Showing posts with label Joe Biden. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Joe Biden. Show all posts

Thursday, January 21, 2021

#InvisiblePrimary: Visible -- Biden Running for Re-election

Four years after President Trump immediately upon being inaugurated filed to run for re-election in 2020, surrogates of President Biden took a verbal although not formal step in the same direction. 

Senator Chris Coons (D), the newly inaugurated president's fellow Delawarean, let Politico know very simply that, "He is planning to run again."

Now, part or perhaps all of this feels obligatory. No president wants to kick off his or her term as a lame duck. That gives both Congress and the bureaucracy license to dig in over time and resist or obstruct changes both big and small. This move, then, heads that off, albeit likely only temporarily. 

It also holds at bay other prospective Democrats waiting in the wings. That group, including the newly installed vice president, now has to take an even more wait-and-see approach to any possible 2024 run for the Democratic nomination. But unlike Congress and the bureaucratic end of the executive branch, those potential candidates still have time. And while there may be a flurry of early activity on the rules side for 2024 among Democrats, the majority of visible invisible primary activity is going to continue to occur among the Republicans who are likely to seek the party's nomination in likely just two years time. 

So candidate emergence, to the extent it is going to continue happening as 2024 slowly approaches is going to be a mostly Republican action. 

Recent posts: 

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

One of Biden's Magic Numbers is Now a Little Different

No, not among pledged delegates.

Former Vice President Joe Biden clinched the Democratic presidential nomination over the weekend, surpassing the 1991 pledged delegates necessary to reach a majority. But with nearly one-fifth of all delegates yet to be allocated in the remaining contests, it remains to be seen whether Biden will earn enough pledged delegates and open the door to superdelegate participation in the presidential nomination roll call vote during the national convention.

To do that the presumptive Democratic nominee would have to be allocated a majority of all delegates (in pledged delegates). That way superdelegates would be unable to overturn a tight pledged delegate majority -- one that does not exist in 2020 -- if the group voted as a bloc. But again, that will not be necessary in 2020. Biden has a wide enough pledged delegate lead to have clinched the nomination by the pledged delegate method. The only question left outstanding is whether he will win enough delegates to allow superdelegate participation on the first ballot.

Biden is on pace to do that, but that number -- the majority of all delegates -- has changed during primary season. Appendix B to the Call for the Convention had the number of superdelegates at 771 at the end of 2019. For the 2020 cycle, however, the secretary of the Democratic National Committee had to certify the number of superdelegates to each state party by March 6, 2020 under Rule 9 of the 2020 delegate selection rules.

That subsequent certification adjusted the number of superdelegates in 23 states and territories. And those changes ranged from an addition of four (4) superdelegates in New York to a loss of two (2) superdelegates in three jurisdictions (District of Columbia, Illinois and Oregon).

Although, in the aggregate, the changes across all 23 states and territories largely cancelled each other out. There ended up being three more delegates added from states than subtracted. And that increases not only the number of superdelegates to 774, but slightly raises the magic number of all delegates Biden would have to win in order to allow superdelegates into the roll call voting at the convention.

So, instead of that number being 2376 delegates, Biden will have to get to 2378 pledged delegates to trigger the superdelegate voting privileges. No, that is unlikely to be too high a bar for the former vice president to clear. But it is a change.

Friday, May 15, 2020

When Will Biden Clinch? It Depends.

There is certainly an argument out there that Biden wrapped up the Democratic presidential nomination back on April 8 -- the day after the Wisconsin primary -- when Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign. The former vice president shifted from being the presumptive presumptive nominee to the presumptive nominee then.

And an argument can be made that the trajectory of Biden's delegate math made that obvious on many of the Tuesdays throughout March. But trajectory is one thing as is the fact that all of the remaining viable candidates other than Biden pulled out of the race for the Democratic nomination. However, crossing over the requisite 1991 pledged delegates to become the nominee is another thing altogether. As of now, Biden is just shy of 1500 delegates and needs around 38 percent of the delegates available in the remaining states with contests to surpass that threshold. Given how the primaries and caucuses have gone since Sanders dropped out of the race and endorsed Biden, that will not prove to be too heavy a lift.

But when will Biden hit and pass 1991?

It depends.

