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Where Does the Republican Delegate Distribution Come From?

By Paul Faber
News | March 10, 2012

YOCEMENTO, Kan. - The Republican caucuses in Kansas today produced forty delegates to the Republican National Convention. It looks like thirty-three will be supporting Richard "Rick" Santorum and seven will be supporting Willard "Mitt" Romney for the Republican nomination for President. No other candidates are supposed to get votes from the Kansas delegation to the national convention this summer in the first round.

Here is a brief explanation of just why Mr. Santorum receives thirty-three and Mr. Romney his seven.

Of the forty delegates, twenty-five are distributed proportionally, with a catch. That is, they are distributed on the basis of the candidates' proportion of the total vote cast in all of the caucuses put together, though a candidate must receive at least 20% of the overall vote to receive any of the proportional delegates. Thus, even though Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul both received votes, neither total came to 20% of the total vote. As of the time of this writing, MSNBC says 99% of the caucuses have reported and Mr. Gingrich has 14% and Mr. Paul 13% of the vote. Mr. Romney has crossed the threshold with 21% of the vote. So these twenty-five votes are divided up in the ratio of Mr. Santorum's total to Mr. Romney's total, and the votes for others are effectively ignored. Mr. Santorum received about 51% of the total vote and Mr. Romney about 21%. When those twenty-five delegates are divided up in the ratio of the vote (and the numbers are rounded to whole numbers), Mr. Santorum receives eighteen delegates and Mr. Romney the remaining seven.

The votes in the caucuses are totaled not only for the whole state, but also for each of the four congressional districts. Then three delegates are awarded to the winner in each of the four districts. Mr. Santorum won with a majority or plurality of the votes in all four districts, and so he receives another twelve delegates through that route.

Finally, three delegates are awarded to the overall winner for the state, which was, of course, Mr. Santorum. Thus, his delegate count ends up as eighteen plus twelve plus three--or thirty-three--and Mr. Romney finishes with seven.

This will be the distribution of votes on the first ballot, unless either Mr. Santorum or Mr. Romney releases the delegates pledged to him. The delegates are not obligated to support any particular candidate on any succeeding ballots.

Of course, this understanding is also based on the truth and completeness of the sources available to us. The New York Times' FiveThirtyEight blog is one such source, and MSNBC is the other.


1 Comment

What would happen to Santorum's delegates if he were to drop out of the race? Can he pledge them towards either Mitt or Newt specifically, or do they become free agents as it were?

Also, its been a long time, but I think you were my philosophy professor at when I was a freshman at FHSU back in 1990-1991.


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