Super Tuesday Cheat Sheet on Delegate Allocations

Super Tuesday Cheat Sheet on Delegate Allocations
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A dozen states are voting in the Republican and Democratic presidential primaries on Super Tuesday. On the Republican side the rules vary widely among states, and understanding those rules is critical to decoding the results. That’s why I made this simple rules summary table – it’s designed to be a reference while you watch the primary results roll in tonight. If you read my guide to watching the election results and keep this table open, you’ll be well-equipped to understand the returns.

Note that this table is partially sourced from one published at FHQ –a great blog that I recommend highly.

I’ll quickly explain each column from left to right:

The states are sorted from largest delegate haul to smallest.

The delegates column shows how many are allotted by each state. With the exception of Colorado, delegates are allocated proportionally based on each candidate’s share of the votes. Centennial State caucus-goers are not voting for Trump, Rubio, Cruz or others today, but instead are selecting representatives to participate in the next phase of the state’s multi-step delegate selection process.

Primary or caucus denotes the method of voting. In primary states voters essentially go into a booth and pull a lever, as in a presidential general election. In caucus states, voters have to participate in a more involved, town-hall-style meeting. This process takes more time and energy than voting in a primary, so caucus states typically have lower turnout.

If a primary is closed, only Republicans can vote in it. In an open primary, Democrats, Republicans and Independents can vote (but most Democrats will vote in their own party’s primary). In an open* primary (Georgia and Massachusetts), Republicans and Independents can vote but Democrats cannot.

The threshold shows what percentage of the vote a candidate needs to be eligible to win statewide delegates. The statewide delegates are divided proportionally among those who get over the threshold.

If a candidate reaches the “ceiling” then he wins either all of the state’s delegates or all of the state’s at-large delegates (at-large only is denoted with an asterisk -- the difference between at-large delegates and congressional-district-awarded delegates is explained below). So if Trump were to win over 50 percent of the vote in Georgia, he would immediately get all 76 delegates.

If a state is pooled, the at-large and congressional district delegates are both allocated based on the statewide results. If not, the congressional district delegates are allocated based on the results in that district and at-large delegates are allocated based on statewide results. Each congressional district is given three delegates and each state is given a number of at-large delegates based on a variety of factors (past election results, the number of Republicans who hold major political offices in the state, etc.).

I didn’t make a table for the Democratic primary because the rules are more or less uniform across states. Democrats allocate delegates proportionally with a 15 percent threshold. Delegates are typically allocated based on statewide and congressional district results.

David Byler is an elections analyst for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at dbyler@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @davidbylerRCP.

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