Showing posts with label Democratic Party. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Democratic Party. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Uncommitted delegates are not necessarily Listen to Michigan delegates

Leading the day at FHQ...

The Michigan presidential primary is now in the rearview mirror, and while others will move on to the next contests or focus on the perceived threats the results in the Great Lakes state have on both likely nominees, FHQ will do what it does. And namely, that means digging into the delegates. 

For those who are interested in such things, there are a pair of delegate stories out of Michigan -- one on each side -- worth fleshing out some. 

The story of the night in Michigan -- well, it seemed like it had already been flagged as the story well in advance of last night -- was how Listen to Michigan's push for Michiganders to vote uncommitted in protest of President Biden's Gaza policy would fare. Lowball estimates from the group and its allies aside, the group did pretty well. And by pretty well, FHQ means that they were probably wildly successful in capturing the attention of media folks and political junkies desperate for something other than "Biden and Trump win again."

Well, Biden and Trump won again and Listen to Michigan certainly grabbed some attention. Some will try to read the tea leaves on what that portends for the general election in a battleground state -- a fool's errand -- but there are other ways of looking at how uncommitted did in the Michigan primary.

Some of this FHQ contextualized yesterday over at FHQ Plus. Uncommitted 2024 did about as well as Uncommitted 2012 would have done had the Michigan Democratic presidential primary actually counted and not been a beauty contest that cycle. And that is to say that Uncommitted 2024 failed to hit 15 percent statewide to qualify for any PLEO or at-large delegates. Despite that, Uncommitted 2024, just like Uncommitted 2012 would have, managed to qualify in a couple of congressional districts. Then, it was the sixth and tenth districts. Last night saw Uncommitted 2024 qualify in the sixth and 12th districts, receiving just north of 17 percent in each. 

And what does that get Uncommitted 2024 in the delegate count? 

Two delegates. 

One delegate in each of those districts. 

[As of this writing, the Michigan secretary of state has all 83 counties reporting, but the tally may not be complete.]

However, just because there are two uncommitted delegates does not mean that those are two Listen to Michigan delegates. Again, they are uncommitted delegate slots. Uncommitted. Any national convention delegate candidate that files as uncommitted in the sixth and 12th districts can run for one of those two slots. It will be the uncommitted delegates to the congressional district conventions in May who will decide who gets those positions. 

Listen to Michigan may organize its supporters in Michigan to run for and win spots to the congressional district conventions -- more on that process here -- but the group does not have a lock on those delegate slots. Nor does it have the ability to vet potential national convention delegates in the same way that an actual candidate and their campaign can. The group will not have that check

In other words, Listen to Michigan is vulnerable to a knowledgable and organized delegate operation, one that could run or overrun the uncommitted delegate pool in those congressional districts and take those uncommitted slots for their own. 

Yes, FHQ is suggesting that the Biden campaign could swoop in and win those uncommitted delegate slots in Michigan's sixth and 12th districts.  

But they likely will not. That would likely end up being far more trouble than it is worth. Why stir up an angry hornets' nest any more than it is already riled up over two delegates? There really is no need to. Had uncommitted fared better last night, reaching, say, a third of the vote, then maybe there could have been a more concerted effort to contest the selection of delegate candidates to those allocated slots. But as it is -- at two delegates -- why attempt that particular flex?

FHQ is not really sure what the deal with the AP delegate count in Michigan on the Republican side was, but it had been stuck on Trump 9, Haley 2 for the longest time. The Michigan Republican delegate selection plan is weird, but this is not that hard (even with an incomplete tally at this point).

Here is the number one needs to know: 25 percent.

If Nikki Haley slips under 25 percent in the Michigan primary results then she will claim three (3) delegates. As it stands now, she is over that mark and would be allocated four (4) delegates.

Trump will get the rest regardless of whether his total climbs some or falls. Why? 

Well, as of now, Trump is sitting on 68.2 percent of the vote in the Michigan primary. That would qualify him for 11 delegates. If the former president's total rose above 68.75 percent, then he would grab the last delegate, his would-be twelfth. But he would claim that delegate no matter what. Even if Trump stayed right where he is -- under 68.75 percent -- he would still win the last delegate. It would be unallocated based on the results, but all unallocated delegates go to the winner of the primary

FHQ has started rolling out the state-by-state series on Democratic delegate allocation rules over at FHQ Plus. So far there have been looks at rules in...
What's the difference between Democratic and Republican delegate selection rules? FHQ Plus has it covered.

Looking for more on delegates and delegate allocation? Continue here at the central hub for Republican delegate allocation rules on the state level at FHQ. That includes the latest from...

See more on our political/electoral consulting venture at FHQ Strategies. 

Friday, January 19, 2024

How many delegates do New Hampshire Democrats have anyway?

Leading the day at FHQ...

