Showing posts with label Republican convention. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Republican convention. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

2016 Republican National Convention Presidential Nomination Roll Call Tally

Roll Call Tally from Day Two of the 2016 Republican National Convention (7/19/16)

Announced totals at the conclusion of the Roll Call of States (via Speaker Ryan)
Trump 1725
Cruz 475
Kasich 120
Rubio  114
Carson 7
Bush 3
Paul 2

That represents only 2446 delegates in total; 26 short of the 2472 delegates. The final count shorted Cruz and Rubio nine delegates, Kasich five delegates and did not account for the three abstentions.  That squares the 26 delegate discrepancy.

State tallies that differed from tallies called out by the Secretary of the Convention
Secretary call:
Trump 28

Delegation call:
Trump 11
Cruz 12
Rubio 5

Explanation: Though it has been traditional for the Alaska Republican Party to grant the request by candidates who have dropped out to hold on to their delegates, that practice is not rules-based. Granting the requests of Cruz and Rubio is inconsistent with the reallocation process described in the Alaska Republican Party rules. That was the procedure that the Alaska Republican Party filed with the Republican National Committee in fall 2015 under the provisions of Rule 16(f).

(Washington) District of Columbia
Secretary call:
Trump 19

Delegation call:
Rubio 10
Kasich 9

Explanation: Under the bylaws of the Republican Party in the District of Columbia, if only one name is placed in nomination at the convention, then all of the delegates from the district are bound to that candidate. Although Rubio and Kasich were the only candidates to qualify for delegates in March 12 convention in the nation's capital, neither had his name placed in nomination at the national convention. Under rule, then, that shifted all of 19 delegates to Trump.

Secretary call:
Trump 14
Rubio 7
Cruz 6
Carson 2
Kasich 1

Delegation call:
Trump 16
Rubio 7
Cruz 6
Kasich 1

Explanation: The Nevada Republican Party rules allow several options to candidates who have dropped out. Candidates can have their delegates reallocated to candidates still in the race, release them to be unbound or hold on to them. Reporting from Nevada was that Carson opted to release those delegates and that they had subsequent to that aligned with Trump. The Secretary, nonetheless, called out the original allocation based on the February caucus results.

Secretary call:
Trump 40

Delegation call:
Cruz 40

Explanation: Like Alaska and Washington, DC, the rules of the Utah Republican Party include provisions for the reallocation of delegates following a candidate dropping out of the race for the nomination. Once Cruz discontinued campaigning after the Indiana primary in early May, his 40 Utah delegates, by rule, were reallocated to the only remaining candidate in the race, Trump.

State Tallies Different from the FHQ Bound Count (Changes compared to the data in the spreadsheet above)
Trump +9
Rubio -9

Trump +4
Cruz +1
Abstain +2

American Samoa (all unbound to begin):
Trump +9

Guam (all unbound to begin):
Trump +9

Trump +23
Cruz -8
Rubio - 7
Carson -3
Bush -1
Fiorina -1
Huckabee -1
Kasich -1
Paul -1
* If only one name is placed in nomination, then all of the delegates from the Hawkeye state go to that candidate under Iowa GOP rules.

Trump +13
Rubio -5
Cruz -3
Uncommitted -5

Trump +26
Cruz - 11
Kasich -15

Trump +4
Cruz -4

North Dakota (all unbound to begin):
Trump +21
Cruz +6
Carson +1

Trump +11
Cruz +4
Rubio -12
Uncommitted -3

Trump +5
Kasich -5

Pennsylvania (54 unbound to begin):
Trump +53
Cruz +1

Trump +5
Paul +2
Kasich -7

Trump +3
Uncommitted -3

West Virginia:
Trump +4
Uncommitted -3
Kasich -1

Trump +2
Kasich +2
Uncommitted -4

NOTE: FHQ would speculate that most of the movement above is a function of delegates becoming unbound under the release procedures called for in state party rules. Delegate selection is key thereafter. In most cases, those delegates moved toward the presumptive nominee, Trump. In other states, the movement was toward Trump and others. A third group that could be added to fill this picture out is states whose delegations opted to follow the original allocation results. All of this is speculative, however, and requires following up.

Roll Call of States Sequence
Rule 37 calls for an alphabetical sequence, but 1) allows states to pass and 2) the 2016 convention agreed without objection to allow New York (presumptive nominee Trump's home state) to go out of turn (in order to allow the Empire state tally to put Trump over the 50% mark in terms of delegates required to win the nomination).

The roll call went in that order with only a few exceptions:
Michigan passed and moved to the end of the roll as called for in Rule 37.
Pennsylvania deferred to New York (see above) and moved to the end of the roll.

Once Wyoming finished the original alphabetical sequence, the roll call moved back to Michigan and then Pennsylvania in that order.

Recent Posts:
The Electoral College Map (7/19/16)

Thoughts on a Motion to Suspend the Rules on the Presidential Nomination Roll Call

The Electoral College Map (7/18/16)

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Thoughts on a Motion to Suspend the Rules on the Presidential Nomination Roll Call

In the wake of the defeated attempt to force a roll call vote on the rules package at the Republican National Convention -- summary from FHQ forthcoming -- there have been a number of questions and comments lobbed FHQ's way about the possibility of a suspension of the rules on the nomination roll call vote on the second night of the convention. Let's look at this from a few angles.

First, under the Rules of the US House of Representatives, a suspension of the rules is typically a maneuver to streamline the consideration of legislation. It is a tool used to move non-controversial legislation through the body quickly. This was the context in which Jonathan Bernstein and I were talking about it last night as things wrapped up in Cleveland. In other words, given how day one progressed -- the afternoon portion anyway -- Trump forces and the Republican National Committee may have some interest in skipping the roll call. Passing over that step would likely to voting on the nomination by acclamation as the convention will do for the vice presidential nomination and similar to what Democrats did in the midst of their 2008 nomination roll call vote.

Again, the streamlining function is the usual usage of a suspension of the rules. Yet, another way of looking at it is as a delay tactic; a move like the attempted roll call petition on day one. In both cases, the intention was or could be to slow down a Trump nomination and embarrass the presumptive nominee at his own convention. As described in Rule 32 of the Rules of the Republican Party a motion to suspend the rules is always in order and requires first the support of a majority of delegates in one state, but that it be seconded by the majority of delegates in seven additional states.

Now, if one followed the proceedings from Cleveland on day one, one might be tempted to say, "Here we go again." Indeed, that eight state barrier is awfully reminiscent of the seven state barrier mandated in Rule 39 to force a roll call vote. This means that the result is a battle of the wills to some extent.

