Showing posts with label Ron Paul. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ron Paul. Show all posts

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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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Delegate Selection is Never Easy in Nevada

Why is it that it often appears as if the political parties in Nevada are on the verge of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory concerning the matter of national convention delegate selection?

It mostly has to do with the scrutiny attendant to having the state's caucuses thrust into the early, pre-window portion of the presidential primary for 2008. Hillary Clinton brought suit against casino caucuses, won the 2008 Nevada Democratic caucuses anyway, but due to the construction of the state party delegate selection rules lost out in the delegate count to then-Senator Barack Obama.

On the Republican side, Mitt Romney won the 2008 Nevada Republican caucuses while almost every other campaign was focused on the South Carolina primary on the same day. The January caucuses were on the up and up, but that a candidate overwhelmingly won them and then withdrew from the race ultimately had the effect of throwing subsequent steps in the delegate selection process into chaos. The void created allowed Ron Paul supporters -- and leftover Romney supporters aligned with them -- to overtake the process, leading to the cancelation of the state convention and later selection of national convention delegates by the Nevada Republican Party State Central Committee.

In each case, the legitimacy of the overall processes was called into question by at least some faction within each party. And by all indications the Nevada Republican Party may be heading down that very same road -- but for slightly different reasons -- in 2012.

FHQ was less concerned than most in February with the molasses-slow count of just less than 35,000 precinct caucus votes on February 4,1 but it looks like that may have been an omen of things to come. If that wasn't, then the Paul efforts to overrun the special -- and later-than-the-rest caucus -- set up for Jewish caucusgoers observing the Sabbath should have served as a signal. Of course, unlike the 2008 experience, the Nevada Republican Party had at least laid the groundwork for a more orderly process in 2012 by making the vote in the precinct caucuses binding on the ultimate allocation of delegates. The winner of the caucuses, also unlike 2008, stayed in the race. Undeterred by either of those changes, however, Paul supporters pressed on; striving to -- like 2008 -- win as many delegate slots to the county and state conventions as possible.

And that has the Nevada Republican delegate selection process at a crossroads heading into the state convention this coming weekend. On the one hand, Paul forces are well-positioned to affect a repeat of the 2008 state convention (...albeit, the campaign would hope without the cancelation and selection of delegates by the state central committee). But on the other hand, the Republican National Committee Legal Counsel's Office has intervened,2  threatening the state party with just that: ensure that the delegate selection rules laid out carry the day or run the risk of a challenge to the delegation at the national convention in Tampa.

In sum, this is a recipe -- a match and a canister of gasoline -- for an interesting state convention. The first test case of this will occur early on Saturday (10:30a-12:15p) at the state convention when there is a vote scheduled to adopt the proposed rules. If onlookers are attempted to game where the potential points of derailment are, this is the first. Recall that the RNC legal counsel pointed out that it would find any attempt to alter any of the rules "improper". But it is just that sort of thing that the faction of Paul delegates at the state conventions to be held thus far have attempted.

Overall, both sides, I would argue, have pretty good arguments no matter how this progresses, but arguments not without flaws.

The RNC is making the case that rules are in place and that the delegate selection and allocation should reflect those guidelines. The proportional allocation of the state's 28 delegates, in the RNC's view, should allot Romney 20 and Paul the remaining 8.3 Of course, the reallocation of delegate positions bound to Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum is potentially premature. Both candidates have suspended their campaigns but the Nevada Republican Party rules call for a withdrawal from the race for delegates to be released. That is debatable, but the RNC seems to be assuming a withdrawal nonetheless. The key on this point is if there are any Santorum or Gingrich delegates at the state convention who are willing to fight for those spots. Additionally, it should be noted that the withdrawal scenario described in the rules fits in a different window of time: a withdrawal after the state convention but before the national convention. There is seemingly no pre-state convention withdrawal scenario accounted for in the NVGOP rules.

Expect to hear this from Paul-aligned delegates on Saturday. They will make the case that those Santorum and Gingrich bound-delegates are fair game and should not be redistributed based on a reallocation of the total number of delegates according to the collective Romney-Paul share and division of the precinct caucus vote. Instead, Romney should have his base 14 delegates allotted to him and Paul, his 5 with the nine other delegates still bound to Gingrich (6 delegates) and Santorum (3 delegates). If there are Gingrich and Santorum delegates there, then they can claim those slots. Otherwise, the remaining top vote-getting delegates -- be they Paul or Romney supporters -- claim those spots. If the Paul forces involved in Nevada are as strong as some are indicating, that would allow them to pick off all or most of those nine delegates. That would in turn equalize the delegate count between Paul and Romney in the state.

Granted, this all assumes that there is a relatively tame fight over the small segment of the rules discussing but not completely specifying the withdrawal of candidates. The Paul campaign could settle for a 14-14 delegate count out of Nevada, but it could also attempt to completely overwrite the proposed rules for the convention during that adoption vote, swinging even more -- or all -- of the delegation Paul's way.

Strategically, the split is probably a more reasonable route -- as opposed to completely rewriting the rules -- simply because attempting to bite off more than Paul state convention delegates can chew may force the Nevada GOP's hand. And by that, I mean, pulling the plug on the convention, as was the case in 2008. That would throw the delegate selection decision to the state central committee again. [The committee is slated to meet the Sunday after the convention is set to adjourn.]

