Following The Paper Trail and Noticing The Missing Links
By Kevin Rex Heine, Section News
So, is it a 274 delegate margin, a 233 delegate margin, a 173 delegate margin, or a 116 delegate margin currently separating Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum? How deeply is Newt Gingrich locked into third place? And if Ron Paul's been mathematically eliminated from a statistically certain pre-convention majority, then why is he still campaigning? We know the answer to the third question (at least we think we do), but those first two aren't mere academic questions, and answering them might help in understanding why Anuzis and his Backroom Band are sticking to the meme that Romney is supposed to get both of Michigan's at-large delegates to this summer's national convention . . . in spite of all the verifiable evidence otherwise.
And while we're at it, we're going to connect a few dots and see what we see.
The "soft total" delegate count, according to Tony Roza at The Green Papers, "reflects the support for each presidential contender by either Pledged or Unpledged delegates - whether formally allocated yet or not - as best can be estimated." This includes the projected delegate awarding in states such as Iowa, Colorado, Missouri, Minnesota, Maine, Wyoming, and Washington, where the public, media-covered contests themselves don't actually directly affect delegate allocation. However, reasonable projections can be made based upon those non-allocating contests, assuming that the candidates maintain levels of support consistent with the public results. Those projections will vary, depending upon the source and what metrics are being used to allocate projected delegates. The Green Papers provides a reliable Republican Hard and Soft Count Delegate Summary, and the soft count totals as of this evening follow thus:
With regard to the contested convention . . . as we've said before, the only candidate who doesn't want a contested/brokered convention is Romney, but the media isn't saying anything about that. Actually, the case can be made for Newt staying in the race (and the smart people on Santorum's campaign team know that Romney's campaign actually benefits from a Gingrich withdrawal more than they do). And as the 2012 Republican Presidential Primaries Bound Delegate Tracker (which I am updating as necessary) makes pretty clear, right now all four candidates have a shot at locking down a pre-convention delegate majority, the only question being one of statistical certainty, as long as they can effectively "run the table" between now and July 14th.
That's right, 32 or so binding contests yet to go (including today's primary in Puerto Rico), and even his mittenness has to pull down 5 of every 6 remaining delegates in order to have a statistically certain pre-convention pledged delegate majority, a mere 3 of 6 if he's willing to live with a ~25% to ~31% degree of uncertainty in his hard count.
That "hard count" concept ("consists of a count of the National Convention delegates as they are formally allocated to presidential contenders - or to the ranks of the "Uncommitted" - under the rules governing the selection of such delegates in each state or other jurisdiction") explains a great deal about why Gingrich, Romney, and Santorum have put some considerable effort into getting the delegates available in Puerto Rico today. Unlike Illinois and Louisiana, which vote later in the week, la Isla del Encanto fully and legally binds its 20 elected delegates to the national convention through the first ballot. (According to the 2012 RNC Delegate Summary, Louisiana might bind only its at-large delegates, and Illinois doesn't bind its delegation at all.) Of the three Puerto Rican party delegates, Luis Fortuno and Zori Fonalledas have endorsed Romney, while Carlos Mendez has endorsed Gingrich.
Of course, the "bound and committed" concept is why I tend to discount people like Nate Silver, who seem to insist that either Gingrich or Santorum need to spend more time in Illinois (because of the size of the available delegation) than in Puerto Rico or Louisiana. My guess is that Mr. Silver, and those who hold similar position, may find it useful to review The Tortoise and The Hare. Those who are proclaiming or echoing the narrative that Romney's nomination is truly inevitable save for a high-risk-high-reward gamble by either Gingrich or Santorum seem to miss the main point, which is that every single delegate counts, and thus no delegate can be taken for granted.
And speaking of "one delegate" . . .
While not one of the seven members of the MIGOP Credentials Committee has yet responded to me on-the-record, I have talked around with several state committee members and in the process learned something very interesting about the history of the current MIGOP presidential delegate allocation method.