By now the story is old hat. At least around these parts it is. The Democratic National Committee altered its presidential primary calendar rules for the 2024 cycle. New Hampshire Democrats did not take kindly to the change that saw South Carolina's primary nudged into the first slot and spent 2023 openly defying the national party rules changes. 

Now, under the delegate selection rules of the Democratic Party, such a move on the part of New Hampshire Democrats carries a penalty, a 50 percent reduction in the size of the base delegation. That reduction has taken place, and New Hampshire Democrats now have 10 delegates to the national convention in Chicago later this summer. But the reporting, if one reads it closely, still seems to toggle between saying that New Hampshire Democrats will lose/have lost half of their delegates and that Granite state Democrats will lose/have lost all of their delegates.

So which is it? Half or all?

Actually, it is both. The actions of the New Hampshire Democratic Party -- opting into the noncompliant state-run presidential primary on January 23 -- cost the party half of its delegates. That is done. However, due to a tweak in the national party delegate selection rules for the 2024 cycle, state parties cannot allocate any delegates to any candidate who campaigns in a state like New Hampshire which has a primary scheduled in violation of the guidelines. Dean Phillips and Marianne Williamson cannot even win any actual delegates by being on the ballot in the upcoming primary in the Granite state (even if they manage to qualify). 

So, New Hampshire Democrats have 10 delegates but cannot allocate them. Half and all, all rolled into one. 

The question is, what happens with those 10 delegates? Obviously the back and forth continues between the New Hampshire Democratic Party and the national party to resolve their impasse. But in the meantime, here are some thoughts at FHQ Plus on where things may go as primary season progresses

In the continuing state-by-state series on delegate allocation rules, FHQ examines changes for 2024 in...
  • Utah: Republicans in the Beehive state have once again shifted to caucuses for selecting and allocating delegates. Otherwise, the same eccentricities remain under the surface in the allocation process.
  • Vermont: FHQ often says that there are only so many ways to proportionally allocate three congressional district delegates under RNC rules. Well, that is true in terms of the 17 delegates Vermont Republicans have to offer as well. Nevertheless, Republicans in the Green Mountain state have built some unique features into their delegate selection plan.


Saturday, June 24, 2023

[From FHQ Plus] The Georgia primary isn't really in "limbo"

The following is a cross-posted excerpt from FHQ Plus, FHQ's subscription newsletter. Come check the rest out and consider a paid subscription to unlock the full site and support our work. 


FHQ always follows along with rules meetings when I have the time. The DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee (DNCRBC) meeting late last week from Minneapolis was no exception. It was a productive if not eventful meeting. Among other things, the panel extended the early calendar waiver for New Hampshire and took up 19 state delegate selection plans, clearing 15 of them as conditionally compliant. 

Much of it seemed straightforward enough. But then I read some of the recaps and kept asking myself if folks had watched the same meeting I had. Sure, rules can have their various interpretations, but these sorts of sessions — those where delegate selection plans are being reviewed — can be pretty technical, pretty black and white. Yet, that did not stop some folks from reading shades of gray into matters where there really is none. Or in the case of the New Hampshire waiver, seeing what they wanted to see.

The consideration of the Georgia presidential primary (and any waiver extension for it) at the DNCRBC meeting last week was one of those situations. Like New Hampshire, the presidential primary in the Peach state had a spot in the early window of the Democratic calendar reserved for it for 2024, but ran into resistance with Republican state officials back home. However, unlike the situation in New Hampshire, the date of the Georgia primary has been set by the secretary of state. That deal is done. 

And DNCRBC co-Chair Minyan Moore seemed to acknowledge that in her comments about what she and fellow co-Chair Jim Roosevelt would recommend to the committee. She conceded that, despite the efforts of Democrats in Georgia and nationally, Peach state Republicans would not budge. They would not cooperate with the proposed change. And though Moore did not acknowledge it, it was an entirely understandable position. Any Georgia primary in mid-February would have cost Peach state Republicans a sizable chunk of their delegation to the national convention in Milwaukee next summer. Their hands were tied. They always were with respect to a February 13 position under Republican National Committee rules. [There were, however, other early window options that may have worked.]

But after that explanation, Moore said…

“…it does not seem to make sense to extend the Georgia waiver at this point. Regardless, I think the foundation has been laid for 2028, and it is a discussion that we need to continue.”

The key phrase in that statement is the highlighted one, at this point. Its addition was enough for the Associated Press to say that the Georgia primary was in limbo, that the committee had “opted not to immediately offer such an extension to another battleground state, Georgia.”

Look, the at this point was in reference to 2024 in its entirety, not this particular point in the 2024 cycle. And the reference to 2028 should have driven that point home. There is no number of waivers that the DNCRBC could offer Georgia Democrats that could get the state-run primary out of that March 12 slot. None. It is not in limbo. It is set for 2024. And this discussion can continue. 

