Showing posts with label Bernie Sanders. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bernie Sanders. Show all posts

Thursday, April 30, 2020

What's to Know About the Statewide Delegate Reallocation Process So Far? There's not much to go on, but...

Earlier on Thursday, April 30, both the Biden campaign and the suspended Sanders campaign jointly announced that both had struck a deal to allow Sanders to keep his statewide delegates. Under the Democratic National Committee delegate selection rules, any candidate no longer running for the nomination is to lose any statewide delegates -- at-large and PLEO delegates allocated based on statewide results -- to any candidates who are still in the race and originally received at least 15 percent of the vote statewide.

The agreement made between the two campaigns would continue to follow the letter of the rule. Delegates will still be allocated -- or reallocated as the case may be -- to Biden after a primary's or caucus's results come in. However, at the time of selection statewide delegate slots in a proportion corresponding to any qualified share of the vote Sanders received (presumably over 15 percent) would be filled by Sanders-aligned delegate candidates. That has the effect of keeping the overarching reallocation rule intact for this and future cycles, but places the onus on state parties to select delegates in accordance with the statewide results in their states' contests.

FHQ will have more on this in a later post, but for now wanted to more closely examine the reallocation process that has occurred so far. Admittedly, it does not amount to much and the coronavirus has decreased the activity even further. Under the original state-level delegate selection plans, nine states would have selected statewide delegates by the end of April. Those nine states would have made up just under 13 percent of the total statewide delegates. But again, the coronavirus pandemic has intervened, disrupting the plans state parties laid out and had approved by the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee. Of those nine states, five state parties in Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Oklahoma and Tennessee shifted their statewide delegate selection to later dates in May and June.

That leaves just four states that have actually conducted delegate selection through the end of April.1 And those four states -- Colorado (April 18 virtual state convention), New Hampshire (April 25 virtual state convention), North Dakota (March 21 virtual state convention) and Utah (April 25 virtual state convention) -- comprise just more than 3 percent of the total number of statewide delegates allocated and selected.

That is not much of a sample and it certainly is not all that representative of how the overall reallocation process will work in other states. North Dakota, for example, held its party-run primary after the race had winnowed to just Biden and Sanders, and then selected statewide delegates before Sanders suspended his campaign on April 8. That meant that Sanders was allocated delegates and had those slots filled with Sanders-aligned supporters before the Vermont senator was out of the race. Those delegates cannot be reallocated.

Moreover, in New Hampshire where statewide delegates were selected this past weekend, there were no candidates still in the race who got more than 15 percent in the February 11 primary and thus no one to whom to reallocate any delegates. Those eight delegates were split among the candidates who originally cleared the 15 percent threshold but who are no longer in the race (Buttigieg, Klobuchar and Sanders). In other words, there was no explicit reallocation of delegates among Granite state Democrats either. It was impossible.

That leaves just Colorado and Utah where only 33 statewide delegates (roughly 2 percent of the total) were at stake. Both also saw multiple candidates clear 15 percent on Super Tuesday. Bloomberg and Warren joined Biden and Sanders over 15 percent in both contests. Colorado Democrats throughout the primary season winnowing process have provided a real-time reallocation tally of its statewide delegates. The party shows Biden as the sole qualifier for statewide delegates, but has yet to release a list of statewide delegates selected ("coming soon" according to this site).

Similarly, in Utah, Democrats there have yet to release a list of statewide delegates selected on April 25. Biden delegate candidates dominated the list of candidates, but it is unclear what the results were in the Beehive state and what the reallocation and selection there looks like.

The take home message here is that there has not been a lot of actual statewide delegate reallocation and/or selection yet. This deal between the Biden and Sanders campaigns, then, comes at a good time. Statewide delegate slots will be reallocated to Biden, but will be filled Sanders delegate candidates where the Vermont senator receives more than 15 percent statewide. And selection has yet to take place for nearly 97 percent of statewide delegates.

That process has yet to really get off the ground yet.

1 This excludes American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands which selected territory-wide delegates in March in conjunction with their caucuses. Between them, both territories account for just 12 total at-large delegates.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

#InvisiblePrimary: Visible -- Is Bernie Sanders a Democrat Under the 2020 Democratic Rules?

Thoughts on the invisible primary and links to the movements during the day that was...

The answer is yes.

But since Sanders has now thrown his hat in the 2020 Democratic ring, since the rules have changed a bit since 2016, and since this keeps coming up on the areas of social media still relitigating the 2016 Democratic primary (and with greater frequency on Sander 2020, day one), FHQ will weigh in on the matter.