Do delegates defeated last Thursday in the Rules Committee and again on their attempt at a symbolic roll call vote on the rules package on the floor want to go through another likely loss? How much is that worth to them?

Do Team Trump and the RNC want another situation where they have the numbers on their side, but once again risk appearing heavy-handed quashing yet another attempted rebellion on national television?

Those are tough questions to answer; known unknowns if one will. But there are a few other pieces to this puzzle to throw out there.

First, Free the Delegates' ringleader, Kendal Unruh (CO), was not terribly specific in her comments after the failed roll call attempt about next steps. The direction she did provide seemed to be focused more on delegate challenges to the (intra-delegation) roll call tallies allowed under Rule 37(b). That, however, is a dead end given Rule 16(a)(2) and the changes to Rule 37(b). Those challenges will go nowhere.

Second, Rule 32 only describes the procedure for making a motion to suspend the rules. Not wordy in the first place, the rule is silent on what comes next. That would imply that the US House rules fill the void.  In the House, the standard operating procedure following a motion to suspend the rules is limited debate and a vote on the motion. To pass, the motion would need to receive the support of  two-thirds of the body.

Again, this is exactly what happened in Denver in 2008 during the roll call vote for the Democratic nomination. Then-Senator Clinton made a motion to suspend the rules, stop the roll call (but still count the votes) and nominate then-Senator Barack Obama by acclamation. But that was an attempt at party unity. In the context of the 2016 Republican National Convention, such a motion -- particularly on the part of Trump and the RNC -- would produce the exact opposite effect; further deepening the divide within the convention if not the broader party.

Look, Trump and the RNC want their roll call, but at what cost. The question for day two may end up being how willing they are to put up with (what they will view as) further delay maneuvers that do not represent the majority of delegates. Given that the majority of delegates behind any attempted delays have been and are Cruz supporters and that their standard bearer has been no stranger to thumbing his nose at (parliamentary) business as usual, the Trump forces and RNC may have their hands forced one more time.

Recent Posts:
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Five Takeaways from the 2016 Convention Rules Committee Meeting

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Five Takeaways from the 2016 Convention Rules Committee Meeting

It would be easy to get lost in all the parliamentary procedure of the marathon, one day session the Republican Convention Committee on Rules pushed through a day ago. All the maneuvering aside, though, there were actually a number of noteworthy actions that emerged from the committee's work that will stretch through 2016 and remain influential into the 2020 cycle. Here are five:

1. Presidential nomination study committee
Much as it did eight years ago in Minneapolis, the Rules Committee created a temporary body to consider some of the thornier presidential nomination process questions outside the convention. The scope of the 2009-10 Temporary Delegate Selection Committee concerned just the ins and outs of the primary calendar (leading to additions like the proportionality requirement, for example). However, the newly created temporary committee on presidential nominations has a seemingly broader scope. Everything from delegate apportionment (Rule 14), the calendar (Rule 16) and penalties (Rule 17) will be on the table.

But why not just deal with this all at the convention?

As proponents yesterday in Cleveland collectively put it, the intent was to give the Republican Party the time and space to adequately consider those matters. The argument, as was later borne out in even limited discussion on Rules 14 and 16 matters, was that a maximum two day Convention Committee on Rules was not sufficient to fully consider controversial rules destined to stir up lengthy debates.

Unlike a 2013 subcommittee the Republican National Committee chartered with much the same goal, this committee will likely have a membership that encompasses more than merely Standing Rules Committee members. Instead the new 11 member study panel will potentially have a wider, more representative membership. Of course, the rule vested the power to select the membership in the national committee chair.

Like the Temporary Delegate Selection Committee, this new committee is likely to meet in 2017 with the goal of providing the RNC with recommendations to act on in 2018.

2. Rule 12
Summer 2018 is the cut off for action on any changes to Rules 1-11 and 13-25 in the Rules of the Republican Party because of Rule 12. That measure, added at the 2012 convention, has been in the crosshairs of opponents since Tampa. Breaking with tradition, the five line Rule 12 more explicitly gave the RNC the power to make changes to the aforementioned sets of rules.

Unlike the rule that gave rise to the Temporary Delegate Selection Committee after 2008, though, Rule 12 shifted a more sweeping set of rules-making powers away from the convention and toward the Republican National Committee. The trade-off is that the rule allows the party to adapt to changes that may emerge outside the convention and before the next presidential nomination race.1

Generally, the Rule 12 battle lines (and those of the Romney-led changes in 2012) have been drawn between the RNC proper supporting the latter view and some of the more grassroots elements and traditionalists within the party down to the rank-and-file in favor of the former. That meant that any vote like the one to strike Rule 12 from the rule book was a potential early-day proxy of the similarly divided vote that was expected later on unbinding the delegates.

The amendment to strike Rule 12 from the rulebook failed, garnering only 23 votes in the affirmative.

3. Inaction on Rules 14 and 16
Those two actions -- creating a study committee and retaining Rule 12 -- allow the RNC not only the ability hereafter to make rules changes outside the convention, but give the national party the space to fully consider some of the more time-consuming aspects of the presidential nomination process. All of that is contained primarily within Rules 14-17.

Surprisingly, no amendments were offered to Rule 17, the penalties regime that contributed to a much smoother pre-primary period (especially with respect to the formation of the presidential primary calendar, but also the finalizing of state party bylaws affecting the allocation process). Rule 17 aside, however, every additional measure brought before the Rules Committee failed. Not only was an attempt to force proportionality on the carve-out states voted down, but so, too, were a series of proposals to grant various bonus delegates to states under the Rule 14 apportionment formula.

In that vein, amendments were considered and voted down to add additional bonus delegates to the state-level at-large pool based on Republicans in a state's congressional delegation, and then for having Republican governors. The proposal that received the longest debate was over whether to provide a 20% bonus to states with closed primaries. As with the rest, this amendment was voted down as well. Unlike some of the rest the closed primaries incentive had been a part of morning side negotiations between a grassroots conservative group of delegates and the RNC. When a deal fell through there, the closed primary provision became vulnerable to the same lopsided results that continued to occur with some of the more controversial measures.

Part of what neutered any serious consideration of these proposed changes was the study committee the committee had voted on earlier in the day. A constant refrain throughout the consideration of this section of the rulebook was that the committee just did not have the time in two days of potential meetings at the convention to adequately dispatch with changes. The existence of a future study panel strengthened that argument and gave the majority group of Trump/RNC delegates an escape hatch from potentially time-consuming debate that could delay the progress of the full body in considering changes to all 42 rules.