One thing that can be said is that it will not be in May. There are just two more contests -- Oregon and Hawaii next week -- and just 95 delegates to be allocated before the end of the month. June 2 offers both more contests and 479 more delegates. But even then, it would be a bit of a stretch for Biden to get to 1991 by then.

Again, it depends. If one looks at the contests that there are results for since April 8 when Sanders suspended his campaign -- Alaska, Wyoming, Ohio, Kansas and Nebraska -- they paint a certain picture, one where Biden gets almost 74 percent of the qualified vote on average. And if Biden receives around three-quarters of the delegates in future primaries and caucuses, then he will just barely eclipse the 1991 delegate barrier on June 9 when Georgia and West Virginia hold primaries.

Yet, that is something of a rough estimate. It assumes that congressional district delegate allocation will mirror statewide delegate allocation and that may or may not be the case. But that potential variation across congressional districts may end up pushing Biden's magic number clinching point deeper into the delayed primary calendar.

Another variable that may influence when that point occurs is the nature of the small sample of contests that have happened since Sanders's exit from the race. Three of those five contests were in party-run primary or caucus states (Alaska, Wyoming and Kansas). No, that party-run part does not matter to the math going forward, but that all three used ranked-choice voting does. The redistribution of votes in those contests inflates the qualified share of support that both Biden and Sanders received. As a result, the average qualified share used in arriving at the June 9 target date for clinching cited above may be a bit more generous to Sanders than to Biden. After all, much of the voting in the April 10 Alaska party-run primary took place by mail before Sanders dropped out on April 8. The 45 percent Sanders received may not exactly be representative of the share he has gotten and will get in future contests.

If one looks at the other two contests -- Ohio and Nebraska -- then it is clear that Sanders is very much flirting with the threshold to qualify for delegates. And if Nebraska is the new normal -- a state where Sanders failed to qualify for delegates either statewide or in any of the three congressional districts -- then that would speed up Biden's journey to 1991. Were Biden to receive all of the delegates available -- assuming he is the only candidate qualifying for delegates -- then he would easily surpass 1991 on Super Junesday, June 2.

But how the allocation goes between now and the end of primary season will likely be something in between those two extremes: 1) Sanders receiving about a quarter of the qualified vote and 2) Biden being the only qualifying candidate. Of course, there are not that many contests nor delegates at stake between June 2 and June 9. The caucuses in the Virgin Islands fall on June 6, but there are just seven delegates on the line there.

Look, the bottom line is the one where this discussion started: Biden will be the nominee. The question is when he more officially becomes the presumptive nominee in the delegate count. The above is a rough guide. One thing that can be said is that even if one follows the Sanders-generous extreme above -- the one where the Vermont senator receives about a quarter of the delegates -- then Biden will by the end of primary season have enough pledged delegates in his column to allow superdelegates participate on the first ballot roll call vote at the national convention. That is, of course, assuming the current rules remain the same when the convention Rules Committee adopts rules for the convention.

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.

Monday, April 16, 2018

#InvisiblePrimary 2020: Uh oh Biden?

Over at Politico, Charlie Mahtesian has this to say about a prospective Biden candidacy for 2020:
"Joe Biden, who leads the Democratic 2020 presidential field in early polls, has all the markings of a front-runner. He possesses a sterling résumé, access to a donor base, name recognition and eight years of loyal service to a president who’s loved by the party base. There’s just one problem: He’s also a deeply flawed candidate who’s out of step with the mood of his party." [Emphasis is FHQ's]
That is just the opening, but Mahtesian goes on to count off the issues Biden may encounter in the lead up to and during 2020. The usual suspects are in there: age, some pre-#MeToo moment indiscretions that may look different in the current context, and a host of past Senate votes that may again spell trouble now that conditions are different in 2018-20. 

And that all makes sense. Any or all of those things could derail a Biden run before it starts or some time after it is launched. But Mahtesian is potentially overstating the case here by not exactly detailing where it is that Biden could be in trouble. First, he aggregates the potential roadblocks, toggling back and forth between primary phase problems and general election setbacks. This is compounded by imperfect comparisons to 2016 and Hillary Clinton's troubles throughout that cycle (in both phases).

