An end goal of the tweaks is scheduling the national convention between June 27 and July 18 – compared to the week of August 27 last time.
“If Mitt had been nominated on July 1 versus September 1, the chance of him being president would be exponentially higher,” said Ron Kaufman, a national committeeman from Massachusetts and a close Romney ally. “A lot of folks think we lost it in those two months when we had no primary dollars left.”
A candidate cannot spend money allotted for the general election or coordinate directly with the national party until he has officially secured the nomination. President Barack Obama’s campaign attacked Romney during the summer when the Republican had relatively limited ability to respond forcefully on the air.
Among the approved changes to streamline the selection of the next Republican nominee: Stiffer penalties for states that schedule primaries before March 1 to protect the four early voting states; a requirement that states award delegates proportionally, rather than on a winner-take-all basis, in the first half of March; and a rule that delegates be selected 45 days before the national convention, as opposed to the current 35 days, to encourage states such as Utah to meet earlier.At the invaluable FrontloadingHQ, Josh Putnam offers an important caveat:
Regular FHQ readers will recall that I spent a great deal of time and space pushing back against the nature of change that the introduction of the proportionality rules caused before and during the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. John Sides and I even showed that it was the calendar changes and not the proportionality requirement that was the culprit -- if a rules-based change was to be blamed -- that drew the process out. And while many continue to harp on the "rebrand" the Republican Party has undertaken with regard to issues, most forget that one of the findings of the Growth and Opportunity Project was that impact of delegate allocation rules (ie: proportionality) is dynamics-dependent. In other words, every nomination race is different and the ways in which those delegate allocation rules affect the process are different because of it.
That said, I think a number of analyses are overstating the changes the Republicans put in place this week. And much of it has to do with the supposedly new proportionality requirements. Hohmann mentions this "new" rule that allows a (proportional) state (before March 15) to award all of its delegates to any candidate that clears the 50% threshold statewide. Additionally, Ambinder hints at the 20% of the vote that states can now require candidates to hit in order to receive any delegates.
Both changes sound like they could have some impact on any race; 2016 or otherwise. But they aren't new. In fact, both thresholds are the exact same as they were in 2012. The only real change is that both have been officially added to the broader list of rules.[emphasis added] That wasn't the case in 2012 when the office of the RNC legal counsel provided a memo to states and other ne'er do wells about compliance with the new requirement. That memo was the guide for compliance.