Essentially, the study committee allowed the Convention Committee on Rules to hit the pause button on any changes to the presidential nomination process for now. However, the RNC will revisit those matters later and outside of the convention.

4. Binding/Unbinding
After failing to attack the specific binding language in Rule 16, the headline act -- the attempt to unbind the delegates to vote their conscience -- shifted into the third segment of the RNC Rules meeting. But before the conscience clause amendment to Rule 38 (the Unit Rule) was even raised, an amendment to Rule 37 from Nevada Rules Committee member, Jordan Ross, came before the committee. The Ross amendment and subsequent vote had the effect of taking the wind out of the sails of the Free the Delegates movement in the Rules Committee.

Rather than freeing the delegates, the Ross amendment moved in the opposite direction, adding more specific language to Rule 37 (and later Rule 38 as well) explicitly binding delegates based on the results of primaries and caucuses. Operationally, all this entailed was the addition of the phrase "nothing in the rule shall prohibit the binding of delegates pursuant to Rule 16(a)(2)" to the current text of Rule 37(b) and Rule 38.

The one-sided vote in favor of the change to Rule 37(b) laid bare what would come on the subsequent vote on Colorado delegate Kendal Unruh's conscience clause amendment that came up next in the sequence. But while the Free the Delegates proposal seemingly came in like a lion, it left the vote of the Convention Committee on Rules a lamb.

Assuming this package of rules changes passes muster with the full 2016 convention, Republican delegates in 2020 will more clearly than ever before be bound based on the results of the primaries and caucuses then. Yes, the convention will continue to have the ability to set its own rules, but such a change will require a significant grassroots movement to organize such a push. Even then, as this 2016 process has demonstrated, arguing to change the rules midstream is an uphill battle after millions of primary voters and caucusgoers have expressed their preferences.

5. The Infamous Rule 40
The final noteworthy change that came out of the committee's meetings was to Rule 40(b). Like Rule 12, this rule triggered some dissatisfaction in Tampa that has persisted for four years. Unlike Rule 12, Rule 40(b) loomed over the discussions of the 2016 Republican presidential nomination process from at least 2014. The reason is that because so many candidates initially entered the race for the 2016 Republican nomination, the eight state majority threshold described in the rule seemed to potentially project a stalemate at the convention over the nominee. Even as the field winnowed, the Rule 40 doomsday scenarios morphed from no one meeting that threshold to multiple candidate reaching it (while others did not).

This controversy -- the complication -- was not lost on the members of the Rules Committee. In a unanimous vote, the committee voted on an amendment to revert the eight state majority threshold to its pre-2012, five state plurality level. Rules Committee chair, Enid Mickelsen, even interjected after passage that, "this thorn that has been in our flesh...for four years now that caused such disappointment and so much trouble has finally been removed."

While Rule 12 survived, then, the eight state majority Rule 40 did not.

All of this and more will go before all 2472 delegates on the first evening of the convention after the Rules Committee has convened one last time. Further debate could come up on the floor via the use of minority reports. But if the series of votes in Rules are any indication, that is an uphill climb for opponents of the package even if they have the signatures.

1 As proponents of Rule 12, like New Hampshire's Steve Duprey argued, the rule laid the ground work for action by the RNC on the creation of the committee that examined the presidential primary debates process for 2016. But it also facilitated changes to the rules pushed through by the Romney team in Tampa. Chiefly, that included reinstating a mandatory proportionality requirement that had become optional, shrinking the proportionality window by two weeks and tweaking the penalties on rules-breaking states. In that regard, Rule 12 was actually used to scale back some of what 2012 delegates like Virginia's Morton Blackwell have called Romney's power-grab.

Recent Posts:
The Electoral College Map (7/16/16)

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The Mechanics of the Rules Committee and Minority Reports

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Mechanics of the Rules Committee and Minority Reports

There is some dispute over whether the Free the Delegates push has enough support on the Convention Committee on Rules to force a minority report to unbind the delegates onto the floor before the full Republican National Convention next week in Cleveland. At this point, on the cusp of the preliminary meetings of the Rules Committee, it looks close.

But what is a minority report and how would it operate as the convention gavels in next week?

At its most simple, a minority report is exactly what it sounds like. It is an outlet for a minority faction on a convention committee -- whether rules or platform, etc. -- to provide an alternative to the (majority) report passed by the committee. Both reports are then considered by the full membership of the convention.

Rule 34 of the Rules of the Republican Party lays out the mechanics. Those opposed to the rules package passed by the committee must have the support of at least a quarter of the committee. On the 112 member Rules Committee, that is 28 delegates. Now that a committee majority seems out of the question for the forces attempting unseat Donald Trump, that 28 delegate threshold has become the goal. And the Free the Delegates faction is approaching if not at or over that mark depending on who one asks.

However, the rather short rule in combination with the sequence of the convention proceedings obscures the fluidity of the rules package between now (the Rules Committee meetings) and Monday when the convention commences. And that affects the likelihood of a minority report making it out of committee and onto the floor.

While the rules of the convention (and of the party) will be considered in the Rules Committee for the next two days and will vote on a package, that package of rules recommendations will not be finalized until one last committee meeting Monday before the convention kicks off. That means that there is time for further tweaking of the rules and/or continued lobbying of delegates in the interim period. This was the same period four years ago in Tampa in which the proposal to give candidates the ability to accept or reject delegates bound to them was stripped out of the package.

That the rules can change or proposed changes can be made to draw additional support for the committee (majority) report means that the rules -- that majority report -- is something of a moving target. As a result, those behind a minority report push may not always have a handle on what they are providing an alternative to or even what their alternative should be.

Moreover, time works against a minority report in several additional ways. Those initial votes in committee on particular amendments give both sides -- majority and minority or Trump/RNC and Free the Delegates -- an idea of who is with them and who is against them. These two days of preliminary meetings, then, serve as a forum to identify those folks; to identify who needs to be whipped to support one side or the other.

This is similar to what happened earlier this week coming out of the Platform Committee. There was a push there to offer a minority report/resolution to the platform. An actual report was circulated and signed. In some cases it was unsigned. But all that did was identify who the majority need to lobby to solidify the majority and deny the minority report.

If a Rules minority report emerges early -- and really, even if it does not -- then all that does is provide the Trump/RNC contingent with time and the knowledge of who they need to convince. And because the rules package will not have seen its final committee vote, there is time to offer proposed changes to bring more folks onboard. Again, stripping out the approval/rejection provision in that interim period solidified the majority and firmed up it support heading into (what was still a somewhat contentious) floor vote in 2012.

