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Delegate Rule Change Spurs Speculation about Republican Nomination Process

January 11, 2012

Political analysts are watching to see if a new Republican Party rule regarding the distribution of party delegates will affect the outcome of the nomination process in the 2012 presidential election.

Each state has a certain number of delegates to send to the Republican Party's National Convention in August. Their votes will officially nominate the candidate. But who they vote for is dictated by the primary or caucus results in their state.

New this year, the Republican Party says none of the early contests may allocate their delegates in a “winner-take-all” system.

Instead, the states may choose, like New Hampshire does, to allocate the delegates proportionally, some to each candidate based on the percentage of the vote they have earned.

That means that, if you place a close second in a primary, you could end up with a sizeable number of delegates behind you.

But some analysts say this rule change may not amount to much. Contests after April will not be affected at all.

Furthermore, the analysts note the rule allows many different variations of proportional allocation. Few of the early states will therefore need to change anything, since most already had some proportional system in place.

Perhaps most importantly, by the time the National Convention comes around in August, there will likely be only one candidate remaining. Most years, candidates begin dropping out of the race if they do not do well in the early contests — as Michelle Bachmann chose to do recently after after placing sixth in Iowa.

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