Thursday, May 16, 2019

North Carolina Republicans Have Tweaked Their Delegate Allocation Formula, but...

North Carolina Republicans had a bit of a roller coaster ride in 2015 with respect to how the party's plans for delegate selection came together.

First, North Carolina law at the time tethered the presidential primary in the Tar Heel state to the primary in South Carolina. That was a position -- prior to March 1 -- out of compliance with the national party rules.

Then, in an effort to remedy the calendar issue, the North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation (which was subsequently signed into law) that not only shifted the primary election date back into compliance but called for a winner-take-allocation of delegates. The latter of those changes was then ignored by the North Carolina Republican Party when the party opted for a straight proportional allocation of national convention delegates.1

But most of that law expired after the 2016 primaries. The primary date reverted to its position tethered to the South Carolina primary and the allocation method called for in state law again defaulted to proportional.

However, the tinkering has continued on both fronts -- within the state party and in the state legislature -- during the 2020 cycle. But the actions from both in that span have conflicted with one another and again threatens the compliance of the NCGOP delegate selection process. At the same time that legislation was active in 2017 in the General Assembly to schedule the North Carolina presidential primary for Super Tuesday (the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March), North Carolina Republicans were voting to make the method of allocation more winner-take-all. That legislation became law in 2018, pushing the presidential primary in the Tar Heel state into the proportionality window (where winner-take-all rules are conditionally prohibited).

Now, while that combination of primary date and allocation rules is non-compliant under 2020 RNC delegate selection rules, it is not a problem, per se. And FHQ will explain why in a moment. But first, let us step through the changes that have been made to the allocation rules to this point.

For the 2016 cycle, North Carolina Republicans pooled all of their delegates (at-large, congressional district and automatic) and proportionally allocated them based on the statewide primary results. Additionally, there was no defined qualifying threshold. In other words, 1) the 2016 NCGOP allocation method was a close to mathematical proportionality as it gets and 2) that allowed for candidates receiving a very marginal share of the statewide primary vote to win delegates. Ben Carson, for example, only won roughly one percent of the vote in the 2016 North Carolina primary, but that was good enough to round him up to one delegate of the state's 72.

Few other states had a bar set so low for a candidate to be allocated any delegates. North Carolina, then, was inconsistent in its method of allocation compared with its peer states, much less the entire pool of states and territories. That gave the NCGOP room for some maneuvering during the 2020 cycle. And tinker they did in 2017.

In assembling a new plan in 2017, North Carolina Republicans shifted away from low bar proportionality and added several new layers that are similar to neighboring states.
  • From the Tennessee Republican method, the NCGOP borrowed a fairly high, two-thirds winner-take-all threshold for the allocation of congressional district delegates. Of the states that have winner-take-all thresholds in the Republican nomination process, the vast majority set it at its lowest point, a bare majority. If a candidate wins a majority of the vote, then that candidate wins all of the delegates either statewide or within a given congressional district. A two-thirds winner-take-all trigger is obviously a more difficult bar to hit (especially potentially in a crowded field of candidates).
  • From the Georgia Republican allocation method, the NCGOP mimicked the unique proportional allocation scheme for congressional district delegates. If no candidate reaches the two-thirds threshold, then the allocation system awards two delegates to the top vote-getter and the other congressional district delegate to the second highest candidate, but only if both candidates are above the 20 percent qualifying threshold. If only the top candidate clears that barrier in a given congressional district, then all three delegates go to that candidate. That is the backdoor winner-take-all scenario (but confined to just the congressional district level).
  • From the South Carolina Republican allocation method, the NCGOP took its new method for allocating at-large delegates. Under the South Carolina system -- and now the North Carolina Republican system -- the plurality winner of the statewide vote wins all of the at-large delegates from the state. 
The elements borrowed from Tennessee and Georgia are both consistent with RNC rules. Yes, the combination contains winner-take-all elements, but those thresholds are rules-compliant. So, too, is the unique proportional allocation. No, that sort of top two allocation method is not exactly mathematically proportional, but there are only so many ways that three congressional district delegates can be allocated proportionally. This is one of them.

But the winner-take-all element that is akin to the South Carolina delegate selection process is not rules-compliant for a primary that is scheduled before March 15. And it is that segment of the NCGOP plan of organization that will have to change to come back into compliance.

That is a problem, right?

