In an attempt to garner relevance in the Presidential primary schedule, many states have begun jumping the line in recent years to obtain more of a say in the candidate selection process. Michigan is the latest such state to push their primary as early as possible to garner more attention from candidates.

Report from MLive:

LANSING, MI — The Michigan Republican Party is making plans for a March 2016 presidential primary that could end up as a winner-take-all delegate haul.

Under rules approved Saturday by the party’s central committee, a presidential candidate could win all 60 or so Michigan delegates if they capture more than 50 percent of the vote in a March 15 primary. [Emphasis added]

That’s the earliest date the state GOP could choose a winner-take-all option under rules previously adopted by the Republican National Committee.

“This makes sure that Michigan is going to be relevant going into 2016,” said spokesperson Darrel Littell. “It’s going to be a central prize for any presidential contender.”

In 2012, Michigan Republicans divided primary delegates proportionally based on the top vote getter in each congressional district. Mitt Romney won 41.1 percent of the vote and earned 16 delegates, while Rick Santorum picked up 14.

If there is a crowded primary field again in 2016, it’s unlikely that any one candidate would win 50 percent of the vote. But the option could give a particularly strong candidate a chance to pull away from the field.

I actually think the “winner take all” rule is fairly unproductive if you’re trying to get candidates to pay attention to your state. If the “front runner” is running away with polls in Michigan, why bother competing there only to lose by 2 points and come away with no delegates? Resources will be spent elsewhere on states which will at least guarantee some reward of delegates, even if only a handful for second and third place primary finishes.


  1. Well, that’s assuming that anyone is that far ahead–and candidates are always expecting their opponents to trip, Remember that someone would have to take 50%, and even Romney, where his dad was a popular governor, was far below 50%. The 50% clause probably assures that the winner-take-all would only happen if someone is so far ahead that they have no real competition, anyway.

    If there were just two or three viable candidates, I could see them work hard to get all the marbles. I also see it as a possibility that they would come to the state early, trying to get an early lead. But we already have a bushel basket full of quasi-pseudo-could be candidates.

    • True, I get the 50% caveat. I simply dislike “winner take all” in general because it invalidates voters. It’s as if the minority simply doesn’t count at all. Proportionality seems the most fair way to deal with these sort of things.

      • But then, you’d be back to the candidates running around just a few states where the population is centered. The winner-takes-all forces candidates to pay attention to a lot more states.

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