Much was made of the “magnitude” of former Governor Mitt Romney’s recent win in the Republican Presidential Primary in Florida. However, it may have been much ado about nothing. Rachel Maddow pointed all this out days before the Florida Primary, so I decided to fact check her.
As Ms. Maddow accurately reported, Florida ran up against the arcane and mechanistic RNC Delegate Selection Rules and the punditry followed like the mythical lemmings off the bluffs into the sea to drown. The Florida delegation has just 50 delegates to award in its primary because it held its primary before April 1, 2012. Had the Florida GOP followed the rules for delegate selection mandated by the Republican National Committee (RNC), Florida would have been able to award 99 delegates per the normal “winner take all.” Florida may also have a RNC Convention delegate problem by holding its primary before April 1, 2012 because the RNC Rules also mandate that for any such early primary that the delegates be awarded on a proportional basis.
The final results of the 2012 Republican Presidential Primary gave Mitt Romney 46 percent of the vote, former Speaker Gingrich 32 percent of the vote, former Senator Paul Santorum 13 percent of the vote and Rep. Ron Paul 7 percent of the vote.
Based upon the 50 delegates to be proportionally awarded, Romney gets some 23, Gingrich gets some 16, Santorum gets some 7 and Paul gets some 4 Florida delegates to the GOP convention. But all the published delegate total counts have already awarded the full 50 to former Gov. Mitt Romney. And see here and here.
The Rules adopted by the RNC do allow for a state which holds an early primary to award all of its delegates to a single candidate but, that candidate must have obtained at least 50 percent of the statewide vote in the primary election. The Florida Republican Committee decided to award its delegates proportionately by awarding all of them to the numeric winner of their primary regardless of the percentage of the vote obtained by the leading candidate. The thinking may have been because the RNC Rules only allow a state to be punished once for rules violations.
Much will have to be decided whether there is an actual “penalty” involved in the mandated proportional vote requirement and any such delegate apportionment must be challenged by a Florida registered Republican (likely one who voted in the primary) at least 30 days before the GOP National Convention in Tampa, Florida begins on August 27, 2012.
Mr. Romney only received only 46 percent of the GOP vote, not 50 percent or more. If Florida delegates are deemed to be awarded proportionally, Romney may lose some 27 delegates to the other candidates.