The Caucus and Delegates to the National Convention

Iowa casting 22 of 28 votes for Ron Paul at the 2012 GOP National Convention
Iowa casting 22 of 28 votes for Ron Paul at the 2012 GOP National Convention

Last June I posted an article about a proposed amendment to the RPI bylaws defining how Iowa would bind delegates at the 2016 Republican National Convention. Unfortunately the article is out of date and is not an accurate description of the process. Let me explain:

Ron Paul’s 2012 candidacy for president put the Republican National Committee in full panic mode. At the 2012 Republican National Convention, the RNC changed the rules midstream to prevent Ron Paul from being officially nominated and earning a prime time speaking spot alongside with the eventual nominee, Mitt Romney. To prevent a possible repeat of the situation that gave Paul, the third place finisher on caucus night, a super majority of Iowa’s delegates the RNC ruled that every state must bind their National Convention delegates based on the results of their primary or caucus. As a result, the Republican Party of Iowa amended its bylaws to be in compliance with the RNC Rule 16(a)1 (relevant portion shown here)

Any statewide presidential preference vote that permits a choice among candidates for the Republican nomination for President of the United States in a primary, caucuses, or a state convention must be used to allocate and bind the state’s delegation to the national convention in either a proportional or winner-take-all manner, …

Therefore, for the first time ever, we in Iowa are required to bind our delegates. This was not our choice, but in my role as Chairman of the party’s Organization Committee, I oversaw our committee’s effort to come up with a binding method that in compliance with Rule 16. Our original proposal was to bind the delegation on the first ballot based on the Caucus night vote and the candidates who are formally nominated at the convention. After extended back and forth discussions with the RNC legal staff we were told to make modifications to our proposal.

Now, I know that some of you reading this are thinking,

Why didn’t you stand up to the RNC Rules Committee? Why did you let them push you around like that?

The answer is simple,

We Iowans cherish our First-in-the-Nation caucuses!

The RNC passed a rule that required us to bind our delegates but also guaranteed us firs-in-the-nation for 2016. When I ran, unsuccessfully, for National Committeeman in 2012 I quickly learned something: Job #1 is retaining First-in-the-Nation! In my role on the State Central Committee, I am not going to do anything to push back against the very rule that gives us this privilege. There are already enough states working to take FITN away, the last thing I want to do is give them ammunition.

So, this is the rule that we negotiated with RNC legal and adopted into our state party bylaws:

1. The Iowa delegation to the Republican National Convention shall be bound on the first ballot to vote proportionally in accordance with the outcome of the Iowa Caucuses. The proportional delegate allocation shall be rounded to the nearest whole delegate. In the event that a delegate is unallocated due to mathematical rounding, the unallocated delegate vote shall be cast in favor of the candidate closest to the rounding threshold. In the event that delegates are over-allocated due to mathematical rounding, the over-allocated delegate shall be removed from a candidate based on the rounding threshold. Delegates shall be bound to the candidates in direct proportion to the candidates’ respective vote shares in the Iowa Caucuses regardless of whether any such candidate has withdrawn from the race or otherwise does not have his or her name placed in nomination at the Republican National Convention.

2. Notwithstanding paragraph 1 of this article, if only one candidate’s name is placed in nomination at the Republican National Convention, all delegates shall be bound to vote for such candidate on the first ballot provided that the candidate received votes in the Iowa Caucuses.

3. The Chairman of the Iowa delegation, or his or her designee, shall announce the vote of the delegation in accordance with this Article.

So what does this mean? It means that individual Iowa delegates will not vote on the first ballot at the convention. The chairman of the delegation will simply do the math and announce Iowa’s vote based on this rule.

So, if only one candidate meets the threshold to be officially placed into nomination, they will receive all of Iowa’s votes.

If more than one candidate is officially placed into nomination, then Iowa’s votes will be recorded in proportion to the caucus night totals. In other words, Iowa will cast  some votes for candidates who have suspended their campaigns and are no longer running. There will be no recalculation, there is no opportunity for a candidate to release or pledge his votes for another.

The rules about what it takes for a candidate to have their name officially placed in nomination are equally byzantine and may have very serious consequences … the topic of a future blog post!

10 thoughts on “The Caucus and Delegates to the National Convention

  1. Pingback: HawkeyeGOP | Binding the Iowa Delegation

  2. How is Article VIII #2 not a direct violation of the RNC’s Rule 38 – the Unit Rule, especially given that each delegate is now bound to a specific candidate?

    “No delegate or alternate delegate shall be bound by any attempt of any state or Congressional district to impose the unit rule. A “unit rule” prohibited by this section means a rule or law under which a delegation at the national convention casts its entire vote as a unit as determined by a majority vote of the delegation.”

    I guess you could argue that the delegation isn’t actually voting, the Chairman will just “do the match” as you say, but then these people are no longer “delegates”. If they are in fact delegates, then they must have something that is delegated to them. What do they have delegated to them other than the ability to cast a vote? Otherwise, they’re mere cheerleaders, at a very expensive pep rally.

    • Dusty, many if not most delegations have been bound and some ‘winner take all’. Binding is not new, it’s just new to us.

      Rule 38 is not new and neither is binding. Personally, I did not want to bind our delegates, but we were forced to. The method was largely dictated to us by the RNC 🙁

  3. That still doesn’t answer my question–If Iowa’s delegates are all forced to vote for a single candidate on the first ballot where only one candidate is nominated (based on RNC rules), how does forcing every delegate to “vote” the same way not violate the Unit Rule?

  4. Just a note: I am very familiar with the RPI Constitution and bylaws. I also have chaired numerous county, district and state convention rules committees and am knowledgeable on Roberts Rules of Order. I am not however an authority onRNC rules

    As I read it. The binding of delegates is not “determined by a majority vote of the delegation”, that would be a clear violation of the ‘unit rule.’ Rather the delegation is bound by the presidential preference poll taken at the caucus, which would not violate Rule 38.

  5. Ted Cruz won the most delegates in the Iowa caucus. Why are all the GOP delegates bound, then, to Trump? Plain english please and on a first grade level. Thanks.

    • If only one candidate is actually nominated then he (Trump) will get all 30 votes from Iowa.

      If another candidate is nominated (Cruz) then the Iowa delegation will cast its votes proportionally based on the caucus results, even though some candidates have dropped out.

      8 Cruz
      7 Trump

  6. FITN status is meaningless if the price is surrendering all your principles.

    This constitutes a back-door around Rule 38, & regardless of the pretenses of the mechanics, forces a unit rule vote.

    The delegates at the Cleveland need to reject this underhanded dictatorial process. If they don’t the party will lose the election big-time, and deservedly so.

  7. Pingback: Bleeding Heartland

  8. Ron Paul did not have the majority of the votes in Iowa, but through organization and ground game, they were able to secure a delegate slate. Having delegates that do not represent the majority nor proportionality of the voters has led to these rules being enacted. It also put Iowa’s FITN status at risk.
    It happened again during Iowa’s 2016 district conventions. Cruz’s organization, with help of the Ron Paul people, had maneuvered (kudos to them) in such a way to secure not only the delegate slate, but also the appointment delegates.
    National convention delegation should not be about positioning to get one, and only one, candidate elected. Delegates don’t need to be mindless robots, but the representation should reflect the ballot box. Instead we have evolved into getting delegates that represent whomever has outmaneuvered the rest at the district conventions.
    I can almost guarantee that due to Iowa’s district elected national delegation’s behavior, we will again see a change in the rules.

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