Showing posts with label 1988 election. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1988 election. Show all posts

Thursday, March 3, 2016

On a Revisionist History of the 1988 Southern Super Tuesday

This overly retweeted tweet made its way into the FHQ Twitter feed yesterday, and it really strikes me as #wrong.
This is a pretty blatant revision of this history of how the 1988 Southern Super Tuesday came to be.

The idea of shifting some or all of the southern states to the front of the Democratic Party window -- the period in which the now-so-called carve-out states -- was something that was making the rounds in political circles across the South as early as the early 1970s. Jimmy Carter discussed the idea of a southern regional primary in the infancy of his initial presidential nomination bid just after he completed his stint as Georgia governor. That is not very far into the post-reform era. And it also pre-dates any Jesse Jackson run for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Carter was also tangentially involved in the positioning of the Florida presidential primary for the 1976 cycle. Legislators in the Sunshine state were going to move the Florida primary to a later date, but the Carter team worked their connections in Florida -- connections forged in his time as governor of Georgia -- to request that the primary be kept in March. That primary was a de facto southern elimination round as Carter's win there over George Wallace virtually ended Wallace's chances and further propelled Carter's run to the nomination. It goes without saying that this, too, was before Jesse Jackson's run in 1984.

Facing a prospective challenge from Ted Kennedy in 1980, the Carter White House also made similar entreaties with legislators in both Alabama and Georgia to move their primaries to coincide with the Florida primary in 1980. That was viewed by the Carter campaign as an early counterweight to perceived potential victories by Kennedy in earlier New Hampshire and Massachusetts. The picture that emerges is more of an organic build toward a southern regional primary, and, again, this was before Jesse Jackson's run.

The southern regional primary idea was still around in the lead up to 1984. Several southern states shifted to early caucuses that cycle and began to make the front end of the calendar even more southern-flavored. Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi and South Carolina Democrats all shifted their contests into March, joining Alabama, Florida and Georgia on the 1984 primary calendar. The decisions in those states also pre-dated the time period when it was clear that Jesse Jackson was going to run for the Democratic nomination that cycle.

Before the timeline even gets to 1985 when the decisions on 1988 presidential primary dates started coming out of southern state legislatures, then, there is already ample evidence that the movement toward a southern regional primary was in the works. It had happened already; organically and before Jackson.

But this is also only the tip of the iceberg for what is missed in Jilani's revisionist -- or perhaps context-less -- account of the 1988 calendar.

The notion that southern state legislators "frontloaded red states" borders on preposterous. First, the red state/blue state construct dates most specifically to the 2000 election cycle; three cycles after 1988. Southern legislators, who were overwhelmingly Democratic at the time, moved those contests for 1988 attempting to, in the aggregate, influence the nomination. Dating back to the early 1970s, the idea was that the South would speak with one voice behind a more moderate candidate who would, in their way of thinking, make those southern states Democratic in the fall general election campaign. With Jimmy Carter's 1976 run as the example, the idea was to win some southern states in the fall. To do that they needed a southern or more moderate/conservative candidate. Those were the dominoes in all of this. And that way of thinking survived to and through both of Bill Clinton's runs for the White House. During a period in which Democrats struggled to win the White House, the only success the party had in winning was in nominating a southerner who could peel off some southern states in the general election.

Yes, the Democratic Leadership Council was involved on the periphery of the effort in the lead up to 1988, but Jilani is assigning to them, and the state governments that made the decisions to shift primaries on the calendar, a level of sophistication that just did not exist at the time. His thesis is without context. If they were sophisticated enough to attempt to counter Jackson, then surely they would have realized after Jackson's success with African American voters in 1984 that they -- southern decision makers -- were actually setting Jackson up for success in the Deep South where African American voters comprised a significant portion of the Democratic primary electorate.

That level of sophistication did not exist. Southern political actors were surprised by the results in the 1988 primaries and in many states opted to drop out of the calendar coalition for 1992. Jesse Jackson may have been on the minds of those making the decisions on primary dates for 1988 in 1985-87, but he was not the motivation for moving those states up. The movement was afoot before Jackson and actually benefited him in 1988. Those states just were not "red" in the eyes of those making those decisions. The hope was that they would turn at least some of those states Democratic in the fall.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The SEC Primary, Seriously Y'all

Via Tim Alberta at National Journal:
Because for the first time in the modern history of the Republican Party, the path to its presidential nomination takes an early and potentially decisive detour through the South. 
As the schedule tentatively stands, following the first four nominating contests in February—Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada—the campaign speeds up with a March 1 Super Tuesday dominated by Bible Belt primaries. The calendar will not be finalized until October, but Republican officials expect that at as many as six states—Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas—could wind up voting in a bloc. (It has been dubbed the "SEC primary" after the powerhouse football programs in the Southeastern Conference.) Even if Alabama and Mississippi fail to move their primaries up to March 1, they're currently scheduled to vote just one week later, on March 8, along with Oklahoma. Plus, Louisiana is holding its primary March 5, giving the South enormous influence no matter how Super Tuesday shapes up.

