Thought we should have a thread dedicated to the slew of GOP primaries and caucuses happening on March 1, a week from tomorrow.
According to Frontloading HQ, here’s what’s on tap on the GOP side next Tuesday:
Qualifying thresholds for each state, and how delegates are allocated among the finishers in each state, are both a big deal on Super Tuesday. Frontloading HQ has a nice summary page of the rules, but there’s no way a summary can possibly capture all the details. You really need to click on the links for a few of the states to get a full appreciation of the chaos.
IMHO, the big thing is delegate allocation for Congressional districts. Each state gets 3 delegates per Congressional district, in addition to their at-large delegates. Most (but not all) of the March 1 primary states allocate 2 delegates to the winner of each CD and one to the second-place candidate.
In many cases, this is modified by a candidate clearing 50% in the districts getting all 3 delegates, or ditto if the second-place finisher doesn’t clear the state’s threshold.
And that’s the second big thing: qualifying thresholds. Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, and Vermont have 20% thresholds, Arkansas and Oklahoma have 15% thresholds, Alaska’s is 13%, and Minnesota’s is 10%. If a candidate doesn’t clear the threshold, he gets no delegates.
Another thing is that some states turn into winner-take-all if a candidate wins an outright majority of the votes. Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas, and Vermont all have 50% thresholds; other states either don’t have a WTA threshold or have one much higher than 50%.
Obviously, both the thresholds and the Congressional district delegate distribution are going to make things next to impossible for Carson (if he’s still in it) and Kasich to win more than a handful of delegates on Super Tuesday. So we can forget about them for the most part. (Can’t blame Kasich if he skips the whole deal, and moves on to Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois.)
The Congressional district delegate distribution is going to be a big boost to the candidate that gets a plurality, and is really going to hurt a candidate who finishes a clear third in a state - or hurt both the second- and third- place candidates if we have a lot of repeats of SC, where Trump won comfortably but it was close between Cruz and Rubio. If a state has 6 Congressional districts, and Trump wins them all, but Cruz and Rubio each finish second in 3 districts, then Trump gets 12 of the Congressional delegates, and the other two get 3 each.
The thresholds, OTOH, shouldn’t be a problem for Trump, Cruz, and Rubio, though I wouldn’t be surprised if Cruz or Rubio misses a cutoff somewhere: I’d expect it to be an exception that didn’t make much of a difference, delegate-wise.
Anyhow, it’s going to be quite the zoo.