One other note (or perhaps notes): The national committeeman and national committeewoman posts are up for election at the state convention as well. Those are obviously two of the three automatic delegates (who are also proportionally allocated -- but bound to the candidate of their preference) from Nevada. The catch is that their term of service does not begin until they are ratified by the Republican National Convention. It isn't clear what would happen if there is a snag in that ratification process -- whether the current members would cast votes during the roll call or what. But a roadblock seems more likely if committee-people-elect come from what is viewed as an illegitimate state convention. Much, it seems, would depend on when that ratification vote took place relative to the roll call vote (likely before it as it has some bearing on the credentialing process).

Buckle up, folks. This convention promises to be a fun one.

1 As I've argued, following the 2008 experience and what had happened just a month earlier in Iowa, the Nevada GOP was probably right to take their time counting ballots (...even if the outcome was not nearly as uncertain as had been the case in the Iowa caucuses).

2 To follow up on the post from yesterday on Paul's leverage moving forward, take the RNC's letter as at least some evidence of the national party/the Romney campaign attempting to engage in this process to avert any chaos at the national convention.

3 Fabulous Las Vegas Sun reporter Jon Ralston cited the 20 Romney delegates in his write-up of the letter from the RNC last night and confirmed with FHQ that that is based on the reallocation of Gingrich and Santorum delegates from the first round.

Recent Posts:
Question Time: How Much Leverage Does Ron Paul Still Have?

Question Time: What Happens to Santorum's Delegates?

Massachusetts Republican Caucuses: Sigh and Questions that Need to Be Asked/Answered

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Question Time: How Much Leverage Does Ron Paul Still Have?

The above is not the question that FHQ specifically received, but neatly encapsulates the breadth and depth of the questions that have rolled into either the comments section or my inbox concerning the Ron Paul campaign's continued efforts to amass delegates to the Republican National Convention in Tampa. As opposed to answering them one by one, I figured that I would take a step back and provide an overview of where the so-called delegate strategy is and what if anything it is likely to yield Paul and/or his supporters before, during or after the August convention.

First of all, as far back as January 4 -- the day after the Iowa caucuses -- FHQ was expounding upon the the Paul strategy and how it compared to/differed from the approach the campaign had in 2008. Periodically, I have also revisited the strategy in the Race to 1144 posts and when necessary on Twitter. Still, the matter really has not received the attention it probably deserves. [Yeah, on that point I respectfully disagree with Dave Weigel. Yes, there are realities/constraints to media coverage, but for selfish reasons, I sincerely wish this story had been followed more closely.] The point then, as now, was to point out that the Paul campaign and its supporters were, have been and are organized. They have thus far been more successful in winning delegate slots to the national convention than they were four years ago.

Paul, for instance, looks very well positioned to control not just the bare minimum delegation pluralities in states unbound caucus states like Colorado, Iowa and Minnesota, but majorities of those delegations at the Tampa convention. That is on top of the news from over this past weekend from Massachusetts, that despite being bound to Mitt Romney on the first ballot at the convention there are at least 16 Paul supporters elected to the Bay state Republican delegation (of 41 total delegates).

But the question remains, so what? What does any of this mean (...especially if it is highly unlikely to derail a Romney nomination in Tampa)?

Well, as FHQ pointed out in January, if there was or is an over/under on the number of delegates Ron Paul's campaign is likely to get to the national convention, take the over. The Paul coalition has and will continue to see varied success across the remaining states to select delegates. There are, after all, two parallel tracks in a Republican presidential nomination race: 1) the contests that we have all followed the results of on nearly every Tuesday (and sometimes Saturdays) for much of the year and 2) the actual delegate selection. The former in most cases only binds delegates to particular candidates, but that leaves the later selection of delegates. That process does not necessarily entail selecting folks who are supportive of the candidate to whom they are bound.1 In fact, the Paul campaign and/or its supporters on the state level are turning that logic on its head.

Again, what does any of this gain for Ron Paul and/or his supporters? I fundamentally disagree with Dave Weigel that these delegate victories are an attempt by the RNC or state parties to give the Paul coalition some "wins". That "own goal" mentality is misguided because those wins are not likely to abate any time soon. There is no giving. The Paul folks are using superior organization -- in some states -- to take Romney-bound delegate slots (or delegate slots bound to or prematurely allocated by the AP and other outlets to other candidates).

Is Paul after the nomination? I don't know. But his supporters sure are.

And procedurally, they have a legitimate albeit longshot strategy to get there. That strategy first involves the continued accrual delegates; delegates bound to Paul through the remaining May and June primaries and delegates bound to any other candidate but carrying a Paul preference in the congressional district caucuses and state conventions yet to be held. Of course, having a fair number of Paul supporters as delegates does not keep Mitt Romney under the 1144 delegates necessary to clinch the nomination at the convention when they are Paul supporters bound to vote for Romney on the first ballot.