…for 2028.

But it should be noted that there is a loose thread in all of this. There still is no draft delegate selection plan from the Georgia Democratic Party. Its absence at this time could create enough uncertainty that one may be inclined to suggest that maybe a party-run primary of some sort is in the works. 


But if that was the case, then the DNCRBC would have granted an extension on the Georgia waiver last week. They did not. And they held back on that waiver extension because Georgia is done. The primary is set. 

The committee is set to address delegate selection plans from the southern region at its July meeting, so this all should clear up to some degree by then. 


Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Iowa Democratic Draft Delegate Selection Plan Points Toward Changes Ahead

Thoughts on the invisible primary and links to the goings on of the moment as 2024 approaches...

First, over at FHQ Plus...
  • Today is deadline day for state parties to submit draft delegate selection plans to the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee. An update on where that process stands. Also, the Hawaii bid to establish a presidential primary appears to have taken another hit. All the details at FHQ Plus.
If you haven't checked out FHQ Plus yet, then what are you waiting for? Subscribe below for free and consider a paid subscription to support FHQ's work and unlock the full site.

In Invisible Primary: Visible today...
Iowa Democrats (IDP) got a draft in just under the wire. As noted above, it is deadline day for draft delegate selection plans to be submitted to the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee and the 2024 draft plan is now publicly available from Hawkeye state Democrats. Importantly, IDP indicates that it will conduct caucuses on the same day as Iowa Republicans next year. That fact, alongside the caucus bill that is working its way through the state legislature, would appear to indicate that Democrats in Iowa are prepared to defy DNC rules.

But as FHQ noted yesterday, there seems to be a fundamental misreading of that legislation and how it interacts with the proposed plans for Democratic delegate selection in the state in 2024. Here is the operative section from the draft plan on the proposed scheduling of the delegate selection process in Iowa:
The Iowa Caucuses shall consist of an expression of presidential preference, conducted by mail, AND in-person precinct caucuses. The precinct caucuses will be held in accordance with Iowa Code (ICO 43.4) at least eight days prior to any other state’s presidential nominating contest, on the same date as the Republican Caucuses. The purpose of the precinct caucuses will be to elect unbound delegates to county conventions, elect precinct committee persons, and move platform resolutions to the county convention. No expression of presidential preference will be tabulated at the precinct caucuses. The period for expression of presidential preference by mail will begin and end on dates included in the Iowa Democratic Party Chair’s call to caucus, which shall be issued no later than 90 days prior to the Caucuses.
So what does that suggest? A few things:
  1. The caucuses will coincide with the Republican delegate selection process. That is still likely to be in January 2024.
  2. Note that there is no mention of any "first determining step," the language the DNC uses for when votes are cast to determine delegate allocation.
  3. In fact, that section goes to great lengths to bifurcate the delegate selection and allocation processes. Unbound delegates will be chosen at the likely January precinct caucuses. [Binding is Republican Party language, but FHQ digresses.] No attempt is being made at the precinct caucuses to select delegates pledged to any particular presidential candidate. [There will not, at least under this draft plan, be any slating of delegates before the preference vote.]
  4. The allocation process will be based on the vote-by-mail presidential preference vote, the dates of which are unspecified, and left to remain that way until a caucus call is issued by the Iowa Democratic Party no later than roughly three months before the caucuses (late summer/early fall 2023). That is a tell of sorts. On some level, that issuance of a call rider to the section above allows Iowa Democrats to kick the can down the road a bit on this matter and continue to potentially lobby the DNCRBC for a spot in the early window (should some other previously selected early state fail to comply). And barring that, it simply buys the state party time to figure all of this out (on its own or in conjunction with the DNCRBC).
  5. Look, Iowa Democrats may call this a caucus, but it is not. More than ever before the 2024 plan resembles the Democratic delegate selection/allocation process in most other states. There is, on the one hand, a process, usually a state-run primary, for voters to express presidential preference. The allocation is based on that. And on the other, there is a caucus process designed to actually select the human beings/delegates who will fill those allocated slots. The preference vote Iowa Democrats describe above is a primary. It is a party-run primary by any other name, and allocation will be based on that. Delegate selection will continue to run through the caucus process. Only now, that will potentially begin before the preference vote. That, in and of itself, is not necessarily unusual
Now, flashback to that caucus bill in the legislature. Folks, it got amended before being passed by the state House earlier this week. And the new provisions fit well with the bifurcated process Iowa Democrats detail in their draft delegate selection plan. Many raced to the conclusion that the in-person caucusing component doomed Iowa Democrats' plan. It does not. What the amended bill does do is the same thing that the draft delegate selection plan does: it makes a point to separate out the allocation and selection processes. And that is a big change in Iowa.

In the meantime, recall that this is a draft plan. It will go before the DNCRBC for review and together both sides will hammer out something that works under the new DNC guidelines for 2024. 

