The Missouri Republican Party has released new rules for the allocation of its 52 delegates to the 2016 GOP presidential nominating convention in Cleveland.
The 2012 Missouri Republican presidential primary — won by Rick Santorum — was non-binding for the party’s convention delegates. That vote, combined with the ardor of Ron Paul supporters, made for some pretty aggressive county caucuses that spring, and some jostling at the national convention in Tampa.
The new rules are designed in part to avoid the problem.
The primary will be held on March 15. If any candidate wins an outright majority, he or she gets all 52 of the state’s delegates, who will be bound under party rules to support that candidate.
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If no one gets an absolute majority, the top vote-getter in each of eight congressional districts will win five bound delegates. The statewide winner will get nine more, for a total of 49 delegates.
The other three are unpledged “super delegates.”
“We believe this plan will encourage candidates to campaign in every area of the state,” GOP chairman John Hancock said in a statement, “allowing Missourians to see and evaluate them before they go to the polls.”
Of course, the actual votes cast by delegates usually has little relationship to the primary results, bound or not.
In 2012, for example, Santorum won 55 percent of the vote but got just three convention delegates. Paul won 12 percent of the votes and got four delegates.
Mitt Romney — the nominee — got 25 perecent of Missouri’s primary vote, but 45 convention delegates.
The likely nominee almost always gets the lion’s share of delegates once the actual national convention takes place. The losing candidates simply release their pledged delegates.
The state convention is in late May. The national convention is in July.