Republican Party Cleans Up That Way-Too-Interesting Primary System

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 24 2014 12:52 PM

Republican Party Cleans Up That Way-Too-Interesting Primary System

150808803-supporter-of-the-us-republican-presidential-contender
Sorry, Paulites.

Photo by Mladen Antonov/AFP/GettyImages

The main news out of this week's Republican National Committee meeting, the news that will actually ripple for years, concerns the new, shrunken primary calendar. Remember how the 2012 primary lasted for months and gave Rick Santorum a bunch of chances to challenge Mitt Romney? Remember how the Ron Paul forces took over state conventions months after anyone else was covering them, and seized four state delegations? All finished, finis.

The new rules, as just approved, allow only four states to lead the first month of balloting: Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. (The rules put these contests in February, but in previous years an arms race has ended up putting the contests at the front of January.) Florida will not jump into the first month.

Advertisement

What's left? Any election (presidential preference caucus, primary) between March 1 and March 14 will operate under proportional representation. Any contest after March 14 can go proportional, or assign delegates on a winner-takes-all basis. Any state that defies these rules (or the timing rules) will lose one-third of all delegates, or nine elected delegates plus the normal three RNC member-delegates—whatever's larger. (Delaware, for example, would lose 12 of its 16 assigned delegates.)

Oh, and that whole end run the Ron Paul people pulled in 2012? Winning conventions and reversing the "results" of the primary preference caucuses? No longer possible. If a caucus state holds a preference poll—the event that allows any registered voter to show up in a high school gym and cast a vote—then that result will be binding on the eventual delegate math. Only if a caucus state holds no preference poll—if it, say, holds some convention to pick delegates—will such a convention be binding.

Finally, the Republican National Convention will take place "in June or early July." The goal of this change, and of all changes, is to maximize the time that the Republican candidate (TBD) will be his party's nominee, to effectively compete against the Democratic candidate (Hillary Clinton, let's just be honest).

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The End of Pregnancy

And the inevitable rise of the artificial womb.

Doctor Tests Positive for Ebola in New York City

How a Company You’ve Never Heard of Took Control of the Entire Porn Industry

The Hot New Strategy for Desperate Democrats

Blame China for everything.

The Questions That Michael Brown’s Autopsies Can’t Answer

Foreigners

Kiev Used to Be an Easygoing Place

Now it’s descending into madness.

Technology

Don’t Just Sit There

How to be more productive during your commute.

There Has Never Been a Comic Book Character Like John Constantine

Which Came First, the Word Chicken or the Word Egg?

  News & Politics
The Slate Quiz
Oct. 24 2014 12:10 AM Play the Slate News Quiz With Jeopardy! superchampion Ken Jennings.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 23 2014 5:53 PM Amazon Investors Suddenly Bearish on Losing Money
  Life
Outward
Oct. 23 2014 5:08 PM Why Is an Obscure 1968 Documentary in the Opening Credits of Transparent?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 11:33 AM Watch Little Princesses Curse for the Feminist Cause
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 6:55 PM A Goodfellas Actor Sued The Simpsons for Stealing His Likeness. Does He Have a Case?
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 23 2014 11:47 PM Don’t Just Sit There How to be more productive during your commute.
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 23 2014 5:42 PM Seriously, Evolution: WTF? Why I love the most awkward, absurd, hacked-together species.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.