Republican Party Delegate Allocation Process
Each state will send a specific number of delegates to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida this August. There are 3 different types of delegates each state can send to the convention: RNC, at-large and congressional district delegates. Descriptions of each are listed below.
What is an RNC delegate?
Every state’s national committeeman, committeewoman and chairman of the state Republican Party are delegates to the national convention. Therefore each state has 3 RNC delegates.
What is a congressional district delegate?
Every state is awarded 3 district delegates for each U.S. Representative. Ohio, for example, has 16 congressional districts, and will send 48 congressional district delegates to the national convention.
What is an at-large delegate?
Every state sends 10 at-large delegates to the national convention, 5 at-large delegates for each US Senator.
There are opportunities for a state to send additional at-large delegates. These are referred to as “bonus” delegates.
Bonus at-large delegates:
President: If a state cast a majority of its electoral votes for the Republican Nominee for President of the United States in the preceding election, it will be awarded an additional delegate. No more than 1.
US Senate: A bonus delegate is awarded for each Republican senator elected in the past 6 years. No more than 2.
Governor: A bonus delegate is awarded for electing a Republican governor since 2008. No more than 1.
US House: A bonus delegate is awarded if half of the state’s US Congressional delegation belongs to the Republican Party. No more than 1.
State Chamber: A bonus delegate is awarded to states with a Republican majority in one state legislative chamber. No more than 1.
Both State Chambers: A bonus delegate is awarded to states with a Republican majority in both state legislative chambers. No more than 1.
Whether or not these delegates are bound to their state’s presidential primary or caucus results varies from state to state. A bound delegate is required to vote at the national convention for the winner of their state presidential primary, or for the candidate who was proportionally allocated to them. Unbound delegates are free to vote for whichever candidate they want to at the national convention.
Winner-Take-All vs. Proportional Allocation
Traditionally, most Republican presidential preference primaries have utilized a winner-take-all strategy, and caucuses typically allocate delegates proportionally.
A winner-take-all strategy means that the candidate who receives the most votes, even if he/she does not exceed 50 percent, receives all the delegates for that state. Proportional allocation means that the number of delegates each candidate receives is proportional to the percentage of the vote they received.
This year the RNC added new rules requiring states holding primaries/caucuses before April 1 to allocate delegates proportionally. The four “early” states: IA, NH, SC and NV are exempt from this rule.
In order to fall into the “proportional” category, several states holding elections before April 1 have been creative in their delegate allocation process by establishing a hybrid winner-take-all/proportional system. For example, Ohio’s congressional district delegates will be allocated via winner-take-all, and their at-large delegates will be allocated proportionally based on the statewide vote, unless a candidate should break a 50% threshold. If a candidate breaks a 50% threshold, then the winner will take all of the congressional district delegates, and all of the at-large delegates.
Depending on the state’s election results, this hybrid system could result in a state’s delegates all being allocated proportionally, all being allocated winner-take-all or a combination of both.
For a list of the total delegate counts for each state click here.
For a detailed breakdown of the different types of allocated delegates for each state click here.