First time in modern history that the Republican Party has had a primary calendar with such a swing through the South? I look back sometimes and wonder where the time has gone, but 1988 is still part of the modern period of presidential nominations. In that year, the entire South with few exceptions held primaries and caucuses on March 8, a date closer to the New Hampshire primary in 1988 than the comparatively smaller group of southern states will be next year.

George H.W. Bush swept them all in 1988. Huckabee and others hope for as much in 2016. The Democrats' split decision experience in the Southern Super Tuesday in 1988 might be a better comparison though.

Now let's look at that calendar of southern contests for 2016.
Mississippi's out.
The Alabama House has been sitting on their primary bill since April.
Arkansas failed to move during its regular session, but has hope for passage during a special session.

Oklahoma is currently scheduled for March 1 after a plan to move the primary back to April failed.

North Carolina and Virginia are out there as well. Virginia is set for March 1, and North Carolina may fall anywhere in the February 23-March 8 range.

No, the calendar is not set now, but we have a pretty good idea of what it will look like. Yes, Mike Huckabee did well in the South in 2008, but there are a number of candidates who might do well in the region. That may mean a repeat of 1988.

...the Democrats' version. That would make the South -- and the SEC primary -- less decisive.

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Friday, November 30, 2012

The 1988 Electoral College Spectrum

From 1984 to 1988:

The 1988 Electoral College Spectrum1
1Follow the link for a detailed explanation on how to read the Electoral College Spectrum. The darker the color of the cell, the higher the margin was for the winning candidate (Light: < 5%. Medium: 5-10%, Dark: > 10%).

The numbers in the parentheses refer to the number of electoral votes a candidate would have if he won all the states ranked up to that state. If, for example, Dukakis had won all the states up to and including Michigan, he would have gained 280 electoral votes. Dukakis's numbers are only totaled through the states he would have needed in order to get to 270. In those cases, Dukakis's number is on the left in italics and Bush's is on the right.

The electoral votes for Washington, DC are included in the first cell at the top left. Conveniently, the district is historically the most Democratic unit within the electoral college which allows FHQ to push it off the spectrum in the interest of keeping the figure to just 50 slots.

3Just five of West Virginia's electoral votes were cast for Dukakis. The final electoral vote was cast for Democratic vice presidential nominee, Lloyd Bentsen. For this exercise, the sixth electoral vote is counted as being in favor of the Democratic ticket in terms of the electoral vote allocation in table above.

Michigan is the state where Bush crossed the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidential election. That line is referred to as the victory line.

1) To reiterate a point from the previous post, it is also worth noting that some cycle-to-cycle shuffling of states has to do with the idiosyncrasies of any given election. Too much, then, should not be drawn from the shifts over time. ...not yet anyway. Stay tuned for subsequent updates for a more robust picture.

2) Michigan was again the tipping point state in 1988. Instead of taking a nearly 20% shift toward the Democrats to swing the election -- as was the case in 1984 -- it would have taken an approximately 8% swing in Dukakis's direction to shift enough states/electoral votes and just cross the victory threshold.

3) The 2012 toss up states are again all over the map. Notably, New Hampshire, Florida and Nevada are deep into Republican territory. Virginia and North Carolina are less so. Ohio continued to cluster around, but not immediately next to, the tipping point of the electoral college majority. On the other hand, Iowa and Pennsylvania persisted in being further to the right of the tipping point, though the Keystone state remained (slightly) Republican. Colorado is also closer to the tipping point in 1988 than was the case in 1984.

4) Other notable states include West Virginia and Tennessee. The Mountain state in 1988 remains an oddity when compared to 2012. It was even deeper into the Democratic column in 1988 than in 1984. The 1988-2012 shift on the spectrum is a net 40 positions. Tennessee, in 1984, was the only southern state to the left of the tipping point. The entire south -- including the Volunteer state -- was not only to the right of the tipping point, but was greater than 10% in Bush's favor.