That triggers the second part of the strategy: Paul-supportive but Romney-bound delegates abstaining on the first vote. This is a tricky maneuver, but not one that is prohibited by the Republican Party delegate selection rules. It does, however, run up against state-level delegate rules that in some cases legally bind delegates to a particular candidate through one or more ballots at the national convention. But that is uncharted waters in this process. How does one take such a challenge of the rules to court in a way that resolves the issue expeditiously within the window of time in which the party is meeting in Tampa? It doesn't. The result is probably a huge embarrassment for Mitt Romney and the Republican Party; not something it wants when attempting to successfully challenge a vulnerable incumbent president.2

The question that emerges from that is the same as the questions that faced all of the other non-Romney candidates throughout primary season: Can Romney be kept under 1144 (but at the convention)? To do that Paul and his supporters would indeed face an uphill climb. That doesn't mean that they would have to amass 1144 delegates on their own. It would mean a combination of Paul-bound delegates, Paul-supportive but other candidate-bound delegates and those delegates won by candidates who have since suspended their campaigns. The Paul-bound delegates are easy enough, but those other two groups of delegates are shrouded in questions marks. Concerning the delegates bound to other candidates, the state of those campaigns are important. Well, it is not the state of the campaigns so much as the distinction they bear at that point in the race. A suspended campaign at that point is still a campaign that is active; active in terms of not having released its delegates. None of the candidates that have withdrawn from contention and have been allocated delegates (or bound delegates) has formally withdrawn from the race. Huntsman and Santorum have both suspended their campaigns which protects their delegates ( most cases, but with exception). Gingrich appears to be doing the same.

There is the potential for a great deal of overlap between the delegates bound to other candidates and those that are Paul-supportive but bound to another candidate. But they are distinct enough from each other if only because in the event that they are ever released by the candidates to whom they have been bound they are free to unite behind Romney or join an effort to oppose the nomination. The district and state conventions in the coming weeks will likely settle that matter. As selected delegates are going to come from either the Paul or Romney camps -- more bound to the former than the latter.

It is that process -- the selection of delegates -- that so significantly clouds the outlook on this though. There is no one good independent source tracking the preferences of delegates actually selected to attend the national convention. As such that is the great unknown not so much of the Paul strategy but of the prospects for this materializing in any overt way that causes headaches for the Romney campaign and/or the Republican Party; both of which are merging their efforts with November in mind.

To some extent, then, the question of how much leverage Paul or Paul's supporters have is unanswerable. Are there enough of those "secret" Paul delegates to prevent Romney from getting to 1144 on the first ballot at the convention if they abstain?  We don't and probably won't know with any level of certainty until sometime in June or even later. That is a while for Romney -- the presumptive Republican nominee -- to live with some level of even under the radar uncertainty. But that also presents them with a decision: Make some form of concession to Paul now(-ish) or wait and see Paul's cards later and make concessions then.  Waiting is a gamble. Paul could show his cards close to the convention and really present some problems for Romney; forcing a larger concession (VP slot, cabinet position, convention speaking spot, etc.). The best indication of the level of threat the Romney team perceives in Ron Paul will be the efforts it makes in the remaining district and state conventions. If they counter the Paul organization it is a pretty clear signal that there is an issue. If not, it indicates either they are blind to this issue -- particularly if Paul continues to win delegates bound to other candidates (Romney) -- or don't view it as a problem at all (or both). Obviously, the level of threat the Romney team perceives affects the extent of any concessions it feels are necessary to satisfy Paul and/or his supporters.

Now, procedurally, none of this is likely to matter. There are seemingly enough failsafes in the RNC rules to prevent an outcome that does not have Romney as the nominee. But that doesn't mean that Ron Paul or those delegates aligned with him have to make it easy for Romney. The rules regarding the abstention strategy are not unlike the rules of keeping Romney under 1144 generally. For the sake of the exercise, let's assume that Romney has at least 1144 bound delegates in Tampa, but that enough of those Romney-bound delegates are Paul supporters to keep the former Massachusetts governor under that number on the first ballot through abstentions. Given the unknowns above, that is a fairly sizable assumption.

But let's look at the structure of this anyway.

Many want to focus on RNC Rule 40 that requires a candidate to have plurality control of at least five state delegations to be nominated. As stated above, Paul is in good shape to do that. But that isn't really the concern here. The roadblock to this being a more significant threat to Romney is Rule 37 regarding the procedure for roll call voting. Rule 37 gives a certain amount of power to the individual state delegation chairs. If the state delegation chairs see abstentions or the potential for abstentions, they are very likely to pass on their vote with the roll call progressing to the next state alphabetically. This is why the election of state delegation chairpeople is so important and why the reports that a Paul-aligned candidate in Colorado defeated Colorado Republican Party chair, Ryan Call, for the distinction are consequential. Passes are less likely to come from Paul-aligned delegation chairs than Romney or establishment-aligned chairs.

What is not clear in the RNC is rules on the roll call procedure is whether states can pass more than once if bound delegates do not vote in accordance with their "commitment". The rules indicate that no state can change votes until each state has had a second (post-pass) opportunity to vote. What is less clear is whether that constitutes a second ballot. FHQ's reading is that it would not. That is a secondary concern to the multiple pass question though. If the chairs from "problem state" delegations -- those with Paul-aligned but Romney-bound delegates threatening abstentions -- can pass more than once, then the roll call can quickly devolve into a feedback loop where the convention gets stuck. Again, that is embarrassing for the party and Romney. It is not a desired outcome.

