The Green Papers
The Green Papers
Historical Data

An historical analysis of the apportionment of delegate votes
at the National Conventions of the two major parties

"The Green Papers" staff
Sun 30 May 2004

Archive of July 24, 2000 document

As we approach the end of July 2004, we Americans will discern the sound of the opening gavel of the 44th Democratic National Convention in Boston; a little over a month after that, the 38th Republican National Convention will open in New York City. By the end of that Republican Convention, a minimum of 1,255 delegates (a majority) will have voted for the Republican nominee for President; likewise, by the end of the earlier Democratic Convention, a minimum of around 2,162 delegates (a majority) will have voted for the Democratic nominee for President. But why 1,255 Republicans? Why some 2,162 Democrats? Where do these numbers come from? More to the point of this particular essay, just how were similar numbers determined at previous major party National Conventions?

One thing that has to be remembered throughout one's reading this synopsis of the development of the determining of the number of delegate votes apportioned to each State (or other similar jurisdiction- such as a Territory) is the concept that the Parties in each State would, throughout most of the history of major party National Conventions, retain the right to determine just how the delegates to each party's respective National Convention would be selected, subject to more or less informal local party rules eventually supplemented- to a greater or lesser extent- by the requirements of formal State Law (a process which is recounted in "Historical Analysis of the Presidential Nominating Process" on this site) while the National Parties would merely be left with the power to determine just how many delegate votes each State (or other jurisdiction) would receive on the floor of the National Conventions themselves. It should also be noted, at the start, that this concept would remain largely unaltered in the Democratic Party until the McGovern-Fraser reforms of the early 1970's (as noted in the "Glossary" on this site under "Presidential Primary Types") and, for all intents and purposes, remains unchanged in the Republican Party to this day.

When the first Democratic National Convention was held to choose the Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates for the 1832 Election, the delegate apportionment among the States was very simple: it was equal to the number of Electoral Votes each State would have in the upcoming General Election. The 2 Electoral Votes given to each State by virtue of its representation in the United States Senate would be- at the National Convention- "at-large" delegates, theoretically to be chosen on a statewide basis; the remaining National Convention delegates (equal in number to the State's delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives) would be- at least once Congress, by law in 1842, had required that all members of the House be chosen by district (absent some special or otherwise unique circumstance: the only way Members of Congress could be elected at-large after that date)- "congressional district" delegates who could, theoretically, be chosen by congressional district to represent sub-state regions which might politically differ from the majority of the State.

Practice, however, differed greatly from theory: "frontier states", those some distance from the Convention site- and from which long-distance travel was difficult, if not expensive- would not be able, in many cases, to send an official delegation (there is, of course, the oft-told story of how, at an early Democratic National Convention [that for the 1836 Election], a resident from what was then still a frontier State [Tennessee] who just happened to be in the city where the National Convention was being held [Baltimore] on other business was recruited to cast all that State's delegate votes during Roll Calls on the floor of the Convention in the absence of that State having formally chosen delegates to that Convention). In the less-than-frontier States, those much closer to the still rather crude transportation network of a still largely seaboard/river valley-based Nation and where more formal processes of choosing delegates through the nascent Caucus/Convention system had already been fairly well established, there was almost always the need to have more delegates than the State had delegate votes on the floor of the Convention in order to make sure that all important State and local party leaders from a given State had seats on the floor of the Convention as delegates (it must be recalled that, for the first hundred years or so of the existence of the quadrennial National Convention, these were the only gatherings at which Party Leaders from widely separated sections of the country could personally interact with each other), leading to the concept of "fractional voting"- in which many delegates cast something less than a full vote and which has remained a part of Democratic National Conventions to this day (although it is, in the year 2004, only to be found in delegations from the outlying Territories- as detailed on the site's "Democratic National Convention" page).

In 1848, an attempt was made to require each State to send no more delegates to the Convention than the number of votes apportioned to it, but that move failed to garner support; in 1852, the Democrats next attempted to solve the problem of having enough seats for every important Party functionary from around the country by simply doubling the number of delegates from each State and giving each delegate a � vote (the first formal, accepted use of fractional voting) to keep the actual vote of the delegations equal to the Electoral Vote of that State: for the foreseeable future, there would now be 4 "at-large" delegates from each State along with a number of "district" delegates equal to twice the number of Representatives in Congress from each State- but the number of delegate votes from each State would, for the next two decades, remain equal to that State's Electoral Vote.

