A little-noticed change in GOP rules last year means almost all of the states holding caucuses and primaries before April 1 will allocate their delegates proportionally – and that means that Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney are looking at a prolonged, potentially costly battle for the GOP nomination this year.
Unless one candidate dominates the first several caucuses and primaries, the race could easily stretch into April and beyond, GOP veterans told The Hill.
“Unless you have a candidate who’s established they’ve dominated in the first three to five contests, it’s going to turn into a protracted battle,” said Ryan Call, state chairman of the Colorado Republican Party. “It may be the kind of back-and-forth contest we saw in the Clinton and Obama race.
“The rules changes adopted by the RNC will be reason for that because of the lack of winner-take-all states early on,” he added.
It’s a daunting calendar. And some in the GOP fear that whoever emerges could be seriously weakened in the general campaign against President Barack Obama.
- Of the states holding primaries or caucuses before March, only Florida and Arizona will allocate all delegates to the candidate who wins the state.
- This will make the Sunshine State a big prize in the race for delegates. The winner of Florida will collect 50 delegates, instead of the state’s usual 99, because of a penalty imposed on the state for advancing its primary to Jan. 31.
- Arizona lost half of its 58 delegates by moving its presidential primary to February 28. There too the winner will collect them all, according to a state party spokesman.
- To clinch the nomination, a candidate will need 1143 delegates, according to a Republican National Committee memo.
- By March 1, only 146 delegates will have been allocated from the primaries in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
- Candidates will lay claim to a portion of the 156 delegates in Iowa, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota and Nevada but these are caucus states and they will not set the final allocation of delegates until state conventions set for later 2012.
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