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. Grinning Libber

    More lipstick – that will most likely backfire.
    The GOP has always been about top down control. They would just eliminate the primaries and pick a candidate in the back rooms if they could.
    This will give the progressives more time to vet their chosen one, Thanks!

    January 24, 2014 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  2. PushingBack

    "The moves, crafted in private in recent months by a small group of party officials representing both the party's establishment and grassroots wings, are designed to help the party avoid the kind of protracted Republican infighting that dented GOP nominee Mitt Romney's general election appeal in 2012."

    LOL...so the infighting won't start earlier too? How stupid are they?

    January 24, 2014 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  3. capnmike

    They may be changing the process, but they are still going to be the poor-people-hating, job-exporting, woman-bashing, minority-despising warmongering corrupt country-club elitist pigs they have always been.

    January 24, 2014 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  4. TonyInNYC

    They're hoping that if the primaries are another undignified slugfest, voters will have more time to forget it.

    January 24, 2014 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  5. david saint

    lol its not going to change the eventual flip flop that the nominated candidate will have to embark on. The fringe crazies in the tea party will never elect a moderate, and the Dems will never vote for anyone who condones the tea party propaganda. Their thirst for a theocracy, or Christian version of Sharia Law, is their own undoing. It exposes them for the hypocrites they are

    January 24, 2014 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  6. Mark Causey

    The Repubs need to understand that it is their politics that caused them to lose, not the process.

    January 24, 2014 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  7. You say what

    Kind of surprised Priebus didn't try getting a rule passed that he could never be challenged as the chairman and no one was allowed to run against him in the future. Personally I am happy to have him as their chairman because I think he will help destroy the republican party. He has a history of backstabbing to get what he wants, and seems to think he has all the answers, and this just solidifies that image. He will decide who moderates debates, he will decide the approved media outlets to have the debates seen, and he decides what topics are allowed to be debated. Calling him a little Hitler is actually too mild.

    January 24, 2014 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  8. Pythagore

    I will vote Romney, if he wants to try it again.. One more black male vote!

    January 24, 2014 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  9. Hooper

    A trick or treat-or can go home in the middle of collecting candy, change the mask he/she wears, but still be the same trick or treat-or. And some of the fools in this country will fall for the changes made, but still be dealing with the same treacherous people that changed their mask.

    January 24, 2014 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  10. with a grain of salt

    They simply can't survive a primary battle, what ever is left is unelectable. They know this now, mike, I think that's kinda what they're saying. The people are simply tired of the gop telling you that education is the key, while simultaneously attacking it from every angle. That's just one of many, I found that gop politician who berated the memorial worker spoke volumes. They are absolutely dependent on ignorance to win at this point. I've heard them try their best to ignore their message, by saying it's a messaging problem. The problem is the message, its being received loud and clear, and that's the problem.

    January 24, 2014 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  11. Craig

    Maybe, just maybe, Rmoney never "recovered" from being called an "out-of-touch plutocrat" because it was true. Everything after that was just lipstick on a pig, and the 47% well understood that.

    January 24, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  12. ChrisM

    The republicans can shuffle and dance around the "elephant in the room" but that will not change how Americans vote.,
    The GOP brand is damaged and continues to be damaged by the rwnjs and religious extremist in the GOP

    January 24, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  13. The GOP need to pack up and leave

    Infighting didn't harm Romney's appeal. Romney did that all by himself.

    January 24, 2014 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  14. Freedom&Justice4All

    Folks...all you have to do is ask a Republican Presidential Candidate one question and it will tell you all you need to know about his/her (the latter could be possible but not probable) desire to pander to the "base" remember "Al Qaeda" means base in Arabic.....

    How old is the earth??????

    This is a tricky one that Marco "Pretty Boy" Rubio has already handled poorly or flunked. Pretty Boy said the earth is millions of years old and then backtracked to the Republican base position that it is only 6000 years old.

    Try that question on your friends at a party and you will be amazed at the results.

    January 24, 2014 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  15. Jasmine Lindros

    Did you read that, my fellow Republicans? If our individual state changes our primary date, the Republican National Committee will penalize our state so drastically they can basically ignore our vote. How does it feel to be disenfranchised, Republicans? Doesn't it feel good to be a member of the party that is trying to ignore our vote?

    January 24, 2014 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  16. TNPatriot

    The measures "put Republican voters, not the liberal media, in the driver's seat," said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.
    Does this mean that all of the debates will be on fox in hopes that dems and independents won't see/hear all the tea party nut talk by the candidate who wins the nomination? Hopes that when they try to turn 180° in the general election, the voters won't catch the flip flops?

    January 24, 2014 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  17. Hillary 2016

    Early or Late...either way....The Republicans are complete Failures! ...Hillary 2016!

    January 24, 2014 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  18. TomGI

    What, they aren't bringing the Republican convention to California? That's a disgrace.

    January 24, 2014 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  19. JY

    Too bad, the show was great back in 2012, watching a bunch of fools show off just how out of touch they are with society as a whole.
    Wonder if Mr. Birther will try again? Hmm... not with the mop he wears, please!!! Michelle could hang with laverne and shirley, and stay there.
    Their only hope right now is Christie not letting his mouth bite off more than he can chew...And getting his appointees under control.

    January 24, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  20. TomGI

    Please just decide between Cruz and Paul and get on with it.

    January 24, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  21. J'Cincinnati'Redd

    Americans needs to stand together.

    January 24, 2014 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  22. ChrisM

    GOP is the anti-science, anti-womens rights, anti-gay, anti-immigration, anti-voting rights, that wants to give tax breaks to the wealthy. And that is just a start. Look at what the republican laws in Texas s is doing to that family and the poor women that has been DEAD Since November

    January 24, 2014 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  23. Marie MD

    Little man with the funny name. Maybe you should work just a tad more on rhetoric like the one below from one of your "boys", of course, against women instead of when to hold your tea klan convention.
    It turns out that Mike Huckabee – one of Mitch McConnell’s most touted supporters – actually said this in reference to women yesterday:
    Huckabee said that Democrats tell women “they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government.”

    January 24, 2014 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  24. SkepticalOne

    Good plan. If you give the kind of clowns you nominate too much time in front of the cameras they are bound to stick their foot in their mouth.

    January 24, 2014 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  25. Tony

    Tom l., libertarians believe that government is all bad. Liberals believe that government is not all bad and can do some good (for example, building highways, providing police, regulating food and drugs, etc.) Conservatives are split on government. They want small government when it comes to business and taxation, but big government when it comes to morality. So, Tom l., liberals do not have blind faith in government. They don't think government should tell people what to believe or how to live their lives. Government is run by people, and liberals have not given up faith in all people. Some people still have a desire to work for the greater good.

    January 24, 2014 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
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