GOP adopts changes to 2016 presidential primary process
January 24th, 2014
11:43 AM ET
3 months ago

GOP adopts changes to 2016 presidential primary process

Updated at 1:45 p.m. ET, 1/24/2014

Washington (CNN) – The Republican National Committee gave near-unanimous approval Friday to a package of rules changes that would condense the 2016 presidential nominating calendar and help the party avoid the kind of protracted party infighting that dented GOP nominee Mitt Romney's general election appeal in 2012.

The changes dovetail with the party's desire to move the convention from late summer to a June window, which would make the next Republican National Convention the earliest convention in either party since 1948. The RNC has announced its support for the June move but will formally vote on the change at a later date.

"This is an historic day for our party," RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said after the vote.

"We have been saying for months that we were no longer going to sit around and allow ourselves to slice and dice for six months, participate in a circus of debates, that we were going to take hold once again of our responsibility at the Republican National Committee because we are the custodians of the nomination process and today I believe was historical and obviously very important to the future of our party and our country."

The party is also taking steps to exert more control over Republican primary debates their moderators, but has yet to formalize any changes.

The rules changes, first reported by CNN in December, protect the traditional role of four early voting states while enacting harsh penalties against states that choose to hold early primaries or caucuses in violation of RNC rules. Those first four states – Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada – will hold their primary and caucus contests in February of 2016.

To prevent other states from jumping the order and compelling the first four to move their dates even earlier in January, as they did in 2012, any state that attempts to hold its nominating contest in February would have their number of delegates to the convention slashed to just nine people or, in the case of smaller states, one-third of their delegation - whichever number is smaller.

"It's the death penalty," said one RNC member. To wit: If Florida, which has flouted calendar rules in the past, violates RNC rules and holds its 2016 primary in February, its 99-member convention delegation would all but vanish. The state legislature in Florida has already moved to avoid an early primary in 2016.

After the first four states vote and the campaigns move into March, candidates would be awarded delegates on a proportional, rather than winner-take-all, basis. The scenario is designed to allow insurgent candidates the chance to stay competitive and prove their campaign mettle in larger states that might otherwise favor better-funded candidates.

The early March window would, in theory, prevent a candidate from catching fire in the early states and then riding a wave of momentum to delegate-rich victories in expensive states such as Florida or Texas.

States holding a contest after March 15 can decide to award their delegates however they see fit.

Of all the changes, the convention date is perhaps the most crucial and sought-after adjustment in the wake of Romney's 2012 loss. For many in the party, the primary process dragged for too long, with too many loose ends and hurt feelings, before Romney was formally declared the nominee at the Tampa, Florida, convention in late August.

Moving the convention to June would have the effect of ending the primary campaign in May because of RNC rules that require state party organizations to submit their delegate lists to the national party at least 45 days before the convention.

State Republican parties with primaries scheduled for June 2016, including California, New Jersey and New Mexico, would submit their delegate lists to the RNC ahead of time, before any primary vote takes place, Republicans said. For states with Democratic-controlled legislatures that refuse to move their primary dates, the RNC will grant waivers to submit such delegate lists.

But perhaps more importantly, subcommittee members said, an early convention date will give the 2016 nominee a massive financial edge over what Romney had in 201

Handcuffed from spending campaign funds raised for the general election until he was officially nominated in late August, Romney was outspent by a 3-to-1 margin on the television airwaves throughout the summer by President Barack Obama and his allies. Democrats defined Romney early as an out-of-touch plutocrat, and he never recovered his image.

By moving the convention to late June, the 2016 nominee will be able to open up his or her general election war chest a full two months earlier.

Possible convention sites include Las Vegas, Nevada; Kansas City, Missouri; Columbus, Ohio; Denver, Colorado; and Phoenix, Arizona.

soundoff (106 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    What are you republicans afraid of? Another Rick Perry amnesia moment? I bet ya $10,000 that whoever your nominee is is going to lose to Hillary.

    January 24, 2014 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  2. Lynda/Minnesota

    "The measures "put Republican voters, not the liberal media, in the driver's seat," said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus."