Finally, timing is important in one other respect. If keeping a minority together in the face of the above was not difficult enough, those attempting to submit a minority report have to turn it in to either the Rules Committee chair, vice chair, secretary or the secretary of the convention within an hour following the final Monday vote. That seems easy enough. But that is four individuals in a crowded convention hall and a minority faction has to locate one of them with the clock ticking. And depending on how long that last Rules meeting lasts, that may run into the beginning session of the convention proper when the floor vote will happen. The consideration of the committee reports is the first order of business for the convention.

None of this is to suggest that the Free the Delegates faction in the committee or within the entire convention cannot succeed. However, they will have more obstacles facing them than will their opposition.

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Monday, March 21, 2016

Changing the Rules [at the Convention] Changes the Game

For a placeholder rule, Rule 40 in the Rules of the Republican Party has gotten entirely too much attention during the 2016 presidential election cycle.

One of the least understood parts of the Republican presidential nomination process is that the delegates -- two from each of the 56 states and territories on the Convention Rules Committee -- write the rules that will govern them at the national convention. Under normal circumstances in a more typical cycle, this process is little more than a formality. Of the three basic types of rules in the Republican Party rulebook -- party organization rules (Rules 1-12), nomination process rules (Rules 13-25) and convention rules (Rules 26-42) -- the first and third types tend to be carried over from cycle to cycle with little more than some tweaking here and there. The changes to the second type, the nomination process rules, set the baseline of rules that will govern the nomination process in the next cycle, but only a baseline.1

Rule 40 obviously sits among the rules in the convention rules section. The delegates to the 2012 convention changed the provisions in that rule, upping the requirement for a candidate to have his or her name placed in nomination at the convention to a majority of delegates from at least 8 states. It is a small change but with a large potential impact. But that rule applied in 2012 and was designed to keep Ron Paul off of the presidential nomination roll call ballot. At the 2008 convention, Rule 40 called for a candidate to have only a plurality of delegates from just five states; a far lower bar (but one that Paul was flirting with heading into the national convention).

That flirting was enough to trigger the action that raised the threshold for having a candidate's name placed in nomination. And to be clear, that rules change was a one written by and for the delegates at the 2012 convention; a normal part of the sequence of events under the Republican rules. Just as the 2012 delegates on the 2012 Convention Rules Committee looked over the landscape of the 2012 process and opted to up the requirements to qualify for nomination, the 2016 delegates on the 2016 version of that committee may choose to lower or alter those thresholds and consider other rules changes.

It is that context that made Georgia Republican National Committeeman Randy Evans' comments at a local county caucus -- a part of the delegate selection process in the Peach state -- over the weekend so interesting. Rather than some of the more chaotic scenarios that have risen to the top in some recent media accounts of the possibility of convention rules changes, Evans provided a calmer look forward to rules and rules changes to be considered before (but not adopted until at) the national convention.2

Evans basically pointed toward three rules changes likely to be considered (at the RNC spring meeting and later in the lead up to the convention):
  1. Unbinding the delegates. This change would diminish the importance of winning primaries and caucuses during primary season and render the delegate allocation process going on now largely moot. While doing that, unbinding the delegates would simultaneously raise the importance of the delegate selection process; the parallel fight to fill allocated slots with party and/or campaign loyalists. Needless to say, this one would be rather contentious. Unbinding the delegates so that they may vote sincerely carries the potential of overturning the outcome of primary season in a way similar to the way superdelegates are viewed in the context of the Democratic Party process.3 Since this one is laced with toxic outcomes no matter the choice, the status quo is likely to be maintained. 
  2. Some change to Rule 40. Georgia's Evans mentioned that perhaps the eight state threshold could revert to the five state required before 2012. That is consistent with conversations FHQ has had with others in the RNC. That level has not always been at five. At one time, there was no such threshold and then it became a three state threshold before being upped again. Thresholds of both three and five have been mentioned, but there was also a discussion at the RNC winter meeting in Charleston about lowering the qualifying threshold to have a candidate's name placed in nomination at just one delegate. That's one delegate, not one state. The majority/plurality control threshold is another area that could potentially see some change in Rule 40. It seems like something may have to give with the way Rule 40 is currently constructed. The 2012 working rule does not seem to fit well into the 2016 process. It seems likely that Rule 40 will change, but there is a lack of consensus at this time about what may replace it. 
  3. Pledging delegates. This one is pretty fascinating. The idea is that a rule would be written -- again by and for the 2016 delegates at the 2016 convention to fit 2016 conditions -- that would allow candidates to pledge bound delegates to other candidates. On the one hand, the intent is to facilitate an easier and perhaps more orderly resolution to a contested convention. However, on the other hand, as Evans points out, individual delegates would lose discretion under such provisions. That may bear some support in the party, but in other areas would be strongly opposed. 

To be sure, this is not a laundry list of proposed rules changes. And there will be others that will likely come along at the national convention. Most of those proposed changes are likely to occur in an effort toward setting the rules baseline for the 2020 cycle, however. While that is and will be important, more eyes will be on the shorter list of changes made to the convention rules that will govern the 2016 convention.

1 If Rule 12 survives the 2016 convention, then the party will once again be able to alter the nomination process rules outside of the convention (as it did following 2012 when Rule 12 was created). Even given that power, the party only slightly changed the process rules between 2012 and 2014.

2 It should be noted that it is consistent with expectations that members of the Republican National Committee would in the vast majority of cases urge caution and to let the rules play out rather than give into the chaos angle.

3 There are risks involved whether there is a clear presumptive nominee with more than 1237 delegates bound to him heading into the convention or if there is a candidate with a plurality of delegates.

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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Karl Rove Tries His Hand at a Brokered Deadlocked Convention Scenario...

...and the results aren't pretty.

Count FHQ among the skeptics when it comes to the quadrennial parlor game that is "[fill in the blank] party will have a brokered convention and here's why." For the 2016 cycle all eyes are once again on the Republican Party and the potential for a chaotic 15-candidate field to yield an equally chaotic nomination process (through the primaries and caucuses) that in turn leads to a national convention serving as the final arbiter. The 2016 version of the parlor game can now include Karl Rove in its ranks.

