An interesting tidbit in the Miami Herald yesterday highlights the backroom struggle over, and importance of, delegate allocation rules in a drawn-out nomination season. (Whether we are actually in the midst of one, of course, has yet to be determined. Just ask John Sides’s cranky reader.)
Florida’s primary next week is being touted as a winner-take-all affair, such that a plurality winner in the primary vote would bank all fifty of the state’s delegates. But keep in mind two things: first, that Florida was supposed to have ninety-nine delegates; second, that according to Republican National Committee rules adopted in 2010, no binding primaries or caucuses at all were supposed to take place before March 6 (with several exceptions), and no winner-take-all primaries or caucuses were supposed to take place before April 1. Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada were the exceptions – they were allowed to hold their nominating event in February. (See here – specifically Rules 15(b), (1) and (2) on the bottom of page 18).
You might have noticed that only Nevada is bothering to follow this rule. The others – and the non-excepted states holding binding primaries or caucuses in January or February (Florida, Arizona, Michigan) – have lost half of their allotted delegates as a result.
Having already taken that hit, Florida figured it might as well violate both rules at once, thus enhancing the value of winning the state. But according to the Herald, “Backers of Rick Santorum want a proportional delegation system, which would allow candidates to win delegates if they won a congressional district. Some Mitt Romney supporters are now quietly raising the same issue—even though they were supportive of winner-take-all when Romney looked as if he’d win the state Jan. 31.” Former RNC chair Michael Steele suggests that Florida should in fact be required to allocate its remaining delegates proportionately.