Of course, if it gets to that point, that will be the true surprise. If Paul-aligned delegates are a threat, the RNC and the Romney campaign will undoubtedly have done some sort of informal delegate whip count ahead of time and have other failsafes set up in the credentialing process or something else to prevent convention floor chaos.

Look, I don't want to make too much of this. As I said, it is a legitimate strategy, but it is a longshot to work in terms of preventing a Romney nomination much less creating a Paul nomination. However, it is a unique strategy worth exploring. The main thing moving forward will be to watch how the Romney campaign operates in the upcoming state conventions and district caucuses/conventions where delegate selection is on the agenda. If the Paul folks continue to nab delegate slots -- bound to Paul or not -- it could prove to be a headache at some point over the summer for Romney. But we won't know how much leverage Ron Paul and his supporters may have until we have a firmer handle on just how many bound delegates the Texas congressman has and more importantly how many "stealth" delegates he has.

1 It should be noted that this is mainly how it has worked in the past. People who are elected delegates are either supporters of the candidate to whom they are bound or are folks just happy to be selected as delegates and thus willing to go along with the party's choice of nominees.

2 Of course, if that happened, it might very well overshadow the Democratic convention in Charlotte the following week. [Silver lining?]

Recent Posts:
Question Time: What Happens to Santorum's Delegates?

Massachusetts Republican Caucuses: Sigh and Questions that Need to Be Asked/Answered

Question Time: Big [Early] States & Future Primary Calendars

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Monday, April 30, 2012

Massachusetts Republican Caucuses: Sigh and Questions that Need to Be Asked/Answered

This is one of those things where if folks -- and by folks I mean the press -- had been following along with both the Paul campaign/the efforts of Paul's supporters and the rules of the game in states across the county, the situation in Massachusetts this weekend likely would not have come across as that much of a shock.

The reality is that the Paul supporters, as they are doing throughout the country, are striving to elect as many Paul-aligned delegates to the national convention in Tampa as possible -- bound to Paul or whomever (more on this later in a separate post). Such was the case in caucuses across the Bay state on Saturday. Outside of the surprise/symbolism of the Romney slate not emerging victorious in the former governor's home state, there really is little else to the story. The 38 at-large and congressional district delegates are still bound to the winner of the March 6 Massachusetts primary through the first ballot at the national convention. And that is that.

The other interesting aspect of this is that the reporting thus far is emphasizing the fact that former Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey (R) lost in her race to become a delegate. This is strange because Healey is already a delegate having been selected by the Massachusetts Republican State Committee as the Republican National Committeewoman from the state earlier this month. In that role, Healey is already an automatic delegate to the convention. Viewed from that perspective, it is odd that Healey was even running. The position of national committeewoman is one voted on, according to Massachusetts Republican Party bylaws, by the State Committee. The State Committee members were elected through the primary on March 6 -- not in the caucuses over the weekend. That eliminates the possibility of State Committee members being elected and then turning around and selecting national committeepeople or state party chairs. The elections of those officials are outlined in Article III, Section 2 of the state party bylaws. If anyone can get through to the Romney campaign, it may perhaps be worth asking why Healey was running for a position (delegate) she could not occupy.

...since she is already a delegate.

Recent Posts:
Question Time: Big [Early] States & Future Primary Calendars

Question Time

Iowa GOP considers new rule for close caucuses 

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Hey Hey, Ho Ho. This Romney Protest's Got to Go?

...or something like that.

FHQ will take the bait and fan the smoldering embers of the fire that is the 2012 Republican presidential primary race. First Read's Michael O'Brien actually brings up a fairly interesting question about the factors surrounding/likelihood of a protest vote against Mitt Romney throughout the rest of the primary calendar. No, I'm not going to dwell on the question of whether there will be a protest vote -- there will be1 -- but FHQ will look at the factors that will likely play into Romney meeting or surpassing the mostly arbitrary 70% mark in the remaining primaries and caucuses. Let's look at the factors that may keep Romney under that particular share of the vote:

[ know, before those inevitable stories about how weak Romney is because there are still voters voting against him.]
  1. Opposition by numbers: Simply put, the number of active candidates still in the race matters in this instance. The more candidates involved, the higher the collective vote share. Ron Paul will get his share of the vote. If anything proved that, it was the Texas congressman's performance against John McCain in 2008. Paul's voters were never going to jump ship to Romney anyway. Gingrich is another matter. The former speaker will likely pull in some of the displaced Santorum vote, but so too will Romney. And Santorum is still on the ballot in most states. Some of those Santorum votes will stay home. Well, they may actually stay home or stay home by voting for Santorum -- their preferred candidate.
  2. Open primaries: Now that the race is effectively over -- Eh, who am I kidding? It's over. -- Democrats are even less likely to cross over to vote in the Republican primary. However, Paul will continue to pull in both Libertarian-minded Republicans and independents in some of the more open primary states (see O'Brien's example of Idaho in 2008, Paul's high water mark in terms of vote share). 
  3. Geography/evangelism: Yeah, it still matters.
The combination of these factors makes North Carolina, Indiana, West Virginia, Arkansas and Texas states to most closely watch for that 70% mark that other recent Republican nominees have been able to garner against only token opposition.2

1 And to be clear, this will have no impact on the outcome of the Republican nomination. Romney will be the Republican nominee.