Technically, yes. But North Carolina Republicans are on top of it. A change to the at-large delegate allocation is on the agenda for the June 6-9 North Carolina Republican Party state convention in Concord. If adopted -- and the party has a persuasive case built on compliance issues to take to state convention delegates -- the allocation of at-large delegates would become more conditionally proportional. Under the proposal, the allocation of at-large delegates would...
  1. Remain winner-take-all in the event that such a scheme is consistent with national party rules. While it is not, the insertion of this element is crafted with future cycles in mind. Should the RNC rescind the proportionality window in the future, then the NCGOP already has language included to allow for a winner-take-all allocation of at-large delegates. Even without a change on that front from the RNC, the NCGOP would have the foundation in place for a winner-take-all allocation of delegates should the North Carolina primary be scheduled for a later date, outside the proportionality window. 
  2. Be proportional to all candidates with more than 20 percent of the vote statewide in the primary.
Those changes would bring the North Carolina Republican Party delegate selection process back into compliance with RNC rules. However, what is noteworthy is what is missing in this latest round of proposed changes. There is, for example, no equivalent two-thirds threshold to conditionally award all at-large delegates to a candidate in a way similar to the allocation of congressional district delegates.

In other words, this plan is not quite as helpful to an incumbent president as it could be. And that breaks to some degree from the narrative that the RNC in concert with state parties is working to engineer a delegate selection system that is maximally advantageous to President Trump. Like Massachusetts Republicans, the NCGOP plan moves in the direction of assisting the president, but unlike those Bay state changes, the North Carolina move does not turn the knob as far in the president's favor as it could have.

1 "Ignored" may not be the best way of describing that. State parties ultimately have the discretion to set their own rules for delegate allocation. And the North Carolina Republican Party certainly used that discretion in the midst of the consideration the 2015 bill cited above. That said, the bill-turned-law set the method of allocation for winner-take-all, but allowed state parties an opt-out if that baseline was inconsistent with national party rules. But for Tar Heel state Republicans, a March 15 presidential primary was outside the proportionality window, and thus the winner-take-all scheme was compliant with national party rules. Nonetheless, North Carolina Republicans chose a proportional method of allocation with no qualifying threshold.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Magic Number? Determining the Winning Number of Democratic Delegates Will Be Tougher in 2020

FHQ gets a kick out of folks who authoritatively talk about the number of delegates the winning candidate will need in the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination race.

There are some things that one does know at this point about the chase for Democratic delegates in 2020. There are a lot of candidates (now). The allocation is all proportional (with a 15 percent qualifying threshold). California and North Carolina joining most of the Super Tuesday line up from 2016 means Super Tuesday 2020 will, in fact, be fairly super. Furthermore, one knows that the cumulative delegates allocated through the first two months of the 2020 calendar (February and March) is roughly on par with the number of delegates allocated through the first two months of the 2008 calendar (January and February).

All of this is useful, but it obscures one reality about the 2020 Democratic nomination process that is unknown at this point and may remain that way for some time: the actual number of delegates and thus the number of delegates needed to clinch the nomination.

Part of the reason for that is, for lack of a better term, normal, or it has been since the 2008 cycle. Since the Democratic process includes bonus delegates for timing (a 2008 cycle innovation) and clustering (new in 2012), the final tally of delegates has to wait on the calendar to solidify. New York,  for example, does not yet officially have a primary date. But if the Empire state primary ends up on April 28, as is expected given the draft of the state party delegate selection plan, then New York Democrats will tack on an additional 10 percent to the base delegation for an April primary (timing) and an additional 15 percent for scheduling the contest with primaries in regionally contiguous states (clustering). That is easy enough to work around, but it 1) is not reflected in the number of delegates the DNC is counting because 2) those bonuses will ultimately affect the number of delegates at stake.

Again, that is an easy enough adjustment. But it is just going to take some time to officially settle.

But there are two other factors that make the magic number of Democratic delegates necessary to clinch the presidential nomination more of a moving target in 2020 than has been the case in the past. And this is an issue that will stretch into primary season. Both hinge on the changes made to the rules regarding superdelegate participation in the process.

