So you're saying there's a chance?
The state of play in 2024 Republican delegate allocation
With a four weeks until Iowa, there is now a better sense of the state-level rules and how they may matter in the Republican nomination race
Way back in March, FHQ asked what the baseline was for 2024 in the state-level Republican delegate allocation rules. Little of significance had changed in the national guidelines adopted in April 2022, but questions remained about how state parties might adapt their various delegate allocation and selection rules for a more competitive cycle (or if not competitive, then one that would not involve a Republican incumbent).
The main question that emerged at that time was over the extent to which former President Trump and his broader campaign apparatus could maintain the incumbent-friendly rules they had established for the 2020 cycle. Four years earlier, the then-president and his team had managed to turn the knob way up on marginal candidates who sought to peel any delegates away from Trump. The hurdles were so high — so advantageous to Trump — that there was not much room for improvement moving into the 2024 cycle. That is not to say that there were no opportunities to go on the offensive in establishing even more frontrunner-friendly allocation rules, but rather, that the main objective would be playing defense.
And as 2023 wore on, and more and more information came out of state parties in dribs and drabs, the overall picture showed that the Trump campaign had, in fact, done a pretty good job of solidifying the previous rules and in some cases had even bolstered them. There was some evidence to the contrary but not a lot. States like California and Massachusetts lowered delegate qualifying thresholds, but retained winner-take-all triggers. But even moves like those — where it was made easier for more candidates to qualify for and win delegates — kept a silver lining in place for any frontrunner candidate: the potential to win all of the delegates with a simple majority vote in an early primary or caucus.
But how do silver linings like those actually fit into how one strategizes about the ways in which the delegate allocation may shake out once primary season kicks off? That is an interesting question, one that has not received a lot of attention because of how the polling on the Republican presidential nomination race has looked and continued to evolve.
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