Eric Doster, the current MIGOP General Counsel, has been in the employ of the Michigan Republican Party for just under 20 years. (And by "just under 20," I mean that this coming Tuesday, March 20th, is his 20th anniversary of his original hire by the party.) According to these same state committee members, the formula used for determining proportional allocation has been in use for at least the past three presidential elections (2008, 2004, and 2000), if not the past five (so including 1996 and 1992). It's not a coincidence that the formula's been in use about as long as Mr. Doster's been working for MIGOP, as I'm told that he's the one who built the formula!
Call me crazy, but it seems to me that the guy who built the formula, and has probably reviewed it every presidential election since, ought to be the go-to authority on how that formula actually works.
Back in February of 2011, the RNC Counsel's Office published a memo regarding Examples of "Proportional Delegate Allocation" Language for Presidential Nominating Process. The Legislative History for New "Proportional Allocation" Requirement for States Holding Delegate Selection Process in March 2012 contains six criteria that states may decide to incorporate into their own rules. Criteria ii, iii, and iv are notable:
ii. If total delegate allocation is split between delegates at-large and delegates by congressional district, delegates at-large must be proportionally allocated based upon the total statewide results.
Fascinating. It seems pretty clear here that any state using a "hybrid method" of delegate allocation (as Michigan does) is expected to proportionately allocate its at-large delegates. Especially interesting is the note that:
"... substantial departure from these guidelines carries significant risk that the state's allocation method will be ruled non-compliant ..."
In other words, deviate from these guidelines at your own risk.
If we look at the MIGOP Credentials Committee memo regarding Application of Possible Penalty Imposed Pursuant to Rule 16 of the Rules of the Republican Party (which is now being called "The Doster Memo"), we see a reference to MIGOP rule 19-C(2), which reads in part:
National Convention at-large delegates and at-large alternate delegates shall be elected on a basis that insures that the proportion of the at-large National Convention delegation that is committed to each Republican presidential candidate equals, as nearly as is practicable, the proportion of the statewide vote that was cast for each respective presidential candidate (or, if applicable, uncommitted) at the statewide Presidential Preference Vote. The determination of these proportions shall only include the votes cast for that particular Republican presidential candidate (or, if applicable, uncommitted), if the total vote cast for that particular Republican presidential candidate (or, if applicable, uncommitted), equals at least fifteen percent (15%) of the total statewide vote cast for all Republican presidential candidates (or, if applicable, uncommitted) at the Presidential Preference Vote (hereinafter the "Threshold Vote").
So far so good; it seems pretty clear that RNC guidelines ii and iv are being complied with.
Now, under normal circumstances this shouldn't be a problem. But due to the 92 - 17 vote at the August 13th, 2011, MIGOP State Committee meeting to hold a primary on or before the RNC's March 6th cutoff (followed up by Governor Snyder signing SB-0584 into law on October 4th, 2011, which set the Michigan presidential primary to "the fourth Tuesday in February in each presidential election year"), our RNC delegation was cut in half, from 59 delegates to 30.
Now, we were also penalized during the 2008 Republican Presidential Primary, but this was a tad easier to resolve. At the time Michigan had 15 congressional districts, so the breakout of the delegation was 1 delegate each awarded to the winner of each congressional district, and 15 delegates awarded proportionally to any candidate that cleared the 15% threshold vote. Mitt Romney, John McCain, and Mike Huckabee all cleared the qualifying threshold (736,065 total qualifying votes:
The State Party Chair shall assure that the proportion of the at-large National Convention delegation committed to a particular presidential candidate (or, if applicable, uncommitted) is equal to the proportion of the statewide Presidential Preference Vote. That number shall be determined by dividing the total statewide Presidential Preference Vote received by each presidential candidate (or, if applicable, uncommitted) by the total statewide Presidential Preference Vote cast for all Republican presidential candidates (or, if applicable, uncommitted), not including within the total statewide Presidential Preference Vote those votes cast for any candidate (or, if applicable, uncommitted) that did not equal or exceed the Threshold Vote. The resulting percentage for each candidate (or, if applicable, uncommitted) shall be multiplied by fourteen (14) and rounded to the nearest whole number (.5 and above rounds up, below .5 rounds down), which shall be the number of delegates and alternate delegates that that candidate (or, if applicable, uncommitted) shall receive from the at-large National Convention delegation.
