Tuesday, January 08, 2008

NH allocation rules

By MSS

Most of the world's democratic countries elect their legislators by some form of proportional representation (PR). While Americans tend to think of proportional representation--if they think of it at all--as some sort of "foreign" idea, all Democratic voters and some states' Republican voters will be voting in "proportional" elections for delegates to their party's nominating conventions.

New Hampshire Democrats today will be selecting 14 district delegates and 5 statewide delegates. Each of the state's two US congressional districts elects seven delegates, via "proportional representation" to candidates winning at least 15% of the district's votes. The five statewide delegates are also allocated via "PR" among those candidates that win at least 15% in the state. (Quotation marks because the high threshold means it is hardly proportional, unless we understand "proportional" to mean "not block plurality.")

As with several list-PR systems around the world, there is a gender quota. In district 1, there must be four men and three women, while the gender balance is the reverse in district 2.

Most states have similar rules to New Hampshire's on the Democratic side.

If there was any information on the allocation rules for today's NH Republican presidential primary on the party's website, I failed to locate it. I believe it uses some form of "proportional" representation in a more limited sense, though most states that will be having upcoming GOP primaries use winner-take-all rules. Due to the winner-take-all primaries coming up, the Republican party could find itself with a large lead in delegates for a candidate with well under majority support. The Democrats' allocation system makes such a non-consensus result far less likely, no matter what happens the rest of the way.

Update: Fortunately, someone e-mailed me something from CQ that shows that the Republicans "proportionally" allocate 3 delegates in each congressional district, plus award three bonus delegates to the statewide plurality winner. So, in the GOP, there will be a substantial bonus to the leading candidate. (NH has its normal delegate total cut in half because it violated RNC rules by holding the primary so early.)

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