The only problem is he does a stunningly bad job of weaving the chaos to deadlocked convention scenario. Let's break this down:

First, Rove essentially tells us how the field of candidates is likely to winnow. He shunts the bottom ten to the side and focuses on a race he sees coming down to Bush, Carson, Cruz, Rubio and Trump. The first rule of the brokered convention game is to not pre-winnow the field. That was mistake number one. And it is a big one. If 15 is chaotic, then 5 candidates seems, well, normal.

After winnowing the field for us, Rove then jumps into the delegate selection process. To me, this was just tough to read. Rove's accounting of the rules was riddled with mistakes and inaccuracies:

1) "The exception is South Carolina, whose winner-take-all primary was grandfathered in."
This is a loose definition of winner-take-all. The winner of the South Carolina primary will not necessarily win all of the Republican delegates from the Palmetto state. South Carolina is a winner-take-most primary. The statewide winner will claim the at-large delegates and the winner of each of the state's seven congressional districts will win three delegates per congressional district won. To win them all, a candidate would have to win in a variety of districts and by quite a lot statewide. 
2) "Add in the eight states voting on or after March 15 that also award their delegates proportionally, and some 60% of the convention’s likely total of 2,470 will be allotted that way."
That 60% proportional figure seems a bit high. Proportional means different things in different states. As Rove notes, some states have a floor percentage that candidates must hit in order to qualify for delegates in that state (and/or their congressional districts). Others have no such floor. However, Rove failed to mention that there is also a floor for triggering a winner-take-all allocation in some proportional states at the state or district level. Sure, the argument could be made that in a wild race with many candidates, no one is going to hit the 50% level that some states have in place to become winner-take-all (or winner-take-most). But if the field winnows to five or fewer candidates, hitting that majority threshold and thus a winner-take-all allocation becomes more likely. And a deadlocked convention becomes less likely in that scenario. Not more. 
3) "On March 15 five states and one territory, awarding 361 delegates, will vote. Of these, 292 will be winner-take-all."
Misleading. Period. First, those five states on March 15 (Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio) and one territory (Northern Mariana Islands) account for 367 delegates, not 361 as Rove notes. Of those 367, only 174 are truly winner-take-all (defined as "you win the state, you win all the delegates"). That's Florida's 99, Ohio's 66 and the Mariana's 9. That's it. North Carolina is proportional. Missouri is winner-take-most. The winner of the statewide vote would only receive 9 at-large delegates (out of 52 delegates total). Illinois is a loophole primary where congressional district delegates are directly elected on the primary ballot. Like Missouri, only the at-large delegates are allocated to the winner of the statewide primary in Illinois. There are only 15 at-large delegates at stake in that primary.
4) "The final primaries will be held June 7, when 294 delegates, all but 21 chosen by winner-take-all, will be at stake. California and New Jersey will dominate that day."
The claim that only 21 delegates out of 294 are allocated in some manner other than winner-take-all would mean something if it were true. It isn't. Say it with me, folks, "California is not winner-take-all." No one is going to walk into the Golden state on June 7 and leave with all 172 delegates. Actually, that's not true. Someone could do that, but that candidate would likely already be the presumptive nominee (see 2012), and that does not fit with Rove's narrative of a brokered convention. New Jersey is truly winner-take-all. South Dakota is truly winner-take-all. So is Montana. California is like South Carolina above: winner-take-most/winner-take-all by congressional district. 
5) "Moreover, GOP rules allow for the creation of “superdelegates,” with more than half of state parties exercising the option to make their chairman, national committeewoman and national committeeman automatic delegates. These uncommitted delegates, 210 in all, could be the most fluid force in the convention if no candidate has locked in victory."
FHQ doesn't know where to start with this one. Well, this idea that the RNC rules allow for the "creation" of superdelegates is as good a place as any. What is more chaotic and brokered conventiony than making it seem like the national party can stack the deck in some way for some preferred candidate? In the Year of the Outsider and discontent with the party establishment, probably nothing. Only, the only thing that is nefarious here is how Rove has described it. The state party chairman, national committeeman and national committeewoman are automatically delegates to the convention. That is why they are called automatic delegates. Neither these folks nor those positions are created. They exist. There is no swelling of their ranks to increase their power. Rather, this is a set number of delegates.
Actually it is a set number of delegates the power of which Rove overstates by mixing their discussion in with uncommitted delegates. Some of the automatic delegates are bound (roughly 40% of the 168 total automatic delegates) and the remainder are unbound. That roughly 60% of the automatic delegates gets combined with the unbound delegations from North Dakota, Wyoming and the fraction of Pennsylvania delegates (congressional district delegates) who are unbound. But let's put those automatic delegates in their proper context. 
There is a lot of nuance to all of this -- the rules -- that Rove just glosses over, all the while painting an inaccurate picture of how nomination system works or is likely to work in 2016. Again, FHQ is skeptical of the deadlocked convention scenario and the chaos theory more generally, but even brokered convention fans would counter Rove that he left out the biggest problem in the rules: the new Rule 40. Heck, it (Rule 40) is even back in the news this week. Rove, then, is wrong on both sides.

The Rule 40 issue depends on this: 1) early states are proportional, 2) there are a lot of candidates running for the Republican nomination, and 3) one of those candidates has to control of majority of the delegates from at least 8 states to be nominated at the national convention.

Some would contend that that combination will mean that no one will get to the 1230-something delegates necessary to clinch the nomination and that furthermore, either no one will control 8 delegations or multiple candidates will. The problem with the problem that is Rule 40 is that it assumes there is no winnowing or only winnowing to a certain point and that is just not how things tend to work in a sequential system like the presidential nomination process. Each week or every few days there are new results give advantage to one candidates and puts pressure on others to withdraw. Lack of support leads to dwindling resources. Dwindling resources leads to a future lack of support in primaries and caucuses.

That's exactly why Rove almost immediately eliminated ten of the 15 candidates before jumping into the rules. He probably should have kept going.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

In Response to The Paulite Mess

Jonathan Bernstein had a nice piece up earlier today on the fracas -- if you really want to call it that -- at the Republican Convention on Tuesday. I agree with and am sympathetic to the argument that the Romney/RNC led convention may have committed an unforced error in drawing a line in the sand with  the Ron Paul delegates on the seating of the Maine delegation, the overall 2016 primary rules changes and/or nominating Paul at all. Yet, having followed this story closely all year and being here in Tampa and taking it all in yesterday, I could not help but think that the convention orchestrators would have been damned if they did allow Ron Paul to be nominated and his delegate votes to be tabulated in the roll call and damned if they didn't.

