Saturday, March 28, 2009

Minnesota in 2012

Minnesota, like Oklahoma, isn't examining a repositioning of its delegate selection event for 2012, but the state legislature (both chambers separately) is considering altering the mode of delegate selection. [No, that isn't in keeping with the week's focus on date-shifters, but it is relevant to the 2012 primary calendar discussion.] Traditionally the North Star state has used the caucus system as its means of allocating national convention delegates. In fact, the only time during the post-reform era (1972-present) that Minnesota used a primary as its means of delegate allocation was in 1992. And then it was only the GOP that opted for the primary (in a year with an incumbent Republican running virtually unopposed).

It is fairly significant, then, that the most populous remaining caucus state is considering adopting a primary system for presidential nomination delegate allocation. [Technically, Washington is the most populous caucus state, but the Evergreen state uses a hybrid system (primary/caucus) on the Republican side and a caucus with beauty contest primary on the Democratic side.] There are companion bills in both the state House and Senate that would keep the state's delegate selection event on the first Tuesday in February but change the selection mode from a caucus to a primary. This is a mostly Democrat-driven initiative (with only one Republican representative among the group of sponsors) that would address many of the problems heavy turnout in last year's presidential caucuses caused. Mainly, with state funding the process would likely have an increased number of polling places that would prove more accommodating than the jam-packed (especially Democratic) caucuses were during 2008. Now, both HF 31 and SF 157 were introduced in January and have been in committee ever since. That could either mean that both are the victims of the legislative process and/or that they have fallen victim to the current economic climate. Primaries mean increased state expenditures and those are much harder to justify given current economic circumstances. Another layer to add into the state legislature's calculus is considering whether 2008 was an anomaly in terms of turnout. If the overarching expectation among experts and, then, legislators is that future turnout will revert to previous levels then the desire to move from a caucus to a primary likely drops (and even more so given the interaction between that idea and the cost effectiveness of such a move.).

Like the other bills we have examined in other states this week, though, this legislation is worth tracking in the (now long) lead up to 2012.

Recent Posts:
Illinois in 2012 Redux

New Hampshire in 2012

Or Not: Arkansas is Staying in May for 2012

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