...or Iowa Democrats will face penalties. But the plan above makes it more likely that Iowa Democrats will be able to comply.

Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) looks like he will make a splash in the staff primary by hiring the first woman of color to run a Republican presidential nomination campaign. Jennifer DeCasper may not register as a seasoned hand at the presidential campaign level -- there is no defection here, for instance -- but her hiring carries a certain symbolism to it. 

I don't know, but it seems like maybe Politico is late to this story. Those who have been reading Invisible Primary: Visible this year will know that Trump 2023 is closer to Trump 2019 than Trump 2015 by most measures. And part of that is campaign discipline, something endorsements have continued to show

On this date... 1976, former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter won the Democratic caucuses in Colorado 1980, the Texas primary saw frontrunners win on both sides; former California Governor Ronald Reagan on the Republican side and President Carter in the Democratic contest. But that was back when Texas Democrats were using the Texas Two-Step system with delegates allocated in caucuses the same day as the primary. 1988, Vice President Bush swept Republican primaries in Indiana, Ohio and Washington, DC while Jesse Jackson's win in the nation's capital kept Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis from winning all three contests in the Democratic nomination race. 2003, Democrats held their first presidential primary debate of the 2004 cycle. In a mark of how different the era was as compared to now, of the nine debate participants, only three -- Dick Gephardt, Bob Graham and Al Sharpton had officially launched formal presidential campaigns. The remaining candidates had merely formed exploratory committees to that point in the race before formal announcements later in 2003. 2007, Republican candidates for the 2008 presidential nomination debated for the first time at the Reagan Library in California in a forum hosted by MSNBC. 2008, Illinois Senator won the Democratic caucuses in Guam (by seven votes). 2015, Ben Carson announced his bid for the 2016 Republican nomination.


Saturday, April 22, 2023

From FHQ Plus: Calendar Foreshadowing in New York

The following is a cross-posted excerpt from FHQ Plus, FHQ's new subscription service. Come check the rest out and consider a paid subscription to support our work. 


One of the missing pieces of the 2024 presidential primary calendar is the primary in the Empire state. And the major reason for that is the standard protocol for scheduling the election every cycle dating back to 2012. Basically some variation of the following has taken place every cycle since the New York legislature moved the presidential primary — the “spring primary” — to February for 2008. 

  1. Faced with a noncompliant primary, the New York legislature some time in the late spring sets the parameters of the next year’s presidential primary, including the date, method of delegate allocation, etc.

  2. At the end of the presidential election year, the date of the primary — typically in April in 2012-20 period — reverts to the noncompliant February position it had to begin with.

  3. The process starts anew for the next cycle.

In the 2024 cycle, New York is stuck somewhere in step one above: saddled with a February presidential primary date that no one with decision-making power over the date of the primary intends to keep. 

But that does not mean that there have not been hints about where the thinking is in the Empire state with respect to the primary date for 2024. Those hints, however, have not come from the legislature as of yet nor even from inside the state to this point. Instead, there has been talk of concurrent Connecticut and New York primaries in early April during a committee hearing concerning a bill to reschedule the presidential primary date in the Nutmeg state. And there was another mention of a cluster of contests involving Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island on the same April 2 date for 2024 in the draft delegate selection plan (DSP) of Ocean state Democrats. 

Now, there are further indications that actors actually in New York are targeting April 2. Quietly last week, the New York Democratic Party posted for public comment its draft delegate selection plan for the upcoming cycle. And in it were details of a presidential primary to take place on April 2, 2024. That is likely more than merely aspirational. The same basic pattern occurred four years ago when the 2020 draft delegate selection plan foreshadowed the legislative change to come in Albany.

And legislative action is still required in this instance. It just is unlikely to occur before June (if recent cycles are any indication). There are currently three bills dealing with the scheduling of the presidential primary already introduced in the New York Assembly or Senate, but none of them are necessarily candidates to be vehicles for the sort of change called for in the Democrats’ delegate selection plan. Sure, all three could be amended, but it has been standard for a clean bill with details of not just the timing of the presidential primary but the preferred delegate allocation method of each of the parties to be included in the introduced legislation.

That is likely still a ways off, but this is one more clue that New York is going to have a primary cluster with Connecticut and Rhode Island on April 2. And Hawaii and Missouri could be there too.


Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Invisible Primary: Visible -- Think, for just a sec, about those early presidential primary polls

Thoughts on the invisible primary and links to the goings on of the moment as 2024 approaches...

FHQ has not weighed in on the polling that continues to be conducted on the 2024 Republican presidential nomination race. Honestly, it takes me three and a half years to get over crunching poll numbers for electoral college projections to want to dig into polling in any in-depth way anyway. But also, it is too early to divine much of anything from the polling that has been coming out in recent days. 