Age, for example, could be a problem for Biden in the primary phase. It is shaping up to be a crowded field with a number of younger alternatives. But millennials did not have trouble supporting an older candidate in 2016. Much of that had to do with the binary choice that most Democratic primary voters and caucusgoers had during the last cycle. Both options were older. That does not appear to be an issue for 2020. And candidate age may not be what is driving the decision-making of younger voters in the Democratic primary electorate. 

During the general election phase, as Mahtesian notes, the age issue would be at least somewhat neutralized compared to another septuagenarian like Trump. 

A similar dynamic exists across election phases when the focus shifts to how pre-#MeToo actions are perceived in a post-#MeToo world. That may affect Biden during a competitive Democratic nomination race, but compared to what? Compared to whom in the Democratic field? Additionally, perception of those actions is something that may resonate with a significant segment of the Democratic primary electorate: women. Female voters may opt for someone other than Biden because of that. They already have more options in 2018 than they did in 2014.

But again, during the general election phase, those perceptions of pre-#MeToo actions look different when compared to Trump, his past behavior, and past and present comments. Does that neutralize the issue? Is it a recipe for potentially depressing turnout to some degree among women (something that is much more likely to disproportionately affect Biden)? 

In those two areas, Biden would potentially suffer more in the nominations phase. However, when Mahtesian shifts gears and begins to focus on Biden's past Senate votes on a number of issues, the exact nature of where -- primary or general -- the pain is felt fades into the ether. Each of those issues -- whether the 2005 bankruptcy bill or the 1994 crime bill -- affects specific constituencies within the Democratic primary electorate. Biden's positions were compared to Clinton's in 2016, but neither stood in the way of the latter claiming the Democratic nomination during the last cycle. Again, however, the field will be different -- more robust -- in 2020 than it was in 2016. Similar positioning by Biden for 2020 may affect his odds of winning the nomination, but, depending on how the large field winnows and who survives, the effects could vary from great to minimal. 

Moreover, the contours of 2020 winnowing extend to the Connor Lamb-like "personally against but politically for" positioning on abortion rights when Mahtesian substitutes Tim Kaine for Hillary Clinton as the point of comparison to Biden. That may or may not be an issue for the former vice president. That depends upon to whom exactly he is compared. Across all of those issues, it may be a problem in the primaries, but less so in the general election. 

Look, based on name recognition alone, Biden is at the top of list of potential 2020 Democratic nominees at the moment. That may change. It may not. Given how relatively early it is in the cycle and that the far too early to be meaningful polls are the most data-rich metric at this time, things are apt to change. Visits will be made to 2018 battlegrounds and 2020 early states. Campaign teams will be built. But any propensity for who is in that pole position to morph hinges on to whom Biden is compared. If one is to carry much of Mahtesian's comparison of between Clinton and Biden to its logical end -- Biden as the 2020 stand-in -- it will not be just Bernie Sanders on the other side this time. There will be others involved who will split the nascent Democratic primary electorate differently than in 2016 and impact the direction of that race through the invisible primary in much different ways. 

That competition may undermine Biden's candidacy. But it may also be that it is too early to cast Biden as this cycle's Jeb Bush. There are warning signs there; similarities, sure. Yet it is not clear just how those "deep flaws" will filter through the patchwork of processes that determine presidential nominees. That gauntlet tends to produce broadly acceptable general election candidates, even ones with flaws. 

But at this stage there are more questions than answers as to how another Biden foray into presidential nomination politics will play out. 

Friday, March 9, 2018

Skipping Early States, 2020 Edition

Edward-Isaac Dovere at Politico reports on the strategizing among the nascent campaign team in former Vice President Joe Biden's orbit:
"...a tight circle of aides has been brainstorming a range of tear-up-the-playbook ideas for a White House run, according to people who’ve been part of the discussions or told about them. 
On the list: announcing his candidacy either really early or really late in the primary process so that he’d define the field around him or let it define itself before scrambling the field; skipping Iowa and New Hampshire and going straight to South Carolina, where he has always had a strong base of support; announcing a running mate right out of the gate and possibly picking one from outside of politics; and making a pitch that he can be a bridge not just to disaffected Democrats, but to Republicans revolting against President Donald Trump."
It is kind of early in the cycle for the "skipping states" discussion, but with 2020 giving all indications (at this time) of being a wild nomination cycle on the Democratic side, perhaps it is an idea worth exploring anew.

