidate with the most votes; while the remaining entities require either 20, 15, 13, 10, 5 or 0 percent of the vote to qualify for delegate apportionment.

In chronological order:

February 1:
• Iowa (30 delegates): A 0% threshold state means most, if not all, candidates will come away with delegates. With just 30 total delegates and so many candidates, the eventual winner will only accumulate a minor total.

February 9:
• New Hampshire (23): This state is a 10% threshold state, meaning any candidate attracting such a percentage qualifies for delegates. The three party delegates (state chairman, national committeeman and national committeewoman) are free through all ballots.

February 20:
• South Carolina (50): SC is a Winner Take All by congressional district state. The seven congressional districts each carry three delegates apiece. The statewide top vote getter will receive the 26 at-large delegate votes. The three party delegates are uncommitted.

February 23:
• Nevada (30): This is the second state holding a caucus and chooses a 0% threshold.

March 1
• Alabama (50): One of the ten key 20% threshold states that will likely allocate delegates only to two candidates. These states will favor the strongest candidates. The three party leader delegates are uncommitted.

• Alaska (28): The Alaska Caucus is the only 13% threshold state. The three party leader delegates are uncommitted.

• Arkansas (40): Arkansas is a 15% threshold state, which likely means the top three or four candidates will win delegates. The three party leader delegates are uncommitted.

• Georgia (76): The Peach State features a major delegate pool. It is a 20% threshold state, but it’s possible three candidates could score delegates because the finish could be close.

• Massachusetts (42): The Bay State is a 5% delegate threshold state, meaning several candidates could attract delegates here. The three party leader delegates are uncommitted.

• Minnesota (38): This state is a caucus/convention with a 10% vote threshold. The three party leader delegates are uncommitted.

• Oklahoma (43): Oklahoma went to a proportional system with a 15% vote threshold for delegate apportionment. Previously, they used the WTA by CD method. The three party leader delegates are uncommitted.

• Tennessee (58): The Volunteer State has a large delegate pool and apportions them with a 20% threshold. The three party leader delegates are uncommitted.

• Texas (155): A 20% threshold state, Texas could be pivotal in determining a nominee. The trick for the other candidates is to prevent home state Sen. Ted Cruz from being the only contender to exceed the threshold. If they fail, the result would translate into a huge “backdoor” Winner-Take-All for Cruz. The three party leader delegates are uncommitted.

• Vermont (16): A small proportional 20% state. The three party leader delegates are uncommitted.

• Virginia (49): Virginia is one of the zero threshold delegate apportionment states. The three party leader delegates are uncommitted.

March 5
• Kansas (40): The Kansas Caucus has a 10% delegate threshold.

• Kentucky (45): Because Sen. Rand Paul wanted to run for both President and re-election, Kentucky Republicans switched from a primary to a caucus with a 5% delegate apportionment threshold. Under Kentucky election law, no person may appear on the ballot for more than one race. The three party leader delegates are uncommitted.

• Louisiana (46): This is another 20% threshold state. It is estimated that two or three candidates would qualify for delegate apportionment. The three party leader delegates are uncommitted.

March 6
• Puerto Rico (23): This is a proportional primary with a 20% threshold.

March 8
• Hawaii (19): Another zero threshold state where almost all candidates will score delegate support. The three party leader delegates are uncommitted.

• Idaho (32): One more 20% threshold state with all delegates being apportioned in this manner. It is possible that only two candidates will break 20%.

• Michigan (59): This is a large-pool 15% threshold state. The three party leader delegates are uncommitted.

• Mississippi (40): A proportional 15% threshold state, just like Michigan. The three party leader delegates are uncommitted.

March 12
• District of Columbia (19): A 15% threshold primary to apportion all delegates.

• Guam (9): Guam is one of the four entities not binding their delegates on any ballot, thus sending a free delegation to the convention.

• US Virgin Islands (9): This is a territorial caucus but delegates are bound to the candidate to whom they declare.

At this point, 27 entities will have voted, containing a grand total 1,099 delegates. This total represents 44.4% of the entire RNC delegate universe.

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