The first of these is more obvious. Since superdelegate participation in the voting on the nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee is conditional, that affects which group of delegates is determinative. As FHQ laid out last summer when the rules package was adopted by the Rules and Bylaws Committee:
  1. If a candidate wins 50 percent of the pledged delegates plus one during or by the end of primary season, then the superdelegates are barred from the first ballot.
  2. If a candidate wins 50 percent of all of the delegates (including superdelegates) plus one, then the superdelegate trigger is tripped and that faction of delegates can participate in the first (and only) round of voting.
  3. If no candidate wins a majority of either pledged or all delegates during or by the end of primary season, then superdelegates are barred from the first round and allowed in to vote in the second round to break the stalemate.
In other words, if there is a presumptive nominee heading into the convention, then it is likely that the magic number it be a majority of all delegates (including superdelegates). Of course, that outcome is less knowable in the thick of primary season. But if the writing is on the wall by the end of primary season, then there is likely to be some movement between then and the convention that allows superdelegates back into the voting. And by "writing on the wall," FHQ means that the first ballot vote appears to be the formality that it has been since 1952. And, by extension, it will include all of the delegates -- pledged and superdelegates -- as it has since 1984.

However, early on in primary season, at least, there is likely to be a chase after two separate numbers: a majority of pledged delegates and an asterisk chase for a majority of all delegates. Candidates will go after the former because that is all that is technically needed to win the nomination. By the same token, however, campaigns will also target the latter. And in truth that chase is, perhaps, less about the majority of all delegates than it is about lining up superdelegates support contingent on a second ballot vote at the national convention. But that contingency will be one that requires a majority of all delegates because superdelegates will be eligible to vote on any ballot beyond the first.

The final complicating factor in determining the magic number of delegates needed to win the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020 again focuses on the superdelegates. But this one has less to do with the which question above (as in which pool of delegates is determinative) and more again about how many delegates are necessary. Unlike past cycles during the superdelegates era (1984-2016), superdelegates can shed their capes so to speak and run for pledged delegate slots. The DNC made that change because of the above changes made to superdelegate participation. In the event that a DNC member or elected official is so frustrated at potentially not being able to participate in the convention voting on the nomination, the party rescinded the prohibition on superdelegates running for pledged delegate positions. The new rules, then, allow superdelegates to run for pledged delegate positions if they want to guarantee that they will meaningfully vote to determine the nomination.

But that is not a costless exchange, at least not for the state delegation. Any superdelegate that opts to run for (and potentially win) a pledged delegate position gives up that superdelegate vote. Furthermore, that vote is not replaced as a vacancy in the pledged delegate pool would be. That would have the effect of reducing the number of delegates in a given state delegation by the number of superdelegates who choose to run for pledged delegate slots.

[Incidentally, this highlights at least part of the motivation to add superdelegates in the first place way back in 1982. Yes, superdelegates potentially have great sway in a tight nomination race and if they are largely united. But creating automatic slots for DNC members and elected officials also freed up pledged delegate slots for grassroots activists and gave state parties much more leeway in balancing their delegations given the DNC affirmative action requirements. That task gets much harder in 2020 if superdelegates are moved to run for pledged delegate slots.]

No, superdelegates running for pledged delegate slots does not affect the number of pledged delegates needed to clinch the nomination. Yet, if would affect the total number of delegates needed should the convention go beyond a first ballot. And if you are the braintrust within any of the Democratic presidential campaigns at this point, that is a jumble of rules that you have to keep tabs on. Some campaigns will be better able to adapt than others.

While the wait continues on the calendar to finalize, a word of advice: dismiss out of hand any mention in any story of a specific number of delegates needed to win the 2020 Democratic nomination. At this point, that number is not known.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Maine Committee Working Session Offers Little Clarity on 2020 Presidential Primary

On Friday morning, May 10, the Maine Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee convened for a working session on a number of bills. Among those considered were a trio of bills attempting in various ways to reestablish a presidential primary election in the Pine Tree state.

The first two were treated together as they were basically the same bill. The only thing that separated the pair was the date on which the election was to be scheduled. LD 245 would leave the decision up to the secretary of state in consultation with the political parties in Maine. The other -- LD 1626 --would reestablish the presidential primary in Maine and schedule it for the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March (Super Tuesday in 2020). Due to the similarity between the bills, LD 245 was unanimously voted down (as ought not pass) in order to make LD 1626 the vehicle for creating the presidential primary in this way.