But FHQ will weigh in with the goal of ultimately posing another, perhaps, more important question.

However, before that, let's first lay out what both the 2020 Democratic Delegate Selection Rules (Rule 13.K.1) and the Call for the 2020 Democratic National Convention (Section VI) say about who the party views as an eligible candidate for its nomination.

Both offer discretion to the DNC chair to determine who is a "bona fide Democrat" and an overlapping definition of what that means. Basically, a Democrat in the eyes of the Democratic National Committee is someone "whose record of public service, accomplishment, public writings and/or public statements affirmatively demonstrates that the candidate is faithful to the interests, welfare, and success of the Democratic Party of the United States."

The Call also adds that a candidate must affirm in writing that they are a member of the Democratic Party (something that does not require registration with the party), will accept the party's nomination, and run and serve as a member of the party.

[The candidate affirmation form can be found in Appendix E of the Call.]

All of this is the same basic framework Sanders and the DNC agreed to during the 2016 cycle. But it has now been formally added to the nomination rules of the party. If Sanders qualified in 2016, then he will qualify for 2020.

One member of the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee placed some emphasis on the timing of the affirmation; that it is to happen upon the public announcement of candidacy. That is a fair point, but it raises a different question: Have any of the announced candidates followed this newly codified protocol and signed the affirmation form?

The answer is no. Sanders may be under the spotlight, but he is not the only candidate who has to submit the form. And none have done so as of yet because the DNC has yet to distribute the forms to the various announced campaigns. That will happen at a meeting the DNC has set up for next week.

But the initial question should be put to rest. Sanders is a Democrat under the new rules.

Elsewhere in the invisible primary...

1. #StaffPrimary: Sanders adds a campaign manager.

2. #MoneyPrimary: The Vermont senator also had a productive first 24 hours on the fundraising front.

3. #EndorsementPrimary: And although the fundraising was a bigger signal, Sanders was able to point to a handful of meaningful endorsements on day one. Patrick Leahy was among them. The senior Vermont senator brings Sanders Senate endorsement total to one, the same number he had in all of the 2016 cycle. [Note: Sanders already had the support of Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA).] While that continues the trend of primarily home state support for the announced candidates, it is not the show of force a candidate returning for round two might otherwise want in an attempt at unifying the party behind him.

4. Gov. Baker (R-MA) is not yet ready to line up behind Weld 2020.

5. Delaney keeps plugging away in Iowa, opening a field office in Waterloo.

6. Sure, Biden leads in a South Carolina poll (and one in New Hampshire too), but at what point do we stop saying either 1) this is a reflection of name recognition and/or 2) state polls are largely reflecting national polls at this point? Not yet.

Has FHQ missed something you feel should be included? Drop us a line or a comment and we'll make room for it.

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Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Democrats' Unity Reform Commission

The members of the Democratic National Convention Rules Committee convened on Saturday, July 23 to consider the report the committee will present to the convention on its opening day in Philadelphia. After a lengthy primary season that highlighted procedural issues surrounding superdelegates, caucuses and the openness of participation in the Democratic nomination process, it was expected that those matters would dominate the proceedings.

Not surprisingly, they did.

Following a series of uncontentious votes -- on convention officers and convention procedure -- and a short recess, the committee began to consider amendments to the charter of the party and the rules of the nomination process. This began with a series of amendments with respect to the influence of superdelegates on the process. But in each instance, the same basic pattern emerged: any change to the current superdelegate system was voted down by a ratio of around 3:2. That happened first on an amendment to abolish superdelegates. It happened again on measures to reduce their influence (or number) on the nominating process.

It was at that point that committee members from both the Clinton and Sanders teams rose to call for a recess. What followed was an over three hour break that produced a unity amendment chartering a post-convention commission to examine not only the superdelegate process that had triggered a slew of amendment proposals, but the other perceived shortcomings of the process (chiefly, caucuses and participation).

The Unity Reform Commission, successor to the Democratic Change Commission of eight years ago, will have a specific mandate if the convention votes in favor of the Rules Committee report on the first day of the convention on Monday. What passed the Rules Committee on Saturday was this:

  1. No more than 60 days after the election of the next chair of the Democratic National Committee early next year, the chair will establish the Unity Reform Commission (URC).
  2. Its membership will include Clinton surrogate, Jennifer O'Malley Dillon, as commission chairwoman and Sanders proxy, Larry Cohen, as vice chair. Clinton will fill nine (9) additional slots and Sanders, seven (7). The DNC chair (see #1) will select three (3) additional members. 
  3. Consistent with the timeline of the Democratic Change Commission, the 21 member Unity Reform Commission will meet during 2017 with the goal of producing a set of rules recommendations to the Democratic Rules and Bylaws Committee by January 1, 2018.
  4. The normal procedure is for the Rules and Bylaws Committee to consider those commission recommendations before sending them -- potentially in an amended form -- to the full Democratic National Committee for a final vote. That procedure remains intact. However, the URC retains the ability to place their recommendations before the full DNC if the Rules and Bylaws Committee "fails to substantially adopt" any of them. [NOTE: How the commission arrives at a conclusion that the RBC has not met that requirement greatly depends on who the members of the commission are.]
  5. Substantively, the unity amendment calls for another reconsideration of the caucus process. This was a Clinton campaign complaint after 2008 and is again in 2016. The question confronting the URC will be whether they come to a different conclusion than the Democratic Change Commission. The 2009 commission called for the development of a set of "best practices" for caucuses, but ultimately left the primary versus caucus matter up to the states (in order to best tailor a process at the state level). 
  6. The amendment is less forceful on the parameters of discussion on participation in the nomination process. The commission's charter only calls for the development of recommendations that "encourage" increased involvement in the process. In the end, the directive on what essentially boils down to an open versus closed primary discussion is more passive. The Sanders proxies on the commission will likely push for something promoting more open primaries, but historically the DNC (and the RNC for that matter) have remained mostly hands-off on this matter, deferring to the states. [NOTE: This question is certainly more difficult to deal with considering both major national parties are being pulled in opposite directions on the matter. Sanders supporters are advocating for more open primaries, while the liberty faction within the Republican Party are aiming for a more closed process. That potentially mixed message will be more likely produce mixed results if and when either party moves more forcefully on any recommendations on this front.] 
  7. While the open primaries mandate was passive, the part of the amendment devoted to superdelegates had more teeth to it. In any event, there was more clarity as to the specifics of the superdelegates mandate of the commission. While the group will broadly consider the superdelegates' role in the process, it will specifically recommend that elected officials -- Democratic members of Congress, governors and distinguished party leaders (presidents, vice presidents, etc.) -- remain as unpledged delegates. However, the second part of the recommendation shifts the remaining superdelegates (approximately two-thirds of them) out of the unpledged category and into a pledged territory (to be proportionally pledged/bound based on the results of primaries and caucuses). [NOTE A: Again, these are recommendations. The URC can go over the heads of the Rules and Bylaws Committee if it does not adopt any part of the commission's recommendations, but it cannot necessarily force the full DNC to adopt these rules. If the commission is near unanimous in its recommendations, that may make any inaction on the part of the RBC or DNC more difficult. And ultimately, that issue circles back around to the membership of the committee. If they are divided from the start, they will likely be somewhat divided at the end, issuing recommendations that are less clear and less likely to be ratified by the DNC.] [NOTE B: The specificity of this superdelegate section of the unity amendment presented to the Rules Committee moves in the direction of what the Sanders campaign wants: curbing the influence of the unpledged delegates. But while it hypothetically reduces their number, it does not address the core problem Sanders and his supporters had with superdelegates. The root complaint was that a significant number of superdelegates endorsed Clinton in 2015 before any primary and caucus votes had been cast. There are potentially fewer superdelegates after this, but the pre-primary endorsement problem is and will still be an issue. The commission is not confined to just this action on superdelegates though. It has to make that recommendation, but can go beyond that on the matter.]
  8. There is an additional section to the amendment dealing with expanding the party nationally that echoes not only what Sanders has said over the last year, but also is reminiscent of the Dean DNC's 50 state strategy. 
  9. The main perceived problems of 2016 are addressed in the amendment, but the scope of the commission's actions can expand beyond those areas at the discretion of the chair and vice chair of the commission. The group can look at other parts of the rules behind the presidential nomination process. 
One thing that is an interesting side note to all of this is something hinted at above. This Unity Reform Commission will be active simultaneous to the newly created study panel that came out of the Republican National Convention Rules Committee in Cleveland. Each group will most certainly have an eye on the actions of the other and that will undoubtedly affect the recommendations that come out of either. A similar separated, bipartisan consideration of rules occurred after 2008. That resulted in the Democratic Change Commission and (Republican) Temporary Delegate Selection Committee finding common ground on problems like the frontloading of primaries and caucuses and the January start to primary season. That sort of unofficial semi-coordination could repeat itself in 2017, but that outcome is dependent on the two groups seeing common ground. That was clear with the calendar after 2008, but may not be with open versus closed primaries and other issues following 2016. 

In any event, it will make for an eventful 2017 on the rules front.