2 Throw Rhode Island in for good measure, too. The Ocean state allows independents to participate. [Thanks to the Green Papers for the data on primary participation across states.]

Recent Posts:
Santorum Suspends: A Nomination Race in Context

Cart Before the Horse: Pennsylvania/Colorado Edition

Maine Legislature Exploring Presidential Primary Option for 2016

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

In Search of Ron Paul Delegates, 2012 Edition

Look, FHQ agrees with Jon Bernstein: Ron Paul will not be the Republican presidential nominee. However, I think that he is underestimating the impact of the not-so-secret Paul delegate strategy that is being talked about in some quarters today. The only problem is that no one has any way of knowing by how much.  Let me explain.

Way back in the halcyon days of 2008 when the Clinton-Obama nomination battle was all anyone was talking/writing about, FHQ got bored and briefly shifted our focus to the settled Republican race. It was on the Republican side where a steady stream of anecdotal evidence continued to come out of any number of states about how Ron Paul advocates were -- there's no way to say this without offending someone -- infiltrating the back end of the Republican nomination process. Ron Paul was, after John McCain had surpassed the number of delegates necessary to become the presumptive nominee on March 4, 2008, competing not for wins and delegate pledges so much as the Texas representative and his supporters were delegates. See, there are two parallel processes that are happening in any presidential nomination race. One is the primaries and caucuses that we all love to analyze to death; the part that binds the delegates in most states. The other, however, is the process of -- from the participants' perspective -- becoming a delegate or from the party's perspective, identifying delegates.

Ron Paul hung around in 2008 losing the first process -- rarely breaking the 20-25% barrier in the votes in late primaires and caucuses -- and while he still lost the second process also, it was by a smaller margin. The most extreme example of this was when Paul and Paul delegates to the state convention in Nevada were able to parlay a very distant second place finish in the January caucus in the Silver state into a cancelation of the state convention. The process in Nevada had been derailed to such an extent that the Nevada Republican State Central Committee eventually selected the delegates to the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.1 There were similar stories of lesser chaos elsewhere.

But I don't think the Paul campaign is after that same goal this time around. Well, not that same type of chaos anyway. Two points:

First of all, the Paul folks are VERY organized. FHQ has something of an inside view of this. For months now, FHQ's 2012 presidential primary calendar has been used by at least two or three Ron Paul sites in either efforts to get the word out about when the various states are actually holding votes or in lengthy tutorials on how to become a delegate. These folks -- whether directly coordinating with the Paul campaign or not -- know the rules and are focused on what I call the back end of the process; the selection of actual delegates (not the binding of them).

Secondly, the business casual orders that came down the line within the Paul campaign to its young volunteers in Iowa hints at something bigger. The campaign, in other words, wants to appear to and actually be a part of an orderly delegate selection process, but a part that gets more Paul supporters a step further in the process in 2012 versus 2008. To the convention in Tampa.

And this gets back to Jon's point. Do a hundred or two hundred Paul delegates in Tampa disrupt the nomination of, say, Mitt Romney? No. Do they influence the platform to any great degree? Perhaps, but probably not. Yet, if I'm a betting man -- and I'm not -- I'd take the over on that estimate of Paul delegates in Tampa. The Ron Paul campaign is built to last both financially and organizationally. It won't be a conventional campaign. The field should winnow down to most likely Romney and Paul with similar dynamics to 2008 heading down the stretch of the primary calendar, but with Paul folks focused more heavily on the back end of the delegate selection process rather than the front end of winning contests.

We could conceivably, then, end up with an unknown but fairly sizable number of Paul delegates pledged to Romney or some other candidate in Tampa based on the rules in the various states. Romney in that scenario wins the nomination but the Paul folks become increasingly likely to hold some sway over some planks in the platform. [And just because, I'll add this: They may also influence the nomination rules for 2016.]

Now, none of this is happening in a vacuum. The Romney campaign and presumably the RNC if Romney becomes the presumptive nominee can organize against this. They could and can get people out to the caucuses/conventions that decide who becomes delegates just as easily as the Paul campaign if the latter shows signs of dominating or influencing the back end of the process.2 This may or may not be a story in a month, but it is worth keeping an eye on.

It is an unknown just how many delegates the Paul campaign can get through to the convention in Tampa. If the over/under is 200, take the over.

...on January 4. The dynamics can and likely will change.

1 It should be noted that this is a completely acceptable -- sanctioned -- method of allocating/selecting delegates according to the RNC rules on delegate selection. Man, I should have brought up this midstream shift in the rules when Republicans in Texas were adamant that the RNC would not allow the state party to change the rules after the October 1 deadline to have finalized them.

2 Now, lest you say to FHQ that Paul would only really have an advantage in caucus states, recall that even the primary states have parallel caucus/convention systems in place to select the actual delegates to the national convention. The primary part only binds the delegates in states that choose to bind their delegates to candidates.