5) Compared to 1984, 1988 was more competitive. There were 12 states that were within five points. However, just the states with an over 10% margin for Bush got the (at the time) vice president within 12 electoral votes of 270. And even if Dukakis had won all of the toss up states he still would have come up 33 electoral votes short of 270. Bush was working with a cushion in 1988 that was similar to but much greater than the cushion of states Obama enjoyed in 2008.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

1988 Presidential Primary Calendar

Thursday, January 14:
Michigan Republican caucus (middle step in delegate allocation -- process began in August 1986)

Monday, February 1:
Kansas Republican caucuses (through February 7)

Thursday, February 4:
Hawaii Republican caucuses

Monday, February 8:
Iowa caucuses (both parties)

Tuesday, February 9:
Wyoming Republican caucuses (through February 24)

Tuesday, February 16:
New Hampshire primary

Thursday, February 18:
Nevada Republican caucuses

Tuesday, February 23:
Minnesota caucuses (both parties)
South Dakota primary

Friday, February 26:
Maine Republican caucuses (through February 28)

Saturday, February 27:
Alaska Republican caucuses (through March 1)

Sunday, February 28:
Maine Democratic caucuses

Tuesday, March 1:
Vermont primary (beauty contest -- no delegates at stake)

Saturday, March 5:
South Carolina Republican primary (party-run)
Wyoming Democratic caucuses

Tuesday, March 8:
Alabama primary
Arkansas primary
Florida primary
Georgia primary
Hawaii Democratic caucuses
Idaho Democratic caucuses
Kentucky primary
Louisiana primary
Maryland primary
Massachusetts primary
Mississippi primary
Missouri primary
Nevada Democratic caucuses 
North Carolina primary
Oklahoma primary
Rhode Island primary
Tennessee primary
Texas primary (Democratic primary-caucus)
Virginia primary
Washington caucuses (both parties)

Thursday, March 10:
Alaska Democratic caucuses

Saturday, March 12:
South Carolina Democratic caucuses

Tuesday, March 15:
Illinois primary

Saturday, March 19:
Kansas Democratic caucuses

Saturday, March 26:
Michigan Democratic caucuses

Sunday, March 27:
North Dakota Democratic caucuses

Tuesday, March 29:
Connecticut primary

Monday, April 4:
Colorado caucuses (both parties)

Tuesday, April 5:
Delaware Republican caucuses (through April 25)
Wisconsin primary

Saturday, April 16:
Arizona Democratic caucuses

Monday, April 18:
Delaware Democratic caucuses

Tuesday, April 19:
New York primary
Vermont caucuses (both parties)

Monday, April 25:
Utah caucuses (both parties)

Tuesday, April 26:
Pennsylvania primary

Tuesday, May 3:
Indiana primary
Ohio primary

Tuesday, May 10:
Nebraska primary
West Virginia primary

Saturday, May 14:
Arizona Republican convention (end of multi-tiered caucus process which began in 1986)

Tuesday, May 17:
Oregon primary

Tuesday, May 24:
Idaho primary (Republicans only),

Tuesday, June 7:
California primary
Montana primary
New Jersey primary
New Mexico primary

Tuesday, June 14:
North Dakota primary (Republicans only)

[Primaries in bold; Caucuses in italics]

States that are split vertically had different dates for different party contests. The shade to the left of that line corresponds with the month in which the Democratic contest took place and the right side represents the Republican contest.

[Source: Congressional Quarterly and news accounts from 1988. The latter was used to double-check the dates or discover missing ones.]

A few notes:
1) Obviously, the Southern Super Tuesday fundamentally shifted the balance in terms of frontloading in 1988. Up to this point our simple metric has been examining the number of contests (primaries specifically) held in May and June. From 1976-1984, May and June combined represented the time when most presidential primaries were being held. That wasn't the case in 1988. First of all, there was a jump in the number of primaries (Several southern states made the switch from caucus to primary between 1984 and 1988.). And secondly, only eleven of those 35 primaries were in May and June. 19 of those primaries were in March alone -- 15 of which were on Super Tuesday (March 8). The center of gravity in the nomination calendar, then, shifted from May to March and wouldn't formally shift again until both parties allowed for February contests (2000 for the GOP and 2004 for the Democrats).

2) January contests were back in 1988. Iowa had camped out in late January in 1976 and 1980; joined by several other caucus states that were largely ignored by the candidates and the media. In 1984, however, Iowa dropped back into February when only the Democratic nomination was at stake. The Hawkeye state stayed in February in 1988, but saw Michigan's Republicans jump into January. Which brings us to...

3) Two states began the 1988 delegate selection process in 1986. [Take that Florida and Michigan in 2008!] This sounds like a major violation of party rules, but in actuality it wasn't. To that point, only the Democrats were using the "Window Rule" to define when a state could and could not hold its delegate selection event. In other words, if you look back at those January (and even February) contests outside of Iowa in 1976 and 1980, it is a group of Republican contests mainly (and caucuses at that). The same holds true in this case. In 1988 (or in 1986 more accurately), Arizona and Michigan both held the initial stages of their Republican delegate selection. The Democratic caucuses in both states were in April and March, respectively -- within the DNC's delegate selection rules. However, this shows that 2008 was not Michigan's first foray into challenging Iowa and New Hampshire's first in the nation status.

Recent Posts:
1984 Presidential Primary Calendar

More on the Potential August Arkansas Primary

1980 Presidential Primary Calendar