Who’s At Fault For This “Neverending Primary?”

Katie LaPotin, Red Alert PoliticsMarch 13, 2012

With every passing week and with every passing primary, it becomes more and more likely that we may not have a nominee before the Republican National Convention. Political pundits, including Eric Wilson here at Red Alert, have even discussed the idea of a brokered convention in Tampa.

Unfortunately, it’s not just a lack of cohesion around a single candidate that has made this the “never-ending primary cycle.” Equally to blame is the way in which delegates are allocated in presidential nominating contests, as well as the process of redistricting.

According to the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) Delegate Selection Committee Proposal, which was amended in 2010 to prevent a candidate from winning the nomination before a majority of contests had been held:

“Any presidential primary, caucus, convention, or other meeting held for the purpose of selecting delegates to the national convention which occurs prior to the first day of April in the year in which the national convention is held, shall provide for the allocation of delegates on a proportional basis.”

As a result the earliest a candidate can mathematically win the 1,144 delegates needed to secure the nomination in a contested primary is the middle of April.

Further complicating matters is a pesky little thing called redistricting, which happens every ten years. New district lines have not been finalized in several key states, resulting in postponed primaries.

Texas is a must-win for any GOP nominee with its 155 delegates. Yet a prolonged court battle over the proposed Congressional and State House District maps has already pushed back the Lone Star State’s primary from March 6 to April 3. What’s more, a federal judge told Republican Party leaders they should start preparing for a May 29thprimary.

Pennsylvania also faces uncertainty over its primary day. The Keystone State originally set its primary for April 24, however the state’s top court threw out the proposed district maps for the State House and State Senate earlier this year, suggesting  the state use the current boundaries for the 2012 election. Members of the bipartisan redistricting committee have not yet decided if they will hold the election in April to allocate its 72 non-binding delegates with last year’s maps or if it will postpone the election to draw up new lines.

For those not-so-patiently waiting for a victor to be crowned, a series of unfortunate events may keep you waiting longer than anticipated.


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