The premise remains the same: pick a spot on the calendar/state contest where you are more likely to succeed, win then/there, and keep winning on the way to the nomination. Simple, right?

In reality, that has proven easier said, or maybe strategized, than done. It did not go as planned when Al Gore focused on the Southern Super Tuesday states in 1988, and it did not work for Rudy Giuliani twenty years later when he attempted to resurrect a similar strategic path by putting everything on the late January Florida primary. Both campaigns foresaw their respective foci as springboards. Gore from a delegate haul in his home region that would give him enough of a lead to make it difficult for others to catch up. And Giuliani from a winner-take-all Florida win into a series of contests a week later when half the country would be voting.

Both lost.

Gore split the South with Michael Dukakis and Jesse Jackson, leaving behind his natural base of support and with no delegate advantage to show for it. Giuliani lost Florida to John McCain and the Arizona senator -- winner in New Hampshire and South Carolina -- used that series of wins to effectively wrap up the nomination a week after Florida on Super Tuesday.

Now, FHQ does not want to make too much of just two cases, but they are instructive with respect to the prospective "Biden to skip Iowa and New Hampshire" strategy in 2020.1 Nominees -- or frontrunners in real time during the primaries -- do not skip states. Those campaigns do not cede wins, delegates, and attention to their opponents for a month.

But the allure of South Carolina to Biden is clear and under a rationale much like those above. A win in the Palmetto state with its heavily African American primary electorate would serve as an important hypothetical precursor to wins across the South. And many of the states of the region -- with similar primary electorates -- vote just a week later. That would be an extension of the Clinton success story from 2016. Wins fueled by African American support across the region built the delegate advantage by which the former secretary of state claimed the nomination. Actually, that is the surest path to the modern Democratic nomination.

But skipping Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada is no way to start any march to the nomination even with the "South Carolina gateway to the rest of the South" as the centerpiece. That lowers expectations in any of the first three states to zero and raises expectations on anyone camping out waiting in South Carolina. However, expectations can be lowered or rather tempered without ignoring the first three of the carve-outs.

Romney's "keep Iowa at arm's length" strategy in 2012 is a decent guide. There was a lot of talk of the former Massachusetts governor skipping Iowa in 2011 to focus on New Hampshire, but while he did not spend a ton of time and effort there, Romney was there. That is lower expectations, but not to zero, not ceding the state to the competition.

In a supposedly wide open race, candidates cannot give away anything. And on the Democratic side, get to 15 percent and qualify for and claim whatever delegates you can. Now, if Biden can do that without so much as looking Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada's way, then bully for him. But activists and volunteers, not to mention voters in those states will likely not be receptive to such a snub.

The skipping strategy throws the baby out with the bathwater.

Quickly, about that entering/announcing late strategy:
Biden may announce late, but if the campaign seeks to do this properly, then the announcement will not really come as a surprise.


Campaigns have to raise money and hire staff to run the operation. That is groundwork that has to be laid well in advance, and the public will see signs of progress (or lack thereof) during the invisible primary regardless of any announcement. To wait on building that campaign infrastructure is to, again, cede it to the competition. Biden stayed on the sidelines too long in 2015, and though the chatter of a possible run was there, donors and campaign operatives were not. They had signed on elsewhere and were not willing to switch.

Betting at home?
Biden announces early and plays in all of the carve-outs to some extent if he plays at all.

1 The Politico article is another cut in the death by one thousand cuts that the Nevada caucuses continue endure. Presumably, if a Biden campaign is skipping Iowa and New Hampshire to focus on South Carolina, then they are skipping third in the order Nevada as well.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

2012 Debates: Vice Presidential Debate Open Thread

Tonight's vice presidential debate kicks off at 9pm (EST) from Centre College in Danville, KY. The format will be similar to last week's first presidential debate and will be hosted by ABC's Martha Raddatz. It really isn't any mystery as to what to look for tonight. The vice presidential nominees are typically more willing/freer to take the gloves off and play the attack dog role (...unless we're talking about the 2000 Cheney-Lieberman tilt). We'll see if Vice President Biden and Congressman Ryan follow suit tonight.

The same rules apply as last week. Feel free to weigh in with comments and other observations in comments section. I'll pop over periodically respond, but I'll be most active on Twitter (@FHQ). Feel free to follow along there using the hashtag #fhqvpdebate.

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