In a lose-lose situation, the majority faction with the power -- in this case, Romney and the RNC -- chose the most convenient loss: squashing the revolt and keeping an already condensed convention on pace to finish sometime before, well, today.

Now, some may ask why I consider that the choice set Romney and the RNC faced contained two losses. Indeed, as Bernstein asks, what's the harm in allowing Paul to be nominated? Well, the best and worst quality of the Ron Paul supporters -- and the designation depends on who in and out of the Republican Party you ask -- is their passion. That applies across the board. What doesn't is what each Paul delegate individually wanted out of the convention. There may have been some that may have been content with Rand Paul as a speaker at the convention. There may have been others who would have been satisfied by a rules compromise. Still others may have gone along quietly following a simple nomination of Ron Paul. But there are some who would not be content unless Ron Paul was installed as the Republican Party standard bearer.

Yes, the roll call would ultimately have put that to rest.


And that's kind of the point. Faced with the unknown of just how many Paul delegates fell into that all or nothing category, the RNC and Romney did what majority factions do in convention settings: they employ their superior numbers and stomp out dissent. To open the door to them in further compromises or allowing the issuance of minority reports or whatever parliamentary procedure the savvy Paul delegates had up their sleeves would have meant delay, irritation and perhaps much greater than necessary tumult at the convention.

Anjeanette Damon's piece on the Paul folks within the Nevada delegation is instructive. The Paul folks used the rules to their advantage until the avenues the rules provided were gone. And then they broke the rules.

Look, this is a counterfactual. We don't know what would have transpired had the convention allowed Paul to be nominated. But we do have plenty of evidence of how far the Paul folks were willing to go -- within the rules -- at state conventions.

...and the RNC and Romney wanted nothing to do with that possibility whatsoever.

So the party -- rightly or wrongly -- ripped the band-aid off quickly and moved on with the evening. After the recess, everyone was ready to move on to "We built this", and here in the building there were only sporadic pro-Paul-themed comments thereafter. It was a fun afternoon of drama, but it was convention business as usual in the evening.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Some Thoughts on the Proposed RNC Rules Changes for 2016, Part One

It was just last week that the Republican Rules Committee proposed and passed a set of 2016 presidential primary rule reforms for approval at the Tampa convention this week. FHQ put off unpacking it all for several reasons not the least of which was preparing for the trip down to Tampa. Trips aside I wanted a chance to read the rules and watch whatever reaction there was. Recall that the 2010 changes to the rules for this most recent cycle were viewed as sweeping changes with a huge potential impact.

The reality? Well, the calendar informally coordinated with Democrats helped to spread the calendar out some. Of course, the lack of any new and significant penalties in the 2012 rules left the gate open for Florida to keep its primary in January, pushing the start point up to the cusp of new years and spreading the primary calendar out even further.

That slowed the nomination of Mitt Romney down. What did not was the new proportionality requirement which, though it was hyped as a mechanism to reduce the speed of the process and create the type of deliberative, competitive and energizing nomination process the Democratic Party had in 2008. Requiring states with contests scheduled prior to April 1 to allocate their share of delegates in a manner that had an element of proportionality actually helped quicken the pace of the 2012 Republican nomination race. Under the 2008 rules, Rick Santorum would have gained slightly more delegates than he actually did deep into March. That would have also slightly reduced the margin in the zero sum fight for delegates.1

FHQ, then, is a little wary of trying to gauge the sort of impact new rules would have four years in advance. It is a fool's errand rife with very likely unintended consequences. But let's get a head start dispelling any notions of broad sweeping changes embedded in the rules proposals that will go before the full convention on Tuesday. It's never too early.

First, the changes. The rule in question for much of this discussion is Rule 15 in the 2008 Rules of the Republican Party. Let's take this piece by piece:

Current Rule 15(a):
(a) Order of Precedence.Delegates at large and their alternate delegates and delegates from Congressional districts and their alternate delegates to the national convention shall be elected, selected, allocated, or bound in the following manner:(1) In accordance with any applicable Republican Party rules of a state, insofar as the same are not inconsistent with these rules; or(2) To the extent not provided for in the applicable Republican Party rules of a state, in accordance with any applicable laws of a state, insofar as the same are not inconsistent with these rules; or(3) By a combination of the methods set forth in paragraphs (a)(1) or (a)(2) of this rule; or(4) To the extent not provided by state law or party rules, as set forth in paragraph (d) of this rule. 
Any statewide presidential preference vote that permits a choice among candidates for the Republican nomination for president of the United States in a primary, caucuses, or a state convention must be used to allocate and bind the state's delegation to the National Convention in either a proportional or winner-take-all manner, except for delegates and alternate delegates who appear on a ballot in a statewide election and are elected directly by primary voters.
Analysis of Change:
At its simplest, this change binds delegates to candidates based on the results of any statewide vote be it primary or precinct caucuses. The proposed rule does not allow for plans like those in Iowa or in some other Republican caucus states where delegates were unbound based on state rules. The change does not provide state parties with the same latitude those bodies had in 2012 and before.

But it also has the impact of opening up the method of allocation for all states (...based on this rule and the current Rule 15(b) that is on the chopping block).

Current Rule 15(b):
(b) Timing.* (Revised language was adopted by the Republican National Committee on August 6, 2010)(1) No primary, caucus, or convention to elect, select, allocate, or bind delegates to the national convention shall occur prior to the first Tuesday in March in the year in which a national convention is held. Except Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada may begin their processes at any time on or after February 1 in the year in which a national convention is held and shall not be subject to the provisions of paragraph (b)(2) of this rule.(2) Any presidential primary, caucus, convention, or other meeting held for the purpose of selecting delegates to the national convention which occurs prior to the first day of April in the year in which the national convention is held, shall provide for the allocation of delegates on a proportional basis.(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. 
Proposed Rule 15(b):
For any manner of binding or allocating delegates permitted by these Rules, no delegate or alternate delegate who is bound or allocated to a particular presidential candidate may be certified under Rule 19 unless the presidential candidate to whom the delegate or alternate delegate is bound or allocated has pre-certified or approved the delegate or alternate delegate.
Analysis of Change:
This is the rule that has drawn so much backlash from Paul supporters, Santorum supporters and other state party officials and has threatened to throw the convention into a floor fight. Honestly, this change has the potential to be the proportionality requirement of of 2016: an overhyped rule with no real impact on the process. At the heart of the conflict is the notion that delegates being approved by candidates is a power grab at the expense of a state party's right to choose how it allocates its delegates. Further, it takes a grassroots activity meant to build the party and turns it over to the candidate or candidates. FHQ gets the rationale, but I struggle to see what fundamental impact the change will have.

