GOP adopts changes to 2016 presidential primary process
January 24th, 2014
11:43 AM ET
8 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. Kevin Lowe

    If the GOP is really serious about winning elections, would they be willing to consider running a compelling candidate? Surely they still have Huntsman's number in their Rolodex?

    January 24, 2014 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  2. MTATL67

    Bridgegate, Gov Mike Huckabee , Gov Bob McDonnell, Conservative commentator D'Souza indicted and The Republican parties complete loss of Virginia. I’d say the GOP is the party of the walking disasters.

    January 24, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  3. Demigod Vadik, CA

    Its like shuffling waste (I'm using a good term here) from one side of the house to the other...

    ...what the GOP needs to do is clean the house, not shuffle waste...

    January 24, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  4. Liberal Iowan

    Do whatever you want. You're still going to lose.

    January 24, 2014 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  5. coyoteliberty

    States spend MILLIONS of dollars to fund the Democratic and Republican presidential primaries, which benefit ONLY those parties. The Libertarian Party has called on state governments to require that state political parties pay the full cost of their own primaries.

    January 24, 2014 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  6. coyoteliberty

    Romney WAS an out of touch plutocrat.

    January 24, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  7. Bob

    Wow! The RNC is not only thinning out their own GOP ranks. They are threatening to thin out their own states delegates if they move up their primaries ahead of the golden 4 states. Rules will eventually put the GOP out of business

    January 24, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  8. Lynda/Minnesota

    Fair is Fair
    tom l –

    There are exceptions. Tom Paine, for example. He and I rarely see eye to eye on anything. But the guy has always been civil in the discourses we've had.
    --------------

    As you have been civil to me as well. I do enjoy reading the back and forth bantering. Unfortunately, this forum is not conducive to debate. The delay between comments alone stifles most conversations.

    January 24, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  9. Phattee

    Basically, the GOP wants people to see and know as little as possible about their candidates.

    January 24, 2014 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  10. MarkinFL

    Smart move, and shows how strongly they want to dilute the influence of the Tea-party. This is a battle that went in favor of establishment Republicans in this GOP civil war.

    January 24, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  11. Markin_FL

    Smart move, and shows how strongly they want to dilute the influence of the Tea-party. This is a battle that went in favor of establishment Republicans in this GOP civil war.

    January 24, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  12. Phil in KC

    Personally, I think all primaries and caucuses should award delegates proportionally, instead of winner take all. It's much more representative of the vote and would assure that those later in the process still have choices. Just because someone does not do well in those first 4 states does not mean they may do well in others.
    I do think the primary issue here (no pun intended) is to give them a jump on the Democrats and allow them to frame the debate.
    One other observation – please don't send them here. We don't need all that additional congestion. And I really don't want any more zealots than we already have here.

    January 24, 2014 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  13. Fair is Fair

    ritmocojo

    "Reince Priebus"
    Where in the world did the Repubicans find a guy with a name like that. Oh, I see! They didn't get it from here, they got if from Uranus!
    ------------
    Interesting comment. Wondering if you might share what you think of these names:

    Dag Hammarksjold
    Mahatma Ghandi
    Karol Jozef Wojtyla

    Hurry up, though... you might miss your turn in Dungeons & Dragons...

    January 24, 2014 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  14. Rudy NYC

    "There are exceptions. Tom Paine, for example. He and I rarely see eye to eye on anything. But the guy has always been civil in the discourses we've had. The problem is there's not enough like him. The result is what you see happening in this forum – either childish 4th grade banter or the mutual admiration society... neither of which is productive."

    As you have been civil to me as well. I do enjoy reading the back and forth bantering. Unfortunately, this forum is not conducive to debate. The delay between comments alone stifles most conversations.
    -------------------------
    I wish I could make the same claim, but I have found myself too often on the receiving end of "4th grade" name calling.

    January 24, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  15. Tom

    I'm not sure the problem is a nominating process that is too long, but a field of candidates that are too crazy. Compressing the nominating process won't eliminate the extreme views that keep pushing the Republican party to the far right, driving away big chunks of the electorate. Choosing a candidate in June means the opposition has almost six months to attack one candidate. It also takes away the media attention later in the election cycle.

    January 24, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  16. You say what

    Great idea Priebus.. you be the man.. don't you dare allow republicans debate republicans and air dirty laundry.. no, get a candidate on the ballot fast so the democrats have more time to pull out the dirty laundry. Make sure you make it hard for republican voters to "get to know the candidate" but instead you choose who you think best fits the ticket you want. Btw, I think your personal selection of Ryan to be the VP candidate was a real game changer. Keep up the good work and keep ignoring the voters.

    January 24, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  17. Fair is Fair

    Lynda/Minnesota

    Fair is Fair
    tom l –

    There are exceptions. Tom Paine, for example. He and I rarely see eye to eye on anything. But the guy has always been civil in the discourses we've had.
    ----–

    As you have been civil to me as well. I do enjoy reading the back and forth bantering. Unfortunately, this forum is not conducive to debate. The delay between comments alone stifles most conversations.
    --------
    Some of it is entertaining, to say the least. A lot of it is one-upsmanship... which is also entertaining if they took the bait that I happened to put out. And there's an occasional learning opportunity. Those jewels are few and far between. Thank you for your kind words.

    January 24, 2014 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  18. with a grain of salt

    They will say anything you want to hear, but refuse to change their ideology, until then this is a downward spiral. Its getting increasingly difficult to fool the masses, to preach one thing, and practice another. Their loyalties are obvious, vote accordingly people

    January 24, 2014 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  19. JJ236

    hopefully an actual candidate pops up. Otherwise the USA as it was known will likely cease to exist.

    January 24, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  20. The REAL Truth...

    @Phattee – Basically, the GOP wants people to see and know as little as possible about their candidates.
    ----------------------------------
    Oh so true.. and given those they marched out during 2012's shellacking, it should surprise no-one that they want to condense the proceedings.. gives the candidates less time to make faux pas's like Perry and Cain did.

    January 24, 2014 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  21. Reallity

    Mitt Romney would have made a MUCH better president than our current loser OBAMA!

    January 24, 2014 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  22. the horror of it all....

    Jobs, immigration, womens rights, education, gun control, food for the poor, poverty in general, jobs and more jobs, health care for the neediest, bank regulation, separation of church and state.... why not work on an agenda that strengthens America,,. smoke and mirrors won't do the trick....

    January 24, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  23. vbscript2

    "Wow! The RNC is not only thinning out their own GOP ranks. They are threatening to thin out their own states delegates if they move up their primaries ahead of the golden 4 states. Rules will eventually put the GOP out of business"

    While I also disagree with some states being put ahead of the others, it's not like the Democrats don't do this, too. They stripped Florida and Michigan of their delegates in 2008 because of moving their primary earlier than the DNC wanted them to have it. They eventually recanted and allowed them to seat the delegates, but only after the race was already effectively over.

    January 24, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  24. Loathstheright

    Doesn't matter, America won't vote in a Republican for president for many years after the epic fail from Bush.

    January 24, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  25. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    The Guns Over People tea potty wingnuts can run from the American people but they can't hide. November comes quickly for all of them.

    January 24, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
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