But, wait a minute! Earlier in that MIGOP Credentials Committee memo, in the next-to-last paragraph of the cover letter, we were informed:
With respect to at-large delegates and alternates, please note that absent a penalty from the Republican National Committee, Michigan is entitled to fourteen (14) at-large delegates and alternates. According to Rule No. 19C(2). of the State Rules, at-large delegates and alternates are allocated on a proportional basis of the statewide vote, to presidential candidates receiving at least fifteen percent (15%) of the statewide vote. This process of allocation will remain unchanged. Now, however, an at-large slate of two (2) National Convention delegates and alternates will also be selected to complete the "officially recognized" listing of 30 National Convention delegates and alternates from Michigan. The allocation of this "officially recognized" at-large slate of two (2) National Convention delegates and alternates shall be calculated in accordance with Rule No. 19C(2).of the State Rules by merely substituting "two (2)" for "fourteen (14)."
Oh, snap! The "officially recognized" members of the at-large delegation (regardless of what that number is) are the multiplier to be used to determine proportional allocation. As the "Doster Memo" makes clear, normally that'd be 14, but because of the RNC-imposed penalty, the multiplier is now 2. And remember, Doster's the guy who built the formula in the first place.
Here's another beauty for you. Back on August 13th, 2011, when the full MIGOP state committee approved the "closed primary," they also approved the proportional allocation rules that were explained in the Doster Memo. According to the people I spoke with on state committee, changing the at-large delegate rules from proportional allocation to winner-take-all would have required a vote of the entire 120 members of the MIGOP state committee, and would have had to occur no later than October 1st, 2011, unless a waiver could be obtained from the RNC.
Now keep in mind that this MIGOP Credentials Committee memo was published on February 7, 2012 . . . after the February 4th meeting of that same committee! Bobby Schostak's February 8th interview with NBC and a February 14th article over at Frontloading Headquarters containing a statement from Matt Frendewey (MIGOP Director of Communications) both confirm proportionality with regard to the delegate allocation:
The Schostak interview:
"We start off with, after the penalty, 30 voting delegates. Okay? Each district-congressional district - you can win individually. So you have 14 districts you can win two delegates. That takes you to 28. Okay? The two at-large that remain, provided the individual candidate won at least 15 percent of the statewide vote - okay so with four candidates that's likely to happen. Then they get awarded proportionally, those delegates, and then rounded to the nearest decimal point so there won't be any half delegates or quarter delegates."
The Frendewey reference:
According to Michigan Republican Party Communications Director, Matt Frendewey, the party will plan on sending the original 59 delegates to the Tampa convention, but with the knowledge that only 30 will be recognized. For all intents and purposes, then, the party is going ahead with its original delegate selection plan. However, the question remains: How are those 30 chosen out of the 59?
Hold it, hold it, wait a minute; updated delegate rules? Where are those? Has anyone seen them? Has anyone seen the Wall Street Journal article referenced?
I'm asking because the MIGOP Credentials Committee Memo, the Michigan 2012 Delegate Rules Summary per the RNC, The Green Papers' process overview, and even the RNC's own Communications Page all mention nothing of this rules change.
Here's why that's important. According to "The Doster Memo":
Since this Memorandum is an interpretation of the existing State Rules, the Republican National Committee has advised that interpretation is not an amendment to the State Rules, therefore, a waiver from the Republican National Committee is unnecessary.