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Saturday, May 14, 2011

The 2012 Candidates: Huck's out & Other Housekeeping

Let's belatedly update this list now that there have been a couple of noteworthy noes (Haley Barbour and Mike Huckabee), and just this past week a couple of formal yeses (Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul). Bad for southern governors, good for southern congressmen, apparently. Plus, Gary Johnson has jumped in since the last update as well.

With Huckabee out, Iowa has gotten more interesting and the race to be the not-Romney has lost another big name.


Barack Obama (announced: 4/4/11)

Michelle Bachmann
Haley Barbour (4/25/11)
John Bolton
Jeb Bush1
Herman Cain (exploratory: 1/12/11)
Chris Christie1
Mitch Daniels
Jim DeMint (3/24/11)
Newt Gingrich (exploratory: 3/4/11) (candidacy: 5/11/11)
Rudy Giuliani
Mike Huckabee (5/14/11)
Jon Huntsman
Bobby Jindal1
Gary Johnson (candidacy: 4/21/11)
Roy Moore (exploratory: 4/18/11)
Sarah Palin
George Pataki (4/20/11)
Ron Paul (exploratory: 4/14/11) (candidacy: 5/13/11)
Tim Pawlenty (exploratory: 3/21/11)
Mike Pence (1/27/11)
Rick Perry1
Buddy Roemer (exploratory: 3/3/11)
Mitt Romney (exploratory: 4/11/11)
Rick Santorum (exploratory 4/13/11)
John Thune (2/22/11)

1 Christie and Bush (and to a lesser degree Perry and Jindal) continue to be listed as "undecided", despite their rather constant stream of noes, simply because they continue to be asked. Admittedly time is running out and the noes will become much more definitive relatively soon.

Thanks to Mystery Politico for the Pataki news. FHQ missed it entirely.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Romney still ahead in New Hampshire (2012) -- July 2010

No surprises here:

Romney: 31%
Gingrich: 14%
Paul: 13%
Huckabee: 12%
Palin: 9%
Pawlenty: 3%
Daniels: 1%

Someone else: 5%
Undecided: 11%

Sample: 415 Republican voters
Margin of Error: +/- 4.81%
Conducted: July 23-25, 2010

I won't dwell on these results. More than anything, they simply maintain the status quo: Romney looks good in New Hampshire. Ho hum. However, I will add one note of caution. This was a survey of Republican voters in the Granite state. It does not in any way account for the mass of independents that will surely participate in the Republican primary with Democrats idle in 2012. The argument could be made that Romney would benefit even more from the inclusion of independents. Yet, New Hampshire primary voters have been known to be, oh, I don't want to say quirky, but willing to take a flyer on someone other than the frontrunner. While there is no definitive frontrunner for the Republican nomination at this point, Romney is the New Hampshire frontrunner and that gains him some points in laying claim to that tag at the national level.

Speaking of Romney, FHQ will have an update -- with graphics -- of his trial heat numbers against Obama later today.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It's too bad Kentucky's primary is so late

From GOP12:
A new Magellan Strategies survey (pdf) has Sarah Palin leading her prospective 2012 rivals in Kentucky.

1. Sarah Palin 28%

2. Mike Huckabee 24%

3. Mitt Romney 16%

4. Newt Gingrich 12%

5. Ron Paul 4%

6. Tim Pawlenty 2%

If Sarah Palin wins Kentucky in 2012, she'll already be the Republican nominee. But that's all FHQ is willing to say. As of now Kentucky is scheduled to hold a May 22 presidential primary in 2012.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Public Policy Polling: November 2009 Presidential Trial Heats In Depth

NOTE: Please note that you can now track past updates of these trial heat polls by clicking here or on the "2012 trial heat polls" tag at the bottom of the post.

For the ninth straight month Public Policy Polling released a series of 2012 presidential trial heat polls matching President Obama up against four prospective Republican candidates. And despite the fact that Obama slipped below 50% for the first time in a few polls this past week (see Gallup, Quinnipiac, PPP), the president wasn't in any significantly different position relative to the Republicans than he was a month ago; just under 50% against all but Sarah Palin and still ahead across the board. Yet, this month while Mike Huckabee remained the closest to the president, he was not alone in that distinction. Mitt Romney climbed to within five points of the president as well, climbing above the 40% mark for the first time in any PPP poll this year.

[Click to Enlarge]
Obama: 49%
Huckabee: 44%
Undecided: 7%
That said, Huckabee does better consolidating the conservative and Republican bases. Romney, however, nearly evenly divides the independent support with the president. And that really demonstrates the current tension within the GOP; the battle we've been talking about here at FHQ since Obama claimed victory a year ago. Will Republicans nominate someone in 2012 from a far more conservative background than, say, John McCain, or will efforts be made to make the party's nominee more inviting to independent voters? That continues to be the question as 2009 draws to a close.