However, polling on that race is coming out frequently and regularly enough. Natalie Jackson offers some sage advice on those surveys over at National Journal:
I know better than to hope for widespread sanity in reporting on the horse race, but I’m still going to put out the plea. Please think critically about the numbers and arguments presented, whether you’re a reporter being fed numbers by a partisan pollster that is shopping them around or you’re a reader consuming what that reporter wrote up. There’s a reason some media outlets won’t report on private partisan polls: They’re usually being distributed for a specific purpose to drive a narrative that benefits their candidate. It’s manipulative, not informative.
It is not quite "ignore those polls!" in the Bernsteinian sense, but instead it is "wait a tick and think some about those polls before incorporating them in any way into one's thinking about the 2024 Republican race." Too true. If you have not already started, always read Natalie.

And as an aside, she is absolutely right about any two-way polls (something FHQ obliquely hinted at in the staff primary section of Monday's Invisible Primary: Visible). Those should not get anything other than a collective eyeroll from everyone. There is no two-way race!

Ron DeSantis (R-FL) is headed to the Super Tuesday state of Utah next month to keynote the Republican state convention in the Beehive state. And it appears that there is already evidence of some structural support for a DeSantis bid in the state. No, it is not necessarily coming from the state party -- although the keynote in front of the convention does not say nothing -- but instead, the interest is coming from the county party level. Taking a page out of Seth Masket's book, the Deseret News spoke with county Republican chairs in 22 of the 29 counties in Utah. Two-thirds of the chairs contacted indicated they were willing to support DeSantis while just fewer than half named Trump.

The former president struggled in Utah during the 2016 primaries when the state party conducted caucuses, losing bigly to Ted Cruz. But the state has subsequently switched to a primary and the signal of institutional support for DeSantis may or may not translate as easily -- even from the county level -- in that setting as opposed to caucuses. Utah is a sleeper contest to watch on Super Tuesday (...depending, of course, on how the early contests go, not to mention the remainder of the invisible primary).

The effort to establish a presidential primary in Kansas is a Republican-driven one, but it looks like the Democratic Party in the Sunflower state is supportive of the change (even if it is only for the 2024 cycle):
"The Kansas Democratic Party has expressed tentative support for a state-run primary. Newly-elected chair Jeanna Repass said it’s extremely expensive for the party to essentially conduct its own statewide election. She said if the party holds a caucus using a mail-in ballot, the printing and postage would cost upwards of $800,000. 
“'Initially, we view this favorably because of the undue financial burden this puts on the individual state parties to run a presidential primary,' Repass said."
And it is not just about the cost savings to the state party. The national party has had rules in place the last two cycles that have nudged state Democratic parties to use state-run primary options where available to increase participation in the nomination process. Already in 2023, state parties in Alaska and North Dakota -- traditional caucus states with no state-run primary option -- have signaled that they will once again opt for party-run primaries rather than lower turnout caucuses for 2024. Kansas Democrats did the same in 2020. So it was an open question when the presidential primary bill was introduced whether Sunflower state Democrats would jump at the state-run option. 

That question appears to have been answered. 

On this date... 1988, Vice President George H.W. Bush ran away with the Connecticut primary, and on the Democratic side, Michael Dukakis took the primary in the Nutmeg state. Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-MO) withdrew from the Democratic nomination race after having previously won three contests including the Iowa caucuses. 2016, Governor Scott Walker (R) endorsed Ted Cruz for the Republican presidential nomination, part of a late establishment push against a possible Donald Trump nomination.

Alaska Democrats Will Hold an April 6 Party-Run Presidential Primary

A week ago, on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, the Alaska Democratic Party quietly released its initial draft delegate selection plan for the 2024 cycle

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Invisible Primary: Visible -- Where are all the delegate selection plans?

Thoughts on the invisible primary and links to the goings on of the moment as 2024 approaches...

May 3 is fast approaching. That date may carry less significance in 2023 because the 2024 Democratic presidential nomination process looks to be only nominally competitive at this time. But that does not mean that May 3 does not matter at all. 

What is the big deal about May 3? That is the date by which state Democratic parties must have submitted draft delegate selection plans (DSPs) for 2024 to the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee (DNCRBC) for review (and ultimately approval in some form). 

But May 3 is still more than a month away. 

It is. But part of the submission process is that a state party's draft DSPs must be made public for comment for a period of 30 days before they can be submitted. In other words, if one does the backward math, then 30 days before May 3 falls on April 2, a little more than a week away. And so far anyway, there has not been a rush to get these draft DSPs in front of the public. Just seven states, territories or other jurisdictions of 57 have posted them at this point asking from public comment: Arkansas, Democrats Abroad, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon and Washington, DC. [Apparently there is some urgency in O states.]

