Showing posts with label ballot access. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ballot access. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

There's a reason the Santorum campaign didn't mention West Virginia in its delegate conference call last week

If you listened in on or followed the parallel twitter conversation around the Santorum campaign conference call last week on the delegate math, you heard that...
  1. ...the April contests were hardly mentioned and/or...
  2. ...the campaign views May as much friendlier -- delegate-wise -- territory.
To expand on the second point, the Santorum campaign revealed that it is looking ahead/emphasizing contests like North Carolina, Arkansas, Kentucky and Texas. All of those are southern/border states where the Santorum candidacy can or could conceivably resonate with voters. Given the geography/demography of where/who the former Pennsylvania senator has done will in/with, this makes sense.

But do you know which state is missing from the list? West Virginia.


The Mountain state is obviously a state where one could see if not Santorum doing well, then Romney not faring so well (...with Santorum or another candidate doing well by default). [See, for example, below the national average statistics for income and education.] If that happens to be the case, then why is the Santorum campaign not targeting West Virginia. The argument could be made that West Virginia does not represent that big of a delegate haul and with only 28 contested delegates at stake, that's fair. It is not as delegate-rich as any of the above target states.

The main factor hurting Santorum, however, is the same problem his campaign has had elsewhere: ballot access. That is, ballot access not so much for him, but for him both statewide and in each of the congressional districts or with getting delegates on the ballot. In West Virginia, the problem is a combination of the two. Santorum is on the ballot, but like Illinois, that vote is meaningless. Primary voters in West Virginia on May 8 will also directly elect delegates -- both at-large and by congressional district. There are 19 at-large delegate slots in West Virginia. Romney has filed 24 delegates, Gingrich 23 and Paul 19. Santorum has three delegates who his campaign has filed or have both filed and are committed to his candidacy.

Additionally, there are three delegate slots per each of the three West Virginia congressional districts. Romney has filed at least seven delegates in each of the districts, Gingrich has filed at least three delegates in each district (with double that number in one district and over triple the minimum in another), and Paul has filed the minimum full slate of three in each district. Santorum? Well, the former senator filed two delegates in the first congressional district and that is it. He will not have Santorum delegates on the ballot for the congressional district spots in either the second or third congressional district.

Now, to be fair that isn't all she wrote. There are other options at the disposal of Santorum/not Romney supporters. Again, both Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich have full slates of delegates filed. But there are also a host of uncommitted delegates who have filed as well. There are 42 uncommitted at-large delegates filed statewide and there are seven, 10 and 11 uncommitted delegates filed in the first, second and third congressional districts, respectively. Voters also have the option of writing in names on the West Virginia ballot. The catch with coordinating either uncommitted slate voting and/or a write-in campaign is that that will take campaign organization and discipline to pull off.1

That may be organization/discipline that is more efficiently expended elsewhere -- in more delegate-rich states, for instance -- than in West Virginia. That said, the Mountain state is another one of those potential missed opportunities for Santorum; a place where he could do well, but may have to hope for Gingrich or Paul to exceed expectations to prevent Romney from getting any or many of the delegates from that loophole primary because he -- Santorum -- is not on the ballot. Once again, in an overall sense, this speaks to the difficulty in running an ad hoc campaign organization against a well-organized, well-funded frontrunner; even if it is a nominal frontrunner.

It is tough to play catch up on the fly.

1 Of course, to the extent that uncommitted delegates emerge from these elections, those are free agents that any of the campaigns, Santorum included, can go after.

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Virginia House Passes Bill to Allow Write-Ins on Primary Ballot

No, don't get your hopes up, Gingrich supporters. It won't take effect if passed by the state Senate and signed into law in time for the March 6 presidential primary in the Old Dominion. But silver linings folks: The groundwork is potentially being laid for future candidates who have difficulty making the Virginia primary ballot.

On Friday, February 3, the Virginia House of Delegates by the narrowest of margins (50-49) passed HB 1132, bill that would allow a write-in line on primary ballots. The majority Republicans made up the bulk of those voting aye, but it was far from the unanimous position within the caucus. The bill has subsequently moved on to and been read in the state Senate.

Thanks to Richard Winger at Ballot Access News for passing along the news.

NOTE: Great point from Frank Leone on HB 1132 in the comments:
"Note that the fun part is the parties get to decide if write-ins are available as well as getting to decide if voters have to sign a pledge. So if both parties have a primary the same day (say in 2016), write ins and pledges could be allowed in both, neither or one or the other primary. Let's see if we can make this any more confusing. "

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