So if there's any change to the rules that everyone has already agreed to, then a waiver from the appropriate RNC authority has to be on file . . . in advance of the primary election! So I guess the first question is: What'd everyone agree to? According to the publicly available paper trail:
. . . and keep in mind that any changes to these rules must be approved by the full State Committee (and if that vote doesn't occur before October 1st, then the Credentials Committee has to obtain a waiver from RNC approving the change)
However, in his Statement on Michigan's Delegate Allocation, Saul Anuzis claims:
At the February 4th State Committee meeting held in Lansing, the Credentials Committee unanimously passed the procedures for allocating Michigan's delegates to the National Convention in the event that the RNC imposes the 50% penalty on our delegation.
So, "no changes in rules or procedures" would seem to imply that the paper trail I've just laid out is the way it was supposed to be done. And the fact that Eric Doster and Mike Cox are both on-the-record as voting against this garbage (and Holly Hughes being on-the-record as the third "no" vote had she but known about the meeting) flat out flags as a lie the line about there being "no disagreement amongst the members that this was the intent of the Credential Committee and there is email traffic between the committee members and counsel discussing the same."
I barely know Eric Doster personally, but I've spoken to far more than a handful of state committee members and state party politics insiders who've known him for a very long time. There is absolutely no way that Doster published the February 7th memo without first taking it to every single member of the MIGOP Credentials Committee and making double-damn sure that every single one of them agreed with its contents . . . to the letter. If there was an error in the memo that left the intention unclear, as Saul insists on claiming, then I suspect it would have been caught and corrected.
Sending Sharon Wise and the rest of the state party surrogates around to claim that the concern existed that three or potentially all four of the candidates would clear the qualifying vote threshold and thus result in having to apportion out two delegates among more than two candidates is equally a crock of horseshit, and I can prove it. The potential nightmare scenario that Wise discussed in the linked video (and I assume that the rest of the surrogate crew is talking about as well) involves one of three theoretical possibilities:
Scenario One - Three of the candidates all clear the qualifying threshold, and happen to finish exactly tied for first place (regardless of whether or not the fourth candidate clears the qualifying threshold:
* The odds against this occurrence are about 256,000,000,000 to 1
Yes, I've actually done the math to back those odds up. And the reason that I used the words "exactly tied" in the scenario descriptions is that anything except an exactly tied result (which is statistically nigh unto impossible) will be corrected by the rounding rules, as in this hypothetical example:
You know what I think happened? I think that the pro-Romney cabal within the Michigan Republican Party was paying real close attention to the polls and honestly expecting that Willard would pull out a majority of the state's congressional districts (perhaps winning in either or both of CD-01 and CD-13, in addition to the others that he did win). If that were the case, then a one-and-one split of the at-large delegates would be no big deal, as it wouldn't change anything.
But then, holy cow, the by-the-rules results didn't fit with the predetermined outcome. What to do? There's no approved waiver on file (and no way that the entire State Committee will buy off on a reinterpretation of the August 13th vote). The only place where the anointed heir-apparent "beat" the insurgent-challenger was in the statewide popular vote (and then so closely that it would be considered "margin of error" if the election were a poll). That really isn't much of a win, even though it would have been all the justification needed to color Michigan orange (or whatever color we're associating with Romney) on the national map. At this point, the Credentials Committee faced two options:
And then, of course, the rhino dung really started spewing in the form of efforts to market this ex post facto Stalinist rewrite of the at-large delegate allocation rules. We are expected to believe that, according to what's being referred to as "The Jorns Memo," the plan all along was to award the at-large delegates in "blocs" and assign the two voting delegates to the delegate bloc of the statewide popular vote winner. We are expected to believe that this was done in order to prevent the scenario of having to split two delegates between more than two qualifying candidates (even though the odds are better of winning Power Ball). We are expected to heed Chairman Schostak's special message calling for party unity (trusting that the chair-appointed "special committee" will solve this), not let this be a "wedge issue" moving forward, and keep our eyes focused on the goal of pink-slipping President Obama and Senator Stabenow in the November general election.