[Click to Enlarge]
Obama: 51%
Palin: 43%
Undecided: 5%
What's more, this poll from PPP is not without its quirks. [No poll ever is, really.] First, the same bizarre regional disparity that popped up in the polling firm's July poll again reared its head this month. Obama inexplicably swept the South (except for a tie with Ron Paul) again while losing out completely in the midwest. I can foresee the midwest potentially being a problem for Obama in 2012, but there's absolutely no way that the South is vulnerable to Obama inroads; not even if Steve Schmidt's catastrophe occurs. Palin, indeed, proves to be trailing by the largest margin (a distinction shared with Ron Paul), but still loses the South while winning the midwest against the president.

[Click to Enlarge]
Obama: 46%
Paul: 38%
Undecided: 16%
If that wasn't enough, Paul actually pulls Obama's support to its lowest level in any of PPP's surveys this year. But is that Ron Paul's impact or is the Texas congressman merely serving, as I asked earlier today, as a proxy for a generic Republican in a hypothetical race against Obama? There are enough undecideds in that match up to raise that question. Independents are not necessarily on board with Paul, but Democrats are least with Obama against Paul than against any other Republican in the survey. As Christian Heinze at GOP12 asked, "Is an Anybody But Obama theme starting to take hold?" Intriguing as that question is, FHQ is almost more interested in a slightly different question: Is an Anybody but Huckabee/Palin/Romney theme starting. Certainly, neither question is being answered very adequately at this point, not in the direct context of the 2012 race anyway. Newt Gingrich, Jeb Bush and especially Tim Pawlenty did not see anywhere near the numbers Paul has in this particular poll. And I say "especially" in Pawlenty's case because he doesn't carry the baggage that Gingrich and Bush carry and is unknown enough to potentially fill the void of generic Republican in a ballot question. But Pawlenty from last month lags well behind Paul's numbers here.

[Click to Enlarge]
Obama: 48%
Romney: 43%
Undecided: 9%
All in all, it was another interesting round of numbers from the good folks over in Raleigh. Ron Paul may have earned a spot in next month's poll simply due to his showing here. We'll see.
NOTE: And just as a bonus, here's the updated Obama/Gingrich trendline. And no, it isn't so much an update as a reminder that Gingrich has not been polled against Obama since August.

[Click to Enlarge]

Recent Posts:
PPP: 2012 Presidential Trial Heats: Huckabee's Still on Top but He's Got Company

Update on GOP Temporary Delegate Selection Committee Meeting

Ex Post Facto: Why Do New Jersey and Virginia Have Those Off-Off Year Elections Anyway?

Friday, November 20, 2009

PPP: 2012 Presidential Trial Heats: Huckabee's Still on Top but He's Got Company

Public Policy Polling [pdf] today released their monthly look at the 2012 presidential playing field. Here's a quick look a the toplines (I'll be back later with a full analysis and updated figures.):

Obama: 49%
Huckabee: 44%
Undecided: 7%

Obama: 51%
Palin: 43%
Undecided: 5%

Obama: 46%
Paul: 38%
Undecided: 16%

Obama: 48%
Romney: 43%
Undecided: 9%

Margin of Error: +/- 3%
Sample: 1066 registered voters (nationwide)
Conducted: November 13-15, 2009

FHQ's biggest question? Is Ron Paul a proxy for a generic Republican candidate? Obama fares worst against the Texas congressman. And remember, this is among registered voters and not likely voters.

Recent Posts:
Update on GOP Temporary Delegate Selection Committee Meeting

Ex Post Facto: Why Do New Jersey and Virginia Have Those Off-Off Year Elections Anyway?

GOP Temporary Delegate Selection Committee Meeting Today

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

If it's a vote on the internet, Ron Paul wins.

I alluded to the 2012 trial heats last night, but Public Policy Polling has upped the ante today. Initially, PPP was taking suggestions for who to add to list of 3 possessors of recognized names* to poll against President Obama in the polling firm's monthly survey. Hey, we're all for democracy around these parts, but I will admit to being disappointed that they didn't keep Tim Pawlenty among the list of Republican candidates. One month of information doesn't tell us much. Well, it told us that more people had an opinion of the balloon boy than they did of Pawlenty. Still, FHQ would like to have seen the trendline.

[What? To see that it hadn't changed? Touche.]

Anyway, PPP has opened that fourth choice up to a vote. Your choices are:

[Click to Enlarge]

I'd like to see John Thune tested or Giuliani for the sake of having a more moderate Republican included, but honestly, Ron Paul needs to be polled. The chatter online in Ron Paul circles this year has been all about getting the Texas congressman in a poll. Well, here's their chance. Though, truth be told, if word gets out -- like other votes -- PPP's vote widget will either crash or end up being the highest turnout vote they've had over there for one of those.

So, go vote.

*I'm calling the group something and this gives Huckabee, Palin and Romney a regal air.

Recent Posts:
Gallup Poll (Nov. '09): Huckabee Continues to Garner the Most Support

40 Passes, 39 Used: What's Wrong with This Again?

FHQ Friday Fun: The Day Mitt Romney Came Back from the Dead

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

In Search of Ron Paul Delegates

Arizona senator John McCain may lay claim to being the Republican party's presumptive nominee, but efforts to shape the party behind the scenes during this presidential election year continue. While the much of the talk has centered around McCain uniting the various segments of the party behind him as the Democrats continue to wage a battle for their nomination, stories of dissension among the ranks continue to surface (and get lost in the headlines about bowling and sniper fire and "bitter" comments). Much of the dissension has been driven by Ron Paul (or at least by his supporters). And even though the Texas congressman scaled back his presidential efforts in the lead up to his early March congressional seat primary, those supporters have carried on, influencing the nomination system by alternate means.