    So, they are going to try and bury whatever might happen at the convention (empty chairs comes to mind) by holding the convention earlier and after which they will then spend the next months telling us what didn't happen and why it didn't happen?

    What happens if they don't have a candidate nominated by convention day?

    This is a party that is scared to death of its own outreach disaster.

    January 24, 2014 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  3. Warren

    Well good for them... Still won't change the outcome. Clinton 2016!!!

    January 24, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  4. J'Cincinnati'Redd

    This is a first step but more needs to be done.the tea party has to understand that they have to tone it down a little. Rebublicans, have a shot(though Not a big One) at the white house In 2016.but we can not have the far right killing our chances before we even get started.

    January 24, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  5. tom l

    I welcome any and all of the usual people on here (both conservatives and liberals) to please look at my comment in the Hillary story and give me your feedback and comments. I only hope they are constructive.

    January 24, 2014 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  6. rs

    Too bad the Clown Car is already at the curb waiting. It isn't the primaries that made the GOP look so bad (although they didn't help much)- it was the 12 way-two-minutes-to-set-yourself-on-fire "debates". We have 8 GOP candidates running for Governor in AZ. They can't help themselves.

    January 24, 2014 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  7. Not gonna happen

    This reminds me of the saying, "The Titanic went down while the band played on." The RNC is scrambling to re-arrange the deck chairs as the bow of their party's ship slips under the icy waves of defeat. Rather than address what's really wrong with the party, they move the dates of the convention. Sure. That'll work. That'll work just fine. No one in the voting public will remember the tantrums, the unnecessary government shut down that almost crashed the world economy, the cold attitudes toward retirees who just want Social Security they've paid for, the self-centered ending of unemployment benefits for those who were thrown out of work because of the greediness of Wall Street and bankers, all supported by the Republican Party. We'll all forgive and forget how Republicans have done nothing but whine and complain and do absolutely nothing to actually fix things, all while trying to blame everything from financial crisises they created, to rainy days on Obama. Do what every you want, guys. I would vote for the neighbor's dog for president before I'd vote for a Republican. And I used to vote exclusively Republican.

    January 24, 2014 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC

    "The rules changes, first reported by CNN in December, protect the traditional role of four early voting states while enacting harsh penalties against states that choose to hold early primaries or caucuses in violation of RNC rules."
    --------------------------------------------–
    "Rules are for fools."

    They had harsh rules in place for the 2012 cycle. One state ignored them, and the RNC did nothing. After that, several other states broke rank. The state leaderships didn't care what the RNC threatened. I guess someone had figured out that punishing the behavior of the state's leadership would mean that the voters on those states would become collateral damage.

    January 24, 2014 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  9. Thomas

    RNC Chairman Reince Priebus is so desperat.

    Jay Leno / Marco Rubio 2016
    Make me laugh , please

    January 24, 2014 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    "The measures "put Republican voters, not the liberal media, in the driver's seat," "

    Yawn. Tired "liberal media" talking point is tired.

    January 24, 2014 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  11. Silence DoGood

    "crafted in private in recent months by a small group of party officials"
    The measures "put Republican voters, not the liberal media, in the driver's seat," said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.
    ----------–
    So less media coverage and maneuvering to manipulate coverage. Are they planning to be more radical and more embarrassing this time around? I am a little scared to hear the platform and candidates. They took some bad hits with too long of a public scrutiny – "47%" comes to mind first.

    January 24, 2014 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    tom l

    I welcome any and all of the usual people on here (both conservatives and liberals) to please look at my comment in the Hillary story and give me your feedback and comments. I only hope they are constructive.
    ------------------
    Come one, man. I'm trying to eat my lunch.

    January 24, 2014 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  13. Lynda/Minnesota

    "What happens if they don't have a candidate nominated by convention day?"

    Suggests that they've already picked their candidate without the voting process, doesn't it?