None of this is hugely important ten months out from any votes being cast, but it does offer a glimpse into a few things. State laws dictate when most primaries will be held and lock in those dates until a legislature opts to change them. Some state legislatures across the country are considering their calendar options, but for caucus states or other states with 2024 question marks, the DSPs provide some insight into the plans of state parties (where state laws are not involved).

For example, there is no official date for the North Dakota caucuses at this point. The DSP will give us the first indication of where the contest will end up on the 2024 presidential primary calendar. The same is true for, say, Iowa as well. And that is kind of the point here. Iowa Democrats do not have a protected spot atop the Democratic calendar for 2024 as the state has for the entire post-reform era. The Iowa Democratic DSP will give some of the first clues as to whether the party will relent to the DNC calendar changes this cycle or buck the national party and hold unsanctioned caucuses earlier than allowed. 

That goes for New Hampshire too. And Democrats in the Granite state posted their draft DSP earlier this week. In most cycles, New Hampshire Democrats would simply parrot the adopted DNC rules and give the date the national party had carved out for them with a simple parenthetical appended: (date subject to change). The message there from New Hampshire Democrats? "We will hold our primary on the date set aside for us unless some other state jumps in front, in which case the secretary of state will bump our primary up to protect our first-in-the-nation position."

Of course, 2024 is not going to be a normal cycle for New Hampshire Democrats. There is only a guaranteed early slot for the party if they follow the new DNC mandate and conduct a primary on February 6, 2024. And all signs have pointed toward an earlier position on the calendar. Earlier than February 6, anyway. The state party has basically signaled since December that it would follow the state law and the New Hampshire secretary of state, following said law, will likely take that primary into January 2024.

But now, New Hampshire Democrats have put a more official stamp on that sentiment. The newly released draft DSP specifies no date, a break from the past protocol. Additionally, it says what New Hampshire Democrats have been saying for months
The “first determining step” of New Hampshire's delegate selection process will occur on a date to be determined by the New Hampshire Secretary of State in accordance with NH RSA 653:9, with a “Presidential Preference Primary.” The Republican Presidential Preference Primary will be held in conjunction with the Democratic Presidential Preference Primary.
The key there is the solidarity with Republicans in New Hampshire. In other words, there will be no break up, no severing of the two parties' processes. That would seemingly eliminate some alternative routes for the New Hampshire Democratic delegate selection process. It would also open the state party to penalties from the DNC. But this is just a draft after all. Consider it New Hampshire Democrats' official counter to the 2024 calendar rules the DNC adopted in February. There will be further back and forth as the New Hampshire plan goes through the review process, including representatives of the state party defending the current plan before the DNCRBC. There will be more clues to come, and probably some penalties from the look of it.

In the travel primary, maybe Ron DeSantis is just heading to Michigan next month. Or maybe the Florida governor is trekking to a state with a late February primary in 2024. Michigan Republicans (and the Republican National Committee) still have some decisions to make on that front. 

In a busy week for committee hearings on presidential primary (movement) bills, there are updates on Connecticut's possible move up to early April and Ohio's potential push back to March. 

On this date... 1980, Jimmy Carter swept the Virginia caucuses, garnering more than 80 percent of the vote on his way to a contentious Democratic (re)nomination. 2007, FHQ was born with a simple mission to gather (and share) anecdotal evidence around presidential primary movement ahead of the 2008 primaries. Things blossomed from there. 2016, there were contests in American Samoa (Republican caucuses), Arizona (primary), Idaho (Democratic caucuses) and Utah (caucuses). It was a microcosm of the processes in both parties that cycle as Sanders and Cruz won caucuses (except in American Samoa) and Clinton and Trump won the Arizona primary. There were exceptions throughout primary season, but in general the two eventual nominees performed better in primaries than in caucuses. 2017, legislation funding the Utah presidential primary was signed into law. After not funding the election in either 2012 or 2016, forcing caucuses, the legislature ponied up the funds necessary to switch back to a primary for 2020. 2020, the Wyoming Democratic Party nixed in-person voting for the upcoming caucuses due to Covid, shifting to a completely vote-by-mail structure, the window of which was also extended.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Rogue States Will Be the Norm as Long as the Parties Diverge on the Calendar

2024 is going to be different.

A look back to 2008
For the first time since the 2008 cycle, there will be a shake up to the beginning of the presidential primary calendar in 2024. And just as was the case fifteen years ago, it was the Democratic Party that instituted the changes

Then as now, the DNC sought to diversify the pre-window period on its calendar, augmenting the traditional Iowa/New Hampshire start with the addition of contests in two more states. Just as was the case during 2022, the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee (DNCRBC) invited state parties to pitch the panel in 2006 on why their state contest should be added to the early calendar in the upcoming primary season. Much of the focus centered on adding smaller states but also providing some balance in terms of region and demographics. And finally, part of the calculus also honed in on the idea of adding another caucus state in between Iowa and New Hampshire and another primary thereafter but before Super Tuesday. 