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Monday, June 1, 2015

Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and the 2016 Democratic Presidential Nomination

FHQ has neglected the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination process to this point. With such a logjam on the Republican side, it is hard not to. But in following along with the close of the Nevada legislative session in my Twitter feed last night (no action on the presidential primary bill, but fantastic work by Jon Ralston and Ray Hagar), there were a number of tweets interspersed about Bernie Sanders' crowds and poll position.1 To FHQ's eye, many seem to be overstating what exactly Sanders' emergence means.

Let's take those indicators one at a time:

1. David Bernstein posed a question this morning about studies examining crowd size and the correlation that holds with success in early primaries. It is an interesting question, but no one on an ad hoc panel of three political scientists could come up with any research that had dug into the question. Anecdotally, it is reminiscent of the similar connection that was drawn from the level of Romney crowd enthusiasm during the home stretch of the 2012 presidential (general) election. It just does not seem to be a good indicator of success in (presidential) elections.

2. But why were there 3000 or more people there to greet Bernie Sanders on a Sunday afternoon in late May 2015 in Minneapolis of all places? That has to say something, right? Yes, it does. But let's look at what it means from a slightly different angle.

Political scientists will often tell you to "ignore those polls". And that is absolutely correct in the instance of presidential primary polls this far out from when the Iowa caucuses kick off the presidential primary season. However, there has been a consistency to the polling of the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination race. Clinton has been at or around the 60% mark since 2013. That is a few data points. One could obviously counter that that is just name recognition driving that. A large part of it probably is. Survey respondents know Clinton better than they know Sanders or O'Malley or Chaffee or Webb or whomever. Let's focus not on that 60% but instead zero in on the remaining 40%.

That is a pretty significant chunk of Democratic primary voters. A chunk that would prefer someone else to Hillary Clinton. A chunk that can be enthusiastic about that preference. But that could also be a faction of Democratic primary voters who still only comprise 40% of the total primary electorate. That may yield some primary or caucus victories -- if there is a clear alternative to Clinton behind whom that faction nearly unanimously backs -- but it still is not likely to win the Democratic nomination.

As FHQ and others have often pointed out, polling is but one indicator at which to look in the context of a presidential nomination battle. There are also fundraising and endorsements. FHQ has often drawn a parallel between Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Al Gore in 2000. It may be splitting hairs, but perhaps the better 2000 comparison is George W. Bush. Like Clinton in 2015, Bush had huge polling, fundraising and endorsement leads in 1999. Even with those advantages, Bush still lost a handful of early contests (New Hampshire, Michigan, Arizona in February and a handful of northeastern states on Super Tuesday in early March) to John McCain. An insurmountable lead does not necessarily prevent primary or caucus losses for the frontrunner, but it does present a very steep climb for any challenger for the nomination.

Clinton can and perhaps will lose a primary or caucus here and there during 2016. And if one wants to look at where enthusiastic crowds can or will matter look to the same group of contests that bedeviled the 2008 Clinton campaign: caucuses. In those lower turnout elections in states like Iowa, Minnesota, Colorado or Nevada (or Kansas, Maine and Nebraska), a small enthusiastic group might be able to overwhelm the process in a manner similar to the way the Obama campaign did in 2008 or the Paul campaigns have done in 2008, 2012 and hope to replicate in 2016.

There are a couple of things that run against that hypothesis for Clinton in 2016. First, the institutional memory within the Clinton campaign is not that short. They will, no doubt, work to prevent a similar caucuses collapse in 2016. Secondly (and perhaps because of the memories of 2008), those seven caucuses states listed above are the only caucuses states scheduled (or likely scheduled) before March 22. The remaining seven caucuses states begin the caucus/convention process on or after March 22. That is a point on the calendar where the field will have been significantly winnowed if not winnowed to just Clinton.

Look, ask anyone -- Democrat, Republican, independent or political junkie -- and they will tell you that they would rather see a real race for the Democratic nomination than something like 2012 when President Obama was seeking renomination or like 2000 when Vice President Gore easily handled a challenge from former New Jersey senator, Bill Bradley. But wanting the Democratic nomination to be competitive or as competitive as the Republican nomination race probably is is not realistic. There will likely be an attempt made to read a McCain in 2000 scenario into the 2016 Democratic nomination race, but what we may get is that scenario similar to the Romney/not-Romney dynamic in 2012.

...but with those, in this case, not-Clintons rising and falling during 2015 and peaking in the polls far below where Clinton is established. FHQ would urge folks not to jump to conclusions on all of this.