    January 24, 2014 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  14. MaryM

    The republican brand has been and continues to be severely damaged because the republicans embraced the extreme right wing nut jobs and religious kooks. To point, is that the republicans have to give instructions to their spokes people on how to talk to women. That is just one example of many, many damaging scenarios.

    January 24, 2014 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  15. Silence DoGood

    @Sniffit
    "The measures "put Republican voters, not the liberal media, in the driver's seat," "
    Yawn. Tired "liberal media" talking point is tired.
    -------
    Liberal media = media. Like creatures of the night, conservatives wither when over-exposed. They just don't want too much coverage. Eventually all extreme right wingers say something that shows what are really after.
    Example: saying "war on Christians" 50 times then coming out with moral judgement legislation – whoops! Busted!

    January 24, 2014 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    When you're worried about your candidates having too much exposure, you have a serious freekin problem.

    January 24, 2014 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  17. MaryM

    Do whatever you like RNC, You wont win because your brand is severely damaged . Just keep talking to Fox noise. Remember, Romney in a land slide

    January 24, 2014 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  18. ChrisM

    Reince Priebus take out the vowels and you get RNC PR BS

    January 24, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  19. Lynda/Minnesota

    Oops. Guess I replied to my own question. Probably a good time to take a break and finish my house
    cleaning uninterrupted ... yes?

    January 24, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  20. sly

    Will there be any candidates left to run for the Confederates?

    At this rate, most of them will be in jail.

    Palin-McCain in 2016 sounds most likely, and they will be lucky to get 15% of the vote.

    The 2016 election is pretty much a slam dunk for President Clinton. These are good times for America.

    January 24, 2014 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  21. quinLee

    Likely will not be a tough act to follow.

    January 24, 2014 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  22. bfd

    I am finished voting for the lesser of two evils in elections. DONE!!

    January 24, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  23. Rudy NYC

    tom l.

    "....I will say that I was disappointed for you to throw out the "Rush" comment as I really don't listen to Rush all that much and I also rarely watch Fox News. ... ... My confusion and where I would like some insight is that I believe liberals absolutely look to govt for solutions to almost everything ... ... I would love for you to have a better understanding of why conservatives feel the way they do. ... ... But my goal is for dialogue here and all this has turned into is anger on both sides.
    -------------------------
    Ha. People don't get angry with you as much as they laugh at you. You'd get more respect if you actually were some kid who was just a few years out of college. At least that way, you'd have some sort of legitamte excuse for your prolific stereotypes and misconceptions [see above].

    Let me tell you something that I've told to many teens, particulary the heart broken debutantes. I touched on this topic before, so let me say it differently. When we feel like we don't understand other people it's usually because we don't see people for they really are. It's human nature to see what we want to see in other people, which is usually a reflection of ourselves: how we might think and make decisions if we were in their place.

    I think you're making the same type of mistake. You've been looking at the world through a lens for so long that you don't even realize that the lens is even there. I posted several times before you ever showed up around here that conservatives tend to look for people to join them, while liberals tend to look for people to join with. Your monologue only illustrate my point(s).

    January 24, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  24. Fair is Fair

    tom l

    I welcome any and all of the usual people on here (both conservatives and liberals) to please look at my comment in the Hillary story and give me your feedback and comments. I only hope they are constructive.
    ------
    tom, here's the deal, sad as it is. I've seen some poor woman who was an avid Obama supporter literally get skewered by the hard lefties (you know who they are) for having the gall to say something lett than positive about the post office. I'm a pro-life conservative who's been bashed by the righties for being against the death penalty. This den of thieves has no room for anyone who doesn't toe the line 100% of the time. Give it up. Most of the comments I make nowadays are made to get their panties in a wedge. Civil debate is dead here.

    January 24, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  25. Quixote

    They want to make darn sure that the public does not get a close look at the republicon candidates before they pick one to spend billions lying about in commercials. Last time, the more the public knew, the less they liked them. So the solution is obviously not to get a better platform, or better candidates, but a better marketing strategy to sell the same worm filled steaming heaps of compost.

    January 24, 2014 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
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