During the time the Whigs had their relatively brief shelf life as a major Party through the 1840's and into the 1850's, their National Conventions followed the lead of the Democrats in allocating each State a number of votes equal to the Electors that State would have in the ensuing Presidential Election. There was one significant difference between the Whigs and the Democrats, however, and that was the so-called "two-thirds rule" used by Democrats in their Presidential and Vice-Presidential Nominating Roll Calls; in order to be nominated at a Democratic National Convention, a presidential or vice-presidential contender had to win 2/3 of the total Convention vote, whereas the Whigs only required a simple majority to nominate their candidates: the Whig "simple majority" would be carried on by the Republican Party which supplanted the Whigs as the second major party beginning in 1856 at their National Conventions while the Democrats would hold onto the two-thirds rule well into the 20th Century as, after the Civil War, it proved- at least at first- to be an effective intraparty method of placating the "Solid South" which would prove to be so loyal to the Democrats as well as a region which feared being outvoted on Nominating Ballots by States from the North and West were the Democrats to adopt the "simple majority" used by the Republicans.

When the Republicans held their first National Convention in 1856, each State was allocated six delegates at-large and three for each Congressional District (in essence, the Republican delegations would be three times the size of the Electoral Vote for each State); in 1860, this was reduced to four at-large delegates and two district delegates from each State (twice the number of Electoral Votes for each State). However, up through the end of the Civil War in 1865, the Republicans were primarily a Northern and Western party with no base whatsoever in the South prior to Reconstruction and, as a result, not every State was represented in the early Republican National Conventions; partially because of this, the Republicans- from the first- introduced the novel concept of including Convention delegates from non-State jurisdictions, even though these Territories could not- of course- choose Electors for President and Vice-President in the General Election unless and until they had achieved Statehood. In the very first Republican Convention, the District of Columbia was allowed to send 3 delegates to that Convention- this was reduced to 2 for 1860 (in keeping with the reduction of the size of GOP delegations generally that year, as noted above). Beginning in 1864, Territories other than the Nation's Capital were allowed 6 delegates to the Republican Convention if they were deemed sufficiently developed politically (and seemingly on the verge of Statehood), only 2 delegates if they were not.

With the end of the Civil War and Reconstruction, those States (primarily in the former Confederacy) which had hitherto been unrepresented in the GOP would now be sending delegates to Republican National Conventions; they would continue to do so even after the return of Democratic Party dominance to the South with the end of Reconstruction after 1876. Meanwhile, starting with their 1872 Convention, the Democrats decided to finally implement "one man, one vote" by having the number of votes on the floor of the Convention equal to the number of delegates (twice the number of Electoral Votes for each State): for the next four decades, therefore, the number of National Convention delegates from each State would be the same for both major parties. Any difference between the two major Parties in the total delegate vote at their respective Conventions in a given Presidential Election Year between 1872 and 1912 was to be primarily due to how each Party handled the apportionment of Convention delegations from the Territories: beginning in 1872, the Republicans allocated each Territory 2 National Convention delegates (twice the number of non-voting Territorial Delegates to Congress)- dropping the extra 4 delegates for more politically advanced Territories; the Democrats, however, didn't begin allocating delegates to Territories until 1884 when they adopted the GOP's "2 delegates per Territory" formula.

In 1888, the GOP went back to allocating extra delegates to certain Territories by giving Dakota Territory 10 delegates and Washington Territory 6 delegates (these two Territories would become 3 of the next 6 States admitted to the Union within the next Presidential Election Cycle) while keeping the remaining Territories at 2 apiece; in the 1890's, both Parties gave Territories in the Continental U.S. seen as potential States 6 delegates apiece at their respective National Conventions, but kept Territories such as Alaska and the District of Columbia at a lower number (2 for both in the Democratic Convention, though the GOP would give Alaska 4 delegates). In 1908, there were only two Territories remaining in the Continental U.S. (Arizona and New Mexico) and they were reduced to sending 2 delegates each to the Republican National Convention, the same as was now being given by the GOP to outlying Territories such as Hawaii, the Philippines and Puerto Rico; the Democrats, however, continued to allocate 6 delegates apiece to Territories that year- whether potential States within the Continental U.S. or the Nation's Capital or outlying islands (the Philippines, however, went unrepresented at the 1908 Democratic Convention).