1 It seems that there is some effort to manufacture a contest on the Democratic side without really scrutinizing it in the same way that the Republican race is being covered. Is there any reason to suspect that Sanders would not enjoy the polling (and enthusiasm?) bumps, post-announcement, that some of the Republican candidates have seen after they threw their hats in the ring?

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Bernie Sanders and Vermont's Attempt at Challenging the New Hampshire Primary

Favorite sons and their influence on state delegate selection rules are in the news these days. But it is not all Rand Paul requesting Kentucky Republicans to switch to a caucuses/convention process.

News out of Vermont that legislation had been proposed to move the Green Mountain state presidential primary to the same date as the New Hampshire primary came out of left field the other day. For starters, Vermont has never really been a big player in the presidential nomination process. The state is just not that delegate-rich, and it has always taken a backseat to its eastern neighbor on that front. In recognition of that Vermont has not been much of a primary calendar mover over the years. Since abandoning beauty contest primaries and/or caucuses after 1992 for binding primaries in 1996, Vermont has been stationed on the first Tuesday in March.1 Not even when former Vermont Governor Howard Dean sought the Democratic nomination in 2004 did Vermont relent in holding onto that early March position.2

The record is pretty clear, then, that Vermont has not really been a factor in nomination races nor on the primary calendar. But what is different about 2016? Why is there interest in moving the presidential primary in Vermont and challenging New Hampshire's long-held first in the nation status?

One fairly convincing idea is that the move is intended to help Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who is considering a challenge to a potential Hillary Clinton campaign for the Democratic nomination. This sort of action is not foreign to the history of presidential nomination politics. There was talk of Utah moving its primary to benefit Mitt Romney in 2012. Part of the rationale behind Illinois' uncharacteristic shift out of its traditional third Tuesday in March calendar position for 2008 was to provide then-Senator Barack Obama with a counterweight to Hillary Clinton wins on Super Tuesday. President Carter's reelection campaign sent envoy Hamilton Jordan to Georgia (and Alabama) to talk to legislators there about moving their primaries to dates that serve as a counterbalance to any gains Ted Kennedy might receive from early contests in New Hampshire and Massachusetts in 1980.

States moving primaries or caucuses around to help presidential candidates from that state is nothing new.

What helps the idea along that this is what is happening in Vermont with Bernie Sanders is that the bill came from a state legislator not in the Democratic or Republican parties but from a state senator -- Sen. Anthony Pollina (P/D-28th, North Middlesex) -- who is a member of the Progressive Party. Now, Sen. Sanders is an independent (who caucuses with Democrats) from Vermont in the United States Senate, but that does not mean he is not often associated with the Progressive Party in Vermont  or that the party does not claim him as one of their own.

Now a former Progressive Party gubernatorial candidate and current state senator has introduced legislation in the Vermont legislature to move the Green Mountain state presidential primary to the same date as the New Hampshire primary. FHQ will not advance into the strategic considerations of what a Vermont primary on the same day as New Hampshire would mean for a contest between Clinton and Sanders.3 However, it is interesting to consider how home state legislators will address such a bill. The Progressives are a small cadre of legislators in both chambers of the Vermont legislature, so they would need help moving this bill. Would some Democrats join them to help Sanders and/or promote Vermont's position? Would some Republicans get behind the effort to promote Vermont or potentially hurt Clinton (whether it actually would or not)?4 Could a little of both happen and get the bill close to passage or over that hurdle?

In the end, considering those questions is nothing more than a thought exercise. There are too many ifs involved at this point to even really consider passage of the bill. But even if it becomes law, Bernie Sanders might be the only one campaigning (if he chose to) in a throwback beauty contest primary in Vermont while all the attention remains further east in New Hampshire.

1 Even during the beauty contest primary years, the primary fell on the first Tuesday in March (see 1976, 1980 and 1988). Actually, the fact that the Vermont primary was not binding in those years is the only reason that it escaped penalties from the national parties. The Democratic Party, for instance, did not allow non-Iowa/New Hampshire contests to be held before the second Tuesday in March. That did not change -- moving up a week to the first Tuesday in March -- until the 1992 cycle.

2 The primary could have been moved as early as the first Tuesday in February in 2004. That was the year that the DNC joined the RNC in allowing non-Iowa/New Hampshire states to conduct nominating contests in February. The RNC had allowed a handful of February contests as early as 1996. It should also be pointed that the Vermont House was under Republican control at the time and the chamber may have been less amenable to a change in the primary date intended to help a Democrat, even a Vermont Democrat.

3 It really is moot. New Hampshire is more than adept at fending off these types of challenges.

4 There are not enough Progressives and Republicans to overcome the Democratic majorities in either chamber.

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