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

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"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. tom l

    I am not going to lower myself and make a negative comment. If you have no desire to understand the other side then that's on you.

    January 24, 2014 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  2. Fair is Fair


    "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?
    I could be wrong, but I think they're planning on condensing their primary schedule.

    January 24, 2014 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  3. cbp

    The GOP changes are not new nor will they really make a difference. The only changes that will come are from each person running for office. Look and listen to each person, ask questions, and vote for the person who best meets your criteria.

    These big announcements have been made before and it appears to be a need on the part of the leadership to tell us that they have changed. Only time will tell if this is true. Judging from the statements made by some members they have a long way to go.

    January 24, 2014 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  4. ImvotingforHillary

    They aren't going to win in 2016 anyway,especially if Hillary runs. People with common sense aren't going to vote for the racist hypocrites tea drinkers who may run and any decent Repub will sell his soul to the extreme right wing during the primary thus turning off more voters. I can't wait for their convention, though so all the racist out there who say the GOP is full of blacks can point out the tons of them seated in the convention.

    January 24, 2014 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  5. bob

    The primaries should all be held on the same day, just as the general election. That would spare voters having to listen hot air for months on end while learning nothing of consequence about the state of international and domestic affairs and how the candidates would deal with them. In a way, the campaigns are almost a complete waste of time, since everyone already knows that the Republicans are going to do everything they can to help the rich get richer and some, but not all, Democrats will try to help the poor and people who have to work for a living from getting poorer.

    January 24, 2014 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  6. 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. 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.

    January 24, 2014 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  7. Darw1n

    "This is an historic day for our party," RNC Chairman Prince Jebus said after the vote. "We have been saying for months that we will never win another national election unless we can hide the true aspirations of our 18th century cretin candidates from the general public."

    January 24, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  8. Tom

    We want more Mike Huckabees. With comments like his, the republicans will never see the White House again.

    January 24, 2014 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  9. Lynda/Minnesota

    "I could be wrong, but I think they're planning on condensing their primary schedule."

    Yeah. I took time to actually re-read the comment after I replied to it (the second time). I think you are correct. Thanks, though for your comment.

    January 24, 2014 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  10. ShawnDH


    If we shorten the circus, people will see less of the clowns!

    January 24, 2014 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  11. Barry G.

    Hillary Clinton is going to be our next president. Get used to it!

    Go, Hillary!

    January 24, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  12. sammy750

    The Republicans are so hurting for any candidate to run in 2016. They have hit the bottom of the barrel. The far right wing conservatives will take over the party during all the primary. Even J. McCain now is getting big challenges in AZ. We have a conservative minority that are the TALIBAN in control now. Vote wise people as your going to be taken over by a radical group of politicians.

    January 24, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  13. Kenneth the VI of Minneapolis

    The elites have spoken. So it is written, so it shall be done!

    January 24, 2014 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  14. Rudy NYC

    tom l

    I am not going to lower myself and make a negative comment. If you have no desire to understand the other side then that's on you.
    Oh, well. Can't say that I haven't tried. I guess you're having a serious problem finding the edge of that lens, the frame that holds it in place, so that you can move it out of the way. I guess you really haven't been seeing things for what they really are.

    Me? Not want to "understand the other side?" After what I just posted, that is truly a high density remark. I know what the consevative message is all about. You're still trying to push it, while ignoring the REAL REASONS that people just simly don't want to heaar it. They don't like what they hear. You can't paint lipstick on pig and convince people it's no longer a pig.

    January 24, 2014 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  15. Randy

    The GOP is definitely scared of debate from within. The worst thing that could happen to them would be for a Tea candidate to really get into the primary race. Once that crowd got a wiff of real hope for a candidate it would be hard to call them out to vote for the establishment goof they're going to jam in there at the convention. Get it over fast and make sure Fox, Rush, et all are just driving up the fear and hate towards Democrats as soon as possible. That's their whole deal.

    January 24, 2014 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  16. Tom

    The only change that would help is eliminating primaries completely and going to one of the "instant primary" forms of voting. That way a small group of wing-nuts doesn't get to choose the candidate everyone else is stuck with.

    January 24, 2014 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  17. Mike

    Hell, just go back to picking the GOP candidate behind closed doors, and drop the pretenses.

    January 24, 2014 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  18. guest

    So the candidates can not conduct themselves professionally enough to be allowed to debate and be seen by the American public. They are too ravenous and devour even their own during the scramble for power. GOP is conceding that America hates them and that their candidates are all undesirable, so they plan to not allow debates or make the candidates express their visions of leadership. They pick them in a smoke filled back rooms according to who has positional advantage to their next insider trading scheme.

    My guess is their next candidate can help move along their scheme involving controlling the price of gold and buying gold while at all time highs. My guess is that these private stocks are bought up by the government and placed in the reserves once a GOP administration is elected.

    January 24, 2014 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  19. ruemorgue

    Less time for the *people* to have their say ...

    January 24, 2014 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  20. Shorten the process

    AND HIDE THE CRAZY!!! Sounds like the Republicans are trying to limit the Tea Party's ability to damage their brand from within.

    January 24, 2014 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  21. VJ

    Moving convention to June is a bad idea...... I would rather put in 3rd week of September....that is the time where voters who will start hearing the ideas of their nominees..... GOP never and will understand what is their problem!!!

    January 24, 2014 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  22. Walt

    Hopefully, this date change means no (boring) TV coverage.

    January 24, 2014 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  23. JohnRJohnson

    Reince Priebus is the Village Idiot incarnate. Playing games with their primaries and convention isn't going to do the GOP any good. It's platform, which alienates women, gays, minorities and the poor, is the problem.

    January 24, 2014 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  24. 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!

    January 24, 2014 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  25. Lee

    They want to shorten the clown car caravan. They don't want anyone to notice the hate, insanity, science denial and the types of sociopaths that rise to the top of this once great political party.

    January 24, 2014 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
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