Actually, I do see the impact it will have. Together with Rule 15(a) the candidate approval mechanism altogether ends the possibility that a statewide vote can be overturned in subsequent steps in a caucus process by enthusiastic and organized supporters of a candidate that did not comprise a majority or plurality of the statewide vote. We can call it the Ron Paul issue. It isn't a problem because the Paul folks and their supporters were behaving well within the confines of the rules laid out for the 2012 cycle. It is, however, perceived as a problem by the national party. It takes what has been an orderly process and leaves the order up to chance every cycle; opening the door to discord within the party and a less than cohesive national convention that could hurt the presumptive nominee for the party.

The counterargument is that this is still positive local and state party building, and it is good for the national party to broaden the tent to include passionate political actors. But you know who doesn't have a problem with party building in caucuses? The Democratic Party. Here is Rule 9.B.3 of the 2012 Democratic Party Delegate Selection Rules:
3. If persons eligible for pledged party leader and elected official delegate positions have not made known their presidential preference under the procedures established by the state pursuant to Rule 12 for candidates for district-level and at-large delegate positions, their preferences shall be ascertained through alternative procedures established by the state party, which shall require a signed pledge of support for a presidential candidate. Such an alternative system shall have a final deadline for submitting a pledge of support after the selection of all district-level delegates has been completed and must provide an opportunity for disapproval by the presidential candidate or the candidate’s authorized representative. 
Notice that italicized and bolded section. The Democratic Party has had an approval system in place for years and it has not really had an impact on delegate selection or enthusiasm in caucus states.2 Truth be told, there is evidence to suggest that caucus states are caucus states for a reason: maximizing power over the process. States with a party elite that does not converge ideologically with rank and file members of the party within the state are much more likely to turn to a restrictive mode of delegate allocation. More diverse states where the ideological line is blurred between those two groups are more likely to have a primary -- even an open primary (Meinke, et al, 2006).

This is obviously a struggle over the level of power the state party has in all of this. Those parties in Republican caucus states in particular do not want to cede that power to the national party or the candidates. But again, the Democratic Party has done this with little problem for years. Yes, I am aware that a "the Democrats do it this way" argument is going to do very little to win over the hearts and minds of Republicans trying to set much less operate under this particular rule, but still.

If the delegate slots are already bound to particular candidates based on the statewide vote, then all we are talking about is a candidate -- any candidate, Romney, Paul anyone -- approving of the delegates that fill their slots at the end of the caucus/convention process when typically the nominee is already known just not officially nominated yet. I can see state parties being up in arms over this, but if you are a supporter of a candidate what's wrong with receiving your fair share of delegates? Well, the problem is that there is a loophole in the current system that opens the door for those energized and organized supporters of a particular candidate. They don't want to lose that loophole and state parties don't want to lose the ability to, well, do whatever they want. That's a fertile environment for coalition formation.

Of course, there are reports tonight that a floor fight over this rule has been avoided and a compromise between the two sides has been reached. Now, the rule will prevent bound delegates from casting a vote for or nominating a candidate to whom they were not bound.3 This keeps the loophole for unbound delegates, but eliminates the oft-discussed loophole in the RNC rules that binds delegates supportive of another candidate to cast a vote for the bound-to candidate, but not necessarily to nominate that bound-to candidate. The real winner is the states in all of this. They keep exactly what they want, but Paul folks and the Romney/RNC contingent had to give something up.

We'll never know now, but I'll argue to my grave the point that this rule -- had it taken effect -- would not have had nearly the negative effect its detractors claimed after the amendment pass passed last week. The tone of the attacks is that the delegate decisions/approval will be preordained before the caucus rather than something that takes place at the end of the caucus convention process.

Proposed Rule 15(e)(3) [NEW]:
The Republican National Committee may grant a waiver to a state Republican Party from the provisions of 15(a) and (b) where compliance is impossible, and the Republican National Committee determines that granting such waiver is in the best interests of the Republican Party.
Look, this is another one of those "the Democrats do this already" sorts of things. There was no provision in the RNC rules to provide for a waiver and there will potentially be for 2016 pending approval by delegates on the floor on Tuesday. If a situation arose where a Democratic-controlled state moved a primary or caucus to a position out of compliance with the RNC rules, that state GOP would have no recourse without a formal waiver process in place (see Florida in 2008, but in reverse).


Stay tuned for Part Two where we will look at the impact of new sanctions and the heightened nomination requirements.

1 Where particular states moved their contests on the calendar and where they were regionally was also noteworthy. A different alignment of states would have affect the accumulation of delegates to the 2012 cast of candidates in the Republican race. 

2 FHQ should also note that the Meinke, et al work focuses on the Democratic side of the equation. Those relationships are clearer in Democratic caucus states because those are states are typically Republican states. A more liberal party elite wants to guard against the more conservative candidates a more conservative primary electorate might select. The choice of a caucus or primary is an easy one in that regard. But there is no similar corollary on the Republican side. There are no Republican caucus states with conservative state party elites in an overwhelmingly liberal state. There was a lot of talk about how conservative the Iowa Republican caucus attendees would be in 2012 and the impact that would have on winnowing the field, but that is not the same issue as the ideological divergence Meinke, et al address.

3 The proposed alteration will strike the proposed Rule 15(b) above -- the approval mechanism -- and add a second part to Rule 16(a). The former would have been a new subrule to the section on electing or selecting delegates, whereas the latter is an enforcement mechanism that belongs in the Enforcement of the Rules (Rule 16). Here is the text of the proposed addition:
Rule 16(a)(2). 
For any manner of binding or allocating delegates under these Rules, if a delegate 
(i) casts a vote for a presidential candidate at the National Convention inconsistent with the delegate’s obligation under state law or state party rule,  
(ii) nominates or demonstrates support under Rule 40 for a presidential candidate other than the one to whom the delegate is bound or allocated under state law or state party rule, or 
(iii) fails in some other way to carry out the delegate’s affirmative duty under state law or state party rule to cast a vote at the National Convention for a particular presidential candidate,
the delegate shall be deemed to have concurrently resigned as a delegate and the delegate’s improper vote or nomination shall be null and void. Thereafter the Secretary of the Convention shall record the delegate’s vote or nomination in accordance with the delegate’s obligation under state law or state party rule. This subsection does not apply to delegates who are bound to a candidate who has withdrawn his or her candidacy, suspended or terminated his or her campaign, or publicly released his or her delegates.