By 1912, the entire Continental United States (with the obvious exception of the District of Columbia) was made up of 48 States of the Union: the Democrats (finally allowing the Philippines to send a delegation to that year's Convention) allowed each Territory 6 delegates as heretofore while the Republicans continued to only allow each Territory 2 delegates- with the exception of Hawaii, which was given 6. But in 1916, the Republicans went back to a flat 2 delegates for EVERY Territory (the Democrats retaining their more generous 6 delegates per Territory)- a practice which continued until 1936, when the Republicans began giving some Territories 3 delegates (Hawaii was even given 5 GOP delegates beginning in 1944, 8 in 1952 and 10 in 1956). Since 1960- by which time Alaska and Hawaii had become the 49th and 50th States of the Union, respectively- the number of delegates from the Territories (as well as the Territories represented) has fluctuated in both major parties- the highest number of delegate votes usually being reserved for the District of Columbia while the other Territories are given significantly fewer delegates: complicating matters in recent years is the fact that, beginning in 1976, the Democratic National Convention has seated a delegation known as "Democrats Abroad" while, at both the 1980 and 1984 Democratic Conventions, there was even a delegation from "Latin America" which temporarily swallowed up Puerto Rico (but was, in reality, primarily an attempt to downgrade the former Democratic delegation from the Canal Zone in the wake of the Panama Canal Treaty negotiated by the Carter Administration). Currently, besides D.C. and Puerto Rico, there are Territorial delegations to both parties' Conventions from American Samoa (represented in the Republican Convention since 1992 and in the Democratic Convention from 1984), Guam (represented in the Republican Convention since 1972 and in the Democratic Convention from 1968) and the Virgin Islands (represented in the Republican Convention since 1952 and in the Democratic Convention from as far back as 1924).

Come 1912, a new concept was about to be introduced into the numbers of delegates to National Conventions from the 48 STATES by the Republicans- beginning the process of divorcing the number of delegate votes at the major parties' National Conventions from a strict adherence to a simple multiple of the number of Electors apportioned to each State by each decennial Census: this new concept was that of the so-called "bonus delegate". That year- as far as the Republican Party was concerned- contained two intersecting political developments: the first being the earliest fairly widespread use of the Presidential Primary during that Spring and the second being the tumultuous nomination battle between former President Theodore Roosevelt, leading the so-called "Progressives" within the GOP, and the more conservative incumbent President William Howard Taft at the Republican Convention that Summer- a battle made even more divisive by the fact that, only four years earlier, Taft had been "T.R."'s chosen successor. Teddy Roosevelt ended up winning pretty much every primary in which he squared off against Taft (including that in the President's home state of Ohio)- but only roughly one-third of the States held presidential primaries that year: Taft, meanwhile, controlled the majority of the delegations chosen through the Caucus/Convention process and, therefore, also controlled the 1912 Republican National Convention itself. The key Roll Call vote on the floor of the Convention which ultimately determined that Taft would be- despite "Teddy"'s obvious popularity in the primaries- the Republican presidential nominee that year was one dealing with whether or not Taft delegates already seated by the Taft-controlled Credentials Committee but challenged by the Roosevelt forces on the floor of the Convention itself could vote on Credentials Challenges involving other such Taft delegates: the Taft forces prevailed by a vote of 567 to 507, leading to Roosevelt's "Progressives" casting "present, but not voting" votes on the ensuing Presidential Nomination Roll Call of the States and ultimately bolting the Convention and setting up the beginnings of T.R.'s "Bull Moose" third party campaign that Fall.