There are more than a few parallels between those criteria and the set used in 2022 by the current-day DNCRBC. But there are some differences as well. Democrats were the out-party in 2006, and parties in the White House tend to do less tinkering. Also, Democrats may have been a bit shrewder in their choices of additions for 2008. South Carolina was already a state that had carved out a spot in the early Republican calendar over the preceding quarter of a century. And Nevada was a caucus state at the time. Both featured state parties that made the primary/caucus scheduling decisions rather than state governments. Unlike in a situation where the state government sets a primary date, a move by national Democrats to add South Carolina and/or Nevada to their early calendar for 2008 did not necessarily drag Republicans in those states into the mix. 

Of course, Palmetto state Republicans already had a presidential primary that was an established part of the early Republican calendar. And Nevada Republicans joined the fun with January 2008 caucuses that skirted Republican National Committee (RNC) penalties. There was no RNC rule that required states in 2008 to bind national convention delegates based on a statewide presidential preference vote. Silver state Republicans and those in Iowa, for that matter, conducted a preference vote during precinct caucuses, but that had no direct bearing on the delegates chosen to attend the next stages of the caucus/convention process, nor ultimately those delegates who represented either state at the national convention. 

But it worked. Perhaps it was dumb luck, but it worked. Nevada and South Carolina, with minimal (although not nonexistent) implementation headaches, became not just established but institutionalized parts of the early calendar in both parties' processes. And that was despite the fact that both were flip-flopped in the other party's order; South Carolina third and Nevada fourth in the Republican process and the inverse on the Democratic side.

How 2024 is different and how that increases the odds of rogue states
That is a different story than the one that has played out in the lead up to when the latest primary calendar decisions were made in 2022-23. And it is different for a number of reasons. 

First, Democrats entered the review process for the 2024 rules and the primary calendar saying that no early calendar slots were guaranteed. All four (or five) were up for grabs. That meant that Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina had to make their cases before the DNCRBC just like every other interested state party. And for the first time since specific carve outs were added to the DNC rules for Iowa and New Hampshire for the 1984 cycle, Iowa, and likely New Hampshire, will have no waiver from the national party to be a part of the pre-window lineup. That necessarily creates two potential rogues states in one fell swoop.

Second, recall the background on the selection of South Carolina and Nevada in 2008. In both situations, it was state parties making the decisions on where primaries or caucuses in the Palmetto and Silver states ended up on the calendar. South Carolina obviously remains the same as it was in 2008 (with respect to the decision makers). That is part of the reason South Carolina Democrats got the nod to go first for 2024 in the Democratic process. Meanwhile, Nevada, under Democratic control in 2021, shifted from party-run caucuses to a state-run presidential primary. That move mirrors a push by the national party away from caucuses and toward state-run primaries. 

But while the national party has advocated for more state-run processes in order to maximize participation, that has limited the DNC's options in terms changing its calendar without potentially creating problems for Republicans in their process. Those problems are best highlighted by the Democrats' insertion of Michigan into the pre-window, an act that puts Michigan Republicans in the crosshairs of the RNC rules. Granted, this is a two-way street. The RNC decision to stick with the traditional Iowa-New Hampshire-South Carolina-Nevada lead off has impacted Democrats. It has created potential problems in Iowa and New Hampshire with both state parties, leaning on existing state, signaling they are likely to go rogue and hold contests concurrent with the Republican in their respective states. And unless the DNC tweaks its approach to Georgia, the Peach state primary will not be a part of the pre-window at all. Georgia definitely will not go on February 13 as planned.  

Another part of the 2024 picture that differs from 2008 comes from who is doing the rules tinkering. It is unusual for an in-party to so fundamentally reshape a seemingly ingrained part of the process. But what that points to is how much sway the incumbent president tends to hold over the system that will renominate him or her. Typically an incumbent is content to move forward with a nomination system that largely mimics the one that got him or her to the White House in the first place. That may produce changes from a nomination cycle to the renomination cycle, but they usually are not big changes. 

But what if they were? The 2024 cycle is testing that. It is the incumbent president who is testing that. Indeed, without the input of the president on the 2024 primary calendar, the DNCRBC seemed to be heading in the direction of something that would have knocked Iowa out altogether, bumped the other three early states up a notch (maybe with some additional shuffling) and added Michigan to the end of the pre-window as a midwestern replacement for the caucuses in the Hawkeye state. President Biden had something else in mind and the DNCRCB and ultimately the full DNC fell in line

And that has implications for both parties' calendars. More importantly, that has implications for how orderly those calendars are in coming together. Questions remain on both sides. 