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

2016 Starts in Tampa

Back in June FHQ gave a rundown of a bipartisan working group meeting of rules officials within both national parties concerning the 2016 delegate selection rules.1 The intent of the meeting was not necessarily to reform the system so much as bridge the gap across parties and discuss ways to streamline how Americans select their presidential nominees. As the current cycle heads into convention season, the 2016 cycles looms. That is because the RNC will vote on the rules governing the process of nominating the party's 2016 nominee in Tampa. In other words, if the parties are to do anything about the Florida/Michigan/Arizona problem it starts in less than two weeks.

Now, the word streamline above is a kind of catch-all phrase for what the group discussed at Harvard. Below is the declaration that emerged from that May meeting:

NPC 2016 Declaration
You can find more at the National Presidential Caucus blog.

1 See those previous posts describing the May meeting FHQ was asked to participate in at the Harvard Institute of Politics here and here.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

FHQ Credentialed for Both Major Party Conventions

Word on credentials decisions seemingly [finally1] trickled out via email from the Democratic National Convention Committee to the blogger class yesterday. FHQ was among the lucky ones to nab credentials to the Charlotte convention, meaning we'll be on the ground at both conventions later this summer.

Big news. I'm excited to see (and share) what happens at both conventions in terms of the 2016 rules.

...among a great deal of other things.

1 The RNC notified me of FHQ's credentials to the Tampa convention at the end of June.

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Presidential Primary Reform: Still Alive with the GOP?

In the on again, off again world of politics nothing is ever dead. If you wait long enough, something may actually happen you previously thought impossible. Or to steal a line from last night's speeches, "If you don't give up you can't be defeated." [FHQ's mind is failing right now to accurately attribute that quote. I've seen a speech or two these last two weeks. If I'm lucky, one of our ever-loyal readers will come to my assistance. If not, I'll be called Joe Biden and my political career will be over. Such is life. Back to frontloading.] That's true in this case as well. I spent last week and the weekend railing against the Republican Party for once again failing to do anything regarding presidential primary reform (See here, here, here and here). Ah, but the proponents of reform within the party were not yet ready to let the cause die before 2012. While they did pass a plan to basically maintain the status quo for 2012 (Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina go first and everyone else can go no earlier than the first Tuesday in March.), embedded within the new rules describing the formation of a commission similar to the one the Democrats pushed through at their convention last week.

This is actually fairly monumental. The fact that the GOP is allowing for the rules governing the selection of delegates and thus presidential nomination to be altered outside of the convention setting is a big step toward dealing with the frontloading issue. Frontloading is a problem that requires some flexibility from a rule-making body tasked with dealing with it. That the GOP could only confront frontloading and the primary process at their convention, deprived them of the ability to adapt if need be to the changes on the ground (like in Michigan and Florida in 2008). They now have that flexibility and can wait and see how large a contingent of states attempts to move and/or violate the rules for 2012. That's a low threshold and doesn't really confront reform, but I think the GOP will be resistent to anything but the status quo unless something like Florida or Michigan repeats itself in the lead up to 2012. As I've said, with only one party likely active during primary season in four years, the number of states seeking to move their primaries and caucuses to advantageous dates is likely to go down. If the number of states attempting to move (or balking at the idea of having to move back to March after jumping to February in 2008) is small and/or within the rules, the Republicans are likely to ride it out and wait for 2016 if they have to.

Having said that, if McCain loses in November, he won't have the sway over the rules-making powers within the party as he did ahead of this current convention. Remember, Ohio plan supporter and Ohio GOP chair, Bob Bennett was pointing the finger at McCain for the plan's failure to pass the party's rules committee. With that intervention removed, they may actually be able to pull off something meaningful (...if they are so inclined). But that is a huge hurdle removed from the process.

I think that both parties have to work together to make that meaningful though. If both parties can go to the states with a unified plan, it is much stronger than if they do it separately. Mixed messages regarding reforms gives states the excuse to fall back on the status quo, one where they really hold all the cards (hold the relative freedom to decide when they hold their contests).

It is interesting that this should come to light (at least my light) today. The Caucus just this morning had a post up examining the Mitt Romney in 2012 question. Now, let's do a quick exercise here. Let's assume that McCain fails to top Obama in November. [I know. Sorry GOPers. I'm thinking of the future here, though.] Let's further assume that both Romney and Huckabee run again. Yes, this ignores the possibility of Sarah Palin throwing her hat in the ring, but let's focus on the two known quantities -- in terms of presidential primaries -- for the time being. We can add Palin into the mix if you like in the comments section. Anway, which of the two does better under which system?

First, the status quo system: All other things equal, we would expect Huckabee to win in Iowa again and in South Carolina. Romney, due to his roots in Utah and in Massachusetts would likely have advantages in Nevada and New Hampshire. So the two are "tied" heading into Super Tuesday on March 6, 2012. [Yeah, this is kind of silly, but bear with me here. Only one political scientist has a Crystal Ball.] Conventional wisdom tells us that the candidate with the most money would have the advantage as Super Tuesday approaches. I would argue that that favors Romney in large part because of his personal wealth. But hey, we could have a caucus sitation like we had among Democrats in 2008. Both Romney and Huckabee did well in caucuses this time around, so that could be considered a wash. Though, it should be pointed out that Romney nearly swept the caucuses on February 5, 2008.

And a reformed system? Let's assume that Bob Bennett and the other reformers get their way and the Ohio plan becomes guiding rule behind the 2012 process. The Favored Four go first still, and break the same way as under the status quo system. The two emerge tied going into the small states primary. On the one hand, the fact that the smallest states are up next so as to nurture retail politics is something that plays to Huckabee. On the other, the fact that you have campaign in a series of states that, while not large, are not lumped into one geographic area. It is unlikely then that either candidate would sweep those states. Like in 2008 then, each would have to pick and choose their spots. Let's look at the map:
[Click Map to Enlarge]

The states in green are the ones to look at here. And that happens to be a lot of Western states, states where Romney did very well in 2008. He was not in the race for several, but he won caucuses in Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Alaska and Wyoming. Among the small states, Huckabee only did won in West Virginia and the Romney folks would argue that the Huckabee and McCain campaigns were in cahoots to prevent Romney from winning there. On the surface then, it would appear that Romney would have a real good start under either system. If Huckabee and Palin (or any other potential candidate in 2012) begins railing against such a system pre-emptively, we'll have a pretty good early indication of who might do well (...or who the party appears to be coalescing behind.)

*A tip of the cap to Don Means at for bringing the story to my attention.

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