One problem in 1912 was that the 11 States of the old Confederacy, not a one of which had voted for the Republican presidential/vice-presidential ticket since the disputed Hayes-Tilden Election of 1876, had cast 197 of the votes in that key Roll Call vote cited in the previous paragraph- more than one-third of the total the Taft forces had been able to muster. Assuming that these Southern States were over-represented (relative to their support of the Republican Party) by at least one-third, it could be argued that these States were alone responsible for the Taft forces' margin of victory. Many Republican politicians, anxious to avoid another fractious Convention (it was the conventional wisdom that the vicious Taft/Roosevelt split had elected Democrat Woodrow Wilson to the Presidency in 1912) , decided that it was finally time for reform: it certainly seemed ludicrous that a Democratic Party stronghold such as Louisiana should have the same number of GOP Convention delegates as Kansas, which had voted for the Republican national ticket 10 out of 12 times since becoming a State. So, for the Call of the 1916 Republican National Convention, it was decided that, for any congressional district in which fewer than 7,500 votes were cast for the Republicans in the previous election, only one district National Convention delegate would be allocated (instead of the usual two district delegates, as had always been the case in the Republican Convention since 1860)- a kind of "reverse bonus": as a result, the 11 "old Confederacy" States lost 78 GOP delegates between 1912 and 1916; the only non-Southern state adversely affected by this rule was New York and the loss of delegates to that state was minimal. These same "reverse bonus" rules also prevailed in the 1920 Republican Convention in which the South lost an additional 7 delegates but only New York and Massachusetts- alone among Northern states- together lost a total of 3 delegates as a result of this rule.

For the 1924 Republican Convention, however, a new set of rules regarding allocation of delegates was set up: each State would get 4 "base" at-large delegates (2 for each U.S. Senate seat, as heretofore) and each State which elected its Representative at-large (this primarily applied to States with but one Congressman and three Electoral Votes) would get 2 additional "base" at-large delegates; for those States divided into congressional districts, there would be only one district delegate for each congressional district (meaning the number of "base district delegates" from such States would be equal to the number of Representatives in Congress to which the State was entitled). After all these "base delegates" had been apportioned among the States according to the new rules, "bonus delegates" would be assigned: each State which had cast a majority of its votes for the Republican national candidates in the previous presidential election would be given 3 "bonus" at-large delegates; in addition, any congressional district which cast at least 10,000 votes for either the Republican national ticket or the Republican nominee for Congress in that district in the most recent (mid-term) congressional election would receive a second "bonus" district delegate. These changes did much to reduce the over-representation of the South in the National Convention of a Party to which the South, at the time, gave little support (although, interestingly, the South as a whole ended up with more delegates as a proportion of the total of the 1924 Republican National Convention than they had had in either 1916 or 1920: though this proportion was still well below the percentages the South had once had in all post-Civil War GOP Conventions up through 1912). On the Democratic side, there was but a relatively minor change made in delegate apportionment in 1924 as well: there would now be 8, rather than 4, at-large delegates per State (this was to encourage women- recently granted the vote by the 19th Amendment- to be named as at-large delegates to the Democratic Convention): however, as each at-large delegate under this new allocation would only have � vote, the apportionment of Democratic delegate votes remained at twice the Electoral Vote of the given State, as had been the practice in previous Conventions.

The "Solid South", which had caused the Republicans to so drastically alter their apportionment of delegates due to lack of support therein, was causing a different set of problems for the Democratic Party to which it gave wholehearted support during the same period: the "2/3 rule" was leading to embarrassingly long Democratic Conventions: it took 46 ballots to nominate a Democratic non-incumbent presidential candidate in 1912, 44 in 1920 and the (in)famous 103 ballots in 1924 (in comparison, the GOP took only 3 ballots to nominate a non-incumbent in 1916 and 10 in the [in]famous "smoke-filled room" GOP Convention of 1920). By 1932, although the Democratic Convention that year was the last in which it would be used, the "2/3 rule" was clearly in its death throes: many at that Convention openly opposed the rule, including the eventual nominee and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. With the new President behind just such a change, the "2/3 rule" would be outlawed by the Democrats in time for their 1936 Convention, the first at which the Republicans' "simple majority" for nominations would prevail among the Democrats as well.