Finally, while all of the above seemingly points the finger squarely at the Democrats as instigators in all of this, Republicans have played a role as well. Necessity is the mother of invention and, in fact, brought the national parties together in the time after the chaos of the 2008 calendar. Both saw value in not starting the process in January (or for not allowing states other than the first four to conduct contests in February). And they informally brokered a deal. FHQ often cites that and uses the "informally brokered" language, but here is what that meant in the rules. 

In the amended rules for the 2012 cycle, the RNC added language that created a specific carve out in Rule 15(b)(1) for Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. In the previous cycle (2008), only New Hampshire and South Carolina had those exemptions. [Iowa and Nevada did not need them. Neither allocated any national convention delegates to the national convention in their precinct caucuses.] That aligned the Republicans with the Democratic pre-window calendar for the most part. Again, recall the South Carolina/Nevada flip-flop between the parties.

Moreover, the RNC added one other rule, Rule 15(b)(3):
If the Democratic National Committee fails to adhere to a presidential primary schedule with the dates set forth in Rule 15(b)(1) of these Rules (February 1 and first Tuesday in March), then Rule 15(b) shall revert to the Rules as adopted by the 2008 Republican National Convention.
It is not common for one party's nomination rules to cite the other party. But for 2012, the basic outline of the Republican calendar hinged on what national Democrats did. Basically, if the DNC did not adopt rules that called for a February 1 start to the calendar for the early states and a first Tuesday in March start for every other state, then the RNC would revert to the rules it used in 2008. That would have snapped back to the RNC using a calendar that allowed all but the exempt states to start in February pushing Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada into January. Yes, that happened anyway because Florida broke the rules again in 2012. But that was not a function of this brokered deal between the parties. It was because the RNC penalties were not severe enough.

However, once the RNC got their penalties right in 2016 with the addition of the super penalty, that was it. That was the high-water mark for cooperation between the parties. And the agreement held through the 2020 cycle or until the Democrats walked away for 2024. 

The break was about more than just the Democrats going their own way with a fundamentally different early calendar lineup for 2024. The truth is there was not much for them to walk away from. The dialog that had developed out of that deal brokered fifteen years ago gradually declined over time. It happens. And it happened because the players involved changed. Leadership on the RNC Rules Committee changed again in 2017 and interest on the Republican side mostly died with it. There was still Republican interest in the dialog but it was no longer coming from players who were directly involved on the RNC Rules Committee. 

And that lack of communication was something DNCRBC co-Chair Jim Roosevelt noted in the December meeting when the 2024 calendar plan was initially adopted by the panel. In responding to concerns from Scott Brennan, Iowa DNC and DNCRBC member, about the potential for a split between the two national parties on Iowa's calendar position leading to chaos, Roosevelt said that the Republicans were not open to coordinating this time. And that has been true for the last two cycles.

That matters. It is a part of the fuller picture. And as long as there is no (even informal) coordination on the matter between the two national parties, the more there are going to be rogue state situations like the ones that are likely to mark the 2024 cycle in Iowa, Michigan and New Hampshire (if not Georgia).

But what even is a rogue state?
If Iowa or Michigan or New Hampshire are rogue in 2024 in one party's process or another, then that is different from the calendar rogues of the recent past. Those three states are unlike Florida and Michigan in 2008 and unlike Arizona, Florida and Michigan in 2012. State actors in Arizona, Florida and Michigan made decisions to break the rules. State laws were changed ahead of 2008 to push Florida and Michigan into noncompliance, and they were not changed before 2012 to comply with the new (and later) calendar start codified in both parties' rules for that cycle. 

Contrast that with the situations in Iowa, Michigan and New Hampshire for 2024. Republicans in Iowa and New Hampshire and Democrats in Michigan all have the blessings of their national parties to conduct early contests next year. Their counterparts across the aisle do not. And in the case of Michigan Republicans and New Hampshire Democrats, they have no real recourse if they want to use the state-run primary. If partisans on the other side move or keep the primaries where they are under state law, they are stuck to a large degree. 

That is a different kind of rogue. That is a rogue that is created by the discrepancy between the two national parties' presidential primary calendars. It forces the state parties in that situation to either take the penalties or to pay for their own party-run process (which is a penalty in its own right). But as long as the calendar divide exists -- and especially if Democrats continue to reexamine and reshuffle their early calendar lineup -- then this type of rogue state is likely to continue to cause problems on one side or the other. And that says nothing of the possibility of Republicans following suit and shuffling their early calendar in cycles to come. 

As of now, there is little evidence that there is any movement from other states to go rogue in the old fashion. In West Virginia, there are bills to create a separate presidential primary and schedule it for February, out of compliance with both parties' rules. But that is it. There is no concerted effort to rush the gates and go early against the rules. However, just because there is no conventional rogue activity now, or even in this cycle, it does not mean that states will not try to exploit the calendar differences between the two national parties in the futures should they persist. 

It is that sort of unraveling of the steady state informally coordinated between the national parties a decade and a half ago that should trouble decision makers on the national level.