However, after amending LD 1626 -- fixing some typos, correcting some cross-reference issues and adding a provision to allow state parties to allow unaffiliated voters in the state to choose which primary in which to participate -- sentiment on the committee was still evenly split. And the point of contention was the financing of the election (something that came up in the original public hearing for LD 245). Five committee members balked at the financial burden the election would place on municipalities. But the committee recommendation on the amended bill was complicated by the absence of one member -- Rep. Craig Hickman (D-81, Winthrop) -- during the voting on an ought not pass recommendation. His return for the vote on a do pass recommendation equalized the number of votes in favor of both recommendations. The voting on these reports remains open under Maine legislative rules until noon of the next legislative day.

If anything, all this does is demonstrate to the leadership on the floors of either legislative chamber the division over this bill in committee. That does not doom the legislation, per se, but other bills may be prioritized.

And that brings this back to the other bill the committee considered; the bill (LD 1083) to reestablish the presidential primary but under a ranked choice voting system. The catch with that one -- although it was not discussed -- is that it, too, would carry a similar financial burden for municipalities across the state of Maine. What did come up were a number of conflicts in the bill that would be rectified by another measure to clean up the operation of the overall ranked choice voting system the state has adopted for other federal elections. Pending consideration on those measure, the committee opted to table consideration of the ranked choice presidential primary.

All in all, the committee working session did little to advance the reestablishment of a presidential primary in Maine. LD 245 was eliminated from consideration, but the remaining two bills remain in limbo for the time being.

Thanks to Richard Winger of Ballot Access News for passing along news of the committee session.

1/18/19: Maine Lost its Presidential Primary

2/1/19: Maine Decision to Re-Establish a Presidential Primary Option for 2020 Hinges on Money

2/9/19: Maine Committee Hearing Highlights Familiar Divisions in Caucus to Primary Shifts

3/16/19: Alternative Bill Would Reestablish a Presidential Primary in Maine but with Ranked Choice Voting

3/22/19: Maine Committee Hearing Finds Support for and Roadblocks to a Ranked Choice Presidential Primary

3/30/19: Maine Democrats Signal Caucuses in Draft Delegate Selection Plan, but...

4/23/19: New Super Tuesday Presidential Primary Bill Introduced in Maine

6/3/19: Maine Senate Advances Super Tuesday Primary Bill

6/4/19: On to the Governor: Maine House Passes Super Tuesday Presidential Primary Bill

6/19/19: Fate of a Reestablished Presidential Primary in Maine Not Clear Entering Final Legislative Day

6/20/19: Governor Mills' Signature Sets Maine Presidential Primary for Super Tuesday

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Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Massachusetts GOP Rules Change Adds an Element of Winner-Take-All to 2020 Delegate Allocation

The Massachusetts Republican Party has adopted changes to its method of allocating national convention delegates for the 2020 cycle according to Stephanie Murray at Politico. New in 2020 will be a winner-take-all trigger that will award all of the Republican delegates in the Bay state to any candidate who receives a majority of the vote in the Super Tuesday Massachusetts primary.

While that addition is not without import, one should take a step back before ramming it into the "change the rules to help Trump" narrative. On the surface, adding a winner-take-all trigger would theoretically benefit a popular (within party) incumbent president. And that is more true in light of the facts (at this time) that President Trump is likely to face only token opposition and from a very limited number of candidates. The closer the number of challengers is to one, the greater the chances are that Trump hits the winner-take-all trigger.

That sounds like advantage Trump, right?

Yes, but as is often the case with respect to rules changes, there is a bit of context that is missing from the Politico piece.

First, Murray overstates the extent of the change via a misleading description attributed to Dean Cavaretta, Trump's 2016 Massachusetts state director. The rules change does not "eliminate" the traditional proportional allocation of delegates in Massachusetts. Instead, it makes the overall allocation conditional on the results. If no candidate receives a majority, then the allocation is proportional among all qualifying candidates. However, if one candidate clears the majority threshold then a winner-take-all allocation is triggered.

And that reality neatly dovetails with another issue in the Politico story: the replication of these winner-take-all triggers in other states. But here is the thing: Massachusetts is actually joining other early calendar states on the Republican side in using a conditional trigger in the allocation process. FHQ says "early" because under the rules of the Republican party for 2020, states with delegate selection events prior to March 15 have to meet the RNC definition of proportional in the state-level allocation rules. But while states have to maintain some measure of proportional allocation, winner-take-all triggers are allowed and can be set as low as 50 percent. This is what Massachusetts has done with its rules change for 2020. The party has added a trigger.