An interesting innovation used at the 1932 Democratic National Convention was a rule that no State should lose delegate votes simply because they had lost House seats (and, by extension, Electoral Votes) as a result of the most recent decennial Census. This rule was actually first utilized in the Call to the 1912 Democratic Convention but was never implemented because- as had been the case in all previous reapportionments of the U.S. House- the size of that body was simply increased due to the many States gaining seats and, as a result of what turned out to be the final increase- at least so far- in the size of the House, no State lost any seats as a result of the 1910 Census; however, there had been no reapportionment of the House (and, of course, the Electoral Vote) following the 1920 Census (the first- and, so far, only- time in American History that Congress failed to enforce the provisions of the U.S. Constitution that the House is to be reapportioned according to a decennial Census): this failure was, at least at first, largely due to a dispute over whether the size of the House should be fixed at a certain number of seats once and for all (it finally was- at 435- for the 1930 and all subsequent Censuses) but it soon turned into a battle between those representing metropolitan centers and the rural interests which feared losing political power and influence to growing urban areas.

While the use of this "no states can lose delegate votes, only gain them" rule was a practical solution to political difficulties on the state level (in many cases, not having reapportioned in two decades- instead of the usual one- caused even more petty battles in largely Democrat-dominated state legislatures over the redrawing of congressional districts: many states had not redistricted by the time delegates to the 1932 Democratic Convention were to be chosen and using the old districts as a basis for delegate selection was the only thing that could be done for the time being), the fact was that the Democratic Party was much more torn apart in the ongoing political struggle between the losing rural areas and the gaining cities than the Republicans were and not forcing the more rural states to give up delegates they had had four years earlier surely helped smooth things over in an election year in which the Democrats were almost sure to do well as a result of anger at the Republicans over deepening Depression. By 1936, however, the pre-1932 rules (with the exception, obviously, of the "2/3 rule") were restored and the Democrats were back to a State-by-State delegate apportionment based on twice the Electoral Vote for each State.

The next changes in delegate apportionment were made by the Republicans for their 1944 Convention: a congressional district now would have to have produced at least 1,000 Republican votes for either the last Republican presidential candidate or for a Republican candidate for Congress in the most recent (mid-term) congressional election to qualify for even one district delegate to the GOP Convention; at the same time, a State that had failed to cast its Electoral Vote for the Republican national ticket in the last presidential election would still get its 3 "bonus" at-large delegates if it had, nevertheless, elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate in the next mid-term election. These provisions clearly further favored the Northern states over the non-GOP South. In 1952, the number of "bonus" at-large GOP delegates was raised from three to six and electing a Republican Governor was added to the qualifications for such "bonus" delegates. In 1956, the minimum Republican vote in preceding elections in order for a State to receive a minimum of one district delegate was raised to 2,000 votes (although write-in and "independent" votes for the Republican candidate for President would now be counted toward this threshold, as many Southern states did not even provide for a Republican line on the ballot back then).

The Democrats themselves embarked on a major change in their delegate apportionment for the 1944 Convention: they finally began to use the Republicans' "bonus delegates" and themselves started to move away from a strict adherence to a State's Electoral Vote as a basis of representation. This use by the Democrats of "bonus delegates" was intended to placate the still-Solid South, which had been promised some kind of mechanism to keep that section of the country from being overwhelmed by Northern delegations after the "2/3 rule" had been abandoned back in 1936: the first use of "bonus" delegates by the Democrats was to simply give 2 "bonus" delegate votes to any State which had given its Electoral Vote to the Democratic national ticket in the last preceding presidential election. For the 1948 Convention, this Democratic "bonus" was raised to 4 extra delegate votes, a provision which remained in place for the 1952 Democratic National Convention (although, for 1952- and for many of the same reasons- the Democrats once again invoked the rule they had used in 1932 that no State LOSING House seats as a result of reapportionment in the wake of the 1950 Census would have fewer delegate votes in the 1952 Convention than they had had in 1948). Now, however, this "bonus" rule- unlike in the Republican Convention- was to be made cumulative and, for the 1956 Democratic Convention, not only would each State keep at least the same number of delegate votes as it had in 1952 but it would also be given four more "bonus" delegate votes for 1956 if it had cast its Electoral Vote for the Democratic ticket in the previous presidential election OR elected a Democratic Governor or Senator during or after the 1952 Election. Under these "cumulative delegate vote" rules, a state like New York- which, had the old "twice the Electoral Vote" apportionment (used by the Democrats through 1940) been in effect, would have only been entitled to 90 Democratic delegate votes in 1956- instead ended up with 98 delegate votes: its 94 from 1948 (when it had 2 more Electoral Votes than it would after the 1950 Census) plus another 4 "bonus" votes for electing Democrat Averill Harriman as Governor in 1954. Even more illustrative is the case of a state like Arkansas which, under pre-1944 apportionment, would have only had 16 delegate votes in 1956; instead, it had 26 delegate votes in 1956: its 18 delegates by virtue of its Electoral Vote prior to the 1950 Census, 4 "bonus" votes for having cast its Electoral Vote for Truman in 1948 and 4 more for having cast its Electoral Vote for Stevenson in 1952!