What's on the table?
Though Paul has admitted that winning the nomination isn't going to happen (see above link and a more recent reminder following the Texas primary), message boards devoted to the candidate's presidential run and the libertarian ideas he backs are littered with how to guides on how Paul can still become the nominee. Whether that is the unifying cry from these members of the Ron Paul Revolution though, is beside the point. That goal may never be realized but the byproduct of those efforts may influence to some extent who the delegates to September's convention are and the direction of state and national party platforms. And both may cause headaches for John McCain at a convention that is supposed to be all about him and his run for the White House.

It was easy early on to dismiss these stories as rabble rousing, but more and more evidence of these sorts of efforts has emerged to indicate that it is more than simply coincidence. The big questions then are, where are Paul supporters making inroads and in what ways? Much of this can be viewed through the lens of which type of delegate selection event a state uses, primary or caucus. As has been demonstrated in this space over the last few weeks (see posts on The Caucus Question here, here and here), caucuses offer an opportunity for a bit more delegate tweaking. This has been discussed in the context of the race for the Democratic nomination, but Ron Paul (or at least his supporters) has taken advantage of the caucuses as well. In Minnesota, Nevada and Washington (all caucus states) Paul has parlayed his initial showings into various levels of success.

In Minnesota, Paul supporters overran the congressional district caucuses during the first weekend in April and managed to win six of the twelve national convention delegates at stake during that phase of the process.

After placing a distant second in the Nevada caucuses in January, Paul stands a good chance of sending some delegates to the national convention from the Silver state after the next step, the state convention on April 26. He will be speaking at that convention as well. There's no better way to drum up some extra support than by making an appearance. It will be interesting to see if John McCain, who finished third behind Paul in the state, will show up to speak as well. There are an awful lot of Romney delegates available since the former Massachusetts governor secured a victory with over 51% of the vote.

Following a solid showing during the Washington caucuses in early February (Paul was third in a four candidate cluster with each winning between 15 and 26%), Paul supporters have pushed some Paul delegates through to the state convention. There is evidence of this out of Jefferson County and plenty of other anecdotal, yet unconfirmed, incidents of this in other parts of Washington as well.*

In primary states, the rules are much more clear cut and there obviously aren't as many steps in the process. People vote and the the outcome directly affects the number of delegates allocated to the winning candidate or candidates. The route Paul supporters have gone in several primary states has been to operate through the state party apparatus to influence delegate selection rules and state party platforms. The process then, to elect delegates to the state conventions in some primary states have seen increased participation from Ron Paul supporters. Again, this has no direct bearing on the national convention delegates allocated in the primary, but a Paul presence could affect those allocation rules and the platform planks decided upon in the state party platform.

In Florida, this has meant that some Paul backers have been blocked in their efforts to become precinct captains and to make it on to the Republican Executive Committee in the Sunshine state. The objective of Paul supporters is clear: to influence the Republican party's agenda in the state.

Paul supporters in Missouri found more success, hijacking several county caucuses in the Show-Me state. In Jackson County (in the Kansas City area) there was enough Paul support to send over 175 delegates to the next level of the caucus process. Those 175 will have some influence over the 55 delegates the state will send to the GOP convention and over the platform that emerges from the state convention.

The situation was similar in Oklahoma, where only one of the state's five congressional district conventions failed to send at least one Paul supporter on to the state convention next month. And while the rules require delegates to vote for the primary's victorious candidate, there is some indication that the Paul backers at the convention will attempt to change those rules in order to send some of their own to the national convention.

Paul's home state of Texas also saw action to push the Paul agenda onto the national party's radar. In both Travis and Tarrant Counties, Paul's supporters were able win or draw in senate districts in both counties.

In isolation these events don't seem to make that much of a difference in the race for the Republican nomination. Together however, they add up to a potential problem for McCain and the national party at their September convention in St. Paul, MN. The more Paul delegates that make it through to state and national conventions, the more Paul's agenda will be discussed. And what that translates into is a battle over the platform and potential ideological fissure within the GOP. So while all the talk has been about division within the Democratic party, something appears to be brewing on the Republican side as well. And the division here isn't over who is best able to answer and deal with a 3am phone call, it is division that gets to the heart of some basic Republican principles. The heights this grows to though depends in large measure on how many Paul delegates can make it through the process. Thus far, it has been more than one might expect given recent coverage of the race for the White House.

*There is an awful lot of material online to support such events happening across Washington as well as in other parts of the country. My rule on this is to only proceed with information that has been verified by, at least, a local news outlet. If it has been mentioned on any of the various Ron Paul Forums, and only there, such events were excluded. There is talk that similar sorts of activities have taken place in Alaska, Colorado and Louisiana as well. Most of the sources there are Ron Paul-related sources though.

[Thanks to campaign discussion group participant and UGA grad student, Patrick Rhamey, for planting this idea in my head.]