I've mentioned in my commentary elsewhere in the Michigan "Dele-Gate" Fiasco that, as a sea services veteran, I take challenges to my integrity very seriously. What I didn't mention, but should be inferred, is that I return the courtesy. So what I'm about to say, I say having thought this through (and doing my level best to cast this in any other light):
Mr. Saulius Anuzis, I believe you to be a liar. I say this based on the paper trail that I have outlined in this article. I say this based on the cumulative chronicle of the twenty-five previous installments in the Michigan "Dele-Gate" Fiasco that have been published on this site. I say this based on applying Occam's Razor to the facts that are public knowledge and finding no more reasonable explanation that reconciles those facts.
Mr. Robert Schostak, I believe you to be a coward. I say this because, in my experience, an executive with any sense of personal or professional integrity would look at the mounting evidence that his decision was wrong, acknowledge the concerns of party interests and grassroots activists, realize that the attempts at damage control ultimately will not be worth it, and do the one thing that you have the sole authority to do. You, sir, are also the chairman of the MIGOP Credentials Committee; at any time you can call a meeting of that committee and reverse the February 29th decision. (Apparently the only vote you'll have to flip is your own.)
Let me be clear here. I do not say this for any sort of personal satisfaction. Rather, I am saying this because it concerns me that the Michigan Democrat Party right now actually holds the moral high ground on the "integrity argument" . . . and the longer it takes to correct this fiasco, the easier it will be for them to use it against us in the general campaign, perhaps to the point of undoing everything that we accomplished two years ago.
My desire, both of you, is that you realize the damage (potentially irreversible) that your continued efforts to inveigle, obfuscate, and stonewall are doing to the honor and integrity of the party that, by the definition of its name, is supposed to be all about the rule of law. My hope is that you repent and recant your disingenuous attempts at fabricating party unity where all you've done to date has laid the foundation for its destruction.
Following The Paper Trail and Noticing The Missing Links | 4 comments (4 topical, 0 hidden)
Following The Paper Trail and Noticing The Missing Links | 4 comments (4 topical, 0 hidden)
Related Links+ at least we think we do
+ soft total
+ Republican Hard and Soft Count Delegate Summary
+ 2012 GOP Party Delegate Endorsement List
+ as long as Romney manages to survive March
+ after Santorum's southern sweep
+ Gingrich's next move ought to be
+ a contested convention is Gingrich's only shot
+ the case can be made for Newt staying in the race
+ 2012 Republican Presidential Primaries Bound Delegate Tracker
+ Puerto Rico
+ hard count
+ Gingrich, Romney, and Santorum have put some considerable effort
+ 2012 RNC Delegate Summary
+ Luis Fortuno
+ Zori Fonalledas
+ Carlos Mendez
+ Nate Silver
+ Examples of "Proportional Delegate Allocation" Language for Presidential Nominating Process
+ Applicatio n of Possible Penalty Imposed Pursuant to Rule 16 of the Rules of the Republican Party
+ signing SB-0584 into law
+ 2008 Republican Presidential Primary
+ MIGOP Credentials Committee Memo
+ Michigan 2012 Delegate Rules Summary per the RNC
+ The Green Papers' process overview
+ RNC's own Communications Page
+ RNC Counsel's Office memo of 02 Feb 2011
+ Saul Anuzis' Blog Memo of 12 Jul 2011
+ Saul Anuzis' Weekly Musing of 14 Aug 2011
+ Governor Snyder signed Senate Bill 0584 (2011) into law
+ MIGOP Credentials Committee memo of 07 Feb 2012
+ Bobby Schostak NBC interview of 08 Feb 2012
+ Frontloadi ng Headquarters article of 14 Feb 2012
+ Michigan Delegate Rules Summary
+ GOP Primary Delegate Update
+ Statement on Michigan's Delegate Allocation
+ Wise discussed in the linked video
+ paying real close attention to the polls
+ smoke-fill ed back room
+ The Jorns Memo
+ commentary elsewhere
+ cumulative chronicle of the twenty-five previous installments in the Michigan "Dele-Gate" Fiasco that have been published on this site
+ Also by Kevin Rex Heine