There was an attempt by the Democratic Party hierarchy to put an end to the "cumulative bonus system" and its resultant distortions of representation for the 1960 Democratic National Convention, but it ultimately failed and an odd compromise was affected. The old "twice the Electoral Vote" base was now discarded in favor of something called "regular votes" (these "regular votes", however, were still directly related to the Electoral Vote and were determined as follows: 2 � votes for each U.S. Senator and 2 � votes for each Member of Congress [if the total of such votes turned out to be a fraction, it would be rounded to the nearest whole number]- in other words, 2 � times the state's Electoral Vote, rounded up- where necessary- to the nearest whole integer!) However, no State would have fewer delegate votes at the 1960 Democratic Convention than it had had in 1956 (this was accomplished by the use of so-called "holdover bonus votes": each state was given as many "bonus" delegate votes as it had accumulated between 1948 and 1956 so long as the number of such "holdover" votes added to the "regular votes" did not exceed the total number of delegate votes the State had had at the 1956 Democratic Convention).

After the "regular votes" and "holdover bonus votes" were assigned, each State would end up getting at least one more delegate vote over its 1956 allocation anyway, as 1960 marked the first time that the two Democratic National Committee members (one male, one female) from each State were automatically given seats as Convention delegates (though these two DNC delegates would only cast � delegate vote each for a total of that one extra delegate vote now added to each State's vote total). Nevertheless, despite these "reforms" for the 1960 Democratic Convention apportionment, New York's delegate votes- to take one example- jumped from 98 in 1956 up to 114 in 1960 despite the fact that the Democratic national ticket had failed to carry the State in 1956 and neither of the Empire State's Senators nor its Governor were Democrats in 1960!

But, as with everything else in the 1960's, the Times They Were A-Changin': beginning in 1964, the Democrats went to a delegate allocation formula which gave each State a "base" of 3 delegates for each Electoral Vote with 2 more delegate seats reserved for the State's Democratic National Committeeman and Democratic National Committeewoman (each of whom would now get 1 full vote on the Convention floor) after which, where appropriate, bonus delegates would be awarded: 10 extra delegates if the State had given its Electoral Vote to the regular Democratic Presidential/Vice-Presidential ticket in the previous Presidential Election; 1 for every 100,000 votes (or major fraction thereof) cast for that ticket. The Democrats kept the same allocation formula for its 1968 Convention.

However, with the Democratic Party's McGovern-Fraser reforms effective with its 1972 Convention, that Party introduced the formula that still is used to calculate the base delegate allocation per State in Democratic National Conventions: where the Allocation Factor (AF) for a given State is derived from the sum of the two ratios (State's Democratic Vote in the last three presidential elections ÷ Total Democratic Vote in the last three presidential elections) plus (State's Electoral Vote ÷ Total Electoral Vote), the result thereafter divided by 2, with AF × 3000 (any fractions rounded to the nearest whole number) determining the number of base delegates per State. As a result, the total number of delegate votes at Democratic National Conventions virtually doubled between 1960 to 1972- from 1, 521 to 3,016. The number of Democratic delegate votes climbed even further- to well over the 4,000 mark- with the advent, first, of the pledged PLEO [Party Leader and/or Elected Official] delegate in 1980 followed by the addition of so-called "superdelegates" (unpledged PLEO delegates) beginning with the 1984 Democratic National Convention.