But again, that addition brings the Massachusetts Republican delegate allocation process in line with other early states. Of the eleven Super Tuesday states with defined allocation rules in 2016, Massachusetts was one of just three to lack a winner-take-all trigger. And six of the remaining eight states set a winner-take-all trigger of 50 percent. [The other two had much higher winner-take-all thresholds.]

The question, then, is not really whether other states will replicate the Massachusetts Republican strategy, but rather, whether the small number of states without those triggers will add them and join the majority of states that had them as part of their rules before Trump even came down the escalator in June 2015.

The trigger addition won the headlines, but the real essence of this change is geared toward the delegate selection process. It is on that front that the Massachusetts Republican Party has had some issues over at least the last two presidential nomination cycles, issues this change in allocation method indirectly impacts.

The 2016 RNC Rules Committee meeting that preceded the national convention in Cleveland saw a showdown over the binding of delegates (based on the results of primaries and caucuses). During the 2016 nomination process a vocal minority of activists argued against binding based on the fact that delegates elected/selected may have other allegiances. In other words, the two processes -- allocation and selection -- could point in different directions. Trump could overwhelmingly win a Massachusetts primary and be allocated a set number of delegate slots, but Cruz candidates for delegates in the Bay state could be selected to fill some of those slots. As the argument went, those Cruz-sympathetic delegates could not, under the rules, be forced to vote for Trump at the convention.

However, that argument lost at the 2016 Republican National Convention. But it was spurred, in part, by things that had happened in Massachusetts in 2012 and 2016. In 2012, it was Ron Paul delegate candidates in Massachusetts who were selected to Romney-won slots from the Super Tuesday Massachusetts primary. They later were disqualified. And the Ted Cruz campaign attempted to follow the Paul plan in Massachusetts (and elsewhere) in 2016.

But those problems lie in the selection process, not the allocation process.

[UPDATED, 5/7/19 1:45pm]

And the Massachusetts Republican Party addressed that as well. In lieu of the problematic caucus/convention process, the party has shifted the delegate selection responsibility to other entities. Under the new plan, the state party chair would select one-third of the 27 congressional district delegates, the state committee would select another third of the congressional district delegates and the qualifying presidential candidates would select the remaining third of the congressional district delegates and the 11 at-large delegates.

This is the bigger change. This is the change that most benefits Trump and especially if the president clears the 50 percent winner-take-all threshold. There is far less room for the sorts of shenanigans that  hampered the party in its delegate selection process each of the last two cycles.

Thanks to Evan Lips, Communications Director at the Massachusetts Republican Party for passing along the plan adopted last week by the party's State Committee.

Quick glance at the delegate allocation process:

  • The plan confirms that the baseline allocation is proportional (as it has typically been in Massachusetts). 
  • To qualify for delegates, a candidate must win at least 20 percent of the vote. That is an increase over the 5 percent qualifying threshold the party used in 2016. It is also the maximum qualifying threshold allowed under RNC rules for 2020. That means that the protest vote would have to be quite large against an incumbent president running for renomination for any challenger to receive delegates under this plan. 
  • Again, as stated above, if a candidate receives a majority of more of the vote in the Massachusetts Republican presidential primary, then that candidate is allocated all of the state's delegates. 
  • There is no backdoor to a winner-take-all allocation. This can in some states happen if a candidate is the only candidate to clear the qualifying threshold but not the winner-take-all threshold. Hypothetically, for example, if Trump again received 49 percent of the vote in the Massachusetts primary (as he did in 2016), then under the 2020 Massachusetts Republican rules, at least the runner-up would receive some delegates even if that runner-up received less than 20 percent of the vote. Again, using the 2016 results but 2020 rules, Kasich would have received a share of the delegates (split with Trump) even though he only got 18 percent of the vote in the primary. Rubio, less than a thousand votes behind Kasich would be locked out of the allocation. 

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Monday, May 6, 2019

Committee Hearing Finds Both DC Parties in Favor of a Presidential Primary Move

At a meeting last week of the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, the Washington, DC Council heard a discussion on the proposed shift of the presidential primary date in the district.