Yet the biggest changes regarding National Convention delegate apportionment were to be reserved for the Republicans: while it is true that 5 of the 11 "old Confederacy" states (Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia) had cast their Electoral Votes for Republican Herbert Hoover over Democrat (New York City native and Roman Catholic) Al Smith in 1928, one has to wonder just how much this was due to anti-Catholic sentiment at worst and the rural/urban political struggle of that time at best. In 1952, however, three Southern States- Florida, Tennessee and Texas- were carried by Republican Dwight Eisenhower over Democrat Adlai Stevenson; in 1956, they were joined by Louisiana. In 1960, Florida, Tennessee and Virginia were carried by Republican Richard Nixon and many historians now believe that Nixon had actually received the most votes in Alabama (a fact long blurred by the fact that two different slates of Democratic Electors [one pledged to the national ticket of Kennedy/Johnson, the other not] ran in Alabama: the highest vote-getter from each slate was considered to be the total vote for that slate; yet there was a fair amount of "slate-splitting" in which clearly many voters voted for the highest vote-getters in both slate, thus this method of determining the total vote for each slate of Electors counted a large number of Democratic voters in Alabama- almost certainly more than the margin by which Nixon's slate of Electors had lost the State- twice).

But, in the biggest sign of what was to come, five states in the very heart of the old Confederacy- South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana- would be carried in 1964 by GOP standard-bearer Barry Goldwater over Texan Lyndon Baines Johnson; one has to wonder where the Electoral Vote from Southern states which voted for George Wallace's third party candidacy in 1968 would have gone had "the Guv'nor" not been in that race- by that tumultuous election year, it could no longer be said that Wallace took votes away from Humphrey instead of Nixon. The last presidential candidate to carry the old "Solid South" for the Democrats was the first Southerner elected President since before the Civil War, Jimmy Carter in 1976; if the South has been solid since 1980, it is only because it has been solidly Republican- not Democratic!

Thus, the old system of penalizing States for not supporting the Republican ticket- adopted to reduce primarily Southern representation in GOP Conventions- made little sense by the 1970's: the requirement for a certain number of GOP votes in a congressional district for a State to get even one delegate to the Republican Convention from that district was quietly dropped and each State would be given 2 delegates for each Electoral Vote, with 6 bonus delegates added if the State had given its Electoral Vote to the Republican Presidential/Vice-Presidential ticket in the previous Presidential Election, regardless of how much or how little a Republican candidate for U.S. House had been supported. This basic allocation formula was used for Republican National Conventions through 1972.

But, in 1976, a new allocation formula for Republican Conventions was introduced, one which- at least as far as the basics are concerned- survives to this day: each State is given 3 delegates for each Electoral Vote, after which bonus delegates in the amount of 4 1/2 + (60% of the State's Electoral Vote)- rounded up to the nearest whole integer- are awarded where a State has given its Electoral Vote, in the last Presidential Election, to the Republican ticket or has elected a Republican United States Senator, a Republican Governor, or Republicans to at least half of the State's U.S. House delegation. Since then, bonus delegates have also been awarded by the Republicans to States where the Republicans have a majority of the seats in the state's legislature or control of the legislature or where Republicans have made significant gains in percentage of legislative seats since the last Convention.

For 2000, "bonus" GOP delegates were even awarded to state delegations for a state's delaying the start of its delegate selection procedure until later in the primary season, an attempt- albeit a failure- to try and turn away from the "front-loading" of presidential primaries and caucuses seen in recent presidential election cycles and one which was abandoned for 2004. New for 2004, however, was the awarding of "automatic" National Convention delegate seats for the Republican nationalcommitteeman and the Republican national committeewoman from each State along with the chairman of the state Republican Party (strangely echoing that which the Democrats had first done more than four decades earlier).

With changes such as those described above, the total number of Republican National Convention delegates- holding fairly steady at just above 1,300 from 1956 through 1972- jumped (helped quite a bit by "bonus" delegates resulting from Nixon's 1972 landslide) to 2,259 in 1976; it dropped back to just below 2,000 for 1980, bounced back to the 2,200-plus range from 1984 through 1992 (largely due to the Reagan and Bush victories) and had (during the Clinton years) settled back to more or less around 2,000. Even with the election of George W. Bush as President, his Party's Convention will have around 2,500 votes, not quite three-fifths the total delegate votes to be found in the Democratic Convention.

Either way, however, the total apportionment of delegate votes in the National Conventions of both major parties are a long way away from the "twice the State's Electoral Vote" allocations of a hundred years ago, even though both Conventions' "base" delegates still have some mathematical connection to the State's Electoral Vote in the upcoming Presidential Election.

Created Sun 30 May 2004. Modified .