Both DC Republican Committee executive director, Patrick Mara, and DC Democratic State Committee chair, Charles Wilson, spoke in favor of pushing the district's primary up two weeks to the first Tuesday in June and both for the same reason. Where the DC primary is scheduled now -- a position it was moved to in 2017 -- it falls too late on the calendar under the rules of both the Democratic and Republican National Committees. Each party would face penalties reducing the size of already small delegations to the respective national conventions in 2020. The DC Republican Party position was simple enough: pick a date, any date between the first Tuesday in March and the second Saturday in June in order for the Republicans in the district to avoid paying for their own party-run and limited process (as the party did in 2016).

Wilson, however, brought up the more robust discussion the DC Democrats had back in early March. At that party meeting, the committee considered not only the June 2 date, but also an April 28 alignment with other regional partners in the Acela primary. The issue with the latter that was raised both at that meeting and in the context of the Council hearing last week was that the window for petition gathering would encompass holiday season at the end of December. While that may not be as large an issue for Democratic presidential candidates, it would potentially harm the efforts of local candidates vying for a spot on the consolidated primary ballot.

It was that snag that kept District Democrats from latching onto the April 28 position, despite the 25 percent bonus (10 percent for an April primary and 15 percent for clustering the contest with two or more regional partners) the party would receive for conducting a primary on that date. Splitting the presidential and district primaries was a non-starter in the committee hearing because of the attendant costs associated with funding an additional election.

June 2, then, looks like the date that threads the needle of bipartisan support, national party rules compliance, cost effectiveness and is candidate/campaign friendly. And for Democrats in the District, not all is lost. The bonus associated with a June 2 primary is 20 percent, an additional two DC delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

7/19/19: Earlier June Presidential Primary Move Inches Forward in DC

4/5/19: DC Council Eyes Earlier Primary with New Bill

2/7/19: DC Presidential Primary on the Move Again?

5/15/18:  Washington, DC Eases Back a Week on the Calendar

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Friday, May 3, 2019

Puerto Rico Democrats Further Signal a Primary Move to March

The Puerto Rico Democratic Party wrapped up the public comment period for its draft of their 2020 delegate selection plan on April 30.

The draft plan looks a lot like the plan used in 2016. And that is largely a function of the fact that the election is a government-run primary. Any changes come through the legislature on the island territory.  But while this plan looks at first glance like the 2016 plan, there are a number of mentions of possible changes.

One is the date of the contest. In one footnote to the first Sunday in June date called for, the plan adds:
However, the Governor has announced he plans to submit amendments to the Compulsory Presidential Primaries Act that include, among other things, moving the date for the Democratic presidential primary to the second Sunday of March of the year in which the presidential elections are held. This could move forward the primary for March 8, 2020. If the law is amended, the DPPR would accordingly file an amended Delegate Selection Plan.
This is nothing new. News of a potential Puerto Rico presidential primary move broke in February. But the fact that this appears in the delegate selection plan confirms the idea that the primary may align with the Republican primary in early March. The legislation now sets the Republican contest for the first Sunday in March unless it conflicts with national party rules. And a March 1 date would fall before the first Tuesday in March, making any contest -- Democratic or Republican -- non-compliant with those rules.

Another area of potential change via legislation comes based on the changes to Rule 2 in the Democratic Party delegate selection rules. The changes there have shifted an additional responsibility on state parties to demonstrate steps taken to broaden participation. There is reference in the Puerto Rico plan of legislation to potentially extend early voting to all voters for any reason; a no excuse system.

But again, like the date of the presidential primary, those changes would have to be passed by the Legislative Assembly in Puerto Rico. And additionally, that action would ostensibly have to occur prior to the assembly's recess beginning on July 1 and running through August 11. But while that is during the period of DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee review of state delegate selection plans, the acts of legislatures operate outside of the national party's purview.

As of now the Puerto Rico Democratic presidential primary will remain on June 7 on the 2020 FHQ presidential primary calendar.

2/28/19: Puerto Rico Democrats Eye March Presidential Primary Shift

Hat tip to Luiso Joy for bringing the Puerto Rico plan to FHQ's attention.

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Thursday, May 2, 2019

Kansas Democrats Settle on May Party-Run Primary

The Kansas Democratic Party on Thursday, May 2 released their 2020 draft delegate selection plan, exactly one year ahead of when the party intends to hold a presidential preference primary.

Like Alaska, Hawaii and North Dakota Democrats, Democrats in Kansas are shifting away from traditional caucuses and toward a mode of delegate selection closer to a primary. While the window for voting in the May 2 party-run primary in the Sunflower state is fairly narrow -- 10am-2pm -- that is offset by 1) the contest being scheduled for a Saturday and 2) the party allowing for absentee voting (by mail) from March 30 through April 24. Additionally, although the field is likely to have winnowed to some degree by the beginning (March 30) of that absentee window, registered Democrats in Kansas will use a ranked choice voting ballot. Absent additional details, it would appear that voters will have a full list of candidates to rank order on the ballot (unlike the variation in Alaska where voters choose/rank their top three).

Moreover, Kansas would become the largest state to adopt a party-run primary approach to delegate selection process, and that bigger potential electorate entails a larger cost to the process. Those costs are borne out through the need for addition voting locations and volunteers to staff them. The draft Kansas plan does indicate that the party will have at least one primary day voting location in each of the Sunflower state's 40 state senate districts. While the allocation of delegates to the national convention will be based on the results of the May 2 primary, the selection process will follow starting with May 9 state senate district conventions, May 16 congressional district conventions (where congressional district delegates will be chosen) and a June 6 state convention (where at-large and PLEO delegates will be selected).

Finally, Kansas Democrats have 39 delegates (which includes six superdelegates) under the Democratic Party delegate apportionment formula. However, due to the proposed date of the party-run primary -- after the May 1 -- the party would gain an additional 20 percent bonus on its base delegation. That would likely tack another six delegates onto the total number of Kansas delegates heading to the national convention in Milwaukee.

3/13/19: North Dakota Democrats Plan to Hold March 10 Firehouse Caucuses

3/26/19: Hawaii Democrats Aim for an April Party-Run Primary in Lieu of Caucuses

3/31/19: Alaska Democrats Plan on April 4 Party-Run Primary

The Kansas Democratic party-run primary date is now reflected on the 2020 FHQ Presidential Primary Calendar.

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Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Governor Polis Sets Colorado Presidential Primary Date for Super Tuesday

Governor Jared Polis (D-CO) on Tuesday finalized the date of the 2020 Colorado presidential primary.1 In consultation with the Colorado secretary of state, the governor chose Super Tuesday from a narrow range of March Tuesdays as defined in statute after a 2016 ballot initiative reestablished the presidential primary option.

The decision aligns the Colorado presidential primary with primaries or caucuses in 13 other states and territories. Already the most delegate-rich date on the 2020 presidential primary calendar, the addition of primary in the Centennial state puts even more weight on the March 3 Super Tuesday.

This will be the first cycle in which Colorado has conducted a presidential primary since a three cycle run from 1992-2000. Parties in the state have held caucuses since then.

1 Full press release from Governor Polis's office announcing the date:

Governor Polis and Secretary of State Griswold announced March 3rd, 2020 as Colorado’s new presidential primary date


DENVER — Today Governor Jared Polis and Secretary of State Jena Griswold announced March 3rd, 2020 as the new date for Colorado’s presidential primary. The two were joined by leaders from the Democratic, Republican, Unity American Constitution and Approval Voting parties.

“Our Super Tuesday primaries will be a tremendous opportunity to participate in democracy and for Coloradans to have their voices heard by presidential candidates in all parties,” said Governor Jared Polis. “We are proud of 2018’s record turnout, as well as Colorado’s status as a leader on voting rights. We hope to build on that momentum by participating in a primary along with other Super Tuesday states to ensure that all major candidates listen firsthand to the concerns of Colorado voters.”

In 2016, Colorado voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 107, which restored primary elections in Colorado in presidential election years. The state was previously using the caucus system.

“I am excited to join Governor Polis in officially setting March 3, 2020 -- Super Tuesday -- as the date for Colorado’s 2020 presidential primary. This will be the first presidential primary in Colorado in 20 years -- and the first where unaffiliated voters will be able to participate,” said Secretary of State Jena Griswold. “As Colorado’s Secretary of State, I believe in the power of our democracy. A secure and accessible presidential primary will give Coloradans the opportunity to create the future we imagine.”

The Colorado primary date is now reflected on the 2020 FHQ Presidential Primary Calendar.

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